Multiple arrests as May Day protest turns violent

by: KIRO 7 STAFF Updated:

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SEATTLE —

Seattle police recovered a gun and made several arrests during May Day marches in Seattle Thursday evening.

Hundreds of peaceful demonstrators took part in a sunny May Day march in support of immigrant rights and a boost in the minimum wage in Seattle, but a smaller group of sometimes-masked protesters kept police busy as the sun went down. 

The supposed anarchists met at Seattle Central College at 6 p.m., but for the next five hours they seemed to have no direction as the march snaked for miles  in circles in and out of Downtown, Belltown and Capitol Hill.

Some marched wearing masks, black clothing and backpacks as they carried signs, flags, sticks, and banners. Officers on bicycles stopped protesters at East Pine Street and Broadway by making a formation with their bodies and bicycles.  Officers were hit with bottles, bricks, and other projectiles. Police were shoved, and they shoved back.  Seattle police said they believed officers used pepper spray in only one incident.

Shortly before 11 p.m., garbage gans were set on fire as police stayed around the group on Capitol Hill.  

Seattle police said 10 people were arrested during the demonstrations:

  • A  22-year-old man for property damage in the 1500 block of Broadway.
  • A 23-year-old man for assaulting an officer at Sixth Avenue and Battery Street—officers also recovered a gun on the man during the arrest.
  • An 18-year-old man for malicious mischief at Sixth Avenue and Virginia Street, where he damaged at least one vehicle.
  • A 22-year-old man arrested for obstruction at Fifth Avenue and Virginia Street.
  • A 17-year-old man arrested for property damage at Sixth and Pine Street.
  • A 37-year-old man arrested for assault at Broadway and Pine Street.
  • A 21-year-old man arrested for assault at Broadway and Pine Street.
  • A 19-year-old arrested for assault at Broadway and Pine Street.
  • A 20-year-old man arrested for assault at Broadway and E Olive Way.
  • A 17-year-old man arrested for obstruction at Broadway and Pine Street.

Earlier Thursday night, Seattle police officers on bicycles surrounded someone and took the person into custody on Capitol Hill at East Pike Street and Broadway. A man wearing black was led away in cuffs and transported in a police van.

They also appeared to take several people into custody outside the U.S. Bank along Fifth Avenue on the way to Westlake Park. Protesters started becoming antagonistic, covering photographers' lenses with their hands and yelling.

Demonstrators marching on Pine Street told KIRO 7 "Anarchy lives" and said "the system is failing" but refused or were unable to elaborate. They also chanted, "Whose streets, our streets?" Some handed out flyers saying "Capitalism and the state still rule Seattle." One large banner read, "Anti capitalism, anti-state." Seattle police officers, some wearing forms of body armor or shielding, monitored the march on bicycles and trailed the march in patrol cars.

The first boisterous rally started in South Seattle and headed to Westlake Park downtown, with demonstrators waving red signs seeking an end to deportations and "poverty wages," with a demand for a $15 an hour minimum wage.

Earlier Thursday Mayor Ed Murray announced a plan to phase in a $15 minimum wage over the next seven years.

Seattle police were out in force on bicycles, foot and horseback.

Violence has plagued May Day in Seattle over the past two years, with protesters challenging police in the streets and sometimes stealing the thunder of much larger daytime events.

Last year, police arrested 18 people from a crowd that pelted them with rocks and bottles. Seattle police say there's been more anti-authority rhetoric leading up to this year's May Day events.

Capt. Chris Fowler, in charge of the department's response to the demonstrations, asked that if people have a message to get out, they get it out safely and peacefully. Police escorted the permitted march of immigration and labor activists, and also planned to escort any later un-permitted marches, allowing them to block traffic but preparing to step in to stop property damage.

Businesses downtown also prepared, posting security guards outside, taping paper over their windows to discourage graffiti, and using metal coat hangers to tie down iron grates along the sidewalks.

The police department's blog said vandals spray-painted a few businesses early Thursday in the Capitol Hill neighborhood — a car dealership, bank, restaurant and "the neighborhood headquarters of the oppressive regime at the United States Postal Service."

Officers also found "Kill SPD" painted on the bank, and a flier was circulated calling for killing officers.

"There are issues with our police department. But when people say we ought to kill police, that's unacceptable," Murray said.

KIRO 7 reporters Gary Horcher, Alison Grande, Henry Rosoff, Chris Legeros and Linzi Sheldon contributed to this report, which also includes information The Associated Press.

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