WSP to recommend charges for recent pro-Palestinian protest on I-5

Feb 5, 2024, 1:57 PM | Updated: 2:06 pm

wsp charges protest I-5...

Protesters block a portion of Interstate 5 in Seattle on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Photo: Jason Rantz, AM 770 KTTH)

(Photo: Jason Rantz, AM 770 KTTH)

Over a month since pro-Palestinian protesters shut down Interstate 5 (I-5), the Washington State Patrol (WSP) is preparing to recommend charges against six people later this week. The news was first reported by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Another 10 protest participants are also being investigated and could face charges. More than 500 people participated in the protest, blocking I-5 north in Seattle for several hours.

More on the I-5 protest: WSP defends actions during protesters 5-hour takeover

WSP as an organization can only recommend charges, which will be brought to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (KCPAO) to make the final decision. WSP has defended its response, saying it took the necessary amount of time to remove the protesters safely.

“Our interstates are designed for one thing and one thing only — the safe and efficient transportation of people, goods and services at freeway speed,” WSP spokesperson Chris Loftis said in a statement to KIRO Newsradio. “Anyone who attempts to use them for their own and other purposes are placing themselves, the traveling public, emergency responders and our commerce and recreational systems in peril.

“It is far more than an inconvenience. It is a misguided, selfish and dangerous threat to public safety,” Loftis continued. “WSP will not tolerate it and will always respond in the manner that most safely and most quickly resolves the situation and reduces the danger to the public, to emergency responders and to protestors alike.”

KCPAO spokesman Casey McNerthney confirmed in an email to KIRO Newsradio and AM 770 KTTH Monday that no case referrals have been sent to his office yet. If or when cases referrals are sent to the KCPAO, each case will be reviewed individually by senior deputy prosecutors, McNerthney added.

One of the reasons the blockage lasted five hours was the protesters used the “Sleeping Dragon” technique, where people tie their arms together inside pipes, making it incredibly difficult to remove them. Other protesters used their cars to block the freeway and then abandoned them.

Rantz on the I-5 protest: WA State Patrol gave I-5 Seattle to activists for protest

The WSP has since stated these actions are against the law and put people at risk.

“We think this is very wrong,” Loftis said. “This is illegal. This is dangerous. This is just stupid. This is just a stupid thing to do.”

Contributing: Frank Sumrall, MyNorthwest

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints here. You can also follow Chris on X, formerly known as Twitter. Head here to follow KIRO Newsradio Traffic’s profile on X.

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WSP to recommend charges for recent pro-Palestinian protest on I-5