- Kelly O
12:35 pm: A few minutes ago, the windows of the Wells Fargo at Fourth and Seneca were smashed, Brendan Kiley just called to report. Right as the protest at Westlake started, a bunch of people changed from street clothes into all black. After the windows were smashed, there were some other protesters not in black yelling, "This is not helping, this is not helping!" Now the protesters have started marching down Fifth Avenue toward the library.
12:44 pm: The windows of the courthouse at Sixth and Spring have just been smashed. Black paint has been thrown against the walls, a highway flare was set off, and there was some confusion after Pheonix Jones attempted to stop some protesters from throwing rocks at the windows. "Things seem to be a little more chaotic here," Brendan says. "The group has kind of broken up. Somebody has some kind of injury, I'm seeing protester medics. No pepper spray or tear gas yet. But I've got a feeling it won't be long."
- Brendan Kiley
- The attack on American Apparel.
- Brendan Kiley
- Another photo of the damage-in-progress at American Apparel.
12:54 pm: The windows at Home Street Bank on Sixth Avenue have been smashed. So have the windows at NikeTown at Sixth and Pike. They also broke American Apparel's windows and hit them with paint bombs and smashed the rear windows of several cars parked on the street. They've also spray painted "Proteltariatism" on the outside of Barney's New York. Fidelity Investments has spray paint that says "Foreclosed." Smashed a window at Starbucks and a glass door and a window at Verizon as well. Then the police and demonstrators with sticks had a melee involving pepper spray. Then people dispersed.
- Brendan Kiley
- Marching to the courthouse.
- Brendan Kiley
- The courthouse entrance.
- Kelly O
- Broken windows at NikeTown.
- Brendan Kiley
- Paint splatters at NikeTown.
1:27 pm: Goldy's at Westlake and reports: "It's your run of the mill Occupy gathering in Westlake right now. There's music playing over the PA and there's a porta potty people are lined up at. It looks like what you saw last fall." When he asked someone at Westlake which Wells Fargo window was smashed up, the person said, "A Wells Fargo window was smashed up?" There's a distinct divide between the people in Westlake and the people who did the damage. Whoever did it came and went, but the bulk of the crowd stayed in Westlake.
1:35 pm: This just in: "The only pepper spraying that went on was not by the cops but by the superheroes, according to the person at the first aid station in Westlake," says Goldy. Here's what Westlake looks like right now:
1:43 pm: Cienna Madrid reports, "I ran into Slog commenter Baconcat, who was pepper sprayed by Phoenix Jones. Baconcat was taking pictures at the courthouse and Phoenix was screaming at the group, 'I'm not against you guys, I'm here to keep the peace and protect this historic building,' and then took them out with pepper spray. Baconcat says his eyes are dry as hell." Tear gas went off shortly thereafter; it's unknown if the tear gas belongs to the "superhero," too. "Beware: Phoenix Jones is still on the loose. But it's still peaceful here in Westlake."
1:53 pm: "Wells Fargo on First Hill is in lockdown," reports Stranger staffer Joel Schomberg, who just walked by. "They looked at me strangely because I'm wearing black today."
2:05 pm: At Sixth and Pine, ten cops are suiting up in riot gear. Everything is calm right now, but obviously they're anticipating more to come.
2:15 pm: The mayor is set to speak to the media at 2:15 p.m., but that could be delayed a bit because of the chaos of the day. Here's video of the press conference:
3 p.m.: "This is what we spoke about Friday," Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said at his press conference just now, referencing his earlier warnings about violence at today's May Day protests.
He and Seattle Police Chief John Diaz said there have been two confirmed arrests already, with more expected as the marches and protests continue. McGinn singled out "black bloc" protesters for engaging in a lot of the violence, and said he would be issuing an emergency order to take away the weapons they've been using—particularly flag poles, tire irons, and pieces of wood. “When they move rapidly, disperse quickly, and his multiple points, it’s hard to react," McGinn explained.
So, he continued: “Using the emergency powers of the mayor’s office, I am issuing an order for the limited purpose of giving police the authority to confiscate items that can be used as weapons... We are concerned that the group gathered at Westlake may choose to march again... Having this order will allow us to approach people before the march begins, in order to confiscate items that can cause property damage or cause injury to others.” He said the order would be effective for the duration of the May Day protests only, and only in the downtown area. “The First Amendment uses of five-foot-long, three-inch-wide sticks is outweighed today by our desire to protect public safety and confiscate weapons," McGinn said, adding that he'd ordered the police to act "swiftly and aggressively" to prevent more violence.
