Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn on Wednesday apologized to protestors, including an 84-year-old woman, who were pepper-sprayed during a face-off with the Occupy Seattle demonstration in downtown.
McGinn said he spoke personally to Dorli Rainey, the former school teacher and activist who was photographed by seattlepi.com with red, swollen eyes just after she’d been doused with pepper spray Tuesday. The photo went international and captured an iconic moment for the Occupy movement.
“To those engaged in peaceful protest, I am sorry that you were pepper sprayed,” McGinn said in a statement. “I spoke to Dorli Rainey (who I know personally) to ask how she was doing, and to ask for her description of events.”
McGinn said he asked Police Chief John Diaz to review the police use of pepper spray and to ensure appropriate commanders are on-scene during such events. He said he did not want overly aggressive enforcement to exacerbate a situation.
He said police agreed that what happened Tuesday night was not “their preferred outcome.”
“My instruction to police and other city departments has been to protect free speech rights, protect public safety of protestors and the public, and protect other legitimate public and private uses of property,” McGinn said.
A pregnant woman and a priest were among those hit with pepper spray during a march from the Occupy movement’s current camp at Seattle Central Community College to Westlake Park. They were marching in support of protesters who were kicked out of Zuccotti Park in New York. The Seattle protesters were blocked by police officers at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Pine Street, where the confrontation took place, according to reports.