Seattle superhero Phoenix Jones wonders if May Day riots could have been stopped years ago

May 3, 2016, 8:12 AM | Updated: 1:21 pm
May Day...
Anarchists marched through Seattle on May 1, 2016. The Seattle Police Department was prepared and dictated where the march was to go. (Richard D. Oxley, MyNorthwest)
(Richard D. Oxley, MyNorthwest)

The Seattle Police Department receives a lot of criticism, especially on May Day when anarchists march through the city with the aim of breaking windows and damaging property. But Seattle’s superhero Phoenix Jones is not among the harsh critics this year.

“I’m hypercritical of the SPD all the time, but this was great,” Jones said. “It was a good game plan.”

Related: Phoenix Jones helped stop a murder and talks BLM

As anarchists marched from Westlake Center through downtown Seattle and to SoDo, police blocked streets and mostly guided the marchers. A total of nine arrests were made — down from 16 arrests in 2015. Five police officers were injured. Overall, police tactics worked and Jones was impressed.

“I was in my suit for a little bit of it and in my plain clothes for the beginning of it, and we started walking and started getting pretty tired and sweaty,” Jones said. “I’m in great shape and I was tired.”

And so were a lot of the marchers by the time they arrived at a Costco parking lot. After a series of pepper spray and flash bangs along the way, the crowd had mostly dispersed.

Jones continued to be on the lookout for stragglers after the bulk of anarchists passed by. He said that some had plans of waiting for the rest of the marchers and police to walk by, then damage windows when the crowd was in the distance.

“Me and Midnight Jack investigated and found three guys in the alleyway who kept asking us if we were with them, and we said we were,” Jones said. “They were like, ‘Well, we don’t have enough people, this is scary.’ And they didn’t do it.

“Same thing in Capitol Hill and the same thing at Jack in the Box in SoDo,” Jones added. “All the time those guys were there, it was about three or four of them, and they didn’t have the nerve because there wasn’t enough of them.”

Who are they?

A common question after the annual May Day riots in Seattle is: Who are these people? Phoenix Jones has made a few observations.

“It’s a mix. Like the clown group. Those guys, I actually know them. They are pretty cool, I haven’t figured out why they break stuff. Then there’s the basic Capitol Hill group,” he said. “But there’s always this one section of people — I see them every year but I don’t know where they are from. They are not from here. I ran into one of them working at a [shoe] store (in Bellevue). I was shocked. I guess they are from around here, they just come into the city one day to break stuff.

“They are kind of the worst group of people because they are people who have grown up — in my opinion, from what I’ve seen — somewhat privileged, middle class,” he added. “And they want to change things because, like everyone, they are frustrated but they don’t know how to do it.”

And because they lack a certain range of life experience, living charmed lives, the City of Seattle’s tactic of allowing the unpermitted marches just plays into what they know, Jones says.

“And so far the rules haven’t caused them a lot of consequences,” Jones said. “If you look at it (hundreds showed up) and nine were arrested. That’s not a big consequence … we are not showing consequences, we are not making them pay for it. We are a very tolerant city.”

In fact, marching on May Day this year without as many antics has Jones thinking.

“All the other years could have been prevented. In my mind I always had thought that the first year we were caught off guard, the second year the plan was good but they waited too long. The third year there was so many flash bangs and pepper spray that it didn’t make any sense,” he said. “This year comes along and it’s run smooth and correct. It made me realize that this really could have been done earlier and that a lot of this is our fault.

“Unpermitted marches are stupid. The reason we have permits for marches is so we can hold somebody accountable … spending taxpayer money on unpermitted marches for people who have nothing better to do with their time can come with the goal of destroying property is stupid,” Jones added. “It’s an oversight by the mayor, it’s an oversight by the government.”

Jones further argued that all the other marches on May Day are permitted and peaceful. They actually stand for something and make sense. The anarchists are basically the opposite of all that. And for Jones, he can sympathize with what some are saying. Their methods, however, he cannot get behind.

“If black bloc is really anti-capitalism, I’m kind of with you. But let’s do something,” he said. “Let’s organize a hundred people to sit inside a whole bunch of banks and shut the business down for an hour in all the city of Seattle. That would be crazy. They would lose a lot of money. That would be awesome. Marching down the street breaking windows is just ineffective.”

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Seattle superhero Phoenix Jones wonders if May Day riots could have been stopped years ago