Seattle Mayor Apologizes for Occupy Pepper Spray Incident
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn apologized to the public Wednesday after some Occupy Seattle protesters were pepper-sprayed, including an 84-year old elderly woman.
Six people who were blocking downtown traffic ignored orders from police to disperse were arrested and taken into custody. The Seattle Police Department did not offer a statement on the incident but a spokesman for the force, Detective Jeff Kappel, explained the use of pepper spray in a written statement saying, "Pepper spray was only deployed on those who were refusing lawful order to disperse or engaging in assaultive behavior toward police officers". He also said that a young, 17-year-old female used a stick to swing at an officer, and as they closed in to arrest her, they pepper sprayed subjects to move them away so they could "affect the arrest" of the female suspect.
Dorli Rainey, the 84-year-old elderly activist told The Associated Press that she had joined the march to "show solidarity with New York". She said the police officers started shoving their bikes at the occupiers and confining them to a small space to pepper spray them.
Mayor McGinn called on Police Chief John Diaz and the command staff to review their actions and they agreed it was not their preferred outcome. "To those in peaceful, protest, I am sorry you were pepper sprayed," he said.
"Last night, the police used pepper spray in two separate incidents, and many are now questioning whether the police use of force was appropriate to the circumstances," McGinn said in the statement. "I have video and written descriptions of the incidents".
Occupy Seattle responded by saying Mayor McGinn's statement "does not go far enough" to ensure the safety and protection of peaceful protesters, and he did not hold the police department accountable for "misuse of force". They also claim they were working with the city and notified police of their march and route. However, organizers admit that they did not obtain a permit due to the protect being put together "rapidly".
McGinn said "tensions seem to be getting higher" as the Occupy movement stretches into its sixth week.