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Seattle May Day Protests Turn Violent

SeattleMayDayProtestSix protesters who were involved in the Seattle May Day clash with police were charged on Thursday, with prosecutors charging five more who are suspected of attacks against the police and other bystanders.

Those eleven individuals were arrested during an unauthorized demonstration on Wednesday evening, which participants designated as an “anti-capitalist” protest. Those event occurred just a few hours after orderly marches by immigration reform groups, labor advocates and others demonstrators that did not involve any violence.

At this point, the six arrested in the “anti-capitalist” demonstration that proceeded down from Capitol Hill have been charged with misdemeanors. Five others are suspected of felonies – primarily assaults on police officers. King County prosecutors are still examining detailed and have not yet filed charges in those cases.

Court papers state that many of those arrested Wednesday were “dressed in clothing usually affiliated with the anarchist movement.”  The exact meaning of that statement remains unclear (anarchist fashion = black clothing? masks and hoodies?), but we do know that individuals labeled as anarchists were widely blamed for public violence in prior years. The Seattle PI states the “Black-clad anarchists have been accused in this year’s vandalism, as they were following the May Day 2012 vandalism of the Kenzo Nakamura Federal Courthouse in downtown Seattle.”

Property damage at this year’s May Day events was far more limited than in 2012, when there was tens of thousands of dollars in damage to downtown Seattle businesses, primarily as smashed display windows of retailers like Nike. No individuals here harmed during those protests. Click here for more on Wednesday’s peaceful immigration reform march, attended by thousands.

Protests in Downtown Seattle

After peaceful daytime marches, the May Day protests turned increasingly antagonistic toward the police on Wednesday evening, when demonstrators at Seattle Central Community College began marching downtown without a permit. The Seattle PI states that their purpose was to “tussle with police,” although there doesn’t seem to be any way to verify such a claim. The group of protesters marched into Westlake Park but were soon driven back by police.  During that standoff, some protesters threw rocks, fireworks and bottles at bike-mounted police.  The cops responded by firing pepper spray and explosive noisemakers (“flash grenades”) to disperse the crowd.  Seventeen protesters were arrested at that time. They do not yet have legal representation by an attorney, and so have not released a statement.

According to the Seattle Police, eight of their officers were injured and a few Capitol Hill storefront windows were broken during the incident. A driver passing by also suffered minor cuts when a protester shattered her window with a glass bottle.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn expressed regret that the otherwise peaceful day of demonstration turned violent at the end.

“We’re a bigger and better city than this,” McGinn said late Wednesday. “I look at this and I am disappointed that this is the picture the world sees of us.”

It is not clear how many protesters were injured, but most all have now been released from jailed and charged. Five of the protesters face charges of more serious crimes, and remain in King County Jail.  Those accused of assaulting police officers remain jailed, including a 21-year-old man who struck a police officer in the leg with rock, which could potentially result in a second-degree assault charge.
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Emery Reddy