Police Injured, Several Arrested in Occupy Seattle Protests
SEATTLE (AP) — Several hundred Occupy Seattle demonstrators protested in the rain Wednesday night outside a hotel where JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon was invited to speak.
Police used pepper spray to clear a side entrance so Sheraton Seattle Hotel patrons could enter or leave, The Seattle Times reported.
Six protesters were arrested Wednesday afternoon for criminal trespass and obstructing at a Chase Bank branch in a Seattle neighborhood.
Police also used pepper spray on that earlier crowd when at least 10 officers were physically assaulted while putting the arrested protesters in a paddy wagon, police spokesman Jeff Kappel said. At least two officers suffered minor injuries, he said.
Police did not immediately return a call Wednesday night to say whether they made any arrests outside the Sheraton.
Dimon was the keynote speaker at a University of Washington Foster School of Business leadership celebration.
Occupy Seattle demonstrators say Dimon is an example of an overpaid executive responsible for foreclosures and questionable corporate behavior.
“Shame on Chase” was a popular chant among protesters outside the hotel.
One demonstrator, Isaiah Earhart, carried a sign contrasting the amount of money CEOs like Dimon are paid with what police officers make.
“I have a lot of questions for Mr. Dimon, none of which I expect I’ll get answered,” said Earhart, a Seattle man who said he came out to lend his support to the Occupy Seattle movement because he was concerned about growing inequality in American society, especially since he had a 14-year-old daughter.
Dimon didn’t talk to protesters but did talk to reporters inside the hotel.
He said he can understand protesters’ frustration with Wall Street and Washington, D.C.
“They’re right. In general, these big institutions of America let them down,” he told The Times. “That’s not the same thing as to say that every bank was bad, every politician was bad. That’s where I would disagree.”
He said he recognizes not everyone is benefiting from the economic system.
“America has become more inequitable in the last 10 or 20 years. That’s a fact,” he said. “I don’t personally think that’s a good thing. I’ve been a big supporter of progressive taxes.”
He suggested unemployed young people not become demoralized.
“Keep the faith. I wish we hadn’t put them in this position. Remember those fundamentals always when you wake up: You are in the best country and it will come back.”
JPMorgan Chase took over the failed Washington Mutual in 2008 and subsequently laid off thousands of WaMu employees.
Dimon said he understands some people are still angry about the WaMu deal.
“What would you like me to do about it? Put yourself in my shoes,” he said. “We try to do the best we can for Seattle.”
(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)