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84-Year-Old Woman Pepper Sprayed By Seattle Police at Occupy Protests

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Dorli Rainey is an 84-year-old former school teacher and longtime presence on the Seattle political scene. On Tuesday night on her way to a public transportation meeting, Rainey decided to stop by the Occupy Seattle protests to see what was going down at the protests.

The Occupy Seattle protesters were, at the time Rainey arrived, marching in solidarity for the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Seattle police used pepper spray, or as SPD put it, a “less-than-lethal” agent to disperse protesters after ordering them to vacate Westlake Park, the Seattle PI reports.

Rainey was among the protesters doused with pepper spray, including a pregnant woman who was taken to a hospital and a priest.

Rainey wrote an email to Seattle’s The Stranger after the incident. Here is what she said:

Something funny happened on my way to a transportation meeting in Northgate. As I got off the bus at 3rd and Pine I heard helicopters above. Knowing that the problems of New York would certainly precipitate action by Occupy Seattle, I thought I better check it out. Especially since only yesterday the City Government made a grandiose gesture to protect free speech. Well free speech does have its limits as I found out as the cops shoved their bicycles into the crowd and simultaneously pepper sprayed the so captured protesters. If it had not been for my Hero (Iraq Vet Caleb) I would have been down on the ground and trampled. This is what democracy looks like. It certainly left an impression on the people who rode the No. 1 bus home with me. In the women’s movement there were signs which said: “Screw us and we multiply.”

The more stories like this are publicized, the more the police and government push back on the protesters, the more this movement grows beyond scruffy, unemployed college hippies. It’s priests, elderly women, pregnant ladies, military veterans and more.

“Pepper spray was deployed only against subjects who were either refusing a lawful order to disperse or engaging in assaultive behavior toward officers,” said Seattle police spokesman Jeff Kappel.

The photo above feels like one of those important photos that is so powerful, so contrary to what authorities are saying, that it tips public favor to the side of the protesters against the actions of the police. Police said six people were arrested during the march, including a 17-year-old girl who allegedly swung a stick at an officer, a 17-year-old boy, a man and a women were arrested for suspected pedestrian interference, a man was arrested after he allegedly threw an unknown liquid at an officer’s face, and another man was arrested for alleged assault.

Then there is Dorli Rainey, all 4’10″ of her. An 84-year-old former school teacher, someone who ran for the Seattle mayor’s office in 2009 at the age of 82, who allegedly refused to disperse the scene or engaged in assaultive behavior. After all, according to police, those were the only civilians who were pepper sprayed. A thousand words doesn’t do that photo justice. More like 10,000.

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