Just another calm, quiet May Day on Capitol Hill

2018’s immigration rights march

With reporting and photos by Alex Garland

Unless you count a Patriot Prayer photo op in Plymouth Pillars Park, Capitol Hill was again spared the ravages of a May Day riot as marches and protests fanned out across Seattle Tuesday amid a heavy police presence and a smaller than expected turnout for the city’s annual immigration march.

Police interventions were few, blast bombs went undeployed, and even the Amazon Spheres came through May Day 2018 unscathed — though one man was arrested Tuesday for trying to throw a rock through the glass Bezos balls, Seattle Police said. Continue reading

With planned protests off Capitol Hill, 2018 May Day in Seattle will center on March against ICE, Bloc the Juvi — UPDATE

May Day protests around the Capitol Hill area have centered on 12th Ave’s youth jail in recent years

Will these characters show up again in 2018?

El Comite’s annual march — annually peaceful, annually colorful

It’s been a long time since May Day turned into a “riot” on Capitol Hill but given the neighborhood’s place as a gathering point for protest, SPD tactics in the past that resulted in a push of large crowds out of downtown and up the Hill, and the new focus on 12th Ave’s youth jail, the neighborhood remains on watch every time May 1st rolls around.

This year — the first May Day under former federal prosecutor Jenny Durkan’s mayoral watch, expect another day of heavy police presence and television helicopters.

The foundation to the day — and the first amendment activities most everyone can get behind — remains the annual Marcha Y Manifestacion Anual del 1o de Mayo organized by immigrant labor rights organization El Comité. In 2016, the route changed to include Capitol Hill. In 2018, the march that will again be joined by thousands has more significance than ever — calling out U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement activity in Washington:

El Comité and the May 1st Action Coalition are calling on all workers and all social justice advocates to come out on Tuesday, May 1st 2018 (International Workers’ Day) for the 19th Annual May Day March for Immigrant and Workers Rights. We are using the march to publicly expose ICE activity in Washington State and to hold the Department of Licensing accountable for having facilitated ICE harassment against community members by way of sharing information about motorists. The March in Seattle on May 1st is among several coordinated events happening in communities across the State of Washington, including Yakima, and Tacoma.

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CHS Pics | May Day labor and immigration march takes new route on Capitol Hill

May Day El Comite - 7 of 24

May Day El Comite - 13 of 24

Images by Alex Garland for CHS

It has become a familiar refrain for Seattle’s mainstream media to hold up the city’s annual May Day labor and immigration rights march as a peaceful counterpoint to the violence and mayhem that accompanies the May Day night protests. We cover the 2016 edition of the annual contest pitting Seattle Police and its crowd management tactics vs. agitated protesters here.

The annual march organized by immigrant labor rights organization El Comité shouldn’t be reduced to a convenient editorial prop. The march’s organizers set out to make their voices heard and the groups involved choose their own path through the city. That’s why in 2016 we got more Marcha Y Manifestacion Anual del 1o de Mayo on Capitol Hill than ever.

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Capitol Hill May Day 2016 Open Thread — UPDATE: Clashes in downtown, Belltown, Pioneer Square


Sunday’s Marcha Y Manifestacion Anual del 1o de Mayo 2016 crossed Capitol Hill and was a peaceful affair (Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Image: Alex Garland)

(Image: Alex Garland)

Some stores on lower Pike followed the lead of the Starbucks roastery and downtown businesses in boarding up their windows for May Day (Image: @amykatehorn via Twitter)

Some stores on lower Pike followed the lead of the Starbucks roastery and downtown businesses in boarding up their windows for May Day (Image: @amykatehorn via Twitter)

UPDATE 8:25 PM: May Day 2016 played out almost exactly like 2015 — but this time, SPD’s tangle with the protesters was pushed across Belltown, downtown, Pioneer Square, and SoDo. There were at least five arrests and two reported injured officers, according to SPD. Police used a large number of officers, pepper spray and flash bombs, and aggressive use of bikes to leapfrog the crowd, hold lines, and direct the protest as the crowd attempted to rush from Westlake and through downtown.

