The Puget Sound Region Prepares For May Day | KNKX

The Puget Sound Region Prepares For May Day

Apr 26, 2018

Local leaders, police and businesses around the Puget Sound region are preparing for May Day on Tuesday.

May Day is International Workers Day. In Seattle and other Northwest cities, it has become a day of protest for immigrant and workers rights where demonstrations are routinely quite large and have in recent years turned violent.

Portland police declared last year's May Day demonstrations a riot and arrested 25 people after some protesters began starting fires and causing property damage. Olympia also saw demonstrators throwing rocks and breaking windows last year. 

Police and community leaders in Seattle are discussing how to keep the city violence-free. The city's May Day protests were relatively tame last year. But at one point in 2016, Molotov cocktails were thrown at police.

Downtown Seattle Association spokesman James Sido said most people taking to the streets on May Day are not out to spark violence, pointing to the annual labor and immigration march.

"That's always a very peaceful event with a very clear message, and that's great. There's a long history of that," Sido said.

He says the problems come in when others attach themselves to that march or run their own demonstrations that may not be as peaceful.

Those less peaceful demonstrators may take a wider radius this year. There have been calls for a decentralized, citywide display instead of focusing action on the downtown core.

Seattle Police declined to comment on whether that may complicate policing efforts.

Business owners in Olympia are also bracing for May Day protests. Police arrested nine people last year.

Kerri Murphy manages Blue Boutique in downtown Olympia, which sells items donated to Goodwill. Her employees were still inside the store last year when protesters walked by smashing windows with what looked like long poles.

"It went all the way through and sprayed glass all over the inside of my store, and we had several thousand dollars' worth of damage," Murphy said.

She says she's hoping to close the store early and move merchandise away from the windows.

An Olympia spokeswoman said police are also preparing for another round of protests Tuesday.

Simone Alicea contributed to this report.