Behind the Masks: What the May Day protesters in Seattle want

SEATTLE — The May Day protests through downtown and Capitol Hill in past years have caused damage and created chaos.

It has turned a lot of people off to their message, but by looking closer and actually speaking with self-described anti-capitalists and anarchists, you can find the serious issues behind the black hoodies and masks.

Violence for violence sake won’t fix what ails Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.

But listening might---even if the method sometimes obscures the message.

“We’re not overpopulated on humans. We’re underpopulated on humanity,” said one protester hidden behind a Guy Fawkes mask painted like a star-strewn galaxy.

We spoke with this group of protesters before the anti-capitalist march and wanted to hear why taking to the streets matters.

The woman said everyone needs to do better.

“There’s laws being passed that are just outrageous. And we get mad that those laws pass when we weren’t there to stop them.”

The issues go deeper for many, a seething progressive rage about injustice.

They cite what they say are the criminalization of teenagers at the King County youth jail and police brutality, along with the attacks on science and education from the far-right.

The same for the inauguration weekend movement for women’s rights and respect.

Monday’s rally and march from Judkins Park was about the battle over cultural respect and workers getting paid fairly.

Karen Heart was among them and said unions have lost much of their support and power.

“Most days of the week, the people that do the work, that make our society go. That’s what May Day’s all about,” she said.

For the black-clad protesters, they say it’s capitalism and the unquenchable thirst for profit that fuels all of these injustices.

“Money is a weapon of mass destruction,” one said.

They acknowledge a full economic system overhaul is tough—and violence hurts the activist cause. But they say the anger boils as wages are pushed down and corporations never seem to have enough.

“I think we all need to talk to each other better. We are all going to be different. All going to have difference of opinion. And that’s what freedom is.”