Meanwhile on Capitol Hill — the scene of last year’s May Day standoffs between police and protesters — the night was quiet with the annual anti-capitalist march not being staged at Seattle Central this year as in years past. The protesters had said they didn’t want to be corralled again on Capitol Hill as police did during the 2015 response. But the results in 2016, even as the groups covered many more miles across Seattle, were the same. Police were able to control the demonstrators and channel their routes — this time pushing them north, then briefly west, then on the long walk south to SoDo. Along the way, the crowds of anticapitalists, anarchists, and demonstrators looked even smaller grouped below downtown’s highrises and megaretailers.

After meeting with some of the five injured officers at Harborview Medical Center, Mayor Ed Murray and SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole briefly recapped the evening outside the hospital. “We made it clear that once assaults begin, once property damage begins, we’re going to take action,” said O’Toole.

“Our plan was much better this year than it was last year,” O’Toole said.

The FBI’s Frank Montoya said part of the May Day response included a search in Eastern Washington in which agents recovered “possibly incendiary devices” in possession of a man as part of an investigation about threats against Seattle law enforcement officers. The man was not taken into custody.

Police said they are prepared if protesters reconvene overnight at Seattle Central.

Reports from earlier in the evening are below.

UPDATE 5:00 PM: A smaller than usual but equally enthusiastic crowd of marchers for the annual May Day labor and immigration rights march from the Central District to downtown took a longer route across Capitol Hill this year — but as usual, that part of the May Day activism was peaceful with no reported incidents of vandalism or police clashes.

UPDATE 6:35 PM: Clashes between protesters and police have begun downtown as officers attempted to contain the crowd on 5th Ave after an attempt by the protesters to move east on Pine. There were reports of attacks with sticks and stones by protesters as officers deployed pepper spray. Police were attempting to push the crowd to the north on 5th, according to radio dispatches.

There were reports of property damage and SPD commanders were giving the go-ahead to control and divert the crowd of around 200 protesters as the violence escalated.

“This is no longer a peaceful march,” the SPD incident commander announced via radio as the police response shifted from monitoring the protest to taking control of the crowd.

UPDATE 6:58 PM: For May Day 2016, we have apparently traded places with Belltown. The routes of the protesters are being controlled by SPD and so far the lines have held. The groups have been forced onto and around 2nd Ave in Belltown as SPD continues to separate and remove some protesters from the crowd while leapfrogging the crowds by utilizing a fleet of police vehicles.

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May Day 2016: Chamber prepares, anti-capitalists, for a change, plan march *off* Capitol Hill — UPDATE

Though May Day 2016 is a “day of rest,” the neighborhood business community and city officials are preparing for possible clashes between police and protesters after last year’s riot on Capitol Hill:

Again, an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 people took to the streets from Judkins Park to downtown in the annual pro-worker and immigration rights march and a Black Lives Matter rally in a peaceful demonstration. And again in 2015, the violence and mayhem of May Day in Seattle was shoved back into Capitol Hill neighborhoods as police blocked the “anti-capitalist” and “anti-police” crowds that gathered at Broadway and Pine later that night from streaming into downtown with strong lines of armor-plated officers who deployed pepper spray, “less lethal” projectiles, and so many flash bangs that the efforts in East Precinct had to be re-supplied.

“This year, May 1st falls on a Sunday, and for the past few years, various organizations and individuals have chosen to participate in coordinated and impromptu protests in downtown Seattle,” a special notice sent to Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce members Monday afternoon reads. “Recently these protests have migrated to Capitol Hill and have led to property damage and aggressive behavior that makes residents, employees, business and property owners concerned for their safety.”

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Report on SPD use of force in Capitol Hill protest: No officer reprimands but blast-ball use created ‘fear and panic’


(Image: CHS)

Seattle police should re-evaluate the way officers use so-called blast ball grenades to disperse crowds during events like this year’s May Day protest on Capitol Hill, according to a report from the Seattle’s police oversight office. Meanwhile, excessive use of force allegations against officers were found to be without grounds, according to the Office of Professional Accountability report.

