Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

May Day Protesters, Police Clash In Seattle

Police officers arrest a man during a May Day march, on Friday, in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren
Police officers arrest a man during a May Day march, on Friday, in Seattle.

May Day protests in Seattle turned violent, with police firing pepper spray and flash bang grenades to disperse demonstrators — including some wearing all black — who hurled rocks and other objects at authorities.

The Seattle Times reports:

"A day of peaceful May Day rallies for immigrant rights in Seattle turned chaotic Friday night as a separate anti-capitalist march descended into clashes between police and protesters on Capitol Hill.

"Three officers were injured and admitted to Harborview Medical Center. Several protesters reported injuries from pepper spray and projectiles fired by police. Sixteen people were arrested."

Member station KUOW reports: "The day began with a small Black Lives Matter gathering at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park. Those people then joined the annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights. It began at Judkins Park in the Central District then headed downtown for a rally at the Federal Courthouse."

According to The Associated Press: "Earlier demonstrations in Seattle and Portland, Oregon, to decry racism and income inequality were largely peaceful, but protesters who gathered later in the day confronted police, who attempted to keep them from damaging property and disrupting traffic."

Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole, speaking during a joint news conference with Mayor Ed Murray, said the protests had become "violent and destructive" and that the police had to act.

"I think (officers) were very professional about how they handled the situation," she said.

According to KING-TV:

"The march [that turned violent] was just one of several May Day demonstrations done to support workers' rights and other causes in Seattle on Friday. Others were peaceful, including a Black Lives Matter March and an immigrant and workers' rights event, organized by the group El Comite.

"[O'Toole] said the department will do a comprehensive review to make sure the use of force was appropriate."

Meanwhile, AP says that a protest in Oakland, California that drew more than 1,000 was largely peaceful, "though by Friday night a small group of people broke windows, vandalized several businesses, smashed vehicles and set at least one car on fire at several dealerships on the city's Auto Row."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.