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No show of violence as thousands gather for May Day rally, march

A planned rally and march for workers and immigration reform progressed without interruptions by anarchists Wednesday, easing fears of another violent May Day.

Thousands of people gathered at Judkins Park, behind St. Mary's Church, for the Rally for Workers and Immigrant Rights at 1 p.m. Several unions were present, as were some representatives of the Occupy movement. Many people were displaying the flags of U.S. and Mexico, as well as signs urging comprehensive immigration reform. 

At 3 p.m. the crowd began the march to the federal building, located at 915 Second Avenue. The marchers reached their destinations shortly before 5 p.m., and held another short rally. 

The march was peaceful except for what police called a "brief disturbance" between the city's self-claimed superheroes and people dressed as clowns. 

"Everything's under control," said police of the incident on Twitter, adding they were investigating reports of fireworks being set off by someone in a clown suit on Fourth Avenue.

The public and the police had been unsure of what to expect on the day that just a year ago unleashed violence and mayhem in the streets of downtown Seattle.

During a 2 p.m. briefing, police said they remained on the lookout for vandalism and violence. Police Capt. Chris Fowler said his department's aim is to provide an environment in which citizens can exercise their right to free speech. However, officers will make arrests if they catch anyone committing a crime, Fowler added.

Two high school students in gas masks showed up at Westlake Park on the morning of May Day 2013.

Several other events were scheduled throughout the day, though 10 a.m. came and went without any signs of the two events planned at Westlake Park. At 10:30, the park remained mostly empty except for police and two high school students who had shown up in gas masks. 

Around 11 a.m. one of the gas-masked students and several others began yelling at mounted police officers and taunting them. One expressed disappointment over the poor turnout. 

"Is this it? Don't let the (expletive) pigs on horses scare you," he said. Police did not respond. (See more scene photos on Flickr)

A rally had been planned at Westlake Park by a group called Salish CIRCA, which stands for “Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army.”

Credit Ashley Gross
A man who calls himself "Furst Lewtenant Gonzo" is seen at Westlake Park.

“Just come clown around! Dress up as your favorite clown and meet at Westlake! Yay! We love clowns,” said the invitation from the group which was  “formed for the purpose of clowning the establishment and powers that be. We use laughter as our means of protest,” according to its biography on Twitter.

Another event had been scheduled the same time at Westlake Park. The “Film the May Day Police” event urged attendees to “bring your cameras and make sure and watch the cops!”

“It will be good to watch the police with our cameras! Bring your camers (sic). Film the cops,” said the event invitation.

An anarchist website also called for an attack on the Goldman Sachs building at 719 Second Avenue. The goal of the event is to “swarm Goldman Sachs’ 73 offices around the globe, and shut down this criminal operation to several hours, or more,” said the website. No specific time was given.

A U.S. Bank branch at 1301 Fifth Avenue closed early at 3 p.m. as a precaution. 

Credit Austin Jenkins
A crowd is seen gathered outside a Chase Bank branch in Olympia on May Day 2013.

Several events were also planned in Olympia where the day unfolded peacefully. A family-friendly event called “Reclaim the Commons” began at Sylvester Park at noon, drawing approximately 50 attendees.

Dozens of people gathered outside a Chase Bank just before 3 p.m. for what was being called the "Shut Down the Banks Party.” The protesters remained peaceful and did not clash with police.

Another ambiguous event called the “Festive Block Party” was scheduled to be held at 4 p.m. No locations were given for the event.

At 6 p.m., a May Day march was to start at Fourth and Water. It was not clear where the marchers planned to head.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.
Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to
Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.
In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.