Seattle police explain May Day strategy

by: Henry Rosoff Updated:

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SEATTLE —

Seattle police said Friday they handled the May Day crowd about as well as could be expected. 

There were only 10 arrests this year and two officers who suffered minor injuries.  One got hurt on his bike; another got scratched in the face while making an arrest. 

Police took their “bike block” strategy from 2013 to another level in 2014.  All the officers were in body armor.  At about 9:30 p.m. they heard the crowd of 200-300 “anarchists” to Broadway and Pine, and then they blocked them into the intersection. 

“We were worried about [them turning back downtown], they had attempted and did some property damage throughout the length of the march so that was a consideration,” said Captain Chris Fowler, who led the SPD effort Thursday night.

Police said Department of Justice monitors were in the command center watching their every move.  They “asked questions, but did not give orders,” said Assistant Police Chief Paul McDonagh. 

Apparently, monitors thought everything was handled appropriately.  There were no “force investigation team” investigations launched in the aftermath of the protest.

“Seattle police officers conducted themselves with admirable patience and professionalism during May Day yesterday and throughout the night,” said new Mayor Ed Murray

The only time police needed to use concentrated pepper spray is when one officer was attacked after several officers tried to help some people in a white convertible that anarchists surrounded.  That officer was not hurt.

Protesters this year seemed less concerned with going after property and police in 2014 than photographers with the news media and each other at times.

Seattle Police were asked why they allowed the unpermitted protest to happen at all.  McDonagh pointed to a long history of people being allowed to speak out in Seattle.  He said it is up to the community wanted to have a larger conversation about stopping the unpermitted protest, and until then the department sees it as its job to contain and protect.