With reporting by Bryan Cohen and Jacob Olson
UPDATE 5/1/14 9:00 PM: Following a peaceful, sunny and colorful edition of Seattle’s annual May Day march from Judkins Park to downtown, the expected evening protest activities on Capitol Hill were mostly of the marching and banner unfurling variety until late in the evening when fires were set in the street and Seattle Central’s bricks were again thrown in anger on May Day. Meanwhile, the constant drone of the television news helicopters lulled many on Capitol Hill to sleep on an unusually warm spring night in Seattle.
There were nine arrests across the city — six were take into custody around the Hill, mostly for assault and property damage. In 2013, 17 people were arrested and the property damage suffered by businesses downtown and on Capitol Hill was more widespread and serious.
Things got off to a rather surreal start on Capitol Hill in 2014 with a May Day concert mixing with participants in the “Anticapitalist March” who gathered again this year at the Seattle Central plaza before flowing into the street at Broadway and Pine around 6 PM. With groups splintering and reforming through the evening, marchers crossed the Hill and the area around the Youth Services Center at 12th and Spruce several times on the night but the neighborhoods saw little of the property damage that marked the 2013 protest. By 7:30 PM, the activity had shifted fully to the downtown and Belltown neighborhoods.
One person was arrested after the QFC at Pike and Broadway was tagged and paint bombs were thrown at nearby buildings. An East Precinct bike officer apparently suffered a serious cut during or after the arrest, according to East Precinct radio traffic.
“I think there should be more rights for people who are undocumented,” she said. “A lot of people out here today have the analytical skills to understand these issues, but they haven’t lived through them,” she said.
Later in the night as darkness set in, skirmishes between protesters and police picked up north of downtown and more property damage and arrests were reported. Around 9 PM, the remaining crowd of around 200 marchers headed back up toward Capitol Hill via Olive Way. The stragglers made their way back toward Broadway and completed yet another loop, police and media in front and behind, before heading south and, apparently, stopping in front of Dick’s Drive-in for a spell before continuing on toward Seattle Central.
Around 9:40 PM, police erected “mobile barriers” on E Pine to keep the crowd from marching back west to downtown. Remaining protesters proceeded to move back east on Pine as the police line held and many returned to the Seattle Central plaza where a standoff of sorts played out and protesters busied themselves with drumming, hackey sack and the occasional garbage can fire in the street. SPD reported that in all, there had been five arrests across the city as of 10:45 PM. Seattle Fire was called to the area to help put an end to the street fires just before 11 PM. Two or three more protesters were taken into custody as the crowd threw rocks, bottles and a few bricks from the Seattle Central plaza at the police and firefighters extinguishing the small blaze. By 11:05 PM, SPD — which peaked with a presence of around 100 officers at the intersection at one point — was reopening Broadway to traffic. Overnight, SPD said nine people were arrested during the May Day incidents.
Original report: In 2013 on Capitol Hill, May Day wasn’t a problem. It was May Day night that brought busted glass and arrests to Broadway and Pike/Pine as police pushed protesters back up Capitol Hill.
As the city and Capitol Hill prepares for May Day 2014 — including thousands of peaceful marchers and activists as well as the un-peaceful individuals and groups and a massive police response — we’re posting our annual May Day Open Thread a little earlier than usual to help make sure important information gets shared, unnecessary flames of disinformation get snuffed and people can get on with their First Amendment and day-to-day living rights. If you see something others should know about, drop us a line or call/txt (206) 399-5959.
UPDATE 5/1/14 5:50 PM: Our primary notes and update from Thursday afternoon are below. The crowd currently at the Seattle Central plaza numbers around 100 with an equal number of police and an equally large media contingent in tow as a May Day concert takes place and people begin arriving for the anticapitalist rally and march. So far, it’s a mostly peculiar affair.
