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Protesters, police clash in Seattle May Day confrontation

Seattle Police block a street on Capitol Hill as May Day demonstrations turned violent Wednesday.(KIRO Radio/Brandi Kruse)
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Seattle police arrested 17 people Wednesday evening after a day of peaceful May Day protests turned violent. Eight officers suffered minor scrapes and bruises.

Several hundred demonstrators, many clad in black and wearing masks or bandanas, marched from Capitol Hill into Seattle's retail core. A large contingent of Seattle Police officers and private security lined the streets and stood outside several larger stores including Nordstrom and Nike Town, targets of vandalism during last year's May Day demonstrations.

As the protesters moved through downtown Seattle, they threw street barriers, trash cans and newspaper bins on the streets in an attempt to block advancing police officers. Windows of local businesses were broken and vehicles with people in them were banged around.

Police report metal pipes were thrown at patrol cars and windows, along with water bottles and other debris.

Police deployed pepper spray and stun grenades to control the crowd while some officers pushed the angry crowd back with bicycles. Thirteen people were arrested for assaults and property damage, police reported.

Officers were able to corral a couple hundred people into Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill, away from retail shops and traffic. The crowd began to disperse around 9:30 p.m.

Olivia One Feather of Covington joined the crowd Wednesday night because she wanted to see how police handled the protest. She said she wasn't impressed, adding that she was pepper sprayed in the face while trying to video record officers.

Of the protesters, she said, "They're doing what we need to do to stand up (for) ourselves. These are our streets and we have the right to take them."

Many of the protesters are self-described anarchists. A local anarchist website said protesters would attempt to disrupt the day.

After the clashes died down, local residents were seen cleaning up trash left by the protesters.

Earlier Wednesday, several hundred people gathered at Judkins Park in Seattle's Central District for the 13th Annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights. The march got underway around 3:30 p.m. and made its way to the Federal Building around 5:00 p.m. KIRO Radio traffic reporter Kimi Kline said there were minor backups on side streets.

No arrests were made during the peaceful march. A rally Wednesday morning at Westlake Park was also pretty tame.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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