SEATTLE (AP) — Authorities arrested at least six people and used pepper spray to disperse a crowd of protesters after a downtown march in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement degenerated into a tense confrontation Tuesday evening.Protest organizers denounced the use of force, saying on the Occupy Seattle Twitter account that police “indiscriminately” sprayed the chemical irritant at “peaceful” protesters.
The group said that among the demonstrators affected were an 84-year-old and a pregnant woman.
Paramedics examined at about half a dozen people, said Seattle fire department spokesman Kyle Moore. But he added that the group’s own medical response team had taken care of others.
“These protesters are well organized, they’re using homemade remedies to counter pepper spray,” he said.
Seattle police defended their actions, saying plenty of verbal warnings were given to demonstrators attempting to block intersections and streets during rush hour.
“Pepper spray was deployed only against subjects who were either refusing a lawful order to disperse or engaging in assaultive behavior toward officers,” Seattle police spokesman Jeff Kappel wrote on the department’s blog.
Kappel also noted that one man threw an “unknown liquid” at an officer’s face and was arrested. The officer was not injured.
In another incident, Kappel said a 17-year-old woman swung a stick at an officer, and as police moved to arrest her, others tried to intervene on her behalf, prompting a blast of pepper spray.
Occupy Seattle organizers said the downtown march was in solidarity with other Occupy Wall Street protests around the nation.
The skirmish Tuesday was the first clash in weeks.
Occupy Seattle moved its encampment to Seattle Central Community College late October. Before that, the group had been camping at Westlake Park, leading to tense standoffs with police and dozens of arrests.