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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

May 1, 2012 at 10:22 AM

Latest from Seattle May Day protests: Police confiscated 70 items from protesters

Some May Day protests today in Seattle erupted into violence. We’re updating events as they unfold here. Jim Brunner, Cathy McLain, Jennifer Sullivan will be following the  story into the night.

UPDATE: 9:50 p.m. | Seattle police say they seized about 70 items from May Day protesters Tuesday after an emergency order from Mayor Mike McGinn. Items included metal sign poles, sharpened stakes and anything else that could have been used as a weapon. More information and pictures here.

UPDATE: 8:43 p.m. | Seattle police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said that officers are monitoring Westlake Park tonight, the only spot where protesters remain.

“The idea is that we’re going to keep tabs on things and make sure people get home safely,” Whitcomb said.

Whitcomb said police plan to investigate the people responsible for the earlier vandalism and other troubles downtown.

“The planned demonstrations were peaceful; we’re very sorry that a small number of infiltrators showed up early and set such a negative tone for the day,” he said.

“We promise to do a very thorough and complete investigation to identify the people responsible for the violence and bring them in to custody.”

UPDATE: 8:19 p.m. | The city of Seattle announced it has closed its Emergency Operations Center, citing the dwindling crowds of protesters.

UPDATE: 7:53 p.m. | Winding down? Only about 50 or so Occupy Seattle protesters remain at Westlake Park, according to Seattle Times reporter Emily Heffter.

UPDATE: 7:36 p.m. | Because of the protests, a small sandwich shop on Third Avenue had to throw away 160 sandwiches after a corporate customer canceled an event because of  the traffic disruptions.

“They’re hurting the little guy,” said the shop’s manager.

UPDATE: 7:18 p.m. | The manager of an American Apparel store downtown recalled his staff being shaken up after anarchists smashed store windows. Asked about the motivation of the protesters, the manager said “I don’t know what to say. It sucks.” Read more of the manager’s account from Seattle Times reporter Erik Lacitis.

UPDATE: 6:55 p.m. Seattle police say they have made two more arrests, making a total of eight for the day so far. This evening, officers arrested a 20-year-old man for investigation of vandalism and a 30-year-old man for investigation of pedestrian interference, according to a Police Department spokesman.

At Westlake Park this evening, the spot where hundreds of protesters had gathered just hours earlier, there was little to report said Seattle police Capt. Joe Kessler, who heads the department’s West Precinct. Kessler said things are peaceful at the moment.

UPDATE: 5:52 p.m. | The annual May Day immigration rights march is underway from Judkins Park to downtown Seattle. Even before the march started, organizers had to resolve the matter of the lead vehicle – a horse-drawn wagon in Wells Fargo red and yellow colors, on a flat bed drawn by a pick up truck. Police told organizers the were worried about marchers being hit or run over bt the truck. But Wells Fargo’s main downtown branch is the terminus for this march and organizers worked out a compromise where participants will march behind the truck only.

This years march — which took up less than one city block — appears to have attracted far fewer people than in years past. There also appears to be fewer immigrants, as folks from other movements — labor, Occupy, and a host of social justice organizations also joined in. The protesters are calling on Wells Fargo to withdraw investments in private companies that run immigration detention centers. (Information from Seattle Times reporter Lornet Turnbull, who is following the march.)

UPDATE: 5:05 p.m. | Police and some protesters skirmished near Pike Place Market this afternoon after a man was arrested for struggling when officers confiscated a pole he was carrying.

UPDATE: 3:45 p.m. |  Here’s the Seattle police timeline of this afternoon’s events:

