SEATTLE — Some downtown businesses are considering boarding up their windows, padding their walls and adding extra security for this year’s May Day, in fear that the planned protests will be just as violent and tumultuous as last year.
On May 1, 2012, protesters and alleged anarchists smashed several store-front windows during what was slated to be a peaceful event to mark May Day, a day to celebrate and discuss labor rights. Many restaurants, businesses and banks were damaged, and the owner of one restaurant said it cost $700 dollars to fix his windows.
This year, business owners are again concerned, and downtown merchants are preparing for the worst. Still, Seattle’s Chamber of Commerce said they haven’t planned any special outreach around storefront preparation.
“We always want our businesses to be prepared but we aren’t doing any special outreach around that,” said Maud Daudon, president of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce.
Daudon said being prepared does not mean necessarily boarding up storefronts on the day of the march, but instead watching for violent protesters and keeping the store well-monitored. However, managers at two businesses on 6th Avenue — a popular restaurant and a clothing retailer –said they are considering shutting down.
Business owners said recent criticism about how police handled last year’s May Day riots doesn’t instill confidence. A scathing independent review found the Seattle Police Department was not fully prepared for the violence and the command staff did a bad job of communicating to officers.
The mayor assured concerned business owners this year would be different.
“We’ve taken a look at what we’ve done in the past, what we can improve on and we’re going to be very clear with the command staff and the officers on what the plan is,” said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.
McGinn won’t talk about specific new tactics but says there will be an increase in the number of officers on the street, and communication will be a lot better for this year.
The Seattle police commander in charge of handling the protests will give more details on how teams plan to handle this year’s protests.