- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

SEATAC, Wash. (AP) - A judge on Friday dismissed disorderly conduct charges against Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant and two other activists stemming from their arrest at a minimum wage protest last November.

SeaTac Municipal Court Judge Ann Danieli said that while the defendants were charged with blocking traffic, the evidence showed it was the police who blocked it, The Seattle Times reported (https://is.gd/qhA45X ). Danieli dismissed the charges as soon as the prosecutors rested their case, meaning the jury never deliberated or heard from defense witnesses.

Sawant and three others were arrested last Nov. 19 during a demonstration outside Alaska Airlines headquarters that called for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport workers to be paid at least $15 an hour. SeaTac residents have approved a $15 minimum wage, but the airline has argued in separate court actions that the law should not apply to airport workers.

One of the defendants reached a plea agreement. But Sawant and two other demonstrators - Methodist pastor John Helmiere and airport worker Socrates Bravo - went to trial.

Sawant called the decision a vindication not just for her and the other defendants, but for SeaTac voters who approved a $15-an-hour minimum wage law. “It was the courage of SeaTac workers and their victory at the ballot that made $15/hour possible in Seattle,” she said in a written statement.

The prosecutors objected to the judge’s decision, arguing that the police were forced to block the traffic in order to protect the defendants and other demonstrators from being hit by vehicles.

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Information from: The Seattle Times, https://www.seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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