The Seattle Police Department is hard at work trying to identify and arrest individuals who committed crimes during recent anti-police brutality protests, but there’s at least one lawbreaker that officers are not interested in putting in handcuffs: rap artist Macklemore.
During a November 24 protest over a grand jury decision not to indict a white Ferguson, Mo., police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Macklemore joined demonstrators in shutting down traffic on Interstate 5 in downtown Seattle, despite orders from police to keep off the freeway.
“I’m here for Mike Brown,” Macklemore told KIRO Radio, referring to the 18-year-old shot and killed in Ferguson.
Despite the fact that Macklemore, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, was filmed and photographed on the interstate, Seattle police said this week that arresting him is not on their list of priorities.
“If someone was throwing a brick or a large firework or was committing some other violent offense, or smashing someone’s car window, absolutely these are the people we’re going to track down,” Seattle police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, the department’s lead spokesperson, told KIRO Radio.
The Washington State Patrol, which would also have jurisdiction since the protest happened on a road maintained by the state, also said it is not interested in arresting the four-time Grammy award-winning artist.
“A wise old police chief once told me, ‘You have to know when to oversee and when to overlook,'” said Bob Calkins, a state patrol spokesperson. “That’s not to say that at some future protest we might choose enforcement if we thought that was best.”
Blocking an interstate could result in a citation or arrest for a number of different crimes, including pedestrian interference, failure to obey a restrictive sign, failure to obey a police officer, disorderly conduct, or obstructing a police officer.
Meanwhile, Seattle police have arrested 22 adults and two juveniles who participated in recent protests and are looking to identify others who committed crimes.
“We’re going through video to determine if we can identify any of the agitators,” Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole told KIRO Radio in a recent interview. “If we get good images, we’ll send them out there and have the public help us do that.”
On Tuesday, the department posted images of two protesters that officers are attempting to locate. Both are accused of interfering with arrests during an anti-police brutality demonstration in downtown Seattle on Saturday.
Police arrested a woman on Monday who was quickly cleared of any wrongdoing. In a statement, the police department said it was a case of mistaken identity.
A rep for Macklemore declined to comment.