The protest at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Saturday was “peaceful for 90 percent of the time,” an airport security official said. “Unfortunately, the last part got a little difficult for us. ”
Port of Seattle police are reviewing officers’ use of force during an hourslong, pro-immigration demonstration at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Saturday.
At the end, police arrested 33 protesters and used pepper spray and bicycles to clear the crowd.
The probe, which includes looking at security footage, is standard protocol when officers use force, according to a Port spokesman. Ten police agencies responded to the demonstration, he said, and each will do its own investigation, if necessary.
Photos on social media showing officers using pepper spray against a group of demonstrators who gathered at the airport to protest Trump’s immigration order circulated widely over the weekend.
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“We’ve all seen the comments online,” airport spokesman Perry Cooper said, adding officials are reviewing emails about the confrontation, too. “Part of the review is to check into all this kind of stuff, anything that was inappropriate.”
In a statement, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said he consulted with Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole after he heard concerns from the public about the arrests and officers’ use of pepper spray. Twenty-nine officers from the department responded at Sea-Tac.
“Over the weekend, misinformation was spread about the role and actions of Seattle Police officers during the peaceful protests at SeaTac Airport,” the statement says. “I want to assure the public that no such actions were taken by SPD officers.”
By around 6 p.m. Saturday, more than 1,000 protesters had gathered at the airport. Wendy Reiter, the airport’s director of security and emergency preparedness, said the crowd eventfully grew to more than 3,000.
The protest “progressively got amped up to the point our airline employees and others were fearing for their safety,” she said. It was “peaceful for 90 percent of the time, and unfortunately the last part got a little difficult for us.”
Protesters were blocking doors and keeping passengers from checkpoints, Reiter said Sunday. The last of the protesters were cleared out around 2 a.m. Sunday.
According to a Port spokesman, all but one of the 33 protesters arrested were “cited and released for criminal disorderly conduct.” One person was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor assault.
Washington State Patrol spokesman Kyle Moore said of the 10 troopers and a sergeant who responded to the demonstration none used force. King County sheriff’s Sgt. Cindi West said the same for a handful of Metro and Sound Transit deputies who were involved.
Police departments from Kent, Federal Way, Auburn, Renton, Tukwila and Normandy Park also responded. The Valley Crowd Management Unit, Valley S.W.A.T. also helped. It was unclear Monday which were doing investigations into officers’ use of force.