May Day protests

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Seattle police could have been much more effective in how they handled May Day protesters when violence erupted on Capitol Hill Friday night, said the head of the Seattle City Council Public Safety Committee.

It was during a debrief before the Public Safety Committee that chair Bruce Harrell laid into incident commander Captain Chris Fowler.

Harrell went so far as to say it seemed like police provoked the riot. He referred to a video, that’s gone viral, of a cop on a bike ramming a protester from behind and knocking him down.

Kyle Stokes

Seattle Police say they’re prepared for whatever happens at protests tomorrow for May Day, the international day to celebrate workers that has become a rallying point locally for all sorts of activists.

In the past few years, there have been some arrests on May Day for property damage, although protest marches have been mostly peaceful. The biggest problem  this year could be traffic.

Tim Durkan

Seattle police arrested nine people during an unpermitted May Day march that involved a scuffle between an anarchist and a man dressed as a superhero, wardrobe changes by the anti-capitalist marchers and no major property damage.

The fight between the anarchist and the man in costume broke out near Fifth and Pike when the anarchist sprayed silly string at the man, who responded with a punch to the face. The incident lasted only a few minutes before police intervened, and the march resumed with protesters chanting "F--- the police!" and setting off fireworks.

Seattle police say there's been more anti-authoritarian rhetoric leading up to this year's May Day events, but officers are ready.

Capt. Chris Fowler, who's in charge of the department's response to the demonstrations, says that if people have a message to get out, they should get it out safely. Police will be escorting a permitted march for immigrant and worker rights Thursday afternoon, as well as a later unpermitted march by anti-capitalist protesters.

Paula Wissel / KPLU

The May Day violence that happened in downtown Seattle two years ago is still affecting how one Olympia man is living his life.  Matthew Duran, a political activist, wasn’t even in Seattle when windows were smashed in the Nakamura Federal Courthouse in 2012. But he paid dearly for his refusal to talk about who might have been involved.

Paula Wissel / KPLU

The May Day violence that happened in downtown Seattle two years ago is still affecting how one Olympia man is living his life.  Matthew Duran, a political activist, wasn’t even in Seattle when windows were smashed in the Nakamura Federal Courthouse in 2012. But he paid dearly for his refusal to talk about who might have been involved.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Seattle police are asking the public for photos and video clips taken during this year’s May Day riot.

“Detectives have begun the long, difficult task of investigating the violence, vandalism, and other nastiness which marred this year’s otherwise peaceful May Day rallies,” police said.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Prosecutors have charged five May Day protestors with felonies following last week’s confrontation with police in downtown Seattle.

The standoff between anti-capitalist marchers and Seattle police escalated quickly around dusk on May 1, and before long, bottles and rocks were flying toward police, pepper spray and blast balls toward protesters.

Wikimedia Commons

Last week’s tumultuous May Day protests got many of us wondering: What is May 1 all about, anyway?

It’s been a workers’ holiday in Europe for years, but when did it become a big deal in the U.S.?

SUNY Empire State College history professor Jacob Remes says last week’s hubbub—from the union involvement to the spotlight on immigration, to the anarchist presence and police response—all fit right in to May Day’s radical history.

Aaron Hushagen

Anarchists have launched a fundraising campaign in an effort to help pay for the damages two Capitol Hill businesses incurred during this year’s May Day riot.

The campaign, called “Smash the State: Just Not Bill’s,” says its aim is to be “mending fences (or more accurately, windows), within the community,” specifically Bills Off Broadway and Sun Liquor, both of which were vandalized during the anti-capitalism march.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Seattle police said they’re continuing to investigate crimes committed in the course of an unruly May Day demonstration, but that they’re proud of how officers handled themselves.

Capt. Chris Fowler said Seattle police incorporated some important lessons from last year’s May Day protests. They had much longer to plan this year, even treating a small March 15 protest as a “rehearsal.” 

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Business owners are assessing the damage after some anti-capitalist protesters broke windows in Seattle last night. Only a handful sustained property damage, but many more businesses were affected financially.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

When mayhem broke out late May Day, Phoenix Jones and his wife were having dinner at a restaurant.

Jones, having attended earlier events with his sidekicks, had thought the day would end peacefully.

“All of a sudden, the phone trips and there’s a riot going on,” he said.

Jones and his wife, also a self-claimed superhero who goes by Purple Reign, rushed to the car to suit up, then hit the streets. Reign was in full costume, but Jones only had on his bulletproof vest instead of his full signature garb.  

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

In the wake of another violent May Day riot in Seattle, an anarchist website has posted some “cautionary tips” for protesters: get rid of evidence, and don’t brag.

“Do not keep the clothes you wore at the demonstration tonight!” said a post on “Similarly, do not keep any other instrument you used to commit a crime.”

