McGinn blames 'Black Bloc' for May Day violence

by: Essex Porter, KIRO 7 Senior Political Reporter Updated:

SEATTLE - After violence broke out at Seattle’s May Day demonstrations Tuesday, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn placed blame on a group that calls itself the “Black Bloc.”

The group has gained a reputation for sparking violence at other protests in Seattle and across the country.

“The Black Bloc group did extensive damage to the courthouse, including destruction of glass doors,” Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said Tuesday. “When they arrived at Pike Street, they did extensive damage to retail business.”

Niketown appeared to suffer the worst of that attack on retail businesses, as vandals smashed several windows and threw paint at the façade.

The group doesn’t just operate in Seattle.

Video obtained from CBS News showed violence erupting at Occupy Oakland in November. The Black Bloc apparently stole the spotlight then from peaceful protesters.

 “We called the mayor’s office the moment we understood what was going on over here,” an Occupy leader said then. “That was an anonymous action; that was nothing to do with Occupy Oakland.”

Reports indicate the Black Block worldwide is synonymous with what many also call anarchists – that the Black Bloc is not so much an organization, but a tactic of hit-and-run violence.

The destruction made no sense to people KIRO 7 talked to who viewed the damage at Niketown.

“I don’t even know what the protests are for,” Kiara Martinez said. “It’s stupid.”

“I think it’s crazy, I think it’s insane,” said Erica Turner of Seattle. “Everybody who probably did it had a pair of Nikes on.”

The Black Bloc has been to Seattle before. KIRO 7’s research uncovered that it was the same group that caused trouble at the 1999 WTO protests that turned to riots.