Seattle May Day marchers keep the peace


by KING 5 News

Posted on May 1, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 1 at 6:41 PM

A May Day march got underway Wednesday afternoon in Seattle with no signs of the anarchist-fueled violence and destruction that overshadowed last year's marches and rallies. But Seattle Police were working to keep a tight lid to make sure the day would stay peaceful.

The march to bring focus to immigrant and workers rights made its way to the Federal Building in downtown Seattle.

Activity in downtown Seattle began ramping up around 11 a.m. when a group of 15-to-20 people at Westlake Park started yelling at police officers. About an hour later, a group called the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army showed up and peacefully protested.

Nearby, at the Wells Fargo building at 3rd Avenue and Madison Street, traffic cones and security tape were put up to protect part of the building that anarchists hit last year. Pacific Northwest Carpenters Union members were handing out leaflets, clriticizing the bank for low wages.

Despite the early calm, at least one person was hopeful it would not stay that way.

“I’m hoping that somebody will spark the flame. I’m not saying anarchy is completely right, but it’s a better way than capitalism right now,” said one protester who arrived at Westlake with a gas mask.

“I think it’s nonsense that they go out and destroy property of businesses and people that are totally innocent,” said Bill Omaits.

More than 500 Seattle Police officers were working on May Day. They went through special training on crowd control.

“We have officers out that are going to support the immigration march. We’re going to set the environment so people can safely express their free speech rights and if any individuals decide to commit crimes, then we’ll investigate and, if possible, make arrests,” said Seattle Police Captain Chris Fowler.

Of the three groups expected to converge on downtown Seattle, only El Comite had a legal permit. Their march began at 3 p.m. at Judkins Park and ended at the Henry Jackson Building at 2nd and Madison.

Just before 6 p.m., Seattle Police Captain Chris Fowler said about 1,000 people had participated in the march and that number was quickly dwindling.

Fowler said there had been no incidents of violence or vandalism.

"There's been no criminal activity related to May Day and there's been no arrests," he said.

At 6 p.m., protesters were expected to march from Seattle Central Community College. Seattle Police said there is no official route map.

The wild card is anarchists. Online, they claimed to be preparing for some sort of demonstration. Last year, anarchists made their way into the crowd and vandalized businesses and other buildings.

Police were ordered to move in at the first sign of trouble – everything from damaging property to harming bystanders. The police captain overseeing the May Day enforcement says use of pepper spray is not out of the question.

Just after 3:30, Seattle Police Tweeted "Don't leave your rock collection lying around 2day. Officers have retrieved rocks & bricks poss. placed @ locs. in E&W Pcts."

Last year, items were thrown at buildings, breaking windows and causing substantial damage.