Police deployed at least 48 blast balls during its response to this year’s May Day Anti-Capitalist March turned “riot,” which largely took place on Capitol Hill. The report from Seattle’s OPA was unable to determine if officers violated department guidelines, but investigators raised concerns about blast balls that were thrown over the heads of protestors and detonations that happened in close proximity to people who posed no threat.

Because the initial detonation of a blast-ball separates a hard metal fuse device from its rubber base, there is a possibility of the metal fuse acting as shrapnel and causing serious injury to someone in close proximity when it separates. In addition, deployment of blast-balls at the feet of people or into a crowd can cause burns from the second and larger detonation, as well as blunt force trauma from the rubber base as the flash powder inside explodes and the two halves of the base fly apart.

“The evidence from May Day 2015 indicates that, while highly effective in getting people to move, the ball-blasts create fear and panic when detonated,” the report concludes.

The report comes in response to five complaints filed against officers for excessive use of force during the May 1st demonstration. Ultimately, the OPA did not uphold the allegations, but included seven recommendations on how SPD could better handle similar situations.

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25 scenes of May Day 2015 from the CHS Flickr Pool

As Seattle searches its soul a week after yet another May Day night of clashes between protesters and police on Capitol Hill, here are a few more views from the streets via the CHS Flickr Pool. CHS’s report on the actions of protesters and SPD is here and you can find our live reporting of May Day 2015 here. Earlier this week, we reported on charges filed against some of those arrested and criticism of SPD’s heavy-handed response. Following the critical session in front of the Seattle City Council, SPD responded to the criticism with its own timeline of the May Day incidents. The final tallies only tell part of the story: 16 arrested, 10 charged, nine reported police force injuries, windows busted at a QFC, Urban Outfitters, and the Harvard Exit — a night of pepper spray clouds, “blast ball” welts, and incessant helicopter buzz over Capitol Hill.

Last Saturday morning as the few reported broken windows and graffiti tags were still being cleaned up, Mayor Ed Murray met with representatives from the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and talked about how to bring an end to the cycle of May Day violence in the neighborhood while continuing the history of Pine and Broadway as a place where freedom of speech is protected and often exercised.  “The neighborhood needs to attempt to take this back,” Murray told the group. A week later, it’s not any more clear about how that might happen.

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At least eight charged in May Day protest turned ‘riot’ on Capitol Hill, SPD to brief City Council — UPDATE

IMG_4308At least eight people have been charged with crimes related to the May Day protest last week that Seattle Police say turned into a “riot” on Capitol Hill. Of the 16 total that were arrested, only four were from Seattle.

Three males and one female, ages ranging from 19-24, were arrested for felony assault, though no charges were filed in the arrests as of Wednesday afternoon. Charges are expected to be filed in at least two of the cases, according to the King County Prosecutor’s Office, while the other two cases have not yet been referred to prosecutors.

Eight other male suspects all pleaded not guilty to charges in municipal court, mostly for obstruction. No arrests were made this year for property destruction, though several vehicles — including a much-photographed KIRO radio news jeep — were damaged and tagging and broken windows were reported up and down Broadway.

Gary Tonks, 24, pleaded not guilty to an illegal weapons possession charge and is being held on $15,000 bail. Brendan McCormack, 28, pleaded not guilty to reckless endangerment and is being held on $30,000 bail.

UPDATE 4:30 PM: “Idiotic.” That’s how council member Bruce Harrell described to two SPD officials the way officers handled the first May Day arrest that appeared to spark a burst of mayhem on Capitol Hill.

The incident on Broadway, which was captured on video from a TV news helicopter overhead, appears to show an officer on a bicycle ramming the back of a protestor in the anti-capitalist march, then taking the suspect to the ground.

Captain Chris Fowler, who was giving a May Day debriefing to Harrell and the Council’s public safety committee Wednesday, said the arresting officer had probable cause that the man assaulted an officer minutes before the arrest. Still, Harrell questioned the decision to arrest the suspect at that moment.

