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‘Madness, mayhem and disrespect:’ Olympia reacts to May Day violence

OLYMPIA, Wash. – While May Day 2017 in Seattle turned out to be less violent than in recent years, police in Olympia said a group of marchers turned a protest into a riot.

Rocks, marbles and soda cans were thrown at officers and several windows were smashed, police said.

Police arrested nine people Monday evening, many of whom could face a malicious mischief charge.

The clean-up in downtown began late Monday night. Earlier in the evening, dozens of people dressed in black threw rocks and cans at police – and smashed glass where they could.

Olympia Police declared the march a riot and began pushing the crowd with blast balls and rubber bullets.

“Very angry and very focused individuals bent on engaging the police and doing property damage - it’s very hard to contain,” said police chief Ronnie Roberts.

The shattered windows at Olympia Federal Savings were covered with plywood by Tuesday afternoon, as were several other storefronts in the downtown area.

Olympia police said the rioters used a slingshot to launch rocks and marbles at officers, and that they also found a backpack full of rocks. Nine officers were hit by flying debris, and in the end nine suspects were handcuffed and sent to jail.

In a city where protest and freedom of expression is regularly embraced, some people worry what May Day 2017 could mean for the future.

“I had to explain to my kids why the town that they love is being brutalizing and vandalized by my peers,” said Michael O’Kelley who works in Olympia. “It was awful. It was just madness, mayhem and disrespect. That’s all it was.”

Detectives continue investigating Monday night’s riot and are asking anyone with still images or video of the violence to come forward with information.