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Sea-Tac airport was prepared for Mondays pro-Palestinian protest

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(The Center Square) – Pro-Palestinian demonstrators wreaked havoc across the country Monday, blocking roadways, bridges and access to airports, including Sea-Tac International Airport.

The activists were pressing for a ceasefire in Gaza, more than six months after Middle East tensions were set off by Hamas’ bloody Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Sea-Tac spokesperson Perry Cooper told The Center Square airport officials were on high alert Monday and had been monitoring events across the country when the protesters showed up on the airport expressway.

“They drove multiple vehicles up onto the expressway and essentially then stopped and blocked every vehicle behind them,” Cooper said. “Then protesters came out of their vehicles and sat down in between the two sets of cars they had parked, blocking the road.”

That wasn’t all the protesters had in mind.

“Several in the group then laid down in the road with arms in PVC pipes and handcuffed themselves together,” Cooper explained.

Nearby tow trucks were ready to respond.

“We had to bring in tow trucks to take away the protesters’ vehicles, and we got the first row taken care of pretty easily, but then we had the protesters laying in the road blocking access to the second row of vehicles, so we couldn’t get to those other cars,” Cooper said.

There was a similar airport protest near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, where travelers unable to drive up to the airport drop-off simply abandoned their vehicles, grabbed their luggage and took off to catch their flight.

Cooper says they did have some travelers get out of vehicles and walk to the terminal, but given the recent planning exercise, they were ready to respond to the event.

“Working with State Patrol, we ended up having to block the exit from SR 518 to keep those additional vehicles from piling up,” he said. “Then we offered free parking for people to pull into the garage and drop off or pick up to avoid the chaos.”

Asked about anyone losing patience, Cooper said he was thankful the situation remained relatively calm, despite the stress on travelers.

“There was some chanting back and forth, some pro and some con, but it looked like everyone was pretty respectful, and then the ones that were blocking were dealt with and arrested,” he added.

Cooper said police arrested 46 protesters.

“Quite honestly, this turned out exactly the way that we thought it would, so I can’t say enough praise for our emergency preparedness folks who directed all this,” he said. “It’s not what we want to have happen, but it’s kind of eerie that it ended up happening just like we had prepared for.”

State lawmakers offered a bill this past legislative session to address protesters that block rights-of-way, but the measure failed to gain any traction.

State Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, released a statement after the disruption at Sea-Tac airport.

“People have the right to peaceably protest, but they don’t have the right to put themselves and drivers at risk by blocking access to our busiest airport,” the Senate Republican leader said. “I understand that the point is to cause a disturbance in a highly visible location, but disrupting transportation and commerce like this is illegal and does nothing to further anyone’s cause. Travelers should not have had to get out of their cars and walk the rest of the way to get to the airport to make their flights or pick up loved ones.”