A group of roughly 60 people met in Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park in Seattle on May 1 as part of a Black Lives matter gathering and protest before the annual May Day March began later that day.
Those in attendance listened to speeches from ex George Jackson Brigade member Mark Cook, University of Washington student Michael “Renaissance” Moynihan and Radio host Gregory C. Lewis as well as others. Hip-hop artists Antonio Bandanas and Militant Child also preformed for the crowd.
The group then marched from MLK Jr. Memorial Park to Judkins Park and merged with a larger group, which was already getting ready to start the annual May Day Worker’s Rights March.
The crowd, now in the hundreds, listened to speakers, a performance of “Viva la Vida” by Ruth Soto, and a brief speech by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, before he was booed off stage a minute into his speech.
A Native American man named Nahaan said a prayer for the crowd before the march from Judkins Park to Downtown Seattle began.
Protesters marched with a Seattle Police escorting the entire way. The march was entirely peaceful and was comprised of several different groups, races, cultures and organizations.
Later that day protesters and anarchists gathered on Broadway for an anarchist-led march around Capitol Hill.
Protestors marched down Broadway, chanting “black lives matter” and “fuck the police.”
While the march started peacefully, there was an uneasy tension about the crowd. It was a stark contrast to the loud, boisterous organized worker’s rights march that had taken place earlier that day. Some protesters smashed windows, spray painted private property and overturned garbage cans and dumpsters in the streets while other protesters followed these people and moved the debris back onto the sidewalk.
The march headed down Broadway with protesters chanting “black lives matter,” “fuck the police,” and declaring that they stood with Baltimore.
When protesters began throwing rocks, batteries, wooden sticks, sandwich boards, hammers, wrenches and lit fireworks at riot armor-clad police officers, the police fought back with Arwen 37 non-lethal launchers, FN 303 less-lethal launchers, flash bang grenades, pepper spray, pepper balls and tear gas.
Some protesters were unhappy with the presence of the media at the march, blocking cameras with hands and flags and chasing some photographers.
The march briefly closed down an I-5 on-ramp as well as the Denny overpass over I-5 when protesters attempted to roll a dumpster down the hill towards police.
By about 8 p.m. the gathering was declared a riot by Seattle Police Captain Chris Fowler. The police mainly used bicycle police wearing extra armor to control the crowd.
By 9:30 p.m. most of the protesters dispersed and the crowds numbers decreased significantly. 16 arrests were made by the Seattle Police Department, and three officers were injured.