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Seattle police prepared for May Day, anarchist march

While May 1 is a day of peaceful protests in support of workers’ rights for many, it has become known as a day of rioting, destruction and increased police presence in Seattle as anarchists take over during the night. (AP)

While May Day is a day for supporting workers’ rights for many, in Seattle it has become known for rioting and destruction that brings an increased police presence.

Related: Seattle mayor proposes plan with added taxes to hire more cops

“Let’s look forward to bunch of unemployed people in very skinny black jeans and poor hygiene marching through the streets of Seattle denouncing capitalism, as they trod back and forth in their Nike sneakers,” said John Curley of KIRO Radio’s Tom and Curley Show.

But co-host Tom Tangney said that, while there is a sensationalized portion of the day, is an oversimplification.

“First off, during the day, there is a huge May Day workers and immigrant march,” Tom interjected. “There is also a rock concert going on at Westlake Center. There is a festive aspect to this May Day celebration…then things turn a bit darker at 6 o’clock with this so-called ‘anti-capitalist event.’ This is when a lot of anarchists join in. Whenever there is mayhem, that is when it happens.”

“The Seattle police have said they have no problem with the marchers, they don’t even have a problem with the anti-capitalist marchers as long as they don’t break the law,” he said.

Seattle Assistant Police Chief Steve Wilske said that the city will allow peaceful protesting and marches, even if they are unpermitted on May 1 at an April 29 conference.

“We will allow you to march in the street, but we will expect you to march with the flow of traffic,” he said.

During the May 1, 2015 evening Anarchist march, Seattle police ended up arresting 16 people in relations to a variety of crimes. Store windows on Capitol Hill were smashed out. A KIRO Radio vehicle was also attacked.

“When we see acts of violence or acts of property damage, we have to make those arrests and that’s what will tend to escalate things,” Wilske said. “But I will not ignore violent crime and I will not ignore property damage.”

“We will have a significant number of officers down there,” he said. “We are very serious about protecting your property to the greatest degree that we can and protecting your employees.”

Wilske said that they are expecting things to be peaceful, but recommends residents and business owners take precautions.

“Lock up your garbage cans. If you have recycling containers, things that have glass bottles or something, please try to secure those,” he said. “And sandwich boards, tables and chairs for restaurants, it might be worth it to secure those so they don’t get dragged out into the street.”

Anarchists are also preparing for the day. A recent post on Puget Sound Anarchist has tips for marchers on how to deal with Seattle police.

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