Occupy Seattle
The mayor of Seattle has issued an apology to "peaceful" Occupy Seattle protesters that were pepper sprayed by police. Photo Credit: Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

Mike McGinn, mayor of Seattle, Wash., public apologized to members of the Occupy Seattle protests who were dealt with harshly by the Seattle Police Department. Police there pepper-sprayed a 19-year-old pregnant woman and an 84-year old retiree, among others.

Pregnant teen and octogenarian pepper-sprayed by SPD

For the past two months, people in various cities have been holding “Occupy” protests, perhaps most famously the “Occupy Wall Street” protests in New York, in the hopes of spurring socio-economic changes. In recent weeks, police and Occupy protesters have been at odds across the country.

The Seattle Police Department has been clashing occasionally with the Occupy Seattle protests since at least Nov. 2, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Pepper spray has been deployed on several occasions and a clash with protesters on Nov. 14 painted them in a bad light.

According to the Washington Post, Occupy protesters held a march on the night of Monday, Nov. 14, in downtown Seattle. Protesters were warned repeatedly not to block traffic lanes. Scuffles broke out, pepper spray was deployed and several arrests were made. Among those hit with the spray were an 84-year-old woman, a priest and a 19-year-old girl who was reportedly three months pregnant.

Mayor offers apology

Seattle mayor Mike McGinn, according to the Seattle Times, issued a public apology to people “who engaged in peaceful protest” and were pepper-sprayed. He also met with John Diaz, chief of the Seattle Police Department, to review the incidents.

Occupy protesters have decried his statement as not going far enough, but Seattle residents have a long history of getting unruly. Riots broke out during the World Trade Organization summit in 1999 and the celebration of Mardi Gras in 2001. Seattle Mardi Gras revelers were so out of hand that the National Guard had to be called in.

The 84-year-old woman, Dorli Rainey, has become something of an overnight sensation because of the photograph that was taken of her, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Rainey, who stands five feet, two inches tall, was photographed while being attended to by people who were at the protest with her and pepper spray is dripping off her face. The photo was snapped by Joshua Trujillo. Rainey has been politically active in Washington state for some time and unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Seattle in 2009.

Occupy protests met with varying resistance

Occupy Seattle protesters were allowed to camp at Seattle Central Community College, but officials are trying to get the protesters kicked off campus, according to the Seattle Times. There have been reports of vandalism, and the protesters are costing the school $20,000 per week.

Clashes with police have occurred in most cities with Occupy protesters, according to the New York Times. New York police recently evicted Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccoti Park, resulting in more than 100 arrests. A recent march by Occupy Los Angeles protesters resulted in 23 arrests today, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Sources

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Occpy-Seattle-costs-city-more-than-half-million-2264896.php#photo-1748025

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/pregnant-elderly-woman-among-occupy-protesters-hit-with-pepper-spray-in-seattle-incident/2011/11/16/gIQALfliQN_story.html

Seattle Times: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016784533_apwaoccupyseattlemayor2ndldwritethru.html

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: http://blog.seattlepi.com/thebigblog/2011/11/16/elderly-woman-blasted-with-pepper-spray-how-the-photo-happened/

Seattle Times: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016743832_apwaoccupyseattlecollege.html

New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/18/us/occupy-protests-across-the-country.html?_r=1

Los Angeles Times: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/11/three-more-arrests-in-second-occupy-la-protest-of-day.html

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