  • At 11:50 a.m., a group marches from Seattle Central Community College to Westlake Park, arriving at 12:07 p.m.
  • At 12:21 p.m., approximately 300 people — including approximately 75 “Black Bloc” protesters armed with sticks, wooden riot batons and other weapons — marched from the park west on  Pike Street then south on Third Avenue.
  • As they marched along Third, people began jumping on cars and causing property damage, much of which was captured live by TV cameras.
  • At 12:35 p.m., officers reported paint and rocks flying, along with hammers and tire irons being used to damage property. There also were reports of “sound bombs” and fireworks.
  • The crowd walked past Benaroya Hall and turned onto Seneca, causing various damage along the way.
  • They stopped at the Well Fargo Bank branch in the 1200 block of Fourth Avenue where they caused “significant property damage.”
  • The crowd then continued up to Fifth Avenue and Spring Street,  eventually arriving at the 9th District Court of Appeals at Sixth Avenue and Madison Street, where the “Black Bloc” group did extensive damage to the courthouse, including destruction of glass doors.
  • At 12:43 p.m., we have reports of local “superheroes” engaging with “Black Bloc” to defend courthouse.
  • The crowd then headed north, causing property damage along the way.
  • At Sixth Avenue and University Street, the “Black Bloc” blocked traffic.
  • When they arrived at Pike Street, they caused extensive damage to retail businesses (Niketown).
  • At this point officers were able to get into the crowd.
  • The group dispersed, the “Black Bloc” members ran, and an unknown number of arrests were made.
  • At 12:59, p.m., the core group of “Black Bloc” members returned to Westlake, where we saw them live on video changing back into street clothes and blending into the crowd
  • We have reports that at that point, the leaders of the “Black Bloc” dispersed and left the area

UPDATE: 3:35 p.m. |  Nike issues statement on protest: “Nike supports free and peaceful protests. We do not condone violence. Fortunately, no one was injured at Niketown Seattle. We will re-open the store as quickly as possible.”

UPDATE: 3:30 p.m. |  Citing student safety, Seattle Schools officials say their buses will be running up to 90 minutes late due to the May Day protest.

UPDATE: 3:05 p.m. |  All five downtown Wells Fargo Bank branches, including one at Fourth Avenue and Seneca Street where windows were broken, have been closed for the rest of the day, said Lara Underhill, a Wells Fargo spokeswoman.

“We didn’t know what to expect and wanted to ensure the safety of our team members and customers,” Underhill said. The main downtown branch at Third Avenue and Marion Street typically closes at 5 p.m., and the other four branches normally close at 6 p.m.

Protesters shattered a door window at Nordstrom’s corporate offices on Sixth Avenue, said spokeswoman Tara Darrow. She disputed some posts on Twitter that said Nordstrom’s flagship store had gone on lockdown, though it did temporarily close one entrance at a time based on the protesters’ movements.

No injuries were reported at Nordstrom’s headquarters or either of its downtown stores, including the Nordstrom Rack at Westlake Center, she said.

Starbucks closed about a half-dozen stores downtown after protesters broke windows at several of them, said spokesman Zack Hutson. He said it’s unclear if they’ll reopen today.

UPDATE: 2:53 p.m. |  Mayor McGinn has authorized the seizure of potential weapons. After vandals used handheld flag poles to break window, the mayor says he will sign an emergency order authorizing police to confiscate items that can be used as weapons. He also said police have been using tactics developed in response to the 1999 WTO riots.

UPDATE: 2:44 p.m. |  Mayor McGinn says two arrests confirmed. May be others.

UPDATE: 2:35 p.m. |  Police say they are preparing for more violence.

UPDATE: 2:30 p.m. |  Details on the damage to the U.S. Court of Appeals:  A group of protesters marched up Madison Street and as they turned onto the Sixth Avenue side, “all hell broke loose,” said David Madden, public information officer for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who’s based in San Francisco. Glass doors at the entrance were shattered and lower-level windows broken. Multi-colored stains were left on the ceramic tiles on the exterior of the building.

Someone tried to ignite an incendiary device, but it apparently it didn’t go off, Madden said.

The courthouse is used by Court of Appeals judges and at least one judge, Richard Tallman, was in the building at the time, Madden said. The FBI and other agencies also have offices in the building, he said.

Guards locked  the doors and no one got inside, Madden said.  No one was injured.

Demonstrators broke out windows at the William Kenzo Nakamura U.S. Court of Appeals in downtown Seattle early Tuesday afternoon. (Photo by Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

UPDATE: 2:08 p.m. | Seattle police say they have made arrests, but they aren’t giving up any numbers yet.

UPDATE: 2:05 p.m. | Seattle Times photographers on the scene have sent many photos from the streets.

UPDATE: 1:50 p.m. | More about damage: At the Washington Athletic Club building at 6th and Union, protesters smashed a large plate-glass window that was part of the HSBC branch.

