SEATTLE – Saturday night turned many of the world’s airports into large protest forums following an executive order issued by President Donald Trump temporarily blocking refugees and some others from seven majority Muslim countries from entering the United States.
Sea-Tac Airport, part of the Port of Seattle, was no different. Over the course of the day and into the early hours of Sunday morning, the situation went from peaceful to pepper-spray.
“We feel like we did a good job, but we have lessons learned, and we’re looking at that right now,” said Port of Seattle Director of Security Wendy Reiter.
Port Police are part of a mutual aid agreement of about 10 jurisdictions. Other departments include Kent, Federal Way, and Seattle.
Some protesters formed human chains trying to keep passengers and crews from getting to their flights. Then police started moving in, eventually using bikes to push the crowd out of the terminal. Some officers used pepper spray in at attempt to control the crowd.
The airport protests have already led to changes at the region’s two largest transit agencies, Sound Transit and King County Metro.
At 6:30 p.m. that night, with more protesters heading to the airport, Port of Seattle Police asked Sound Transit to stop dropping off protestors at the airport ‘s light rail station. The agency says three southbound and three northbound trains kept going. Trains began serving the airport again 33 minutes later, and now the transit agencies chief executives will be alerted immediately.
“We can’t have transit used as a tool to suppress participation,” Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff said. “I’m not saying that’s what the Port of Seattle did, but that’s one reason why we restarted service right away, because we did not see a threat to safety or security.”
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