“If we had intel that one person assaulted an officer, and that person was not fleeing, we could have avoided using all these devices,” Harrell said. The suspect in the video, Adrien Roques, 32, pleaded not guilty to assaulting an officer with a traffic cone.

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Seattle prepares for May Day 2015 with protests — again — planned for Capitol Hill — UPDATE

Both Broadway QFCs shut down early -- the Broadway Market store suffered some broken glass (Image: Tim Durkan)

Both Broadway QFCs shut down early — the Broadway Market store suffered some broken glass (Image: Tim Durkan)

With reporting by Bryan Cohen and CHS Intern Makena

UPDATE MAY 1, 2015 9:53 PM: Protesters in the Seattle Central plaza have dwindled to a few dozen though there is still the occasional excitement like the drone reported flying above the area at one point in the night. Broadway is being reopened to traffic slowly as police vehicle clear the street.

photo (49)UPDATE MAY 1, 2015 9:20 PM: SPD says there have been 15 total arrests so far tonight. Critics will remind that very few of the May Day arrestees over past years have been charged.

In a statement, Mayor Ed Murray condemned the violence. “As we continue to witness acts of violence from protesters, we urge folks on Capitol Hill to exercise caution,” said Murray said. “Seattle Police are advising that businesses on Broadway and other Capitol Hill streets should take reasonable precautions to protect their employees and customers. Police will continue to work to protect people and property in the area, and will make arrests when necessary.”

UPDATE MAY 1, 2015 8:40 PM: A Seattle police spokesperson said the march through Capitol Hill had turned from a protest to riot as officers deployed flash bangs and pepper spray, and shot projectiles at protestors along E Olive Way between Melrose and Broadway. As they marched, protesters tossed dumpsters and materials from construction sites into the streets. As the marching began to slow at Broadway and Pine, about 75 people gathered in the intersection. Police eventually pushed the group on to the Seattle Central grounds to clear the streets.

UPDATE MAY 1, 2015 7:45 PM: Police were working to redirect a large group from progressing any closer to downtown. A line of officers at Boren pushed the group back up Pike to Melrose where it marched north. At Denny, police were again attempting to push the crowd back up to the Hill. Pepper spray and flash bangs were again deployed by police and protesters rolled a dumpster into the street but was stopped by responding officers, according to radio dispatches.

UPDATE MAY 1, 2015 7:45 PM: At least three police officers were injured, a media vehicle had its back window blown out by a firework, and there was at least one arrest in a skirmish between officers and protesters that began near Broadway and Howell around 7:30 PM. Police were able to quickly take control of the area by firing pepper spray and blast balls. The large crowd was mostly dispersed and a smaller group of a hundred or so reformed and continued to rally its way down the Pike toward downtown. There were reports of small fires set in newspaper boxes and trash cans as well as explosions from fireworks. A crossfit studio on E Pine was hit with large anarchist tags and a fence at a Harvard construction site was toppled. Bystanders pushed the fence back into place after the crowd moved through.

UPDATE MAY 1, 2015 7:25 PM: Protesters began dragging barriers and garbage cans into the street in an attempt to block police. Officers reported that rocks were being thrown and that officers were being hit with sticks at Broadway and Howell. A dispersal order to clear the area was given just before 7:30 PM.

UPDATE MAY 1, 2015 6:50 PM: With a crowd estimated close to 700 according to East Precinct radio dispatches, the anti-capitalist marchers practically ran up Broadway to begin a night of protest. Reaching Roy in around 10 minutes, the large group chanted as it weaved through the residential streets around Roy and back to Broadway. There was a report of a broken window but SPD was unable to locate the damage. No other incidents have been reported but a dispute between protesters and an open carry gun rights advocate who carried a rifle to the rally was being monitored by police. Black-clad protesters joined by participants from the earlier Black Lives Matter and worker and immigration rights marches were joined by other protesters on a warm spring night on Broadway. Some onlookers cheered, others threatened the protesters, while others thanked the police. This year for the first time SPD has stationed police officers in front of some businesses to help deter property damage.


