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Mayor, chief praise police response to violent May Day protest in Seattle

Seattle police attempted to control a May Day protest that turned violent Friday evening. (AP)
  • Seattle police report 16 arrests made in May Day protests.
  • Three officers injured in melee.

Seattle’s mayor and police chief praised the police department for the way they handled May Day protests that erupted in violence Friday night.

“Bottom line is I’m very proud of the officers,” Chief Kathleen O’Toole told reporters outside of Harboriew Medical Center, where three officers are recovering from injuries.

Police reported arresting 16 people.

Protesters were seen throwing bricks, overturning dumpsters, and wielding a variety of weapons. At least 25 vehicles were damaged, according to SPD.

“This is no longer demonstration management, this has turned into a riot,” Captain Chris Fowler said.

Officers deployed pepper spray and flash bangs on Broadway before the sun set.

“Once they decided to go violent, the march was over,” Mayor Murray said. “It wasn’t about keeping it out of downtown.”

The Washington State Patrol monitored all on- and off-ramps through downtown while Seattle police forced the group back toward the Seattle Central Community College.

Officers began breaking up the group and reopening Broadway just before 10 p.m.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray released a statement:

“Seattle celebrates free speech, the right to assemble and freedom of the press. People are raising their voices across the nation, working constructively to advance issues of racial equity and justice in our society. During this moment in history, peaceful protest and civil disobedience can be effective vehicles of social change. The City of Seattle prepared extensively to protect the rights of peaceful protesters to express their anger at racism and injustice.

“What erupted tonight is a very different story. Tonight we saw assaults on police officers and senseless property damage, which cannot be tolerated. Those who are violent will be arrested. We will work to disperse groups that are threatening the safety of our residents and businesses.”

Related: How much should it take to be arrested for a Seattle protest?

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