While downtown Seattle businesses are warned to be at the ready should another May Day protest go awry, officials are confident the city is prepared to handle those bent on destruction.
Storefronts in the downtown corridor were the targets of vandalism during demonstrations on May 1, 2012. A group of anarchists who called themselves the “Black Bloc” broke windows at Niketown, American Apparel and several banks along Sixth Avenue in an attempt to provoke a police response.
“We were just shocked,” said Kate Joncas, president of the Downtown Seattle Association. “People were scared.”
Joncas questioned how prepared the city was for the demonstration last year and said she agrees with a recent report that found the Seattle Police Department showed poor planning and leadership.
“Most people will have good intentions and just want to talk about their issue, but there are going to be some people that might try to hijack it with bad intentions,” she said. “You need to be ready for that.”
Joncas has urged downtown businesses to be aware of what route protesters plan to take next week, but said they should avoid certain precautionary measures, such as boarding up windows or closing for the day.
“You don’t want to scare customers,” she said.
Mayor Mike McGinn told KIRO Radio Monday he could not discuss what steps the city plans to take to prevent vandalism, but said citizens should be reassured that the city is well prepared for May Day 2013.
“This year, we’re looking and changing our tactics a little bit, you’ll excuse me if I don’t talk too much about it,” he said. “We’re concerned, of course, but that concern is based upon last year.”
Last year, Mayor McGinn issued an emergency executive order that allowed police to confiscate items than could cause further destruction, such as flag poles and sticks. He said he will not issue a preemptive order this year, but will exercise the power if needed.
Police have not said publicly what they expect to happen next Wednesday, but local anarchists have called for a “week of action” culminating on May 1.