AP (NEW)

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators who blocked road near Sea-Tac airport plead not guilty

May 13, 2024, 5:08 PM

SEATAC, Wash. (AP) — More than three dozen pro-Palestinian protesters accused of blocking a main road into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport last month pleaded not guilty on Monday to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and failing to disperse.

Thirty-seven people pleaded not guilty in SeaTac Municipal Court, where Judge Pauline Freund returned $500 bail to each of them and released them on conditions including not returning to the airport without a travel purpose and appearing at their pretrial hearings June 11, The Seattle Times reported.

At least five others who were arrested hired private attorneys and waived arraignment, according to the City of SeaTac.

The Washington State Department of Transportation said that on April 15, a demonstration closed the main road to the airport for several hours. Social media posts showed people holding a banner and waving Palestinian flags while standing on the highway. Demonstrators also blocked roadways near airports in Illinois, California and New York on that day.

Outside the SeaTac City Hall after the arraignment, several people declined to speak to the newspaper about their cases except to say, “Free Palestine.”

In Washington state, a misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of up to 90 days in county jail or a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

Among other things, the protesters that day were calling for an immediate cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas.

Students at college campuses across the U.S. this spring have been protesting as well, setting encampments and calling for their schools to cut ties with Israel and businesses that support it. Students and others on campuses whom law enforcement authorities have identified as outside agitators have taken part in the protests from the University of Washington in Seattle to Columbia University in New York City.

The latest Israel-Hamas war began when Hamas and other militants stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking an additional 250 hostage. Militants still hold about 100 captives and the remains of more than 30 after many were released last year during a cease-fire.

The ensuing war has killed more than 35,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which doesn’t distinguish between civilians and combatants.

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Pro-Palestinian demonstrators who blocked road near Sea-Tac airport plead not guilty