UPDATE 5/1/14 6:25 PM: The Anticapitalist March crowd caught East Precinct off guard as they began marching through the streets of Pike/Pine around 6 PM. SPD officers hustled to erect street barriers as the crowd of more than 100 approached one perimeter at 11th and Pine. Meanwhile, reports of limited incidents of broken windows downtown are circulating on SPD radio. Some of the marchers have arrived at the 12th and Spruce Youth Services Center and juvenile detention facility but most have continued west on Yesler back toward downtown.
UPDATE 5/1/14 6:45 PM: The marchers have “fragmented” with many apparently heading toward downtown. Meanwhile, Broadway and Pike/Pine are mostly quiet. A crowd is collecting at 12th/Spruce.
UPDATE 5/1/14 7:03 PM: A group of around three dozen reportedly mostly masked marchers is on the move around 12th and Spruce. SPD is sending units to support its officers at the YSC. The marchers were last reported on 12th Ave near Cherry throwing road flares.
UPDATE 7:45 PM: After the marchers split and some headed downtown others stayed at 12th/Spruce before marching north on 12th and back into Pike/Pine with blasting music, Guy Fawkes masks and the occasional projectile. One person was taken into custody after a paint bomb was thrown at the QFC at Pike and Broadway. The marchers proceed down the Hill on Pine before cutting over to Pike and Boren where the group met up with the other downtown group of protesters. The combined group then marched downtown. A group of “superheroes” on hand to provide protection for the community reportedly got into a tangle with protesters near 6th and Pine where police had to intervene. Reports of damage thus far have been slim to none — the night has mostly been about protesting and covering a lot of ground. 8:30 PM — The streets around East Precinct have been reopened.
- Capitol Hill preparations: There are no public statements from officials of Capitol Hill organizations and businesses (see a note from the chamber of commerce, below) but we’re told East Precinct has been busy with questions and concerns from the neighborhood following the decision last year to push protesters back up Pine following clashes with police downtown. What followed was hours of mayhem in the streets of Capitol Hill and a handful of incidents of more serious violence including busted glass at a few businesses and the deployment of some hardcore crowd control tactics by Seattle Police including flash bombs and pepper spray. The tactics of crowd control apparently mean no promises on this year’s efforts to quell any outbreaks of violence or property damage but we’re told East Precinct is well aware of frustrations surrounding last year’s response. In the meantime, institutions like Seattle Central are playing it safe as the school has canceled Thursday’s night classes and nearby businesses like Mia’s will close early.
- Police: We are told East Precinct will put its standard protest and march response plan into motion by closing off the streets around its 12th/Pine headquarters and stationing officers in riot gear on the perimeter.
Seattle Police posted a statement on the department’s 2014 May Day planning and provided details of the day’s focus points including a planned march starting Thursday night at Seattle Central and a rally planned for the juvenile detention center at 12th and Alder:
Tomorrow is May Day, which means you’ll see a large crowd winding its way through the Central District and downtown Seattle during the afternoon and evening as part of the 13th Annual May Day March for Worker and Immigrant Rights, organized by El Comité.
The rally will leave Judkins Park—at 20th Ave S. and S. Dearborn Street in the Central District—at 3 PM and head toward Westlake Park in downtown Seattle. The marchers will move north on 20th to South Jackson Street; west on Jackson to Boren Avenue; north on Boren to Madison Street; west on Madison to Fourth Avenue; north on Fourth to Pine Street and into Westlake Park for a rally. There is a possibility that Fourth Avenue will be closed during the rally at Westlake Park.
Seattle Police will escort the marchers, and motorists should expect a rolling slowdown and heavy traffic as the procession moves along the route to Westlake Park. Considerable congestion will likely occur and impact traffic throughout the Downtown area during the afternoon commute.
There is also the possibility several other un-permitted demonstrations may be held in the evening at Seattle Central Community College and Youth Service Center at 12th and Alder. As the organizers of these events have not filed for permits, there is no official route map for these rallies.
