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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.


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.

Here is the roster of May Day 2015 marches and rallies expected in Seattle:

  • 11163113_704305493007285_2750340716271994659_oBlack Lives Matter May Day 2015 — 10:30 AM — MLK Memorial Park — 2200 Martin Luther King Jr Way S (info)
    We’re responding to an urgent call from our comrades in Baltimore United and Ferguson Action who are organizing with us under the Black Lives Matter network.We stand with our brothers and sisters in Baltimore, Chicago and across the country. We demand justice for #FreddieGrey #RekiaBoyd #MyaHall and all victims of police terrorism.We demonstrate on this day of May 1st in acknowledgement of the people who were killed by the state in 1886 during the Haymarket affair. When strikers demonstrated at Haymarket Square in Chicago, they were shot at by police, a bomb was thrown, and a court ordered the execution of the strike organizers.

We encourage Black folks and non-Black allies and accomplices who are devote to supporting Black Liberation to join us for the day’s events.

First we’ll be meeting at MLK Memorial Park at 10:30am and then will be at the intersection of 20th and Jackson at 2:30pm. From there we’ll march to the end destination of the International Workers and Immigrants Day March rally at the Federal Courthouse in Downtown Seattle (700 Stewart St). At 6pm we’ll meet at Seattle Central College. UPDATE: CHS has updated this event with a more recent description provided by organizers. 

  • Marcha Y Manifestacion Anual del 1o de Mayo 2015 – 2015 May Day March & Rally — 2 PM Rally —  3 PM March — Judkins Park to Downtown (info)10687956_10153006632573423_778075453884935693_o
    Thousands of demonstrators are expected to take to the streets of Seattle on Friday, May 1, 2015 for the Annual May Day March and Rally for Workers and Immigrant Rights. In the spirit of unity and solidarity with communities across the country, organizers in Seattle will continue with the central theme of justice for immigrant workers, as well as justice for marginalized communities at the local, national, and international levels.
  • May Day Anticapitalist March 2015 — 6 PM — Starts at Seattle Central (info)10923749_738152742958590_781997047626412757_o
    May 1st is International Workers Day, or May Day. In October 1884, a convention held by the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions unanimously set May 1, 1886, as the date by which the eight-hour work day would become standard. As the chosen date approached, U.S. labor unions prepared for a general strike in support of the eight-hour day.


Meanwhile, an anti-police violence group is planning a protest in solidarity with “the freedom fighters in Baltimore” Wednesday night at Westlake.

Seattle Police are again providing media updates about the department’s readiness for the annual protests following criticism in the wake of SPD’s response to the 2012 protests in which the damage and violence was centered downtown.

2013 (Image: CHS)

2013 (Image: CHS)

In 2013 and 2014, more of the unrest was focused on Capitol Hill as SPD more actively pushed activity out of the downtown core using tactics similar to what CHS reported here during 2014’s Black Lives Matter protests — Why does the Seattle Police Department push protests up Capitol Hill?

Here’s how 2014’s May Day violence accelerated into the night and grew into scenes of mayhem on the streets of Capitol Hill:

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.

In 2014, there were nine May Day arrests across the city with six taken 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.

Police officials are saying this year that they expect to repeat 2014’s better containment of the unrest but said having May Day fall on a Friday could mean greater congestion and traffic and increased risk of the protest activities mixing with nightlife crowds.

Marchers in 2012 (Image: CHS)

Marchers in 2012 (Image: CHS)

A statement on the protests planned for Seattle’s May Day shows that those involved are, of course, aware of how things have changed since 2012:

More recently in Seattle, hundreds of anarchists and other anti-capitalists converged on downtown on May Day 2012 and lay wreck to banks, businesses, and a federal courthouse. The State responded with perhaps the most significant repression against anarchists in the NW recently and deployed a federal grand jury to disrupt, misdirect, isolate and neutralize a growing sentiment and practice of anger and attack against hierarchy and domination. Despite the efforts of the state, anarchists remained strong and defiant and no one was ever charged with the crimes being investigated by the grand jury.

“Let’s continue a lively, joyous tradition of defiance to capitalism,” the statement concludes, “the state, hierarchy, and domination! May Day is our day!”

UPDATE 4/30/15 9:15 AM: Here is a message sent by the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce to members Wednesday night with a reminder that the streets around 12th and Pine’s East Precinct headquarters will be blocked off Friday.

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 diverse voices and justly proud of our reputation as a community that values a commitment to social justice and the opportunity to express one’s own views publicly, regardless of the popularity of those views.

