SEATTLE — At least a dozen people were arrested in Seattle — and two vehicles were impounded — Monday after a group of people showing their support for Black Lives Matter blocked a freeway, causing traffic delays throughout the afternoon.
Video tweeted by journalist Andy Ngo showed troopers with Washington State Patrol attempting to usher a group of people holding hands and sitting down off of the I-5 North collector-distributor road, all while afternoon traffic was forced to a standstill. The letters “BLM” could also be seen written across the roadway in what authorities confirmed with Fox News was spray paint.
BLM protesters shut down the freeway in Seattle. pic.twitter.com/cLuNheUbGE
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) January 18, 2021
The traffic obstruction began around 12:30 p.m. local time, when a group of people was seen near James Street walking onto the freeway, according to reports.
The Washington State Department of Transportation tweeted, “NB I-5 collector-distributor road was closed due to police activity. This is backing up NB 5 past I-90; think about alternatives.”
The NB I-5 collector-distributor is closed due to police activity. This is backing up NB 5 past I-90; think about alternatives.
— WSDOT Traffic (@wsdot_traffic) January 18, 2021
Footage broadcast by Q13 Fox showed law enforcement vehicles were later parked in a line on the freeway to separate demonstrators by the median from newly reopened lanes of traffic, as cars slowly passed by.
Trooper Rick Johnson, the spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, confirmed to Fox News on Tuesday that 12 individuals had been arrested and cited for various offenses, including obstruction, disorderly conduct related to blocking a roadway and malicious mischief related to tagging of the freeway.
He said the King County Jail refused to book those individuals — though he was unsure what reason they provided. Those individuals were therefore merely cited and released, Johnson said. Because those people were not booked, Johnson said state patrol cannot release their names until prosecutors formally file charges against them. Two vehicles used to block the freeway were impounded.
Johnson said the roadway had been mostly cleared by 1:30 p.m. Monday. He was the one to initially tweet about the arrests.
#Update. A total of 12 arrested and will be booked. Roadway is clear. Great job by @wastatepatrol troopers who responded and took care of this situation. Thanks for those in the backup for your patience.
— Trooper Rick Johnson (@wspd2pio) January 18, 2021
“Great job by @wastatepatrol troopers who responded and took care of this situation,” Johnson wrote. “Thanks for those in the backup for your patience.”
A 13th protester — a 40-year-old woman — was transported to Harborview Medical Center in stable condition, Q13 Fox reported.
According to Johnson, that individual was laying down in the roadway and stopped responding to verbal commands, so troopers called in the Seattle Fire Department and she was transported to a hospital to be evaluated. To his understanding, Johnson said he did not believe there was a medical reason for the woman to stop responding, but troopers called in the fire department out of caution.
Some people were also seen in video with signs on a nearby overpass. The crowd on the overpass became much larger as arrests were made, KIRO reported.
Johnson could not confirm whether those protesters who blocked the freeway were involved with the march.