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"Sea-Tac Airport officials defending their response to travel banprotesters"
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Sea-Tac Airport officials defending their response to travel ban protesters
By Siemny Kim
KIRO TV Ch 7 (CBS), Seattle (WA)
SEATAC, Wash. - Sea-Tac Airport officials are defending the way they responded
three weeks ago to protesters who were upset about the President's travel ban.
At the Port of Seattle commission meeting on Tuesday, airport director Lance
Lyttle called what happened that weekend a "new frontier."
He explained he was trying to balance freedom of speech with the safety and
security of everyone at the airport.
"We're viewing from a totally different lens, not just freedom of speech, but
from a is it safe?" Lyttle explained.
Lyttle said the situation escalated to a safety and security concern when, he
said, protesters became violent.
"That's when the dispersal order was given because it was now getting out of
control, happening at multiple points throughout the airport," Lyttle added.
At one point, police ended up pepper-spraying some protesters. One man said he
was manhandled by police with unnecessary force. Light rail trains also skipped
the airport stop entirely because police wanted to limit the number of
"When light rail was blocked, it was an attack on those communities and an
attack on me," protester Jeffrey Reidhead said.
Port of Seattle interim Police Chief Ron Covey defended his decision.
"We just wanted that break, where we could pause, get some more officers in
place," Covey explained.
Several people sat in on the meeting, and some of them held signs. Many of them
didn't buy the airport's side of the story.
"Often security is used as an excuse to clamp down on freedom of speech,"
protester Andrea Cheng Hakmian said.
"I am skeptical about protesters punching people in the face, and jumping on
steps," protester Sue Hodes added. "I can't really know, I didn't see the
videos. I implore people to be honest and truthful with what was seen."
The Port of Seattle commission wants to review the incident to see what they
can learn from it.
Covey said he gathering information from the 11 departments that responded and
says they should have a completed report by March 6th.
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