May Day rally turns violent in Seattle

The Associated PressMay 1, 2013 

Police used flash-bang grenades and pepper spray against some protesters who pelted them with rocks and bottles late Wednesday, as violence erupted during May Day in Seattle.

Several dozen protesters, many using bandanas to cover their faces, began clashing with police in downtown hours after a peaceful immigrant-rights march ended.

Protesters threw rocks and bottles at police officers and news crews. As they moved through downtown Seattle to another neighborhood, they flung construction street barriers, trash bins and newspaper racks on the streets in an attempt to stop police officers. Windows of businesses were broken and vehicles with people in them were banged around.

Police used their bikes to shield businesses and eventually began to use pepper spray and flash-bangs — releasing a flash of light, smoke and a loud noise — to disperse the crowd. But that pushed the group to another nearby neighborhood, and they left a wake of overturned debris on the street.

In the aftermath, 11 adults and two juveniles were arrested for property damage, the Seattle Police Department said through Twitter.

The department said that one officer was injured after being hit by an object.

Initially, the protesters concentrated on a business sector of downtown Seattle.

This is the second year in a row violence has broken out during May Day in Seattle. Last year, anarchists broke windows of store fronts, including Niketown, and vehicles, and used smoke bombs. Protesters also targeted a federal building, breaking windows and doors.

Olivia One Feather of Covington joined the crowd Wednesday night because she wanted to see how police handled the protest. She said she wasn’t impressed, adding that she was pepper-sprayed in the face while trying to video officers.

“They don’t have any manners. They don’t say please or give you time to get out of the way,” she said.

The violence marred a May Day that immigrant-rights activists hoped would put a focus back on immigration reform. Thousands of people marched about 2ß miles from the Central District toward Seattle’s downtown Jackson Federal Building after a May Day rally supporting immigrant rights and labor.

Many carried signs, with messages such as “We are America,” and “There are no illegal humans.” One sign suggested forgetting about marijuana and instead asking the United States to “Legalize my mom,” a reference to Washington’s recent legalization of marijuana.

Other demonstrations and rallies in Olympia, Mount Vernon, Spokane, Vancouver, Walla Walla, Wenatchee and Yakima went along peacefully.

A two-hour evening march through downtown Olympia capped a daylong May Day demonstration that remained largely peaceful, if sometimes tense.

The evening march, consisting of about 100 shouting demonstrators, began shortly after 6 p.m. at Percival Landing and looped twice down the middle of Fourth Avenue, with the crowd at one point stopping oncoming traffic. The meandering, somewhat disorganized march ended about 8 p.m. near the artesian well at Jefferson and Fourth.

As of 9 p.m., Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts said there had been no property damage, no one had been injured and there were no arrests, even though some demonstrators had hurled epithets at the police and media who surrounded them block by block.

“There was no property damage. which is one of the things we were concerned about, and there was a good plan,” Roberts said.

Earlier, police made no arrests and no crimes were committed as more than 100 demonstrators marched through downtown Olympia as part of a planned “Shut Down the Banks” event.

About eight police officers in riot gear followed the marchers, but there were no altercations.

Olympia resident Andrew Meyer, who joined the marchers, said May Day is a time to reflect on how the capitalist system oppresses working people, both locally and worldwide.

“I just look at it as a day to take a step back and recognize the importance of solidarity for workers,” he said. “Not just in the United States, but across the world, the capitalist system.”

In Tacoma, more than 50 Pacific Lutheran University students marched in support of the working class and the right of the university’s contingent faculty to unionize.

Carrying signs and wearing red clothing, the students rallied at PLU’s Red Square to support International Workers’ Day.

“Down down, down, with exploitation!” the students chanted. “Up, up, up, with education!”

PLU has filed objections with the National Labor Relations Board to an election that would determine whether the Service Employees International Union will represent 176 contingent faculty members in negotiations concerning wages, benefits and working conditions.

Contingent employees typically are hired on a course-by-course basis to augment the work of regular faculty members. At PLU, they are paid less per course, and those who teach fewer than three courses a year receive no benefits.

Staff writer Jeremy Palowski and contributing writers Dianne McGinness and Cassady Coulter added to this report.

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