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Seattle Police: Greater chance for ‘crowd on crowd’ confrontations at May Day rallies

SEATTLE -- A high potential for confrontations between different protest groups exists at this year's May Day, Seattle police officials said Friday.

"I think there's a great opportunity for crowd on crowd conflict," Seattle Police Capt. Chris Fowler said.

Recent clashes between different groups of protesters has resulted in violence both locally and nationally.

In January, a 34-year-old man was shot at the University of Washington after a fight broke out between protest groups during a Milo Yiannopoulos speech. More than a dozen people were also arrested earlier this month in Berkeley, California after factions that support and oppose President Donald Trump met.

Fowler said the police department is preparing for May Day rallies and protests differently to account for a change in crowd interactions seen over the past few months.

"We've worked through our procedures and looked at our staffing on how we may respond in those types of incidents in a large crowd," Fowler said. "We are just looking at the difference in crowd dynamics related to what we've seen at Berkeley and what we've seen nationally."

Watch Above: Travis Mayfield explains the history of May Day

Last week, dozens of officers were trained in crowd control techniques. Officers practiced using tools to combat whatever may be thrown their way. They also practiced maneuvers on their bikes, forming barriers.

“The number one use of the bike is mobility, so we are able to take a small number of officers and place them in areas to facilitate those marches,” Seattle Police Sgt. James Dymant said.

Fowler said whether it's fights between protesters, attacks on the police or blatant property damage, any show of violence will result in police action.

"It doesn't really matter what your beliefs are or what you're there to promote," Fowler said. "Any act of violence by anybody or any serious property damage will elicit a police response."

Earlier Friday, police arrested at 32-year-old man in connection with a reported attack on Seattle police officers during the 2016 May Day protests.

Watch Above: Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole talks about arrest made in 2016 May Day violence