A large number of uniformed officers will be present at tomorrow’s rallies. They’re there to ensure you’re able to freely and safely exercise your First Amendment rights, direct traffic around the marches, and to prevent or respond to any unlawful behavior.
So, come on down and revel in your First Amendment rights, hang out and enjoy the crowds, and take all the May Day selfies you can. As always, please contact an officer or call 911 if you have any concerns or need to report an emergency.
- Seattle Central: CHS reported earlier this week on what could be an interesting coincidence of events as the starting point for the annual May Day “anticapitalist march” will also be shared by an event organized by a group of Broadway businesses that promises both “a community music event celebrating May Day” and a “Sustainable Wages Seattle Announcement.” A Seattle Central representative told CHS that it does coordinate its plaza’s use as a “free speech zone” and does not provide resources like electricity or staffing support. The spokesman said that, in addition to closing buildings at 5 PM and canceling night classes, Seattle Central “will have all available campus security personnel on campus, as well as facilities personnel, to help secure the buildings.”In the meantime, the area will also feature a “Families for Peace” demonstration at Pine and Broadway involving “young families, seniors, & new Americans” who live nearby and want to prevent the level of violence and property destruction seen in 2013.
- Business community: Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce director Michael Wells sent the following note to the group’s Broadway and Pike/Pine member businesses and organizations Wednesday afternoon:
Capitol Hill May Day Update
Free speech and the right to peaceful protest are basic human values, values that the Capitol Hill community supports wholeheartedly. As May Day approaches we at the Chamber want to confirm that our neighborhood is full of a diversity of voices. We are justly proud of our reputation as a community that values a commitment to social justice and expression of a multiplicity of viewpoints, regardless of the popularity of those views.
Tomorrow, Thursday, May 1st there are scheduled events related to the annual day of protest, including some that will take place on Capitol Hill. A permitted march for immigrant and worker’s rights begins at 3 p.m. at Saint Mary’s Church, downtown. It will march through downtown and end with a rally at Westlake Park. Events on Capitol Hill begin later in the day at the Seattle Central College Plaza, with a May Day concert scheduled for 5pm and a protest rally scheduled for 6pm, organized by two different groups.
We wanted to make sure that the business community of Capitol Hill was aware of these events. As many of you know last year there were incidents of property damage on Capitol Hill on May Day; specifically three businesses’ had windows broken as protestors were directed up Pine Street when the SPD dispersed protestors from the downtown core. We have communicated with the East Precinct that we, as a community, were unaware of this tactic and asked that we be informed if it were to be used in the future.
While we know that the Seattle Police cannot share specific strategies with the public regarding May Day protests, we do know that they have heard our concerns.
We do know these details about tomorrow’s events:
* The East Precinct station on 12th and Pine will be blocked to traffic and that surrounding blocks may be affected as well.
* We also know that Seattle Central College has cancelled evening classes for tomorrow.
We have every hope for a peaceful protest without physical altercations or property damages. We want you to be aware of the day’s events and take whatever, if any, precautions you might deem necessary.
- Media: We’ve seen TV reporters on the Hill interviewing business owners and passersby they can convince to stop and talk on camera about their fears and concerns about May Day.
- Other schools: Seattle Public Schools are open as usual. Seattle University sent the following security bulletin to students and staff:
As many of you are aware Thursday May 1st is May Day and there are planned parades and demonstrations on First Hill, Capital Hill and Downtown. A planned, permitted march for immigrant and workers rights begins at 3 p.m. at Saint Mary’s Church, near 20th Ave and S. Weller. It will go down Jackson St. through downtown and end with a rally at Westlake Park. There are two non-permitted anti-capitalist marches planned. One group will meet at 6 p.m. at Seattle Central College; another group meets at 6:30 p.m. at the Youth Detention Center at 12th and Spruce.
