Peaceful protest turns to riot
Protestors march throughout downtown Seattle four hours after violence erupted.
Photo credit: ALEX HERBIG/The Falcon.
Windows smashed, cars vandalized
By CHRISTINE COOK, Assistant News Editor
Published: May 2, 2012
May Day protests in downtown Seattle turned violent yesterday.
At 12:35 p.m., peaceful protests were interrupted by a group of people smashing windows, setting off fireworks and firing paintballs into the crowd.
May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day, is a celebration of both labor and general left-wing movements. This year, May Day was marked by protests headed by the Occupy Wall Street Movement and included protests by Latin American immigrants.
Just after 3 p.m., Marj Johnson, senior vice president for administration and University Relations, sent an email to Seattle Pacific students, warning them to avoid downtown.
Midday violence included the breaking of windows at four banks — Wells Fargo, Home Street Bank, Bank of America and HSBC. The windows of retail stores next door, NikeTown and American Apparel, were smashed as well.
Protesters smashed cars and tagged a Porsche with an anarchist symbol. After causing mayhem, the vandals, who were dressed in black, changed their clothing and blended into the crowd, making it difficult for police to identify them.
After the outbursts in the afternoon, Mayor Mike McGinn signed an emergency order that authorized police to confiscate any item that could be used to vandalize. As of 8 p.m., police had confiscated over 70 items that could have been used as weapons.
Just before 5 p.m., a group of protestors holding banners and signs began filling Fourth Avenue in front of Westlake Center. The Seattle Police Department formed a circle on the street, forcing the crowd onto the sidewalks.
Protestors of all ages yelled at the police in anger. A man dressed like a clown walked down a line of officers, taunting them. The tension between police and protestors was almost tangible; officers stood ready to use their batons. At one point, an officer whispered to another that she could use force if anyone close.
Around 5 p.m., the protestors began a scheduled march from Westlake Center to the Second Avenue entrance of Wells Fargo, across the street from the Seattle Federal Building. The march concluded with an anti-border rally promoting immigrant and workers’ rights.
By the end of the day, eight people were arrested.