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Dorli Rainey leaves a legacy of legacy as an activist, writer and Occupy symbol

Rainey’s cause of death was not released.



Dorli Rainey, a Seattle resident and lifelong activist who became a national symbol for the Occupy movement, passed away on August 12. She died at the age of 95.

We do not know what caused Rainey’s death.

Rainey gained national attention after being pepper-sprayed by Seattle police during Occupy protests in 2011, despite being well-known in the Pacific Northwest for years.

Pepper-sprayed in 2011 by Seattle police, Dorli Rainey’s expression is captured in this photo. /Joshua Trujillo/

To mitigate the effects, Rainey’s fellow protesters poured milk on his face, and shortly thereafter, a photographer captured the now-iconic image of the then-84-year-old Rainey. She became widely recognized as a symbol of the uprising.

Rainey commented later, “It’s a gruesome picture, I’m really not that bad looking.”

Doctor and anti-nuclear activist Dr. Helen Caldicott (right) and activist Dorli Rainey (center) have a good time backstage at a show on April 15, 2012, in Richland, Washington (File photo). Author: (Kai-Huei Yau/)

Throughout her life, Rainey fought for a number of different causes, including Occupy Seattle/Occupy Wall Street. As an activist, she participated in marches for racial justice, railed against nuclear weapons alongside anti-war activists, and was arrested while protesting evictions in Seattle.

“She was so active because she loved this country and she wanted to make sure that the country was good to its people,” Gabriele, her daughter, said to the Seattle Times. “She was involved in everything that could have made the world a better place.”

Rainey, who was born in Austria in 1926, served as a translator for the United States Army for a period of ten years across Europe. After meeting and marrying Max Rainey, they both found work at Boeing and relocated to Seattle in 1956.

She told the Seattle Times, “What I was really interested in was the freedom of speech, the Constitution.”

Rainey’s reputation for never giving up the fight for justice had already begun to spread by that time. She started helping abused children in Seattle as a court-appointed advocate.

According to Rainey, she heard helicopters overhead on November 15th, 2011, while she was riding the bus into the city.

Dorli Rainey, 84, pictured in the center, was pepper-sprayed by police during a “Occupy Seattle” protest on November 18, 2011, and smiles before taking the stage in front of police headquarters in downtown Seattle to speak about her experience. Ted S. Warren/

Oh boy, she thought, I’d better go show solidarity with New York. As an Occupy Seattle supporter, she decided to join the movement.

In the moment that made her famous around the world, Seattle police “picked up their bicycles and started shoving them at us and confining us in a very small place and they started to pepper spray,” she said.

An image taken by photographer Joshua Trujillo of a woman named Rainey, who calls herself a “old lady in combat boots,” has gone viral around the world. Former Mayor Mike McGinn reached out to Rainey via phone to express his regret. Because of her extensive career, he was already familiar with her.

McGinn said on Friday, “Dorli is legendary, and deservedly so, for her activism.” “She was always there, always a voice for change and a conscience.”

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