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

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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.

UPDATE: 7:10 PM: SPD issued a dispersal order to the crowd as a major clash broke on 2nd Ave between Stewart and Pine meaning anybody remaining at the scene is now subject to arrest. Police reported being assaulted with thrown objects and one officer was injured by a rock to the face. Police responded with spray and rubber bullets, according to witnesses at the scene.

UPDATE 7:30 PM: SPD deployed blast balls as it continued to push the crowd through downtown and Pioneer Square toward SoDo. Officers were beginning to take more protesters into custody and were working to identify subjects who had been identified as committing crimes earlier in the protest. State Patrol officers assisted by blocking freeway onramps.

UPDATE 8:05 PM: SPD had made four arrests along the route as protesters marched through SoDo. The pace of the march began to slow as the group reached at 4th and Lander.

Original report: We’re tracking the evening May Day protests on this post and will update through the evening as events warrant. If you see or hear something others should know about, let us know via Twitter @jseattle or call/txt (206) 399-5959.

Following last year’s riot, there are concerns of a repeat from recent May Days on Capitol Hill as night falls. Some lower Pike businesses have followed the lead of several of the downtown large chains and have boarded up their windows.

There are also new developments in 2016 that could lead to a more peaceful May Day eve in the neighborhood as police have been asked to curtail some of the crowd control tactics deployed in 2015 and the self-proclaimed anticapitalists have publicly said they plan to gather at Westlake — not Seattle Central. Though, around 5:30 PM, about 30 black-clad protesters had gathered at the school before heading down the Hill toward downtown.

Friday, Assistant Chief Steve Wilske told CHS that if the march turned violent downtown, he would give a dispersal order there and not try to first push protesters somewhere else. This year, a Facebook post called for the anti-capitalist march to start downtown in an attempt to keep protesters from getting corralled on Capitol Hill. Since past protests have started on Capitol Hill, Wilske said SPD has also tried to disperse the crowd there with the thinking that protesters would be closer to their homes or modes of transportation. As in years past, Wilske said he told officers to have “no tolerance” for violence directed them or any other person and to have no tolerance for “significant” property damage.

There are also clearly more officers on the street this year than ever before — many on Capitol Hill are clad in “safety yellow” to be a more visible presence. SPD officials have said more officers were being assigned for May Day 2016 including several units from surrounding cities.

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Jim98122x
Jim98122x
5 years ago

“…the self-proclaimed anticapitalists have publicly said they plan to gather at Westlake — not Seattle Central.”

Why would anyone believe them?

Patrick
Patrick
5 years ago
Reply to  Jim98122x

Just the typical Sawant supporters, luckily today was a Sunday so they were not able to interrupt tax paying citizens days much.

jeffrey gilbert
jeffrey gilbert
5 years ago

What a a fucking joke. Nothing changes.

Jim98122x
Jim98122x
5 years ago

Great job by the cops this year….herding them like the animals they are and corralling them into the Costco parking lot. How embarrassing for them. Did they all have to walk home? Maybe they took the bus. Or got a special May Day anarchist rate on Über?

Really pisses me off that this is what my ever-increasing property taxes get wasted on.

ERF
ERF
5 years ago
Reply to  Jim98122x

KOMO4 had a live feed from the camera crew for the whole thing. The TV reporters walked back in a group and were still walking about 9:30pm.

3rdEye
3rdEye
5 years ago

I see a Chicago Bulls hat and a black North Face jacket. Nothing screams anti capitalism like the NBA and North Face. These morons are hysterical and hardly as intimidating as they think they are. It’s like role playing at a dungeons and dragons bar, except they are violent assholes and I applaud the cops when they are dealt with. Congrats to the SPD.

rageofage
rageofage
5 years ago

And to Alex Garland and the other media crybabies who were injured during the protest: Get out of the kitchen if you can’t stand the (blast ball) heat. WTF did you expect? Welcome to the bang bang club.

Phil Mocek
5 years ago

Any word yet on the count of injuries caused by police who repeatedly hurled explosives into the crowd of about 99% peaceful demonstrators? Neither O’Toole nor Murray had a number when I asked during their PR stunt outside the emergency room last night.

Big congrats on shooting fish in a barrel, SPD. Good thing you had money to burn. Half-million dollars or so, with many hundreds of heavily-armed and thoroughly-shielded staff outnumbering demonstrators by about three-to-one, allowing demonstrators to march wherever they liked–as long as it was on a brief U-turn through Belltown and directly out of sight toward the deserted edge of town–and you seemed to eek by in a mostly-publicly-acceptable manner.

Great Job SPD
Great Job SPD
5 years ago
Reply to  Phil Mocek

Excellent job by the police, maintained control of the situation throughout the day. When the “anti-capitalist” protesters decided to end the peaceful demonstrations and turn it into something else, the police were there to do exactly what I’d hope them to do – protect people and their property from the anarchists and corner them into an area where they can do very little damage to the general public.