UPDATE MAY 1, 2015 6:20 PM: As the anti-capitalist marchers gathered and prepared to leave the plaza at Broadway and Pine, a group of Seattle Police officers were busy trying to help a man reportedly suffering a mental crisis and carrying a hammer who had climbed on top of a basketball hoop in Cal Anderson. Seattle Fire was called in to help bring the man down with a ladder.

UPDATE MAY 1, 2015 5:30 PM: Seattle Police arrested one man near E Pine and Boylston around 4 PM for throwing a rock at a window. According to SPD, the man was also carrying a machete, paint, and a wrench. The arrest was not part of the immigrant rights march coming from Judkins Park. 

IMG_5143UPDATE MAY 1, 2015 4:45 PM: With groups starting to gather at Seattle Central for Friday night’s “anti-capitalist” march, SPD already was displaying heavy presence in the area. This group of bike officers helped out a fellow cyclist before being dispatched to help with the march as it proceeded downtown.

UPDATE MAY 1, 2015 3:30 PM: The march was proceeding on its planned route and was nearing Boren. “Tear down the prisons, tear down the border, bring it to the fascist order,” chanted one section of the march as the groups made their way down Jackson toward downtown. Small groups joined the main procession as it traveled the streets including Casa Latina‘s representatives who jumped in at 17th and Jackson.

Today is not just a tradition, says Diana Lopez. “We’re still going to talk about how to move forward”  (Image: Bryan Cohen for CHS)

Today is not just a tradition, says Diana Lopez. “We’re still going to talk about how to move forward” (Image: Bryan Cohen for CHS)

UPDATE MAY 1, 2015 2:30 PM
With estimates ranging from expected crowds of between 1,000 to 2,000 people, groups are gathering in Judkins Park preparing for the march downtown.

Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, police have investigated a handful of 911 calls about small groups of people wearing masks headed toward downtown but there have been no reports of demonstrations in the neighborhood. A unit of officers on foot patrol and wearing “safety yellow” vests is also on Broadway this afternoon.

UPDATE MAY 1, 2015 9:40 AM
Mayor Ed Murray began his May Day 2015 with a news conference at Cal Anderson in his home neighborhood of Capitol Hill and a reminder of what the day is about.

“This neighborhood has a history of protest — protests that have changed this city for the better. Protests in the anti-war movement. Protests for LGBT rights,” Murray said.

“As we have seen in May Day after May Day there are also individuals being destructive,” Murray said that the story of the day ought to be about those who stand up for justice before addressing public safety and traffic questions from the media.

An operations briefing including Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole will be held later in the day.

There are three planned events on the day:

    • Black Lives Matter May Day 2015 — 10:30 AM — MLK Memorial Park — 2200 Martin Luther King Jr Way S — and 2:30 PM 20/Jackson
    • Marcha Y Manifestacion Anual del 1o de Mayo 2015 – 2015 May Day March & Rally — 2 PM Rally — 3 PM March — Judkins Park to Downtown
    • May Day Anticapitalist March 2015 — 6 PM — Starts at Seattle Central

    City officials said Friday morning they were also monitoring the situation in Baltimore where the prosecutor’s office has announced six police officers will be charged in Freddie Gray’s death.

    CHS will be reporting on the day’s activities. You can follow live updates here or on Twitter via @jseattle and @bchasesc. You can also call or txt us at (206) 399-5959 if you see something others should know about.

    Even though 2014’s protest activities on Capitol Hill were less intense than some of the small pockets of rioting that occurred in 2013, at least one major business is planning to close early. The Starbucks Reserve Roastery will be shuttered Friday as a safety precaution, a company spokesperson told CHS. “To ensure the safety of our customers and partners (and a result of conversations with the mayor and police chief) we will be closing the Roastery and 18 downtown stores early today,” the spokesperson said. “In terms of re-opening, we will do that when it is safe.”

    The spokesperson would not confirm that the company is planning to board up windows on the multi-million facility as some large chains like Niketown have done downtown on May Days past. “We are evaluating all options for the safety of our customers and partners,” the spokesperson said. UPDATE: A load of plywood has been delivered to the Melrose at Pike roastery and cafe.

