Story Summary

May Day

Violence rocked Seattle on May 1, 2012, when vandals and self-described anarchists damaged buildings, parked cars. Police intervened.

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This story has 9 updates
Local News
04/29/13

SPD gears up for May Day protests

mayday1SEATTLE — At 1 p.m. Monday, officials with the Seattle Police Department will meet with the media and discuss plans for May Day.

An independent report on last year’s event listed numerous issues with how the officers handled the riot and vandalism.

A number of businesses on 6th Avenue spoke to Q13 FOX News and all of them plan on being open for business as usual on Wednesday, May 1.

We will have a live report from the news conference on Q13 FOX News at 4 and 5 p.m.

Local News
04/29/13

Seattle police looking to avoid another May Day disaster

SEATTLE — Seattle police will update the media Monday on it’s plan to handle possible May Day protests this year.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said the department is ready for anything this year, but would not elaborate.

mayday1On May 1, 2012, anarchists smashed store fronts during a protest march on 6th Avenue in downtown Seattle. A recent independent review blasted the Seattle Police Department for not being prepared for last year’s event.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Last year in Seattle on May 1st, anarchists smashed store fronts during a protest march on 6th Avenue.

An independent report blasted SPD for not being prepared for the event. Mayor Mike McGinn said officers did eventually get things under control.

“We ended up having a peaceful march and the rest of the day was without serious incident,” Mayor McGinn said.  “So, it is important to reflect on what the police did well that day which was protecting public safety.”

mayday1An anarchist group in Olympia is claiming harassment by the FBI and other authorities. Mobilizing this week to discuss plans, the group claims it won’t be thwarted by scare tactics.

With images of damaged storefronts fresh in their minds, local shoppers we spoke with on Sunday had mixed reactions on the protests.

“It seemed dangerous,” James Finney said. “You should probably stay away from that area when stuff like that’s going on.”

“Some people it’s just chaotic and sometimes they cause people to actually think about what really is going on and why are people doing this,” Jeremy Stitt said.

But restaurants and stores say it will be business as usual on May 1st, with a little added caution.

Maud Daudon, from the Seattle Chamber of Commerce said, “In this case we’re counting on the police department to be prepared to step in if somebody does try to do something unusual.”

The mayor says this year police are ready for anything.

“The police are still paying attention to what’s going on,” Mayor McGinn said.  “I’ll expect to be updated as we get closer to the event and if there’s anything significant we feel we should let the public know…we’ll let the public know.”

Local News
04/23/13

Businesses prepare for potential May Day protests, riots

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.

Local News
04/03/13

Seattle police chief says May Day failings ‘an issue of command’

SEATTLE — Seattle Police Chief John Diaz took some pointed questions from the City Council Wednesday over his handling of the May Day riots last year.

Diaz admitted, “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it’s more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

And there were failures.

According to an independent review of police actions during May Day last year, while rioters were clearly prepared for that event, Seattle police were not fully prepared.

The review, authored by former Los Angeles police Deputy Chief Michael Hillmann, said Seattle police officers were confused about how to respond when a mob scene broke out and rioters began targeting downtown windows and cars. Officers interviewed also said leadership was lacking. At one point, Assistant Chief Mike Sanford rushed into the crowd to make an arrest and had to be rescued.

“It was clearly an issue of command; it had nothing to do with the rank and file,” said Diaz. “They (officers on street) were extremely well-disciplined in how they handled this.”

City Councilman Bruce Harrell, chairman of the council’s Public Safety Committee, said, “The purpose of the report was to learn from what we didn’t do right, and certainly we didn’t execute the plan and develop the plan as well as we should have.”

Among the findings: Department planning did not begin early enough to provide effective deployment and clarity of strategies, resulting in what was ultimately described as conflicting crowd management strategies and confusing direction.

There are 38 recommendations in the report, and Diaz said many of them, like better riot training, are already being done.

With May Day less than a month away, Diaz believes this time his force is ready.

“The goal here is to let everyone peacefully protest, and at the same time protect people’s property and safety,” he said.

SEATTLE — The Seattle Police Department was criticized Tuesday in an independent review of its actions during last year’s May Day violence. The report said police planning was lacking and officers on the street were confused over who was in charge or what force to use.

The independent review, released Tuesday, was conducted by former Los Angeles police Deputy Chief Michael Hillmann.

“From approximately 1200 hours (noon) until the mayor signed the Emergency Proclamation at 1500 horus (3 p.m.), the violence continued in the Downtown Core,” the report said. “It was during this time Seattle Police Department was unsuccessful in stopping the violent destruction of property.

“Unfortunately,” it said, “the aforementioned three-hour period was not a shining example of successful crowd management and protection of property … SPD personnel described the incident as running itself with self-deployment of supervisors and officers taking independent action with little coordinated direction.”

spdThe report detailed a long list of deficiencies inside the Seattle Police Department. It focused on planning, operations, command and control, policies and training.

Among the findings: Department planning did not begin early enough to provide effective deployment and clarity of strategies, resulting in what was ultimately described as conflicting crowd management strategies and confusing direction.

“We now have concluded an internal review and an independent review and those reviews will give recommendations to improve future performance at large-scale demonstrations or protests,” Seattle police Assistant Chief Paul McDonagh said Tuesday.

