Two weeks into a series of largely peaceful street demonstrations over police brutality and racial bias, Seattle prosecutors are sorting out criminal charges for some participants and a nonprofit organization is reviewing complaints about police.
Three people arrested Saturday on assault allegations appeared Monday in King County District Court. They each were held in lieu of $5,000 bail, said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.
They have not been charged.
City Attorney Pete Holmes has charged seven people, spokeswoman Kimberly Mills said. Their alleged crimes include assault, failure to disperse, obstruction, reckless endangerment and criminal trespass. Several were arrested for blocking Interstate 5.
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Holmes is reviewing or waiting to review reports on 10 other arrests to decide if charges are warranted in those incidents, said Mills.
That means there have been at least 20 arrests in connection with the Seattle protests that began Nov. 24 after a grand jury ruled out criminal charges against a white policeman in the killing of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Mo.
The Seattle Police Department (SPD) didn’t return a request Monday for the total number of arrests made during the demonstrations.
Some of the city’s protests have attracted more than 100 participants, and more than 1,000 people joined a march over the weekend.
Similar protests have erupted in cities across the country in response to the Ferguson case and the decision by a grand jury in New York City to clear a white officer of criminal charges in a chokehold death.
In some instances, clashes between protesters and police have inflamed tensions.
In an email Monday, Mayor Ed Murray thanked Seattle police officers for their work.
“I’m writing to express my thanks for your professionalism and restraint as you helped facilitate protests over the weekend,” wrote Murray, who was at an immigration summit in New York City on Monday.
“We have faced our challenges in Seattle, but it’s fair to say that several other jurisdictions around the country have seen more violence and property damage. Your dedication has made a difference,” Murray added in his note.
Not everyone is convinced that all of the city’s police have been acting appropriately.
The Public Defender Association is investigating complaints by protesters, said Lisa Daugaard, of the Seattle nonprofit that represents indigent clients and advocates for criminal-justice reform.
Daugaard said she hopes Murray and the SPD will be willing to take a critical look at the city’s management of the protests, which mostly have taken place downtown.
“We’re still investigating and gathering information about what has been experienced on the street and the issues that have been reported to us,” Daugaard said Monday.
“The issues we’re particularly concerned about at this time are whether people have been permitted to move around downtown or toward downtown depending on whether they identified as protesters or not, and whether police tactics have been intimidating in a way that has chilled participation in the demonstrations,” she added.
On social media, some protesters have accused police of unprofessional conduct. SPD officers have used pepper spray at times.
Pierce Murphy, civilian director of the SPD’s Office of Professional Accountability, said Monday he was not aware of any complaints to his office by protesters.
Doug Honig, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, had no information Monday on complaints made to that organization.
One of the three people who appeared in court Monday, a 26-year-old North Seattle man, pushed a bicycle officer and then “soccer kicked” her in the leg at Western Avenue and Bell Street in Belltown, according to an incident report.
Saturday featured a large, peaceful march from Garfield High School in the Central District to SPD headquarters downtown. There were seven arrests after a group of protesters continued on their own, police said.
“While the events were generally peaceful, on Saturday you were forced to contend with a smaller group whose behavior marred the weekend,” Murray said in his email to police. “I’m confident that the handful of arrests you made helped ensure the safety of officers, other protesters and the public.”
Daniel Beekman: 206-464-2164 or email@example.com