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Seattle's May Day protests wane in chilly evening rain

May 01, 2012|By Kim Murphy
  • May Day protesters gather in downtown Seattle to celebrate the day's tumultuous events.
May Day protesters gather in downtown Seattle to celebrate the day's… (Kim Murphy / Los Angeles…)

SEATTLE -- Workers were hurriedly nailing up protective plywood over shop front windows in downtown Seattle on Tuesday night after May Day protesters attacked retail stores and banks earlier in the day, but by nightfall protests had quelled under a chilly rainfall.

Several hundred protesters gathered at Westlake Park in the city center to celebrate the day's tumultuous events, which included a major annual rally for labor and immigrants' rights and a second march organized by Occupy Seattle.

"Some buildings closed early. Lots of Seattle was shut down today!" an organizer shouted from a makeshift stage as hundreds of protesters erupted in cheers.

"This is like the end of hibernation," said another leader, an apparent reference to the months that have elapsed since Occupy Seattle protesters were evicted from the downtown park before the onset of winter. "All I want to say is, 'Good morning!'"

Police reported at least eight arrests during the day, most of them when black-clad, masked demonstrators attacked half a dozen banks and also a number of retail outlets such as NikeTown, American Apparel and Starbucks.

Mayor Mike McGinn issued an emergency order allowing police to seize implements that might be used to inflict more damage, and by late afternoon, most of the protesters were carrying signs -- "Resist! Reclaim! Raise Hell" -- in their hands rather than on sticks.

Seattle police put up a photo gallery of evidence they'd seized, including a cluster of cigarette lighters taped together, a can of spray paint and a wall that apparently was the target of the paint that said, "Poop on the Police." (A bag of feces also was taken as evidence.)

There were no major injuries.

"We mobilized a massive amount of people under the idea that things needed to change, and one of the key things was the idea of decolonization," said Daniel Bass, one of the protesters at Westlake Park Tuesday night.

Though authorities said most of the property damage earlier in the day was committed by a fringe group of about 75, few at Tuesday night's gathering appeared concerned about it.

"I can't keep up with the militants because I'm too old, but I saw the results," said Joe Hill, 65, who attended both the afternoon and evening rallies. "I would say that due to the fact the situation is so grim, it always surprises me that there's not more stuff like that going on."

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