May Day stems from many beginnings and traditions, but today in the U.S. it is a day of protests, largely focused around immigration reform or racial discrimination. Bearing that in mind and amidst the riots in Baltimore, the Seattle Police Department is preparing for what could end up being a very chaotic day.
According to King 5 News, there is a “Black Lives Matter” event planned for Friday’s May Day and Seattle police are expecting quite a crowd in the downtown area. Law enforcement has already met with another group planning to march for workers’ rights and have said the meeting went well.
Although protests on May Day 2013 led to arrests and property damage, 2014 was not as eventful.
“We’re kind of going based on those ideas that what they did last year is kind of what will happen this year,” said Seattle Police Captain Chris Fowler.
Q13 FOX News reported that none of the local business are planning on closing early or adding security. They are going to watch how things develop and then act accordingly.
Michael Ellsworth, a resident of the area, is excited that May Day is coming up, but understands that the message of the day has gotten lost over the last few years. “It’s the workers protest, it’s about creating fair societies,” he said.
He was especially upset when two years ago, small businesses like Bill’s Off Broadway were targeted by vandals. “The windows got smashed, that’s not the sentiment of this,” said Ellsworth.
“I think as long as people are being respectful of people around them, as long as property is not getting damaged and people aren’t being physical, then I think it’s a great way for people to express their feelings and opinions,” said Glenn Ford, another resident.
The Seattle Downtown Association stated they will be communicating with the police command center, so they can monitor the progress of the march and any violence that may occur. If any of the protests turn violent, they will be able to alert business owners by email.
King 5 News reported that the police understand that people have the right to express their protected free speech, but officers won’t tolerate violence. Plain clothes officers will be in the crowd as well to monitor any developments.
“It is the minute they start moving into violence of action or serious property damage, it doesn’t matter what ideology they have, we have to take action just to protect the other protesters and protect the citizens and protect the officers,” said Captain Fowler.