It's been a hectic two days for Dorli Rainey, the 84-year-old Seattle activist whose pepper-sprayed face suddenly made her one of the most sought-after interviews in America.
It’s been a hectic few days for Dorli Rainey, the 84-year-old Seattle activist whose pepper-sprayed face suddenly made her one of the most sought-after interviews in America.
“I haven’t gotten any sleep. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m getting confused,” she said Thursday afternoon. “My computer’s up to 2,000 messages, and I can’t answer them all. The phone doesn’t stop ringing.”
The burning sensation in her face has subsided, but she said, “My lungs still feel a little pressure, and I’ve got a strange cough.”
She appeared on the Keith Olbermann show Wednesday night and then Thursday morning on “Democracy Now!” She also spoke with Q-13 Fox News.
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Thursday afternoon appearances were arranged by MSNBC and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. The Atlantic published a story about how Rainey emigrated from Austria to the Northwest, taught school, served on the Issaquah School Board and ran for Metropolitan King County Council.
Rainey hung up on KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson, who asked her to elaborate on her wish for “regime change” and questioned why it was OK to keep one of his listeners from getting to a daughter’s piano recital as protesters blocked the street.
“I don’t want to be the ‘hero’ of this thing. I want to be able to be a person that speaks to the issues,” Rainey said to the Times. “It’s easy for people to see the picture and say, ‘Cops stink.’ There’s a reason why we are where we are right now, and that needs to be discussed.”
Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper was also a guest on “Democracy Now!” the progressive radio-TV show.
Rainey thanked Stamper, tongue-in-cheek, for the cloud of pepper gas she breathed in the WTO protests of 1999, at Third and Pike. Stamper repeated his deep regrets about that.
“We took a military response to a situation that was fundamentally nonviolent,” Stamper said.
But Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, said police are more cooperative with demonstrators than in past decades, and that crime has become a problem at some Occupy sites.
Rainey said she intends to rejoin Occupy protests in a few days and likely will find herself in the street.
On Tuesday night, she said, she was part of a group who stayed a few minutes after police told them to disperse.
Protesters were talking aloud about leaving when police converged, holding their bicycles and spraying pepper, she said.
“You only get real attention when you block a few streets,” she said.
Rainey worries that coordinated government crackdowns may wear down the Occupy movement.
“I don’t know how long we can stay outside the way we do now. I hope eventually we can form a group that is more coherent and powerful. I don’t want to take it underground.”
Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @mikelindblom.