    East Precinct commander Capt. Paul McDonaugh said his staff isn’t advising businesses take any extraordinary measures. The streets around East Precinct’s headquarters at 12th and Pine will be closed to traffic starting early Friday evening.

    Screen-Shot-2015-04-30-at-7.45.59-AM-1024x709SPD’s post about the day’s logistics is here:

    A large number of uniformed officers will be present at tomorrow’s rallies to direct traffic, ensure everyone is able to freely and safely exercise their First Amendment rights, and prevent or respond to any unlawful behaviorAs always, please contact an officer or call 911 if you have any concerns or need to report an emergency.

    The permitted workers and immigration rights march from Judkins Park is expected to have around 1,000 people in attendance, according to a Seattle Department of Transportation bulletin though organizers predict more than two times as many marchers:

    The march route starts at Judkins Park, assembling at S Lane Street and 20th Avenue S, moving northbound on 20th Avenue S to S Jackson Street. The march will turn westbound on S Jackson Street to Boren Avenue S, proceeding northbound to Pine Street, turning westbound on Pine to the Federal Courthouse. Seattle Police will escort the march.

    Seattle Public schools sent a bulletin warning families of possible traffic issues but didn’t announce any related closures or schedule changes.

    ORIGINAL REPORT APRIL 28, 2015 11:00 AM

    Seattle Police are again preparing for a night of protest starting on Capitol Hill this May Day after two years of increased damage and violence.

    Meanwhile, the annual May Day march for worker rights earlier in the day attended by thousands will likely again be overshadowed by the mayhem. Continue reading

    7 of 10 May Day 2014 arrests happened on Capitol Hill

    A protester sits in E Pine during May Day 2014 demonstrations on Capitol Hill (Image: CHS)

    A protester sits in E Pine during May Day 2014 demonstrations on Capitol Hill (Image: CHS)

    Seattle Police made 10 arrests during the city’s May Day demonstrations last week, seven of which occurred on Capitol Hill. Half of the arrests made were for assault and only three were related to property damage.

    • Thomas Sutherland, 22, was arrested for property damage at Broadway and Pike. He pleaded not guilty to property destruction and graffiti charges.
    • A 23-year-old man was arrested for assaulting an officer at 6th and Battery. Officers also recovered a gun on the man during the arrest. Prosecutors have not filed any charges.
    • An 18-year-old man was arrested for malicious mischief and at 6th and Virginia, where he damaged at least one vehicle. Prosecutors have not filed any charges.
    • Merrell Acosta, 22, was arrested for obstruction at 5th and Virginia. He pleaded not guilty to the charge.
    • A 37-year-old man was arrested for assault at Broadway and Pine. Prosecutors have not filed any charges.
    • A 21-year-old man was arrested for assault at Broadway and Pine. Prosecutors have not filed any charges.
    • Robert Klich, 19, was arrested for assault at Broadway and Pine. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
    • A 20-year-old man arrested for assault at Broadway and E Olive. Prosecutors have not filed any charges.
    • A minor was arrested for property damage at 6th and Pine and released to their parents.
    • A minor was arrested for obstruction at Broadway and Pine and booked into the Youth Services Center.

    At this time, we’re not aware of any formal complaints about SPD use of force during the protest response.

    May Day 2014 was noticeably less violent and resulted in less property destruction compared to recent years. In 2013 SPD arrested 17 people, and reported eight officer injuries; SPD reported two minor officer injuries this year. Police were again armed with flash bombs and pepper spray but used them relatively sparingly on the Hill including when protestors set a fire in the middle of Broadway and Pine. No arrests were directly related to the fire, an SPD spokesperson told CHS, although arrests were made at the intersection,

    Seattle Police Interim Chief Harry Bailey called this year’s May Day a “success” for SPD during a press conference. When asked why officers allowed groups of protestors to march through Capitol Hill and downtown without a permit, Assistant Police Chief Paul McDonagh said the city supports people exercising their First Amendment rights. As in 2013, some protesters were also heard asking others not to act violently toward police. “They’re doing their jobs,” one protester shouted. “Don’t lower yourself to violence.”