Seattle is still reeling in the aftermath of May Day, after a peaceful day of protest erupted in chaos and violence.

What is May Day?

May Day (May 1st) was originally an ancient pagan holiday, a celebration of Spring and the transition to Summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Different cultural groups have designed May Day celebrations or rituals in line with their cultures or beliefs (e.g. maypole dancing, daisy crowns).

May 1st is also a labor holiday in many regions worldwide. It was declared “International Workers Day” in 1886 by the International Socialist Conference after violent protests in Haymarket Square in Chicago, during a time when laborers were fighting for fair working conditions internationally. The U.S. celebrates Labor Day in September, but May 1st is a workers’ holiday globally. It is a day that many people around the world, including in the U.S., protest and riot in the name of labor movements and better working conditions.

What happened in Seattle?

Seattle has been known for eruptive and disorderly May Days in recent years, and this year was no different. The peaceful Seattle May Day March was held earlier in the day, but the civil day of protest erupted into violence. The Seattle Times describes that the anti-capitalist demonstrators clashed with Seattle police and it all erupted into mayhem. Protestors reportedly threw rocks, bricks, and Molotov cocktails at police and at least 5 officers were injured. Police were using pepper-spray and “blast balls” to control the crowd and steer several hundred protestors out of the business district and into the Sodo industrial area of Seattle. Several demonstrators were arrested for obstruction, assault, and property destruction.

There was a marked and yet anticipated shift from the March for Workers and Immigrant Rights that occurs annually and concluded peacefully to protestors in masks turning up the energy in an anti-capitalist demonstration. Police interference only fueled the fire, as things continued to erupt. Police have previously been criticized for their response during these riots and demonstrations, reportedly shooting “blast balls” into areas with peaceful protestors last year.

Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, by CNN report, said that SPD anticipated the May Day chaos and prepared with “enhanced crowd management training”. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said SPD “responded appropriately” and was appreciative of their efforts during the unrest.

Legal Representation

If you or someone you care about was charged with a crime during May Day or in the aftermath, please consult an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Whether you are charged with a property crime, trespassing, assault, or obstruction, it is essential that you obtain skilled legal counsel to advocate for the best possible outcome in your case. Please contact us today for a Free Consultation.