City Attorney Pete Holmes has come out swinging against protesters who block traffic on downtown Seattle streets:
This new type of highly disruptive action can cause workers to arrive late for work and emergency-response vehicles to be stuck in traffic. The ripple impact of these unanticipated traffic blockades quickly spreads and creates gridlock in the downtown core of our city and on to state Highway 99. This impact will only be heightened with the forthcoming Viaduct teardown and our city entering the “period of maximum constraint” traffic strain.
“When protesters use these methods, they are doing more than advocating for their cause,” Holmes wrote this week in an op-ed for the Seattle Times explaining his decision to prosecute people arrested at downtown protests earlier this year. “They are creating a disruption that redirects vital resources that could be needed elsewhere.”
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“My office can’t turn a blind eye to these actions,” Holmes writes.
The City Attorney’s office this week filed charges against 15 protesters who blocked 2nd Ave in May in action targeting JPMorgan Chase’s financial support of a tar sands oil project and pipeline. Holmes’s office also reportedly plans to file charges against protesters arrested at another action in June that blocked 2nd Ave in a protest against the Immigration and Custom Enforcement office on the street.
The protests were part of a new activist tactic that emerged earlier this year during a protest covered by CHS on 4th Ave targeting the office of King County Executive Dow Constantine for his support of the Children and Family Justice Center project at 12th and Alder. In that action, a group of protesters targeting Constantine and the under construction 12th Ave facility intentionally blocked the street outside the county administrative building at 4th and James on a Friday morning by locking themselves together, snarling traffic in the area. There were no arrests in that incident, sparking public outcry that only increased as more street-blocking protests continued.
Charges against the protesters include pedestrian interference and, in some cases, more serious obstruction of justice charges.