After May Day, Seattle mayor laments we’re a better city than this
“We’re a bigger and better city than this. I look at this and I am disappointed that this is the picture the world sees of us,” Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said late Wednesday, following a May Day march that turned violent.
While he noted that a march of thousands of people in favor of labor and immigration reform earlier in the afternoon was peaceful, a second, unpermitted march from Capitol Hill ended with a clash between protesters and police.
By late Wednesday night, #Seattle and #chaos were trending on Twitter.
In all, 17 protesters were arrested and eight cops suffered minor cuts and bruises, according to the police department. One officer was hit in the knee by a rock.
The City Attorney’s Office on Thursday charged six individuals who were arrested and held overnight in the King County Jail: Sebastian Harris, 21 and Gregory Husted, 22, were charged with obstruction of an officer and resisting arrest; Bryanna Stader, 27, and Justin Gonzalez, 25, were charged with obstruction of an officer; Paul Novasky, 44, was charged with obstruction of an officer, failure to disperse and resisting arrest; and Devin Bahm, 20, was charged with property damage and obstruction of an officer.
Three others who were arrested posted bail overnight and will be considered for charges at a later time.
Earlier in the day, businesses downtown braced for the possibility of violence and vandalism. A man, who chose not to use his name, said his insurance business was forced to close its doors for the day in light of May Day 2012, which was marred by destruction.
“Every May we have to gear up for this kind of nonsense,” he said. “I’m appalled that an American city would allow this element to take over its business core. And for what? What is this proving except that we’re weak?”
Mayor McGinn said he regrets that May Day turned to mayhem for the second year in a row.
“We’re a really great city, we’ve got great folks,” he said. “I sure hope this doesn’t become a tradition because this doesn’t reflect the best of Seattle by any means.”
But compared to May Day 2012, what could be considered the climax of the Occupy Seattle movement, the damage on Wednesday was minimal. On May 1, 2012, anarchists broke windows out of cars, downtown business and a federal building. Vehicles had their tires slashed and storefronts were covered with spray paint.
Using lessons learned from that day, police altered their tactics Wednesday. Bicycle officers served as barricades between protestors and businesses. Officers from the Seattle Police Department and private security agents lined downtown streets, protecting targets of last year’s destruction, such as Niketown and Chase Bank.
With downtown storefronts too well-protected, protesters took aim at small business owners.
A protester smashed the front window of Bill’s Off Broadway as the group made its way up Pine Street. Mia Lawrence, the owner of the coffee shop across the street from Bill’s, said the destruction didn’t have a message – except violence.
“I don’t understand what those people’s minds are going through,” she said.
According to KIRO Radio’s Chris Sullivan, the night’s destruction warranted some cleanup and local residents began to pick up trash left by the protesters.
There was no immediate estimate of costs associated with the damage.
The violence stemmed from a march that began at Seattle central Community College around 6 p.m. While unpermitted, police decided to help the group navigate streets safely.
“We did not start to take action until that group itself started to act violently towards the officers and the community at large” said Assistant Chief Paul McDonagh.
Aided with pepper spray and flash bang grenades, cops began to push the crowd east toward Capitol Hill where their march began. Captain Chris Fowler, who served as incident commander for the event, said the movement was in an effort to get the crowd to disperse on their own.
Many of the protesters were self-described anarchists. A local anarchist website said protesters would attempt to disrupt May Day.
The Associated Press, KIRO Radio reporters Brandi Kruse and Chris Sullivan, and MyNorthwest.com’s Alyssa Kleven contributed to this report.