We have a message in to Mayor Ed Murray seeking a comment on the pepper spraying in Westlake. We haven't heard anything yet.
In case you missed our own mini-micro-Ferguson last Saturday (brought to light by citizen journalist Alex Garland): A private security guard pepper sprayed an African-American man, Raymond Wilford, who was randomly walking by an anti-Gaza invasion rally last weekend. The private security guard simultaneously ignored a white man who was taunting the protesters with racial slurs (for example, "towelhead," Garland tells PubliCola), and who also reportedly menaced Wilford.
City Council member Bruce Harrell, who's half African-American and half Japanese-American, and who chairs the council's public safety committee, did respond to our request for a comment, telling us:
“Based on the video footage and photos I have seen I find the actions of the security guard very disturbing. I will closely examine SPD’s findings, after a complete investigation, and the policies regarding private security.”
The SPD is investigating the incident, SPD spokesman Sean Whitcomb says, "to see if any laws were broken."
Anyone—a dressed-up mall guard or a regular citizen in a Seahawks jersey—can pepper spray someone and detain them in self defense; if they detain them, it has to be "reasonable"—which means it ends quickly with a call to the police to come and deal with the situation.
If the pepper spraying and detaining aren't reasonable—for example, if mall security roughs up a customer who wasn't making any trouble, it could be a misdemeanor assault.