SEATTLE – Police fired pepper spray and made at least three arrests Thursday night as anti-capitalist marchers meandered through Seattle several hours after hundreds of peaceful demonstrators took part in a May Day march in support of immigrant rights and a boost in the minimum wage.
Police said they used pepper spray after some marchers threw bottles at officers in downtown Seattle. They said they recovered a gun from one of two people arrested. Another person was arrested Thursday evening in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
As darkness fell on a day when the temperature hit a record 85 degrees, police said officers reported “seeing anarchists making a wardrobe change into suits and ties.”
Seattle police were out in force on bicycles, foot and horseback.
Violence has plagued May Day in Seattle during the past two years, with protesters challenging police in the streets and sometimes stealing the thunder of much larger daytime events.
Last year, police arrested 18 people from a crowd that pelted them with rocks and bottles.
Seattle police noted a marked uptick in anti-authority rhetoric leading up to this year’s May Day events, said Capt. Chris Fowler, in charge of the department’s response to the demonstrations.
Police escorted both the permitted march of immigration and labor activists and later, unpermitted marches, allowing them to block traffic but prepared to step in to stop property damage.
Businesses downtown also prepared, posting security guards outside, taping paper over their windows to discourage graffiti, and using metal coat hangers to tie down iron grates along the sidewalks.
The earlier boisterous May Day rally started in south Seattle and headed to Westlake Park downtown, with demonstrators waving red signs seeking an end to deportations and “poverty wages” and calling for a $15-an-hour minimum wage.
The police department’s blog said vandals spray-painted a few businesses early Thursday in the Capitol Hill neighborhood – a car dealership, bank, restaurant and “the neighborhood headquarters of the oppressive regime at the United States Postal Service.”