SEATTLE — With May Day less than two weeks away, Seattle police are making sure they are ready.
On Wednesday, they trained dozens of officers in crowd control techniques. Seattle police say their primary mission is to facilitate people’s First Amendment right to protest, but they say they will take action against any acts of violence or property damage.
SPD utilized a warehouse in West Seattle to train officers for the 2017 May Day protests.
One group of officers acted like aggressive demonstrators, while officers in riot gear practiced crowd control techniques.
“We always take our cues from the crowd, so as long as everything is peaceful, we are there to facilitate the march,” says Capt. Chris Fowler.
SPD says this year they have heard that additional groups might gather in locations like 23rd and Union, 2nd and Union and Victor Steinbrueck Park and then move on to larger gatherings.
“We march for hours and hours sometimes and we’re assisting with that flow, the pedestrian flow and traffic flow and how that all interacts in downtown streets,” says Sgt. James Dymant.
While the immigration march during the day is normally very peaceful, at night anti-capitalist marches sometimes turn violent.
“We want to keep everybody safe and the only way we can do that is to go out and actually practice multiple times to make sure everybody up the chain understands what we are doing and what we are trying to accomplish,” says Fowler.
Officers practiced using tools to combat whatever may be literally thrown their way; Molotov cocktails being one of the most dangerous items slung at them in the past. They’re also practicing 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,” says Dymant.