Aaron Hushagen

City prosecutors have started filing charges against people arrested during a May Day protest in Seattle.

The City Attorney's Office said Thursday six people who spent the night in the King County Jail face misdemeanor charges that include obstructing officers, resisting arrest, property damage and failure to disperse.

Aaron Hushagen

At least 17 protesters were arrested and eight officers injured Wednesday as an "anti-capitalism" May Day march took a violent turn, first on Capitol Hill then in downtown Seattle. 

Vandals shattered the glass door of Sun Liquor, at 512 East Pike, around 7 p.m. before heading downtown, hurling metal pipes and rocks at cars and police, shoving camera crews and setting off flares along the way. 

Justin Steyer

A planned rally and march for workers and immigration reform progressed without interruptions by anarchists Wednesday, easing fears of another violent May Day.

Thousands of people gathered at Judkins Park, behind St. Mary's Church, for the Rally for Workers and Immigrant Rights at 1 p.m. Several unions were present, as were some representatives of the Occupy movement. Many people were displaying the flags of U.S. and Mexico, as well as signs urging comprehensive immigration reform. 

A number of events are planned for May Day in Seattle and Olympia. The interactive map above and the timeline below list the planned rallies and marches.

Red markers on the map denote starting or ending points of planned marches. Blue markers indicate sites of planned rallies. Green markers denote places where notable events took place on May Day 2012. (View full-size map

Justin Steyer

Seattle police insist they’re ready for whatever happens on May Day, that they are better staffed, better organized and better trained than last year.

“We’re as prepared as we can be, given our resources,” said Captain Chris Fowler, the designated commander for police May Day response.

Last year on May Day, there was widespread confusion among officers on duty about how to respond to black-clad vandals smashing windows downtown.

What’s different this time?

Reverberations from last year's May Day melee in downtown Seattle are still being felt among some activists in the Pacific Northwest.

You could say what happened after the window-smashing by black bloc anarchists on May 1, 2012 has spawned a whole new protest movement, the grand jury resistance movement.

Erin Hennessey / KPLU

Two young people who refused to testify to a grand jury about their ties to anarchists are getting out of prison today. They spent more than five months confined to a federal detention center in SeaTac until a judge ordered them released.

Erin Hennessey

Weeks have passed since the May Day protests, but Seattle police are still asking for help identifying the individuals who damaged property. The violence was largely attributed to people who've been called anarchists. So what is anarchy anyway?

Evan Hoover / KPLU

With all the broken glass, arrests, tear gas, sharp sticks and black-clad hooligans, it seems no one had any constructive fun during Seattle’s May Day protests. However, going back through our photos, we saw people having fun (at least at the moment the photo was being taken) and getting their message out.

Erin Hennessey / KPLU

City leaders in Seattle are thankful there were no serious injuries yesterday – only property damage. Mayor Mike McGinn says he regrets the vandalism, but he says officer safety and the safety of bystanders were his highest priorities.

The mayor and his police chief held a show-and-tell news conference today to highlight the variety of weapons they confiscated during the May Day demonstrations.

Evan Hoover / KPLU

With dozens of big, expensive windows smashed in downtown Seattle, eight arrests and reports that rocks were thrown through windows at Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn's home last night, the fallout from yesterday's May Day rallies and protests is just beginning to take shape.

This morning the mayor announced that all emergency measures put in place to respond to the rolling violence and anti-capitalist protests that paralyzed downtown have been lifted.

Evan Hoover / KPLU

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn evoked his emergency powers – during a day of violent protests and six arrests – ordering police to confiscate items from May Day protesters and revelers alike that could be used to damage property.

Some protesters dressed all in black used 3-inch thick sticks, which were disguised as flag poles, and tire irons to break windows in Seattle during rolling protests and marches that paralyzed downtown.

"The police officers will be approaching individuals who’ll be carrying items known to be weapons, confront them and ask them to peacefully give them up.  And if not peacefully given up, they will be confiscated," McGinn said at an afternoon press conference.

Around 4:30 p.m. officers arrested a handful of protesters after one policeman took a pole from a protester at First Avenue and Pike Street. That protester attempted to take the pole back and several others came to his aid, but officers made the arrests and pushed the others back. Both sides then faced off again in the street at the Pike Place Market until the demonstrators migrated back to Westlake Center.

(Photo gallery and videos after jump.)

Erin Hennessey / KPLU

From Mayor Mike McGinn worrying about violence to a guy on the street wondering if the ferries will run, tensions in Seattle are mounting over May Day protests.

Groups are planning May Day marches in Seattle to protest capitalism, immigration laws and labor practices, but the most consistent rallying cry is for a “general strike.” How many people will go on “strike,” how many will show up to rally and whether there will be an outbreak of violence on the streets are unknowns.

And that uncertainty appears to be jangling some nerves in the city.