• bk

This just in from the office of city attorney Pete Holmes:

The City Attorney’s Office on Thursday charged six individuals who were arrested in downtown Seattle and held overnight in the King County Jail. Three others who were arrested posted bail overnight and will be considered for charges at a later time.

1) SH, 5/22/91, obstruction of an officer and resisting arrest, at 8th and Howell

2) GH, 4/17/91, obstruction of an officer and resisting arrest, at 400 block of Olive

3) BS, 6/3/85, obstruction of an officer, at 6th and Olive

4) PN, 5/19/68, obstruction of an officer, failure to disperse and resisting arrest, at 9th and Pine

5) JG, 9/21/87, obstructing of an officer, at 8th and Pine

6) DB, 12/30/92, property damage and obstruction of an officer, at Boylston and Pine

Resisting arrest is a simple misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Obstruction of an officer, property damage and failure to disperse are gross misdemeanors, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Someone pointed out in comments below—and it has been my experience as well—that "obstruction" and "assault" of an officer can be thrown around like candy after demonstrations and is often dismissed by courts after tedious and sometimes expensive procedures. (Ever tried to contest a nonsense traffic ticket? Imagine trying to contest a nonsense charge of assaulting an officer if, say, the police charged a demonstration, you fell over, and your foot accidentally touched an officer's boot. That happens.)

On the other side, the National Lawyers Guild has released its own statement:

Yesterday evening, the Seattle Police Department provoked violent confrontations with May Day protestors in downtown Seattle. The Seattle Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild condemns the unprovoked use of force, including the use of concussion grenades and chemical agents, against people who merely were exercising their First Amendment right to protest. The confrontation began when armed riot police moved in to break up a protest celebrating International Workers’ Day that was taking place in a public street at the corner of Fourth and Pine. The police then declared a public safety emergency and ordered people who were observing their actions to leave the area or be arrested, thereby insulating police actions from public scrutiny. When the protestors moved through downtown streets, the police set off multiple concussion grenades, causing a series of injuries to those who were struck by the exploding projectiles.

Crimes were certainly committed yesterday: Windows were broken, protesters threw rocks and plastic water bottles at police, police fired "exploding projectiles" directly into large crowds. But "obstructing an officer" is a measly charge that usually boils down to a he-said/she-said between a demonstrator and a cop.

  • bk

Approximately 100% of the people at yesterday's evening march, including (especially) the journalists and photographers who were jockeying to get into the front lines for that sweet protest photo, could've been charged with obstruction.

It'll be interesting to see whether the police can find and charge any window-smashers and whether any demonstrators file suit for their injuries.

All in all, yesterday's early march for immigration reform was light and smooth and the evening anti-capitalist march was a bit of a clusterfuck. Both sides seemed clumsy and confused, full of passion but lacking tactical elegance.