Washington State Patrol arrests 9 protesters for blocking I-5 in Seattle
Washington State Patrol arrested nine protesters Friday morning, whose vehicles were blocking southbound I-5 through Seattle on the Ship Canal Bridge.
The demonstration was part of a morning march protesting against police brutality. Protesters used vehicles to completely block all lanes of the bridge for roughly 30 minutes before state patrol arrived on the scene.
The nine people who were arrested Friday had their vehicles impounded.
In July, Washington State Patrol announced that it would no longer allow protesters onto I-5, and that they would arrest any pedestrians who blocked freeways. The change was announced just hours before 24-year-old Summer Taylor, who was hit by a driver during a protest on I-5 in early July, died of their injuries at Harborview Medical Center.
That came after state patrol had initially opted to close the freeway down entirely in June. Trooper Rick Johnson told KIRO Radio’s Chris Sullivan on June 18 that closing the freeway was all about keeping protesters safe.
“We’re there to support their First Amendment to march and say what you need to say, but on the freeway with cars it’s just not a good thing,” Johnson said.
On June 27, Washington State Chief John R. Batiste issued a statement both acknowledging both the frustration from drivers traveling through downtown Seattle and the safety of protesters.
“Due to the extreme volatility of the current environment, the impact of the pandemic on our court and jail systems, and our iron-clad commitment to use force only when it is necessary, reasonable, and proportionate to the situation, we are limited in our safe and appropriate response options,” Batiste said in a news release.
On July 6, state patrol officially made the announcement that protesters blocking freeways would be arrested, stating that in addition to maintaining public safety, the “goal is to keep I-5 open in both directions through Seattle.”