Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn praised the police response to May Day protest vandalism.

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Standing near a table of confiscated potential weapons, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn on Wednesday praised the police response to the May Day protests, saying officers acted swiftly and aggressively once violence erupted downtown.

“We don’t like it that there was property damage, but our priority was to keep the public safe, to keep the officers safe,” he said at a news conference at the Seattle Police Department’s West Precinct.

McGinn said police reached out to march organizers in advance of the protests to alert them to threats of violence they were seeing on anarchist websites.

But he said police couldn’t begin taking away potential weapons until violence had occurred. After storefronts downtown were smashed, he issued the emergency order allowing confiscation to begin.

Confiscated items on display at the police station included a bag of rocks, a sharpened stick that displayed a red flag and a corrugated metal barrier with sharpened points.

“The executive order was very useful. It allowed officers to directly engage with individuals who might want to use items they had for further violence. We think it made a difference in the remainder of the day,” McGinn said.

There were a few skirmishes with police later in the day, but no more widespread vandalism, he said.

McGinn said that a determined band of individuals who act simultaneously can cause damage, and that it’s challenging for police to respond. But if officers acted individually, they would themselves have become targets, McGinn said.

Instead they responded in larger groups where they could effectively arrest those breaking the law.

McGinn also talked about windows being broken Tuesday night at his house in the Greenwood neighborhood. He said rocks were thrown through windows in the living room and dining room. At the news conference, he picked up a rock confiscated earlier in the day, about fist size, and said the ones thrown at his house “looked a lot like this.”

Lynn Thompson: 206-909-7580 or On Twitter @lthompsontimes.