At a gathering of pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Seattle protesting Israeli actions in Gaza, a Westlake Mall security guard emptied a can of pepper spray into the eyeballs of 25-year-old Raymond Wilford, pictured above.
The trouble happened on Friday when a middle-aged white man began harassing the protesters. Photographer Alex Garland was capturing shots of the demonstration, and he told The Daily Banter that the man was "aggravating protesters, yelling obscenities in their faces, and flipping people off."
At one point, the enraged man pulled off his shirt and began trying provoke Wilford, a bystander who had no affiliation with the protest and was walking by to meet a friend. The two seemed about ready to square off, but, said Garland,
"The security guard said stop and they both turned to him. At that point he had his pepper spray out and was pointing it at the guy in the white shirt. White shirt guy asked why he was pointing the pepper spray at him and the [security guard] sprayed him in the face."
Garland was able to snap a telling sequence of shots, which are on his blog, The Dignity Virus.
He also took the following video showing the aftermath of the incident, with the security guard escorting the temporarily visionless Wilford away as incredulous witnesses tell the wannabe Paul Blart: Mall Cop that he got the wrong man.
The Seattle news site Slogreported that witnesses said the shirtless man was using racial epithets against the pro-Palestine demonstrators. "I was trying to avoid him," Wilford told Slog, "because I heard him say a bunch of racial stuff."
Wilford received medical attention inside the mall and was released. The Seattle Police Department is now investigating the incident.
It's clear the mall cop in this case forgot a timeless truism, and it's one that no one is taught but everybody knows instinctively: If two men are arguing or fighting on the street, and one of them is shirtless and one of them is not, the shirtless man is the real culprit virtually 100% of the time. Composed individuals looking to avoid trouble do not get into arguments outside malls where they are sans shirt. It doesn't happen.
Wilford said Westlake Mall security is always harassing people and is used to being viewed with suspicion. He said he was once followed into a bathroom and asked why he was using a handicapped stall.
But after this most recent incident, that's what Raymond Wilford might call a good day.
Image credit: Alex Garland. Reprinted with permission