Across the street at the 2 Union Square building, in vacant office space, there was a 6-inch hole in a window. A security guard pointed to a rock inside that had been thrown through it.

Half a block away, the owner of a silver Porche Cayenne would be greeted with a spray-painted green anarchy symbol on the hood when they returned.

UPDATE: 1:45 p.m. | Cops say damage to stores and vehicles downtown amounts to “thousands and thousands ” of dollars as vandals struck store windows, cars, just about everything in their path.  Officers followed them to Westlake Park where many of the vandals were reportedly changing out of the black clothes they wore while smashing windows.

UPDATE: 1:20 p.m. | The group dressed in black appears to have dispersed for the most part by now, some folks saying they have mingled with the now 500 or so protesters gathered at Westlake Park. People there are listening to a rap concert.

UPDATE: 1:10 p.m. | Those bent on doing damage, who call themselves Black Bloc, broke out the front windows of Niketown and several windows of American Apparel next door. Graffiti was put on Fidelity Investments at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Pike Street. Police have blocked Pine Street and were moving along Sixth toward Westlake Park.

UPDATE: 1: p.m. | Protesters have broken windows in several places downtown and police were using tear gas and force to stop them. Police had chased the group dressed in black — the ones who vandalized the federal courthouse — down Sixth Avenue, then on Olive, then back up Fifth.

Meanwhile, many protesters returned to Westlake Park and are giving speeches and rallying.

UPDATE: 12:40 p.m. | Protesters are starting to do damage. They stopped briefly at the U.S. Court of Appeals, broke a window and set a small fire in front of the door. They also shot paintballs at the building. A large swarm of people dressed in black and carrying poles with flags on them were moving through the streets.

UPDATE: 12:20 p.m. | A group of about 50 demonstrators, several carrying small red and black flags, just before noon from Seattle Central Community College on their way to Westlake Park, to meet what they expect to be a larger crowd of May Day protesters.

An advertised “bike swarm” hardly materialized, as only 10 cyclists participated here.

The walkers passed through the college’s main building twice, then headed north on Broadway, in the northbound road lane.

Liam Wright, a student leader of the march, led a chant: “When the people of the world are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” Earlier, he called the event an “anti-capitalist” march.

While this and larger rallies throughout the world are meant to raise awareness of plutocracy, demonstrators have their own diverse causes.

Lisa Marcus, carrying a bucket of tulips and lilacs on her bicycle, handed out leaflets opposing oil extraction from the Alberta tar sands. A woman named Alex, in the bike escort group, said she simply enjoys being on a ride with other people — and opposes a new juvenile detention center on 12th Avenue.

Before the march, Wright said basic classes at the college are too crowded, and he perceives a shift toward making it merely of a “trade school” for job training. He said the college has a tradition of including progressive, even radical activism.

Michael Pham, vice president for administrative services, said the rally didn’t disrupt any classes. The marchers were a mix of students and others.

At the last big Occupy rally in Seattle, some people in a breakaway group threw wood and metal at police, as officers and horses advanced toward a small crowd on Harbor Island. Traffic disruptions are expected this afternoon downtown, and Mayor Mike McGinn has warned of potential violence.

10:45 a.m. | Concerned that anarchists and possible violence may disrupt of May Day protests converging on downtown Seattle today, the Young Composer Workshop concert at Benaroya Hall has been canceled.

Traffic congestion also was an issue, according to the letter sent to participants of the event Monday.

According to the letter from Thomasina Adams, school programs manager with the Seattle Symphony:

All evening our Executive Director and senior managers have been discussing whether or not we should continue with the scheduled concert. In the end our executive team felt that the safety and well being of the students and families should be the number priority and so they made the decision to postpone the Young Composers Workshop concert.

Authorities say the protests and marches are likely to cause traffic disruptions and warn that there’s a possibility peaceful demonstrations will be disrupted by people wanting to incite mayhem.
Here’s a roundup of May Day events:

What is this ‘capitalism’ you’re protesting against? | Jon Talton 

World’s workers express anger, gloom, elation on May Day 

Political extremists thriving on Europe’s debt crisis 

Immigrant, labor, Occupy groups join for protests in U.S. 

May Day moods around the world

Comments | More in General news | Topics: anarchists, May Day, Seattle Symphony


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