Protesters clash with police, Tuesday, May 1, 2012 during May Day protests in downtown Seattle. Activists across the U.S. joined in worldwide May Day protests Tuesday, with anti-Wall Street demonstrators leading the way in some cities as they tried to recapture the enthusiasm that propelled their movement last fall. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle is infamously the home of several of the more violent protests against globalization and capitalism. If May Day’s protests are any guide, the same people are anxious to preserve their reputation.
What started as evidently a peaceful protest spiraled out of control around noon today, as anarchist demonstrators smashed shop windows, attacked banks and even staged random, unexplained assaults on innocent people in cars. One local news station referred to the whole event as “leaving a trail of broken glass and smoke”:
The targets of these protests were not entirely predictable. While banks were attacked, a few of the more novel targets included a “Nike Town” shoe store, which was attacked by an army uniformly black clad protesters, some of whom wore masks, marking them as members of the infamous “black bloc”:
So pervasive was the black bloc presence in that particular attack that one reporter noted, bemusedly, that the number of protesters who were in plain clothes and weren’t interested in violence were the minority.
Nike wasn’t the only seemingly random target – one set of protesters converged on a small white car and began bludgeoning it with unidentifiable objects. The car was reportedly damaged by the incident, with no explanation whatsoever for why the car, or its owner, was targeted. Again, news stories noted that those responsible were “anarchists”:
The chaos got so bad that Seattle’s mayor, Mike McGinn was forced to go on local TV and announce that he was using his emergency powers to expand police power in a 6 minute speech. You can watch below:
“I am issuing an order for the limited purpose of giving the police authority to confiscate items that can be used as weapons. This will be for the duration of the scheduled activities through May Day,” McGinn announced. “We are concerned that the group currently gathered at Westlake may choose to march again, and when they march, and if there are individuals in the crowd who seek to do what they did this morning, it can be difficult to prevent them from doing it, so having this order will allow us to approach people before the march begins in order to confiscate items that can be used to cause property damage or to cause injury to others.”
Mayor McGinn specifically fingered “anarchist or black bloc type individuals” as the people who had made his exercise of emergency powers necessary. “This is something that we are not seeing only in Seattle,” he added ominously.
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