“We will be asking for the highest charges possible for these individuals," Diaz said of those arrested. “Some of these people think it’s fun and games. It isn’t.” Asked what he would say to tourists caught off guard by today's events, and downtown workers whose routines have been disrupted, McGinn said: “We’re sorry this had to happen in this beautiful city. We’re going to do our best to keep this city safe.”
- The march down Fourth Avenue begins.
3:21 pm: Another march has started northbound up Forth Avenue in the middle of the street. "A big piece of corrugated metal or something just landed in the street," Brendan reports, standing near Seneca. He reports that a contingency of people is chanting, "We're here, we're queer, we're unicorns, and we'll fuck you up!" The mayor just declared a state of emergency and said anything that could be used as a weapon, including the poles protesters' flags are attached to, will be confiscated to maintain the piece, but there are "still lots of flags—I can see two or three dozen," Brendan reports. Cienna Madrid is up at Fourth and Virginia and reports there are about hundreds of people marching up there, flanked on both sides by cops in riot gear. "Everything's peaceful so far," she says.
3:23 pm: A concerned parent wrote in an hour ago to tell us, "Madrona K-8 (and I'm sure many other schools closer to downtown) just cancelled after school programs, and bus service for kids is expected to be delayed by 1 to 2 hours, due to the shenanigans downtown. Awesome."
3:44 pm: The mayor's emergency order is here for the reading.
3:48 pm: All the marching on Fourth Avenue has ended at Seattle Center and is now congregated around the freshly painted John T. Williams pole. Cienna Madrid says the crowd is chanting, "No borders, one nation, stop deportation." Brendan Kiley reports they're also chanting, "Honor the dead and fight for the living." There are no reports of fighting or violence at Seattle Center.
- Cienna Madrid
4:29 pm: The group has picked up and moved on from the John T. Williams memorial and now they're marching down First Avenue back toward Westlake. They're currently at First and Lenora, Brendan reports. Police have been taking away sticks and flag poles from people, which has provoked yelling from the demonstrators. There have been a few tense moments when the demonstrators stopped and locked arms. Police have been yelling at demonstrators to keep their distance from officers. People are popping pink balloons filled with glitter. "Looks like they're trying to glitter bomb officers in some way," Brendan reports.
4:45 pm: "On Pike between First and Second," Brendan reports, "a melee broke out when police detained somebody and other protesters shouted, 'Let him go, let him go!' And 'All cops are bastards!' People started throwing things at the police—it started with a paper airplane and crumpled up pieces of paper, then I don't know what, then police charged into the crowd and grabbed a few people. Now protesters have surrounded police, who I think are detaining people or holding them but I can't see through the crowd. In the past five minutes, I've seen police in riot gear uncapping their pepper spray and police coming onto the scene with tear gas guns. Protesters are holding Pike Street between First and Second. Some of them are putting on gas masks. Looks like they might be gearing up for a confrontation."
4:45 pm "Two men are hastily drilling plywood over the windows of Bank of America at Westlake," Brandan reports.
5:28 pm Aaron Pickus, spokesman for Mayor McGinn, tells Eli Sanders that the mayor activated the city's emergency operations center after the press conference earlier today, is in there now, and will be staying as long as necessary.
5:34 pm Frizzelle reports from Fourth and Pine (this is Eli receiving reports now, by the way) that there's a large, chanting, Occupy-ish thing going on.
"The police chief (the police chief)," they're saying. "And the mayor (and the mayor) are spreading rumors (are spreading rumors) that we're the bad protesters (that we're the bad protesters) and we can't let them do that (and we can't let them do that)."
Frizzelle says the group is a bunch of people in normal clothes interspersed with guys in ski hats with bandanas over their faces.
Brendan adds: "The mood has been getting more and more intense all day, with police and protesters yelling at each other, protesters flipping off cops, calling them pigs, telling them to fuck off... I don't know, but I am suspecting that things will become more confrontation as the evening comes. They are moving to Wells Fargo soon, and they are telling parents and small children to stick together in the march."
5:55 pm What Paul Constant thinks. "Based on what I've seen of the coverage, this General Strike is being blown out of proportion by almost every media outlet in town (and a few around the country, too)."
