SEATTLE — May Day demonstrators who marched through Seattle turned violent today, with black-clad protesters using sticks and bats to smash downtown stores and automobile windows.
A small fire was also set near the U.S. District Court building.
The entrance to a Nike store was completely smashed in, with chunks of broken glass littering the sidewalk. Vandals splattered paint across the store and a neighboring business.
Police on bicycles moved in and dispersed the vandals, and the entrances were soon closed off with police tape.
While much smaller in scale, the mayhem was reminiscent of the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle that caused widespread damage to stores and forced the cancellation of some WTO events.
In Portland, protesters tussled with police during a downtown march, and police made a handful of arrests. Up to 100 protesters set out on an unpermitted march late this morning. Some got off the sidewalk and into the street. Police on horses and bikes tried to push them back onto the sidewalk, and a shoving match ensued.
In Seattle, Charlone Mayfield, a retired medical industry worker, said she was inside a Verizon cellphone store when she saw the crowd approach. One of the protesters broke off from the group and struck the window as she watched.
“It scared the bejesus out of me,” Mayfield said. “He started hitting the window with his baseball bat…I was here when WTO happened, this is really scary.”
Traditionally, May Day honors labor and workers’ rights. In Seattle, it drew hundreds of demonstrators for immigration rights and from the Occupy movement, with many converging on a park near downtown for rallies and music.
Mayor Mike McGinn had warned of possible traffic delays and disruptions. He said graffiti and posters indicated some people planned to use the demonstrations for property damage.
KING-TV reported one marcher has been arrested and a glass door along the route has been broken.