Or it shouldn't be. Jaywalkers shouldn't be ticketed or subject to arrest. Seattle's obsession with ticketing and harassing jaywalkers dates to a time when Seattle police didn't have enough to do and Seattle residents didn't have anyplace to be. Jaywalking in Seattle shouldn't just be decriminalized, it should be encouraged. Because jaywalking is a traffic-calming measure. From David Owen's book Green Metropolis (via Walkable DFW):
In Manhattan, creative jaywalking is an environmental positive, because it makes traveling on foot easier: it enables pedestrians to maintain their forward progress when traffic lights are against them, and to gain small navigational advantages by weaving between cars on clogged side streets—and it also keeps drivers on their guard, forcing them to slow down.... Tightly controlling pedestrians with a view to improving the flow of car traffic just results in more and faster driving, and that makes life even harder and more dangerous for people on foot or on bikes.
In fact, studies have shown that pedestrians are safer in urban areas where jaywalking is common than they are in urban areas where it is forbidden.
Criminalizing something as common and useful as jaywalking—criminalizing an environmental positive like jaywalking—invites selective enforcement and civil-rights abuses. I'm not saying that yesterday's unpleasantness is a clear-cut case of police brutality, although that punch-to-the-face was pretty brutal. All I'm saying—besides "jaywalking: good"—is that yesterday's unpleasantness could have been avoided if the cops hadn't have stopped those girls in the first place.