This video I shot yesterday shows veteran Seattle reporter Erica C. Barnett of PubliCola (formerly of The Stranger) right after she was pepper sprayed in the face.
Dressed in pink is Ian Finkenbinder, a military veteran and longtime activist. Finkenbinder turns away from Barnett and moments later he too gets a fusillade of pepper spray in the face, along with another individual. I received my own blast in the eyes and camera during Occupy Seattle, the same night Dorli Rainey was maced (I filed a complaint with OPA that was rejected). I really did not want to be hit again and only narrowly dodged the spray in the video. Hence my high-pitched protestations about being press. Please excuse those.
"That pepper spray canister was like two feet from my face," Finkenbinder told me later. "It sucked really bad and all I was doing was standing there...It was really insane." There's no visible physical aggression towards the police in the video that I can see. This would seem to violate the Hillman report and its recommendation that "OC [pepper spray] shall not be used to gain compliance of a passive-resistant protester," issued in response to SPD's handling of last year's May Day. I think SPD owes Barnett and Ian Finkenbinder an apology, at the very least.
But the question Dominic raised on Twitter of who threw stuff first to begin with—protesters or police—is important. Hopefully we can find out, because if police had already been threatened by, say, thrown glass, escalating uses of force would be more understandable. Finkenbinder, for his part, claims "people were handing out pizza, there was a lot of really great feeling going on," until the police chose to arrest someone.
Some have already blamed May Day protesters for smashing windows at Bill's Off Broadway and the Walgreens, which is a block away. But I'm not sure it was May Day protesters. At the 3:52 mark of this KOMO video, a woman says, "It was three kids that don't have anything to do with this whole thing. And they just thought it was cool to just do that."
Well, it wasn't cool. It was fucked up to break those windows, whoever did it. And it detracted from the more important issues raised yesterday.