6:02 pm Frizzelle reports that the protesters are now marching down Third Avenue, led by a woman on a bicycle with a giant—"giant"—unicorn horn coming out of her helmet. Also spotted: Commuters trapped on a Metro bus, watching and looking bored as marchers occasionally tap on their windows.
- Christopher Frizzelle
6:24 pm Brendan reports: "We're northbound on Fourth and Marion. The group left Westlake, passed by Wells Fargo, and has now met up with the immigration reform march. Looks like they're headed back to Westlake. Every bank the march passed was heavily guarded by police officers—and the steps to Wells Fargo were blocked off by yellow tape. Several police officers and men in suits stood at the top. The crowd is banging drums, chanting, and I would say the mood is still tense but nothing has happened yet. There's a pickup truck towing a trailer with a big, red pretend jail with people inside. A man dressed as a rodeo clown is standing on top swinging a lasso and playfully catching people in the streets. The float seems to be about immigration reform."
6:38 pm Now a total of 8 arrests, says the SPD.
6:42 pm Brendan reports that the protesters from earlier in the day have now merged with a large immigration march that just arrived downtown. "The crowd has completely filled Madison between Second and Fourth Avenues," he texts. "Lots and lots of people here."
A brass band is playing. "Sign on the bell of the tuba says 'Borders blow,'" Brendan writes. "The music is making the mood more festive... A man is giving a speech in Spanish atop a stage in the intersection of Second and Marion. Behind him is a banner saying 'We the People' in old, Revolution-era font."
According to Brendan, an SPD officer estimated the current size of the crowd at around 1,000 people.
6:51 pm We are not unique today. However, Seattle does account for a lot of the photos on MSNBC.com's slideshow of May Day rallies around the world.
6:56 pm The mayor tweets that he won't be able to attend the immigration rally, though he'd wanted to. "Events dictate that I need to be at the EOC."
One speaker said: "The bank funds the jails." Another speaker said: "Wells Fargo makes money by dismantling Latino families." Another speaker talked about how she was taken from her small children after being detained because of her immigration status. Another speaker talked about labor, saying, "The only reason we have undocumented workers is to keep the wages low. If they could be documented, they would join unions!" It seems like the numbers have thinned some, Brendan says, perhaps because of the rain.
At one point, some of the Westlake demonstrators began chanting: "Whose streets? Our streets!" The immigration protesters responded by chanting, "Si se puede!", drowning out the other chant.
Jordan Eisen tells Brendan that he saw officers point out the medic at the immigration rally. Another protest medic named Mike Munro says he was walking with the arrested medic and one other person at Second and University. He says around a dozen police officers then surrounded them with guns drawn, told the arrested medic to get on the ground, and cuffed him. That's when the protesters gathered and began shouting.
"I've been buddied with him most of the day," Munro says, "and he's been nothing but helpful. He hasn't done anything wrong." Eisen suspects the police arrested him because he was present at the window smashings at the courthouse earlier today. But, Eisen notes, the arrested medic was encouraging protesters to not smash windows. "But, he was the closest to the broken window," Eisen says.
8:14 pm Reports of Occupiers meeting downtown to declare today a success. Meanwhile, the city's emergency operations center, which Mayor McGinn had been hunkered down in, just announced it is closing down for the night "as crowds at Westlake Center dissipated and planned protest events resolved peacefully."
Also: "The Seattle Police Department will continue to monitor and respond to public safety threats as they arise." (At least they seem to be keeping a good sense of humor about it all.)
Oh, and if you're missing your sharpened stakes, metal poles, shields, hammer, pry bar, rocks, paint, "makeshift barricade with jagged edges," modified traffic barrel, or lighters—check the SPD Twitter feed.
8:26 pm Brendan was at that closing Occupy meeting, and reports: "The mood at the day's final general assembly meeting at Westlake was calm but happy. People talked about upcoming meetings and work groups, and a few people took the people's mic to say that they had come down to thank the protesters after seeing the demonstrations on TV.
"Word around the meeting was that the medic who was arrested earlier had been released without charges. Information is pending on the legal status of the other arrestees.
"As I walk home through downtown, I see workers covering up fancy storefront windows with sheets of plywood. I asked one of the workers if everyone was boarding up for the night. He said, 'Yes, windows are expensive and we are not.'"