On, Friday, May 1st there are scheduled events on Capitol Hill related to the annual day of protest. Capitol Hill events will begin at the Seattle Central College Plaza at 6pm. Earlier in the day, a planned, permitted march for immigrant and worker’s rights begins at 3 p.m. at Saint Mary’s Church. It will go down Capitol Hill through downtown and end with a rally at Westlake Park. There is a planned protest at Westlake Park scheduled for 5:30pm that day.

We wanted to make sure that the business community of Capitol Hill was aware of these events. As many of you know, in 2013 there were incidents of property damage in Capitol Hill on May Day; specifically three businesses’ had windows broken as protesters were directed up Pine Street when the SPD dispersed protesters from the Downtown core. We have been very clear 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 are aware that the Seattle Police are unable to share specific strategies with the public regarding May Day protests we do know that the East Precinct station on 12th and Pine will most likely be blocked to traffic and that surrounding blocks may be affected as well.

As your Chamber we are available to you for any advocacy or situational help that we are able to provide. We will be monitoring the events of May 1st and are in communication with the East Precinct leadership about your concerns and will debrief with them after the event is complete. We have every hope for a peaceful protest without physical altercations or property damages. We did want businesses to be aware of the day’s events and take whatever, if any, precautions they might deem necessary.

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43 thoughts on “Seattle prepares for May Day 2015 with protests — again — planned for Capitol Hill — UPDATE

  1. So it’s a bunch of idiots crashing our neighborhood and making it miserable for those of us who live and work here. How is that different than any other Friday night.

    • Just go back to work keep paying your taxes to your kleptocracy totalitarian state who destroy’s HUMAN LIVES on a daily basis ” So it’s a bunch of idiots crashing our neighborhood and making it miserable for those of us who live and work here. How is that different than any other Friday night.” Fool

      • (After hitting “Post Comment,” chris closes his produced-by-slave labor-in-China Macbook Pro, satisfied that he’s made a difference in this world through his passionate message board posting.)

      • I would argue that these protestors are, in fact, accomplishing precisely as much actual, productive societal change as the bro’s coming here to get shitfaced drunk.

  2. It’s interesting that the “anti-capitalist” march features a large fire in the streets. If that happens, I expect that arrests will be made, for arson. Violence and property destruction only serve to turn off most people from “the cause,” so it’s counterproductive. I also note that the press announcement for the “Mayday Black & Lumpen” event is almost unreadable, with its misspellings, lack of punctuation and grammar.

    I support the “Marcha 1 de Mayo” march because it has been peaceful in the past (with large numbers of people participating), and because it is the only one of the three which holds some promise of making a difference.

  3. To the angry left,

    Please proceed. The excess of ’68 gave us Regan and Nixon. I would love nothing more then to see Seattle’s political credibility weakened in this state or perhapes a new white flight movement. The state senate has already flipped red, and just because you have a election year with a president means nothing, swing voting moderates in the suburbs will be watching…


    A Amazon tech bro

    • “The excess of ’68 gave us Regan….”

      Yes, there was a lot of extra year in 1968. But who was “Regan”?

      “a new white flight movement.”

      The angry left has already achieved that objective, as evidenced by the many vacant apartments and lackluster rental market in Seattle.

  4. Any word on how many of those arrests led to prosecutions that led to convictions? I believe most of them are used simply to neutralize protesters until after the event is over.

    I received no response to this related e-mail to City Council last year:

    Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2014 13:27:42 -0700
    From: Phil Mocek
    To: “Bruce A. Harrell” ,
    Nick Licata ,
    Sally Bagshaw ,
    Tim Burgess
    CC: Community Police Commission
    Subject: How many of people attacked by police on May Day 2012-2013
    were arrested, prosecuted, convicted?

    Dear Seattle City Council Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology
    Committee members:

    Could you please find out and relay to me how many of those people who
    were targets of Seattle Police Department staff’s chemical weapons and
    explosives on May 1, 2012, and on May 1, 2013, were arrested on that
    day, how many of those attacked and arrested were prosecuted, and how
    many of those attacked, arrested, and prosecuted, were found guilty in a
    court of law? To be clear: I seek counts of arrests, prosecutions, and
    convictions for crimes that led to SPD staff attacking those people, not
    about arrests, prosecutions, and convictions may have arisen from other
    activities on those days.

    As some of you may remember, during the public comment portion of your
    committee’s April 16, 2014, meeting, I stated the following: For the
    past few years, I have left work several hours early in order to walk
    around downtown with my camera, observing and documenting activities on
    International Workers’ Day (“May Day”). I have read SPD’s incident
    action plans and commander’s after-action reports, listened to police
    radio recordings, and reviewed video. On the scene, I observed
    thousands of demonstrators and hundreds of police. It seems to me that
    a small fraction of those demonstrators and a small fraction of those
    police seem eager to pick a fight. I am particularly concerned that one
    of those groups who seem eager to pick a fight are heavily armed. Our
    peace officers are trained to deal with stressful situations and should
    be able to police these events without blowing their tops.

