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14 people arrested in tar sands protest outside Seattle Chase office

Protesters blocked all lanes of Second Avenue in front of Chase Bank’s regional office Monday morning, protesting the bank’s investment in a tar sands project. Traffic was blocked for nearly five hours, resulting in 14 arrests.

RELATED: Protesters block Seattle traffic, no arrests

Seattle police told protesters to disperse from Second Avenue just before noon on Monday. Seattle police then created a wall of officers between crowds of protesters on the sidewalk and four “tarpees” (teepees) erected in the middle of the street. A protester was atop each structure. According to Seattle police:

Around noon, Police then approached each demonstrator and attempted to negotiate a conclusion to the illegal aspects of the demonstration, including (trespassing) and failure to comply with a dispersal order (SPD Policy 14.090 – Crowd Management –TSK–3 Issuing the Order to Disperse). The protesters made it clear that they intended to be arrested and those who remained at the scene were arrested.

Fire trucks with ladders were brought in so officials could reach the four protesters on top of the teepees. A total of 10 arrests were made by 12:40 p.m. By 2 p.m., police began removing protesters from atop the tarpees and taking them down. All protesters and tarpees were gone by 3 p.m.

A representative from Seattle’s special events office tells KIRO Radio: “No Special Event Permit was applied for or granted for today’s spontaneous constitutionally protected free speech activity in downtown Seattle.”

At least two groups in Seattle were expected to participate in a nationwide protest of Chase Bank’s tar sands investments.

According to 350 Seattle, Second Avenue was shut down with “Native American tarpees, a small replica longhouse, trees, and a public bank — symbolizing the world we want, focused on community and wellbeing of all.”

Inside the Chase headquarters, more than 20 women demanded a meeting with JPMorgan Chase’s regional CEO Phyllis Campbell.

The protesters on Second Avenue received different treatment than other, recent protesters who also blocked off traffic. In early March, seven protesters blocked traffic on Fourth Avenue in opposition to a proposed youth jail in Seattle. They were allowed to remain in the road for hours without any arrests. Seattle’s interim police chief, Carmen Best, said that they were not arrested because of their right to free speech. King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht disagreed with that sentiment.

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