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May 1, 2012 at 8:37 PM

Some of the more famous riots/protests in Seattle history

Today certainly wasn’t the only time protests turned ugly – be it intended or not – in Seattle-area history. Here’s a look at some of the more notable events:

Occupy Seattle: The downtown Westlake Park area was the focal point of days of protests in late September/early October of last year. There were dozens of arrests as the city grappled with the legality of demonstrators camping out in the public space. The local protest was part of a national movement aimed at making ecomonic policies fairer for “the 99 percent.” Big banks were a primary target.

Mardi Gras riot: A riot broke out in the Pioneer Square neighborhood on Feb. 27, 2001, when Mardi Gras partying turned violent. One person, Kris Kime, died of injuries sustained during an attempt to assist a woman being attacked.

WTO protests in Seattle.

WTO in Seattle: The meeting of world leaders in November 1999 resulted in a downtown curfew zone after vandals clashed with police and damaged property over a three-day period. A movie about the event starring Woody Harrelson, called “Battle in Seattle,” premiered in 2007. Estimates of the number of protesters ranged as high as 40,000. Police arrested 157 people, but they ended up being released for lack of evidence. The chaos resulted in the resignation of Seattle police chief Norm Stamper a few days later. (Archive: Seattle Times WTO photo gallery and map chronicle.)

The Rodney King verdict: During the early morning of May 1, 1992, about a hundred people were involved in violence downtown that involved broken windows, looting and overturning cars. The following night on Capitol Hill, there was more violence and damage, along with a confrontation between police and a mob outside East Precinct police headquarters. In all, 180 people were arrested, 149 of them adults.


March closes I-5 after Kent State shootings: On May 5, 1970, a day after four Kent State University students were shot during an anti-Vietnam War protest, thousands of UW students took to the streets and out onto I-5. Despite the presence of riot police, the gathering did not result in any arrests or violence.

General Strike: From Wikipedia: “The Seattle General Strike of 1919 was a five-day general work stoppage by over 65,000 workers in the city of Seattle, Washington, which lasted from February 6 to February 11 of that year.” The protest was anti-violent, and there no arrests until after the event ended – 39 Industrial Workers of the World union leaders were arrested for their role in organizing the protest.

Wobblies protest: This Nov. 5, 1916, event produced certainly the most bloody outcome of a protest effort in the region’s history. Two men were killed and 16-20 were wounded, according to the Wikipedia account, in a shootout between local authorities in Everett and members of the Industrial Workers of the World union, commonly called “Wobblies.”

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Comments | Topics: famous, protests, riots

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