Our reporters and photographers are out covering the marches and protests on May Day 2016 in Seattle. Follow them throughout the evening on our interactive map.
This is a live account of the events of May Day as they happened. Read our wrap-up of the day here.
What has happened:
- A peaceful march for worker and immigrant rights began about 3 p.m. in the Central District and ended downtown.
- About 6 p.m., anti-capitalist demonstrators gathered at Westlake Park. Shortly after, the protesters clashed with police, but were pushed south of downtown.
- Five officers were injured in the clashes and at least nine protesters were arrested, police said.
Update at 9:53 p.m.:
During a news conference outside Harborview Medical Center, Mayor Ed Murray said Seattle police responded “appropriately” to the violence during the anti-capitalist march. He said police showed restraint.
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole also praised the department’s response. “Our plan was much better this year than last year,” she said.
Update at 9:42 p.m.:
Seattle police report nine arrests during May Day mayhem: three for assault; one for property destruction; five for obstruction. Those arrested ranged in age from 20 to 32 years.
Five officers injured; one with a head laceration from a rock and one injured by a Molotov cocktail, though not burned. One officer was bitten.
Update at 9:30 p.m.
Police arrested several protesters at Costco, then allowed the remaining demonstrators to disperse in small groups from the parking lot. Officers flanked a number of the demonstrators up Fourth Avenue South, as they dispersed north toward downtown.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole are expected to hold a briefing at 9:45 p.m.
Update at 8:43 p.m.
Police are allowing some members of the group at Costco to leave in small numbers. Some protesters who were spotted committing violent acts are being detained. Police report making a seventh arrest in the Costco parking lot.
Update at 8:35 p.m.:
The number of protesters has dwindled as police have pushed the demonstration south. The remaining anti-capitalist protesters were found to be “assailing shopping carts” and flipping pallets outside of Costco at Fourth Avenue South.
Police said they’ve made six arrests.
Update at 7:43 p.m.:
Police report Molotov cocktails are being thrown at officers on Fourth Avenue near the stadiums. A second officer has been injured at Fourth and Dearborn.
Police report at least four arrests and two officers injured.
Update at 7:33 p.m.:
Police are using blast balls to disperse the crowd at Second Avenue and Cherry Street. Police say crowd throwing rocks and bottles, breaking windows.
Officers have made several arrests.
Last year, police were criticized for their use of blast balls.
Update at 7:19 p.m.
Seattle police say the injured officer suffered a head/facial laceration. He is now receiving treatment. His condition was not immediately known.
Update at 7:09 p.m.
Marches, initially heading north into Belltown, reversed course and headed back south along Second Avenue.
Protesters threw rocks and bricks and some shot flares at officers near Second Avenue and Pike Street. A police officer was reportedly injured near Second and Pine.
Assistant Chief Wilske reported no arrests had been made to that point, though two windows had been broken and three assaults had been reported on officers.
Update at 7 p.m.:
Police appear to be herding the marchers into two groups. Police have used pepper spray several times.
Police say protesters may be trying to spray a caustic chemical in the eyes of officers.
Update at 6:53 p.m.:
Unfurling a large banner that read, “We are ungovernable,” and other signs, demonstrators began marching about 6:30 p.m.
As they marched, some in the crowd shot off Roman candles and other fireworks, and windows were broken at a Starbucks at Westlake Center.
Almost immediately, protesters and police skirmished near 5th Avenue and Pine Street, when some protesters hurled rocks and police doused the crowd with pepper-spray. The crowd headed north up Fourth Avenue into Belltown, as a massive deployment of heavily armed officers in riot gear flanked and tried to contained it.
Update at 6:42 p.m.:
Police say there have been reports of a broken window at a business at Fourth Avenue and Pine Street. Police are keeping a close watch on the anti-capitalist protesters as they march north on Fourth Avenue. No word yet on arrests.
Police appear to be dictating the route the protesters follow.
Update at 6:32 p.m.:
The black-clad group is now moving from Westlake Park and heading north on Fourth Avenue. Their route is unknown. Almost immediately, police report some officers have been hit with rocks and batons.
Update at 6:21 p.m.:
Seattle police tweeted that officers have seen some black-clad protesters armed with poles with bolts (often used to break windows), rocks and cans of spray paint.
