Much of the activity in Seattle’s May Day protests of 2012 happened off of Capitol Hill. Officials this week are making preparations should the events of May Day 2013 take a different path.
“We just want to be prepared to respond where needed,” East Precinct Commander Capt. Ron Wilson told CHS Monday morning.
Wilson said the familiar street barriers around East Precinct headquarters at 12th and Pine will again be readied for the protest activity expected in the city on Wednesday. But they won’t be deployed unless SPD feels that developing events during the day warrant increased protection for the facility. “My goal is to keep the streets open for as long as practically possible,” Wilson said.
The East Precinct’s most recent preparations for a possible clash with anarchists and protesters in March ended up with the street barriers deployed — but a smaller-than-expected turnout of protesters.
Given published plans for May Day 2013 events in the neighborhood, East Precinct is in for a long day of vigilance.
As events unfold downtown in the afternoon with the arrival of thousand marching from the Central District for immigration rights, planned protest activity on Capitol Hill isn’t slated to begin until after the afternoon commute when an “Anti-Capitalist” rally and march begins on the Seattle Central campus at 6 PM:
Spring has sprung! This is a call for everyone who wants to celebrate May 1st by honoring the history and struggle of May Day. We will converge together in solidarity with our comrades facing repression from last year’s May 1st demonstrations and also to continue to stand against the oppression of our everyday lives in all forms, from the borders to the prisons and from bosses to the police. May Day is a day of tradition, a day to remember all our comrades that can’t be here with us and to remind each other that our struggle is global!
Meet on Wednesday May 1st at the corner of Pine & Broadway (SCCC) at 6pm. There will be a rally and a march.
While last year’s May Day on Capitol Hill was relatively quiet compared to the violence that occurred downtown, Capt. Wilson said his precinct learned from the much-criticized response. “It was very insightful to learn from last year’s event,” Wilson said. “It gave us an opportunity to improve on the tactics that we’re using.”
An independent report on the May Day 2012 incidents commissioned by SPD concluded that many in the department were unsure of their roles prior to the downtown protests. Also, an internal memo leaked following the 2012 riots criticized Chief John Diaz and the department for its response and tactics as thousands of marchers took over downtown Seattle. The memo documented SPD’s use of undercover officers assigned to infiltrate the gathering crowds and what it described as poorly planned deployment of officers when violence broke out. An ongoing media effort to identify and capture suspects from the day’s violence and vandalism resulted in only a handful of charges. Meanwhile, an FBI probe of Portland anarchists’ connections to the May Day protests in Seattle was revealed late last year.
According to some posted schedules, Wednesday is slated to wrap up with a “celebration” at E Pine’s Black Coffee Co-op starting at 9 PM. A check of the cafe’s web site shows it will be closed to the public all day on May 1st. UPDATE: We talked to a representative for Black Coffee who wanted everybody to know the shop will be closed so the co-op’s members can celebrate the important day and are holding the 9 PM event as a private gathering. Scott Davis said they considered not holding a celebration marking the greater historical and cultural significance of May Day out of concern that it would be too closely associated with Seattle protests but that Black Coffee ultimately decided to hold the party. Davis said information and material about May Day will also be available outside the shop on Wednesday.