While we are not anticipating concerns on the campus, students and staff should expect heavier than usual traffic congestion’s and delays between 3pm and 8pm. We encourage you to plan some extra travel time in your day tomorrow if you are busing or driving during that time. In previous years, small factions have used this date and the proximity of peaceful demonstrators to cause property damage. The Seattle Police Department will be present in the community monitoring the events and assisting in maintaining a safe atmosphere. Our campus public safety officers will be monitoring the campus for any safety concerns related to these activities.
- 2012: We know 2013 ended up as a relatively small police vs protester debacle on Capitol Hill — what happened two years ago? May Day 2012 in Seattle was marked by an extensive bout of property damage downtown and serious clashes between protesters and police. 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.
- Weather: It’s going to be a beautiful, sunny day with highs in the 80s. Enjoy it. Be safe.
- Transit: Here’s what Metro has to say about 5/1/2014:
Transit delays, reroutes expected in Seattle on May Day
Riders should prepare for rerouted buses and traffic delays in downtown Seattle the afternoon and evening of Thursday, May 1, as 16 Metro routes and three Sound Transit routes will be temporarily rerouted during May Day events.
Some city streets are scheduled to be closed as a result of May Day activities. During the planned events, Fourth Avenue is expected to be closed for about an hour between 3:30-4:30 p.m., and Pine Street is expected to be closed for about four hours between 3-7 p.m.
During the respective street closures, Fourth Avenue bus routes will travel instead via Third Avenue, and Pine Street buses will travel via Union Street. Reroutes are planned for Metro routes 10, 11, 43, 49, 64, 250, 252, 257, 260, 265, 268, 301, 306, 308, 311 and 312, and Sound Transit Express routes 522, 545 and 554.
Those identified routes are not the only ones expected to be slowed by traffic disruptions. All bus service that travels near or through the downtown Seattle area may be subject to delays during and after Thursday afternoon’s events. Bus riders are advised to plan ahead for longer trips, revise travel plans if necessary and allow plenty of travel time.
Visit Metro’s Service Advisories page for specific reroute details. Transit reroute start and end times may be subject to change.
Visit Metro’s Online Regional Trip Planner to find out how to get to and from events and locations.
- Juvenile hall: So, why target the so called Youth Services Center in the 12th and Alder area? The facility is touted by county officials as being more than “juvee” jail and a center for counseling and assistance beyond the criminal justice system. But it is also home to the county’s juvenile court and detention center. It is frequently the site of protests and demonstrations against the criminal justice system. A 2012 vote enabled a $210 levy to build a new facility at the site and a controversial plan to sell some of the county’s land to developers.
- Minimum wage announcement — 5/1/14 8:55 AM: Mayor Ed Murray has opted to add to the day’s excitement with a scheduled morning announcement of his minimum wage plan.
- Graffiti and vandalism — 5/1/14 9:50 AM: In past years, windows have been busted out across the street at the Ferrari dealership. 2014 started with — quickly removed — graffiti on 12th Ave’s Barrio restaurant:
Meanwhile, not all the 12th Ave paintwork was destructive:
— mister_fusspot (@mister_fusspot) May 1, 2014
- SPD says it is investigating the vandalism which apparently included anti-cop tagging at the Broadway Post Office — 5/1/14 11:27 AM:
- First Hill crossing — 5/1/14 4:45 PM: Lead by group of Native American dancers and drummers in traditional dress, May Day marchers calling for immigrant rights made their way up Boren hill at around 4 PM for the First Hill section of Thursday’s route to downtown.There appeared to be little to no damage to First Hill’s hospitals and banks as the few thousand protestors and their police escorts made their way up Boren, then turned south on Madison towards their Westlake Park destination.Marchers carried signs demanding an end to deportations, shouting “Si se puede!” and calling on President Barack Obama to address immigrant issues. The diverse group of marchers included immigrant workers, 15 Now activists, Latino advocacy groups, and even a couple of strollers.No disturbances were reported though SPD was monitoring individuals seen in the crowd wearing face masks or carrying large bags. There were no reports of vandalism or violence as the marchers entered downtown just before 5 PM.