Update at 6 p.m.:
On Capitol Hill, where past anti-capitalist marches have started, bored cops check their smartphones and pass the time chatting among themselves. People lounge on the grass at Cal Anderson Park.
That was the scene as the clock pushed 6 p.m. in this neighborhood that previously was Ground Zero for demonstrations.
This year the website “May Day Anti-capitalist March” announced that organizers opted to begin the event at Westlake Park because police would “trap us” at Seattle Central College, “like they did last year.”
So far, the plaza at the school was empty.
But, just in case the demonstration did cross the freeway onto Capitol Hill, cops and cars are here, waiting.
One thing for sure, there would be plenty of police overtime.
The 2015 May Day police overtime was $432,166, which comes out to $1.52 per for every Seattle household.
That was considerably higher than the 2014 May Day police overtime of $323,635, which comes out to $1.14 per Seattle household.
On Broadway, though, so far, at 72 degrees and blue skies, the biggest gathering was the 18-person line outside Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream on Pine Street.
Update at 5:41 p.m.:
The rally at the U.S. Courthouse is winding down, and the crowd has thinned considerably.
Meanwhile, in Westlake Park, a growing number of people dressed in black are starting to arrive for the annual anti-capitalist march. Seattle police bicycle officers watch from the perimeter. The atmosphere is peaceful as music competes with the overhead clatter of news helicopters.
Update at 5:02 p.m.:
During a media briefing, Seattle police Assistant Chief Steve Wilske called the march “very successful.”
Wilske, incident commander for May Day, said police are prepared to handle any violence or vandalism that arises during the evening.
Update at 4:31 p.m.:
As the marchers approach the U.S. Courthouse, among those awaiting their arrival is Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who is scheduled to speak.
“Today is significant because it’s the 10-year anniversary of some of the largest marches for immigrant rights,” Sawant told Seattle Times reporter Evan Bush. She said it’s significant because “we see the rise of the right, the ascendancy of Donald Trump,” who she called a “racist and bigot.”
Sawant said Trump has been able to rise because people are not happy with established parties. She said the left needs a coalition of the 99 percent.
“For a lot of young people gathering around (Sen. Bernie) Sanders’ message of political revolution, it’s very clear we need to build our independent forces,” she said. “We have to unite black activists, brown activists, Native activists. Our enemy is the system itself.”
Asked if violence on previous May Days has marred the overall message, Sawant said, “I think what mars reporting of May Day is the lack of focus of the media on marches of peaceful families and workers. My hope is that all activists are going to engage in non violent, peaceful actions. For the most part, activists do. I blame the media for not focusing on the peaceful marchers.”
Update at 4:19 p.m.:
The marchers paused outside the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct at 1519 12th Ave., which is surrounded by barricades and uniformed officers. The marchers chanted “black lives matter” and then continued on their way.
Marchers are now westbound on Pine Street. They will turn north on Seventh Avenue and head to the U.S. Courthouse for a rally.
Update at 4:04 p.m.:
The march is now heading east on East Pike Street from Broadway. It’s been peaceful, with marchers definitely enjoying the weather. Members of the Seattle First Baptist Church lined the route to hand out water to the marchers.
Meanwhile, in the Westlake Park area, police and private security are stationed near storefronts.
Update at 2:59 p.m.:
Marchers paused briefly at St. Mary’s Church before resuming the march on main streets. Colorfully dressed Aztec dancers lead the way as the group heads north on 20th Avenue South and then east on South Jackson Street before heading north on Boren Avenue.
It’s a festive atmosphere, although organizers are reminding marchers to stay hydrated because of the warm afternoon.
Update at 2:38 p.m.:
After the Rev. Esau Cuevas gave a benediction, the march is now under way. Difficult to gauge numbers because the crowd is so spread out. Also, marchers are expected to join in along the route.
Update at 2:14 p.m.:
There’s a heavy police presence at Westlake Park, where the Solidarity Musical Festival is featuring various bands, including Smashie Smashie. The music is scheduled until 5 p.m.
The vibe is mellow.
Update at 2:08 p.m.:
Oscar Rosales was a student at the University of Washington in 2006 when the first May Day march made its way through downtown Seattle. He remembers only one other rally to match it: The Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory parade in 2014.
Rosales is 31 now, and says he’s seen the Hispanic/Latino community change in Seattle. He says it is larger and more organized — in part because Latino workers have left Eastern Washington out of fear of immigration raids. “In one regard, our community is much stronger,” he said Sunday at Judkins Park.