Privilege
Privilege
5 years ago
Reply to  Phil Mocek

I expect a full breakdown of your “99% peaceful demonstrators” comment, since you seem to have numbers that O’Toole or Murray lack.

Phil Mocek
5 years ago
Reply to  Phil Mocek

What do you suppose the number was–95%? 90%? Is it safe to say that the overwhelming majority of people participating in the demonstration Seattle Police shut down were peaceful?

It sounds like there were handful of destructive and/or violent people out of several hundred. With many hundreds of uniformed staff on hand and the streets crawling with plain-clothes operatives, police arrested a total of nine people, and two of those arrests were apparently supported at best with weak evidence, as charges against the arrestees have already been dropped.

zeebleoop
zeebleoop
5 years ago
Reply to  Phil Mocek

please, phil, provide exact numbers. were you there? did you do a count? any scientific data to provide or just your opinions?

if this was a majority of peaceful protesters, then why didn’t they shun the agitators? why not tell them to leave as they were turning their “peaceful protest” into something it wasn’t? it was done last year. the protest on boren. some of the black clad “anarchists” tried rolling dumpsters down the hill and several people called them out on it and moved the dumpsters back.

to say that these were all peace loving people just wanting to take their message to the street is flaccid. sure, there were probably many people who just wanted to march. but there were many who wanted to smash shit and hurt the police. and then there were those that were happy to watch it all happen.

sorry, but your pov on yesterday’s activity don’t hold merit.

We get it
We get it
5 years ago
Reply to  Phil Mocek

We get it Phil, you don’t like the police.

Good thing for the rest of us that they were there doing a great job, allowing the peaceful protesters to go about their demonstrations during the day and at night, when those peaceful demonstrations were taken over by the anti-capitalist crowd, pushed them in into a part of them into a part of town that minimized destruction.

Phil Mocek
5 years ago
Reply to  Phil Mocek

Yes, I was there, mostly walking parallel to the march a block away through downtown, then behind it all the way to the end. No, I did not count protesters. I did count 90 riot cops at 4th and Olive, audibly preparing to prevent pedestrian access from 4th to the side-streets, about 20 minutes prior the the scheduled start time of the march. It was clear from the beginning that the anti-capitalist demonstrators would be able to march wherever they liked–as long as it was precisely where police department staff wanted them to be.

I do not, per se, dislike police. I do strongly dislike police who lob explosives into a crowd, causing precisely the sort of mayhem and confusion that their own training video says will be caused by such misuse of crowd-control munitions.

This was not an emergency situation in which police were outnumbered and endangered. There were many hundreds of them out there in uniform, and surely at least dozens more sneaking around in street clothes. They significantly outnumbered demonstrators. They were heavily-armed and heavily-armored. There was no apparent justification for their actions. They provoked quite a response, though, justifying what was likely their primary goal–to neutralize that demonstration.

Jim98122x
Jim98122x
5 years ago
Reply to  Phil Mocek

“This was not an emergency situation in which police were outnumbered and endangered. There were many hundreds of them out there in uniform, and surely at least dozens more sneaking around in street clothes.”

Yes, exactly. And that’s why there weren’t more of these children acting out– they were severely outnumbered, and they knew they’d get their asses kicked if they tried. Any supposedly-peaceful protesters who inadvertently got hurt should blame the violent protesters– not the police. They’re grownups who bear some responsibility for being aware enough of their surroundings to remove themselves when shit is going on around them. If they’re too stupid to do that– better bring Mommy and Daddy next time because they’re clearly ill-equipped to be out on their own in the big city.

Bex1015
Bex1015
5 years ago

I agree. The police had a solid plan of action, and they executed it well. Protestors with the first, permitted parade peacefully held their demonstration. The rowdy after-crowd was contained when it turned violent. It might have been a few bad apples, but if we leave it to the police to “police” us, it’s not going to be a surgical maneuver. I consider it good practice for the SPD for bigger events, or if we ever have a big event such as WTO come to town again.

Paul on Bellevue
Paul on Bellevue
5 years ago

“It was clear from the beginning that the anti-capitalist demonstrators would be able to march wherever they liked–as long as it was precisely where police department staff wanted them to be.”

You know what? After the idiocy that we’ve seen in our neighborhood over the past few years on May Day, that’s just fine with me. It’s about control of the streets. After what happened in the past, it seems to me like SPD were determined to not let the anarchists have control of the streets. That’s their job.

Jim98122x
Jim98122x
5 years ago

I agree. If all they wanted to do was exercise their right of free speech– can’t they do that just as well standing in one place?

Kat
Kat
5 years ago

After the mess that these anarchists have made of our neighborhood and the businesses operating here during past May Day “protests,” I made a point of thanking the Police who were posted all over Broadway on Sunday for being there. I’m fed up with these “anti-capitalists” idiots and the vandalism and destruction they cause.

As for Sawant and her comment: Good going, you twit. Nothing like working to divide people along some stereotypical left/right divide so that you can encourage disruption and remain in the headlines and limelight.