Share story

IN many countries around the world, May Day is a public holiday, with themes as varied as the locations. Lately for Seattle, May 1 has become a civic Rorschach test for communal behavior.

This past bright, sunny Thursday in Seattle was an unequivocal success for virtually all involved.

A statement from Mayor Ed Murray shared that view: “I want to thank Chief Harry Bailey, Assistant Chief Paul McDonagh, Captain Chris Fowler and all SPD (Seattle Police Department) officers for their excellent work.”

Two years ago, punks in black mayhem mufti broke windows, started fires, threw trash at police, tormented businesses and terrified people on downtown streets.

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

In response, the police looked inept, poorly organized and without leadership, and City Hall reached the same conclusion.

A year later, in 2013, the police had studied their own after-action reports from the year before and offered a dramatically improved presence.

One of the core frustrations about May Day 2012 was that the vandals and radical wannabes got all the attention. Groups, organizations and marchers with valid gripes and protests saw their messages lost in all the violent distractions.

This year, the May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights was front-and-center in downtown Seattle. The Times reported on the messages and themes of those who turned out on behalf of immigration-rights and social-justice groups, faith-based groups and unions.

Those who clashed with police, and took out their fulsome political rage on a Metro bus window, were an irrelevant minority. SPD was out early and in impressive numbers. They guided marchers through intersections and responded to the handful of yahoos with professional restraint.

Predictably, a few more cowardly protesters threw debris at the cops from the safe, anonymity of the back of the crowd.

The United States has immigration and labor issues that do not receive attention in Washington, D.C. Seattle marchers turned out to ensure their concerns were known, and represent a voting bloc.

Anyone recalling the original 1886 May Day march in the U.S. was about an eight-hour workday will be pleased to know the SPD most certainly paid overtime.

A May Day with messages in a respectful setting protected to allow the messages to get out. Well done.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.