“We’ve done refresher training for the chain of command to ensure that communication flows seamlessly.  What we want to make sure is that the officers on the street and the chain of command have the same message and so there’s no confusion,” McDonagh said.

Also among the findings in the independent report, the Incident Commander did not appear to be actively engaged in incident planning and that incident planning did not appear to follow preferred practices.

The incident commander did not ensure adequate resources were deployed and there was no fixed site established for the Incident Command Post.

Finally, the report found, real-time communication between the command staff and street-level officers was insufficient and at times squads on the street acted independently due to an absence of command direction.

Lack of proper training was another major issue.

“We noticed that we hadn’t done any training on specifically crowd management, crowd control for a while (the report said since 1999) and so we’ve initiated that. We’ve trained approximately 370 officers in basic crowd control, crowd management,” McDonagh said.

The report was critical of Assistant Chief Mike Sanford, who charged into a crowd of violent protesters to try to arrest an individual. He became involved in an altercation and fell down, requiring other officers to move into the crowd to rescue him.

“This incident was commented on in all interviews as being an example of questionable tactics utilized by a staff officer and this action created a use-of-force situation,” the report said.

A lot of the recommendations that were part of the report have already been implemented by SPD. In fact, most were part of the department’s 20/20 plan.

One of the more interesting recommendations was that SPD work with the City Attorney’s Office to restrict the so-called rain city super heroes from creating crime and interfering with law enforcement operations.

To read the entire independent review, click here.

Local News
12/28/12

Woman files suit over her arrest in Seattle May Day protest

morales

In this screen grab from a cell phone video, Seattle police can be seen yanking Maria Morales (in cream-colored coat) off of her bicycle and to the ground on May 1, 2012.

SEATTLE — Seattle police had their hands full when violence erupted during the May Day protests. But Maria Morales says those officers never had a reason to put their hands on her or arrest her, and she is now suing the city and police department.

“I have somebody’s knee right on my neck, I can’t breathe. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know what I did wrong, I don’t know what I’m being arrested for,” Morales, 30, said in an interview Friday, recalling that incident May 1 in downtown Seattle when police took her down, cuffed her and took her off to jail. She was later charged with assault.

Seattle police officer Sonya Fry said in a probable cause statement that the action was taken because Morales had cursed at her and punched her in the chest.

Morales’ lawyer, Darryl Parker, said Morales likely would have been convicted of the assault charge. “If it’s your testimony against the testimony of a police officer, you’re going to lose every time,” he said.

Unless one has video proof. And Parker said they found some proof, from a cell phone video posted on YouTube.

The video shows Fry grabbing Morales and throwing her to the ground, where Morales is swarmed by other officers.

“Maria’s just lucky that that video’s out there,” Parker said. “That changes the whole case.”

Parker said that as soon as prosecutors saw the video, they dropped the case against Morales. But the damage was already done.

Morales, a veteran of the Iraq war, lost her job as an emergency medical technician, and then lost her apartment. Morales contends that was due to her arrest.

“Having to deal with this put a lot of stress on me, and I didn’t know how it was going to affect my baby so that made it even worse,” Morales said, who is pregnant.

The Seattle Police Department refused to comment on the case, but Morales and her lawyer hope her lawsuit against the city will send a message about what they say was a false arrest and a cover-up.

“I want to believe the reason people do their job is because they like it, and they’re (police officers) there to protect citizens and this is not something they should have done,” Morales said.

Morales and her lawyer are also asking anyone else who may have pictures or video of her arrest to come forward. They wouldn’t disclose how much money they are seeking in their lawsuit against the city and the police department.

SEATTLE — King County prosecutors have charged five alleged rioters for May Day destruction that caused thousands of dollars in damage.

The five –  Matthew Erickson, Kellan Linnell, Jason Michaels, Phillip Neel and Meghann Gonzales — are accused of a variety of crimes, ranging from malicious mischief to fourth-degree assault. The charges stem from Seattle’s May 1 riots, where dozens of black-clad protesters joined a group of peaceful protesters in a march to celebrate the International Labor Movement.

According to the charging documents, the five alleged rioters broke several windows at a Wells Fargo bank on 4th Avenue and Seneca Street, damaged the Nakamura Federal Courthouse and damaged a Nike store and American Apparel in the 1500 block of 6th Avenue.  Rioters also allegedly attacked a cameraman, hitting him in the face. A Seattle police officer was also assaulted during the protest.

The alleged rioters were identified by various pieces of clothing spotted in surveillance footage and tapes gathered by investigators. Charging documents describe an intensive, long term investigation into the identity of the rioters.

SEATTLE — Store owners and city crews ventured out Wednesday to pick up the pieces after a group of anarchists broke off from planned May Day demonstrations and wreaked havoc.

Nike Town and American Apparel are among the several business that had their windows shattered and paint splashed across their outer walls by vandals wearing masks and black clothing.

As the violent subset of the largely peaceful demonstration began acting out, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn acted to give police the power to crack down.

may day 2012

McGinn issued an emergency order to seize items that could be used as weapons. More than 70 pointed sticks, homemade incendiary devices and bags of feces were confiscated by police. In all, eight people were arrested.

But the damage had already been done. The boarded up windows of downtown business cover damage estimated in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Organizers of the May Day demonstration and Occupy Seattle condemned the actions of the anarchists—saying the march was supposed to be entirely peaceful.

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