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Seattle May Day 2019 brings 20th annual march for immigrants and workers to Capitol Hill — and expectations for another ‘riot’-free year — UPDATE

Seattle’s 20th annual May Day March for the Rights of Immigrants and Workers will again cross Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon and — for a second straight year — it appears that any planned protests separate from the annual workers rights march won’t be taking place on Broadway.

“This year we march once again to reclaim our struggles as immigrants, workers, and without borders,” organizers from El Comite write about the 20th year of the massive march. The crowds will begin gathering at noon on Dearborn before setting out on a trek across the city to downtown:

We are here because of the insecurity, crime, and corruption unleashed in our countries by bad governments with the support and intervention of the U.S. We are here because of political repression and exploitation of workers and the dispossession of our natural resources and territories. We are here refusing to be victims of the few who benefit from this system and the impoverishment, displacement and death that they wreak upon on our peoples.

Walk with me for justice,
Walk with me for immigrant rights,
Walk with me for labor rights,
Walk with me because this is our struggle!

A quick perusal of the latest edition of our latest this week in CHS history post will catch you up on the recent history of May Day chaos and violence that has broken out on Capitol Hill over the years, sparked by clashes between police and groups from beyond the workers and immigrants rights movements. Damage, injuries, and arrests were typically limited but ugly moments including vandalism against small businesses and the use of dangerous “flash bang” grenades by police left many in the neighborhood unsympathetic to any of the sides in the clashes.

The 2019 Seattle May Day march route (Image: City of Seattle)

With SPD backing off past containment strategies that usually pushed protesters out of downtown and onto Capitol Hill, the last few years of May Day in the neighborhood have been mostly about the El Comite march.

In 2018, CHS reported “just another calm, quiet May Day on Capitol Hill” as “Police interventions were few, blast bombs went undeployed, and even the Amazon Spheres came through May Day 2018 unscathed.” Scarred by past chaos, some on the Hill prepared for the worst. The Starbucks Roastery again boarded up from head to toe and at least one of the neighborhood’s private schools canceled classes. The media showed up along with TV helicopters in tow as a small contingent of right wing, white nationalists, and neo-Nazis who said they had come out to stop protesters from vandalizing Seattle businesses, headed up Capitol Hill around 5 PM for a brief march around the neighborhood and then a rapid descent back off the Hill on Pike where the group stopped in PIllars Park for a photo opportunity. Police said the crowd included around 75 people.

UPDATE: Starbucks, as usual, is ready for anything in 2019:

Even efforts to block the new youth jail on 12th Ave moved off the Hill in 2018. The 2018 No New Youth Jail party, music, and BBQ protest against the Youth Service Center took place outside the office of project contractor Howard S. Wright on University Way NE in the University District and included appearances by Raz SimoneBypolar, and Nikkita Oliver. We’re not aware of the group’s plans in 2019.

Elsewhere, protesters in Seattle targeted the Wendy’s restaurant chain including its Lake City Way location Tuesday night with actions in solidarity with farmworkers and activists targeting the company for not being part of an industry program to eliminate human rights abuses in the agricultural industry.

In 2019, one protest is planned for Wednesday afternoon at Amazon headquarters. “This year, our labor family will rally in solidarity with SIS Officers at Amazon,” the group writes. “Security officers on Amazon’s campus have faced discrimination, harassment, abuse, and wage theft.”

City leaders are, for now, treating May Day 2019 as a traffic issue. “The 20th Annual May Day March for Worker and Immigrant Rights is expected to impact traffic through the city on May 1,” the SDOT bulletin on May Day traffic disruptions reads. “Please plan ahead for delays due to crowds along demonstration routes and potential traffic disruptions.”

There have been no announced changes to the city’s public transit schedules and Capitol Hill Station and the city’s light rail line are expected to be up and running.

UPDATE 5/1/2019: Some notes from May Day 2019 in Seattle. We’ll have full coverage of the day’s events soon.


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