With the exception of a few minor scuffles between clowns and our local superheroes, the 13th Annual May Day March for Worker and Immigrant Rights was a complete success and went off without a hitch.
But two hours after that march ended, at about 6 pm, another group of demonstrators smashed windows, hurled rocks at officers and bystanders, souring an otherwise peaceful day.
Earlier in the day, police throughout downtown provided traffic control and security as thousands of people celebrated their First Amendment rights during the May Day March for Worker and Immigrant Rights.
Police were prepared to provide the same level of public safety service for a 6 o’clock demonstration, that began at Seattle Central Community College. The Capitol Hill march was unpermitted, and demonstrators did not provide the city with any information about which route the march would take through the city. According to a flyer, this march was advertised as the Anti-Capitalist/Anti-State May Day 2013 Rally and March.
Even without a permit, police worked to assist demonstrators as they marched down Broadway, providing traffic control.
The behavior of the group during the evening demonstration steadily escalated into violence. Just after 7 p.m., protestors began spraying the costumed Rain City Superheroes with silly string. Shortly after that, the window at Sun Liquor was smashed.
The march then wound its way downtown on Pike Street towards the Downtown Retail Core, where demonstrators began shoving and attacking reporters as they provided live on-air reports from the event.
Shortly after that, demonstrators ignited a smoke device, spewing orange pinkish smoke throughout the block.
After demonstrators began damaging property, throwing fireworks and rocks at officers, police formed a tactical line to prevent the marchers from moving any further into the retail core or on to the Interstate on-ramps.
After demonstrators began throwing metal rods and full water bottles at officers and business windows, officers moved in and made arrests.
When officers arrested several protesters and began loading them into transport vans, demonstrators surrounded the officers and prevented the vehicles from leaving.
Some demonstrators then began to throw large rocks and pieces of asphalt at officers.
In the interest of safety, police commanders issued clear orders to the crowd to disperse. The order was repeated three times.
Meanwhile, some demonstrators continued to hurl rocks, bottles, fireworks and a skateboard at officers.
Officers chose to deploy oleoresin capsicum, better known as OC pepper spray, to move the crowd.
It should be noted that all officers equipped with OC spray must be pepper sprayed during training before they are able to use OC in the field.
Officers gave demonstrators numerous opportunities to leave as police worked to clear downtown streets. However, a large group of demonstrators moved up Olive Way. Officers followed them using pepper spray and blast balls to keep the crowd moving.
Officers endured a barrage of rocks and bottles throughout the melee until the crowd finally did disperse around 9 p.m.
In all, 17 people were arrested for various offenses including property destruction and assault.
Eight officers sustained injuries, mostly bumps and bruises with the exception of one female officer who was struck in the knee by a fist sized rock.
A woman driving by the scene of one of the protests was injured when a protester hurled a glass bottle at her car, shattering her window. The woman sustained cuts from broken glass and was treated at the scene by medics.
Reports indicate limited damage to cars and business around the demonstration route. A complete tally of damage will be forthcoming.
The department will form a task force to investigate all criminal activity that occurred during the evening demonstration. Anyone with pictures or video clips is asked to save them.
The department will thoroughly review all force used by officers, per department policy.