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Seattle Councilmember Mike O’Brien shoved out of Nordic Museum after-party

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Denmark’s Crown Princess Mary waves to the crowd waiting to enter the new Nordic Museum in Ballard on Saturday. The grand-opening celebration continues with a community festival Sunday. (Alan Berner / Seattle Times)
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Denmark’s Crown Princess Mary waves to the crowd waiting to enter the new Nordic Museum in Ballard on Saturday. The grand-opening celebration continues with a community festival Sunday. (Alan Berner / Seattle Times)
By Daniel Beekman Seattle Times

Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien was grabbed and shoved out of a party celebrating Ballard’s new Nordic Museum by the event’s shipyard hosts, who have been battling the city’s proposed extension of the Burke-Gilman Trail.

The outdoor event at Pacific Fishermen Shipyard followed an official grand-opening gala Friday night at the museum attended by ambassadors, the president of Iceland and the Crown Princess of Denmark.

The shipyard is part of a coalition of businesses and unions fighting the city’s plan to build the Burke-Gilman’s “missing link” — 1.4 miles of new trail through Ballard.

When the gala ended, the museum’s director “told the crowd we were welcome to attend an event two blocks away,” said O’Brien, who represents Ballard and supports the trail plan. The council member was having a conversation at the after-party when shipyard General Manager Doug Dixon told him to leave.

“He had two to four other men with him,” O’Brien said. “I told him I would leave but I was going to find my wife first. I started to look for my wife, and at some point a minute or so later, someone from behind grabbed me by the shoulders and proceeded to shove me towards the gate and out the gate as I continued to look for my wife, who I was unable to find.”

O’Brien added, “I want to be clear — I was physically thrown out of this event because of the policies I advocate for.”

Dixon’s account was similar.

“We have a conflict with Mike O’Brien because of his efforts to put a bicycle path here and do some other issues that hurt the maritime-industrial area,” he said.

“We told him if he didn’t leave he would be criminally trespassing and he didn’t leave, so we had to forcibly remove him,” Dixon added. “We told him finding his wife had nothing to do with him being there or not.”

Museum spokesman Mark Murray said the incident shouldn’t distract from the debut of the new art, heritage and cultural center.

“Pacific Fishermen and Councilmember O’Brien are both valued friends of the Nordic Museum,” Murray said.

The city has wanted to complete the trail for decades. The popular Burke-Gilman abruptly ends outside the Fred Meyer in Ballard, where bikers are pushed onto trafficked streets crisscrossed with railroad tracks until the trail resumes at the Ballard Locks.

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