Downtown Seattle businesses preparing for May Day

by: Natasha Chen Updated:

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SEATTLE —

Last year, protestors damaged and broke windows. Police arrested 17 people.

This year, the Downtown Seattle Association, in conjunction with the Seattle Police Department, is returning to a program they piloted last year called EvenTrac.

The association’s president and CEO will be at the SPD Command Center and provide real-time updates to every business that has first-floor storefront property at risk.

They’ll see updates on the march’s direction, progress and photos of any and all damage that may be being caused by rowdier crowds.

"Freedom of speech is great. But when you combine that with broken windows, I fail to see the connection,” said James Sido with the Downtown Seattle Association.

"It's available to street-level businesses and property owners along the routes for the demonstration so we can keep them up to speed with what's happening.”

While Facebook pages for anarchist protests encourage a repeat of the violence last year, a new May Day Concert will take place at the same time and location as one of the protests. The family-friendly concert will feature songs from "The Wizard of Oz" at the Seattle Central College plaza, from 5-7 p.m.

Meanwhile, two self-described anarchist or anti-capitalist marches will begin during the 6 p.m. hour.

One user posted:

“Both marches will merge into one massive march. What happens afterward, is anybody's guess!"

Seattle police have already said they will have no tolerance for violence.

They’ll be armed with less than lethal deterrents, including smoke bombs and pepper spray. 

They told KIRO 7 they will deploy those methods after at least three warnings over a loudspeaker. 

Small businesses told KIRO 7 they are not as concerned about potential property damage or violence. 

“I don’t see our business as really one of the targets of that,” said Sarah Rosenblatt, a barista at Kaladi Brothers Coffee in Capitol Hill. 

Rosenblatt intends to march with El Comite. 

“It’s framed as this day of chaos that’s meaningless, and while I personally don’t participate in property destruction, I think that there are ideologies that people should understand, where the anger is coming from,” Rosenblatt said. 

She said protestors typically target larger chain stores and corporations.

Niketown’s windows were shattered two years ago, and the windows of a Capitol Hill Walgreens were broken last year. 

Walgreens said in a statement: 

“The Seattle Police Department has been in contact with us and other retailers in the area, and we have confidence in the city’s ability to manage the situation.” 

Other larger stores downtown told KIRO 7 they may have extra security. They may also lock up and leave early, if necessary.

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