This year’s May Day march is commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the large-scale marches in 2006 that were organized in protest of immigration and border control legislation. That legislation eventually died.
Rosales said a focus of the movement this year is to get more Latinos to register to vote so they can cast a ballot in the November election.
Update, 1:35 p.m.:
People are starting to gather at Judkins Park in preparation for the May Day march sponsored by El Comité and the May 1st Action Coalition. The march is set to begin between 2:30 and 3 p.m. at St. Mary’s Church, 611 20th Ave. S., cross Capitol Hill and end with a rally at the U.S. Courthouse in downtown Seattle, 700 Stewart St.
Among those at the park is Juan Jose Bocanegra, who says he has worked for immigrant rights for decades. He believes the rhetoric of presidential candidate Donald Trump is going to spur immigrants to organize and vote in large numbers.
Update, 12:15 p.m.:
Police were out in downtown Seattle and Capitol Hill all morning in anticipation of May Day marches and protests planned for later in the day.
At Westlake, bicycle patrol officers from Seattle and Mercer Island stood near Westlake Park, where organizers were setting up the sound system for a “Solidarity Concert” that’s supposed to run until 5 p.m. Officers also are on horseback.
On Capitol Hill, King County sheriff’s deputies and Sound Transit security officers stood at the entrances to the Capitol Hill Light rail station. Some stores, including the Urban Outfitters on Fifth Avenue Downtown and Starbuck’s big roastery on Pike Street on Capitol Hill were boarded up to protect against windows being broken in the anti-capitalism march planned later in the day.
The city has opened its Emergency Operations Center to coordinate police, traffic and other city responses to the marches and protests.
Update, 11:15 a.m.:
Several businesses, including Urban Outfitters and Starbucks, have boarded up their windows to prevent them from being broken by demonstrators.
Update, 9 a.m.:
Seattle police say they will facilitate peaceful demonstrations on May Day on Sunday but will respond to illegal conduct.
The day is shaping up as a mix of protests and a related outdoor rock concert, spanning the Central District to downtown Seattle, along with a Seattle Mariners game, all of which will combine to bring a flood of people and cars into the central city.
The main event — the 2016 May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights — has been peaceful and festive. Throngs are expected to participate, which will, in part, commemorate the 10-year anniversary of large-scale marches in 2006 to protest immigration and border-control legislation that eventually died.
City officials have approved a permit for the afternoon march that will begin in the Central District and end downtown at the U.S. Courthouse.
Later in the day, the annual anti-capitalist march, which doesn’t have a permit and in the past has generated vandalism and violent acts, is set to begin at 6 p.m. at Westlake Park, rather than its past gathering spot at Seattle Central College on Capitol Hill.
The prospect of warm, sunny weather is likely to produce large turnouts. Based on past years, skirmishes between officers and demonstrators are a strong possibility during the evening march.
Here’s a look at what happened last year when police made 16 arrests:
On Facebook, organizers noted the march has “become an annual event where we march in rage against capitalism and the oppressive forces that seek to gentrify our communities and force the poor into everlasting homelessness, or death.”
The post added, “We ask that you wear black in solidarity with our comrades at the march and around the world. We will also have Puget Sound Street Medics on site to handle minor injuries. Be prepared for violent police repression (pepper spray, flash bang grenades, tear gas, beatings, arrests, etc.).”
The post says organizers opted to begin the event at Westlake because police would “trap us” at Seattle Central College, “like they did last year.”
Lawbreakers will be subject to enforcement, said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole.
“We’ll walk around downtown with people all day long as long as they demonstrate peacefully,” she said, adding, “We just are concerned about people who put police officers in danger, put innocent people in danger or put themselves in danger by acting irresponsibly.”
Some officers, who have been specially designated to use blast balls and similar weapons, are receiving additional training, she said.
The day’s main event, sponsored by El Comité and the May 1st Action Coalition, begins with a preliminary program at Judkins Park in the Central District at 1 p.m., followed by a march starting between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. The march is set to begin at St. Mary’s Church, 611 20th Avenue S., cross Capitol Hill and end with a rally at the U.S. Courthouse in downtown Seattle, 700 Stewart St.
Adding to the mix of May Day events is a rock concert scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m at Westlake Park, billed as the Solidarity Musical Festival featuring various bands.