Washington State Patrol refers charges against anti-Israel activists that blocked Seattle freeway

The agency is also asking for the public’s help in identifying many other activists.

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
The Washington State Patrol has referred charges for five of the anti-Israel protesters who blockaded a freeway last month, trapping hundreds of motorists and at least 2 ambulances for almost 6 hours.

The State Patrol has not yet released the identities of the activists.

The agency is also asking for the public’s help in identifying many other activists.

According to WSP, the 3 males and 2 females "…played roles in the protest and purposeful blocking of Interstate 5 in downtown Seattle on the afternoon of January 6, 2024."

"Charges including 2nd Degree Criminal Trespass, Failure to Disperse, Disorderly Conduct, and Obstruction have been referred to the King Couty Prosecutor’s Office who will make the final determination if criminal charges will be filed."

Additionally, two other individuals have been identified and remain under investigation, and according to WSP charges may be referred "…in the near future." It is not known of any of the individulas previously identified are among those that had charges referred.

WSP said in a statement, "While free speech is a sacred right in our democratic system, protests that have illegally moved onto and caused the closing of our freeways and streets have led to deadly outcomes in our state and others and WSP is committed to deterring future incidents."

Chief John R. Batiste stated, "As I noted soon after the freeway closure incident, this is not about the rights of free speech or assembly. There can be no doubt that the Washington State Patrol respects and protects those rights. This is about holding people accountable for unlawful and dangerous acts that put the traveling public, our first responders, and yes, the protestors themselves, in danger."

He added, "Stepping foot on a freeway to highlight your own individual cause is a self-centered act that is dangerous, foolhardy, disruptive, and most assuredly illegal. We have asked for public assistance in identifying suspected law breakers during otherwise legal protests before and we do so when we see behavior that is too dangerous to be tolerated. We will exhaust all possible investigatory efforts to catch those responsible and deter others from engaging in similarly dangerous behavior in the future."

The law enforcement agency’s investigation of additional suspects is ongoing and has included the review of over 40 hours of on-site video and social media posts, plus additional video received from concerned citizens, as well numerous news broadcasts and photographs.

Since the blockade, many of the pro-Hamas activists, which included some who are public school teachers, have bragged about their success on social media and public forums.

Washington officials, WSP, The King County Sheriff’s Office, and the Seattle Police Department have faced massive backlash for not arresting any of the pro-Palestinian activists who blocked the freeway.

During the 2020 George Floyd riots in Seattle, WSP was ordered to allow BLM and Antifa activists to block the same section of freeway during the deadly occupation of the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Rather than preventing the activists from blocking the freeway, and despite the danger and traffic delays, WSP closed the freeway each night for the protests.

Last year, Dawit Kelete was sentenced to 6 and a half years in prison after he broke the state patrol’s blockade, drove onto the freeway, fatally striking activist Summer Taylor, 24, and seriously injuring Diaz Love, 32, both of whom identified as non-binary.

WSP discontinued the closures hours after the fatal collision. Taylor's and Love’s families, as well as other activists, sued Seattle, Washington State, and law enforcement for failing to protect the activists who were shutting down the freeway.

The activists including Taylor's family recently settled with the city of Seattle for $10 million.
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