    Also during public testimony, I encouraged you to ask your guests
    (Interim Chief of Police Harry Bailey, West Precinct Commander
    Christopher J. Fowler #5744, and Emergency Management Director Barbara
    Graff) the following: Of the people on whom police used chemical
    weapons and explosives on May Day, how many were arrested for the
    incredible wrongdoing that led the police to use weapons on them, and of
    those people who were arrested, how many were found guilty by a court?
    I noted that your guests should easily have anticipated such a request
    when preparing for their presentation to you, and suggested that if they
    were to claim not to have those statistics, you were likely being misled.

    Video of my comments:

    None of you asked the question I suggested. However, Councilmember
    Harrell said the following: “In recent years, when we’ve had to use, uh,
    the pepper spray, or any form of chemical weapons that—you know,
    that’s sort of a role of last resort; we’d– we, hopefully we will not
    have to use any—but what kind of follow-up do we do in terms of
    looking at who was prosecuted for crimes, and, um, and again I know
    we’ve done outreach, uh, with many of those folks and many of them were
    not *anarchists*, so do we do follow-up work with our assistant– with
    our city attorney to get some intel on how we can improve things? Can
    you sort of walk us through that, that issue?”

    Video of Mr. Harrell’s questions:

    Christopher Fowler, incident commander for last year’s May Day
    demonstrations, responded for two minutes, but did not provide any
    information about arrests, prosecutions, or convictions from any past

    Video of Mr. Fowler’s response:

    Outside of council chambers, after various new reporters completed their
    interviews of your guests, I asked Mr. Bailey the aforementioned
    question. He said nothing, turned around, and walked away. I then
    asked Mr. Fowler. He claimed not to know the answer.

    I hope you share my concern about the possibility that police are using
    chemical weapons and explosives against people who were not even
    suspected of having committed an offense worthy of arrest, much less
    prosecution and conviction, and I look forward to learning what related
    information you are able to discover.

    Phil Mocek

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  7. It’ll just degrade into the same chaos and violence as always. Completely counterproductive. It also has nothing to do with race relations unlike what the mayor said. Dr. Martin Luther King would have none of white millennials dressed in black with their faces covered committing violence. The mayor completely conflated the two causes.

  8. If you’re the kind of business (Starbucks) that requires boarding up your windows, maybe you should reconsider your business plan.

    Hope the folks from Casa Latina and El Centro don’t get co-opted by the anarchists later. Power to those protesting deportation and police brutality. Stay safe, everyone.

    • Maybe people should consider not destroying property. And how about the lost wages for the Starbucks workers who can’t work their shifts because of early store closings?

      • As much as it’ll probably frost their cake to hear it– if the way Starbucks usually treats their workers is any indication, they’ll all get paid anyway. Cuz, you know– “evil corporation” and all that.

    • “If you’re the kind of business (Starbucks) that requires boarding up your windows, maybe you should reconsider your business plan.”

      You’re right, they should reconsider paying living wages before it was fashionable, giving benefits to part-time employees, supporting same-sex benefits, taking political stands against gun nuts. They should reduce wages and drop benefits like most of their indie competitors that won’t have their windows broken.

      Damn those progressive corporations! Let’s all work for small companies that force employees to rely on government programs!

  9. I wonder how many of the anti-capitalist protesters will be live-Tweeting the demonstrations on their iPhones?

  10. I had to move off the hill recently and sometimes that makes me sad. On May Day it makes me happy. I used to live on Pine and had to deal with this every year. My hugs go out to those who are still in the thick of it and I hope everyone can have their protests without useless property destruction or attacks on police or others who work very hard to protect us despite a few bad examples who are held up to make people dislike all police.

  11. Pike and Harvard, bunch of people come and spread trash and dumpsters in the middle of the intersection. Police and other civilians help clean it up right afterwards. Super cool.

  12. Why break QFC’s windows? Don’t try to tell me that these low-lifes don’t have EBT cards that they utilize there while living either off the government (taxpayers) or in their Mothers’ basements. I’m so fed up with protesters getting pushed up to Capitol Hill every single year.

  13. Someone please file FIFA and get the names of those arrested…. maybe some pressure from their friends / families / employers will help. Embarrassment can go a long way.

    Replace the Lost Dog posters with Please Get Lost posters.

  14. Pingback: Seattle May Day 2015 turns into a riot on Capitol Hill | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  15. Weird how these individuals destroying artwork and breaking windows see an income disparity. It’s all about that education kids.

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