5 officers injured, 9 protesters arrested as May Day march turns violent

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SEATTLE -- In what has become an annual event, May Day protests turned violent in Seattle Sunday.  Police arrested nine people following clashes with protesters that left five officers injured.

Police used pepper spray and walls of bicycle cops  to disperse the protesters Sunday evening after authorities say rocks, flares and bricks were thrown at officers downtown. Police also said Molotov cocktails were thrown at them.

Police said one officer sustained a head/facial laceration when hit with a rock, one was hit by a Molotov cocktail (injured but not burned, one was bitten. No details on the other two injured officers were immediately released.

Police said they arrested nine people -- eight males and a juvenile female. Of those arrested, one was taken in for property destruction, three for assault and five for obstruction.

The protesters threw rocks, broke windows in downtown buildings and spray painted buildings and parked cars along downtown streets.

The march by dozens of people, which began in a park downtown, was pushed by bicycle police in riot gear south past the city's sports stadiums to a Costco parking lot in the Sodo district in the south. Police said they contained the remaining protesters, then allowed small groups to disperse.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray released the following statement after five Seattle police officers were injured during violent May Day protests:

“I want to thank the Seattle Police Department for its extraordinary work today to protect the safety of people and property during this year’s May Day events. It is unfortunate and deeply regrettable that in a City that goes to incredible lengths to respect First Amendment rights, there are some who disregard our values and engage in senseless acts of violence and property destruction. This City condemns any acts of physical violence against our police officers, and my thoughts are with the officers who were injured.”

Nine people were arrested after windows were broken, and protesters lit fireworks, and threw rocks, flares and several Molotov cocktails at police officers.

“Seattle Police Department supports peaceful protest, but has zero tolerance for any acts of violence towards persons, police and property,” said Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “While we hope for peaceful demonstrations, we need to be prepared for the unexpected. ... I want to thank all of officers for their service, particularly the five who were injured. My thoughts are with you.”

Mayor Murray and Chief O’Toole visited the injured police officers at Harborview Medical Center Sunday night.

The rowdy evening march followed a peaceful gathering in Seattle earlier by supporters of immigrants and workers.

The protesters threw rocks, broke windows and spray painted buildings and parked cars along downtown streets.

Before the violence started, dozens of black-clad people had gathered at Westlake Park in downtown Sunday following a peaceful, permitted march earlier in the day by advocates for workers and immigrants.

The anti-capitalist demonstrators in Seattle, who did not have a permit from city officials, carried signs, including one that said "We Are Ungovernable." The group gathered at the downtown park before starting to march through the streets.

Some downtown businesses had earlier boarded up storefronts, anticipating violence. Seattle police reported seeing people with poles with bolts, rocks and cans of spray paint in the crowd.

Seattle traditionally sees large, disruptive May Day gatherings. Last year police arrested 16 people during demonstrations and 10 people were arrested in 2014.

In 2013, police arrested 18 people from a crowd that pelted them with rocks and bottles. Storefronts in downtown Seattle have also been smashed in previous protests.

Demonstrations also took place Sunday in Portland, Oregon, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland, California.