Seattle police say 17 anti-capitalist demonstrators were arrested Wednesday on property destruction and assault charges after the city's annual march for worker and immigrant rights. Eight officers were injured in the May Day melee, police say.
An account of the events posted by Sergeant Sean Whitcomb on the Seattle Police Department's website says that the "scuffles between clowns and our local superheroes" started with an unpermitted 6 p.m. PDT "Anti-Capitalist/Anti-State" march, two hours after the large annual march ended.
"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," Whitcomb wrote. The "superheroes" he mentions are volunteers who claim to help fight crime in the city. "Shortly after that, the window at Sun Liquor was smashed," he wrote.
During the following two hours, Whitcomb recounted, agitated demonstrators "began shoving and attacking reporters" and "began damaging property, throwing fireworks and rocks at officers."
"After demonstrators began throwing metal rods and full water bottles at officers and business windows, officers moved in and made arrests," Whitcomb wrote. "When officers arrested several protesters and began loading them into transport vans, demonstrators surrounded the officers and prevented the vehicles from leaving."
Protesters ignored a police demand that they leave the areas and "continued to hurl rocks, bottles, fireworks and a skateboard at officers."
The non-compliant, asphalt-throwing crowd was eventually chased through the city by officers wielding pepper spray and "blast balls," dispersing around 9 p.m., local time, according to Whitcomb. Seven officers suffered "bumps and bruises" and a policewoman's knee was injured by a fist-size rock. A bystander was hurt when a glass bottle went through her car window.
Earlier on Wednesday, several thousand people participated in the larger annual march. Under the headline "Seattle May Day marchers keep the peace," KING-TV reported that some protesters were eager for excitement. One gas mask-wearing protester told the TV station: "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."
There wasn't an immediate tally of the cost of property damage Thursday morning. The Stranger reports that FBI agents paid visits last week to several people associated with protests on May Day last year that left some Seattle banks and other businesses with broken windows.