Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn apologized Wednesday to peaceful Occupy Seattle protesters who were pepper-sprayed by police officers on Tuesday.
The mayor said the city will review the use of pepper spray and try “to ensure appropriate commanders are on the ground at these kinds of events.”
“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 a statement. “I have seen video and written descriptions of the incidents.
“To those who engaged in peaceful protest, I am sorry that you were pepper sprayed.”
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McGinn said he had met with Police Chief John Diaz and the command staff.
Police used pepper spray to clear streets in Belltown and near Westlake Park as protesters marched in sympathy for Occupy Wall Street activists who had been evicted from a park in New York City. Among those pepper-sprayed Tuesday night were a 19-year-old pregnant woman and 84-year-old activist Dorli Rainey.
Police said pepper spray was used only against demonstrators who refused orders to disperse or who assaulted police officers.
McGinn said tensions appear to be getting higher as Occupy Seattle heads into its sixth week of protests and added the city does “not want overly aggressive enforcement to exacerbate the situation.”
“Just as we are going to work to ensure we are doing all we can to protect free speech and public safety, Occupy Seattle needs to work with us, too,” the mayor said. “That includes ensuring that everyone participating in their protests understands the importance of nonviolence.”