Unarmed Black Bystander Maced by Mall Security at Protest in Seattle

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 13 2014 4:26 PM

Unarmed Black Bystander Maced by Mall Security at Protest in Seattle

mace
The incident.

Alex Garland Photography

An unarmed black bystander was maced near a pro-Palestine protest at Seattle's Westlake Mall this past Saturday after a strange confrontation with a belligerent, shirtless white man. 

The bystander, 25-year-old Raymond Wilford, encountered the shirtless man outside the mall. According to witnesses, the latter individual was already on the scene and had been using racial slurs while confronting pro-Palestinian protestors. In images captured by photographer Alex Garland, the shirtless man can be seen moving toward and then squaring off with Wilford. (No punches were thrown by either of them, and a report by the Seattle Police Department says the shirtless man instigated the confrontation.) That's when a mall guard stepped in, looked past the shirtless individual, maced Wilford, and took him into custody.

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From Seattle's The Stranger

What did Wilford do to deserve being pepper-sprayed in the face? The mall's security director says the incident is under investigation and the company has no comment. Nor would he tell me the guard's name.
According to a Seattle police report, the mall cop told officers that when Wilford "took an aggressive step towards him he deployed his pepper spray."
But according to Wilford and two witnesses I spoke to (Garland and a community college student demonstrator named Isra Ayesh), that's not what happened.

Here's the rest of Alex Garland's photoset. A video shot after the macing shows Wilford being escorted away by the guard as onlookers object:

Wilford has recovered and says he may file a compaint. The Stranger says that a Seattle police investigation is underway.

Osita Nwanevu is a Slate intern.

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