KOMO SEATTLE — Police say black-clad May Day marchers hurled wrenches and rocks at officers and hit police with sticks as a Friday evening march through Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood turned violent, injuring three officers — two seriously.
Police responded with pepper spray, pepper balls and flash bang grenades. Officers said several dozen vehicles were damaged. Windows were broken in neighborhood businesses.
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said one officer had a dislocated shoulder, a second had a broken wrist, and a third had a burn injury to his leg and ankle. They’re recovering at Harborview Medical Center.
“Thankfully, they’re all conscious,” O’Toole said. “We talked to them. They’re in good spirits. Just happy the situation didn’t become more serious.”
The injuries occurred at 7:30 p.m. when officers issued a dispersal order to the group and attempted to clear the street at Broadway and Howell, Seattle police said.
Protesters hurled bottles, rocks, bricks, wrenches, and other projectiles at police, who responded by utilizing pepper spray and pepper balls to break up the increasingly violent crowd, police said. They added protestors also began pushing barricades and trash cans into roadways, and raided a fenced construction site for items they later burned in the street.
Capt. Chris Fowler declared the evening event had “turned into a riot.”
The protestors marched west to the cusp of I-5 near Pine Street, briefly forcing the closure of the northbound offramp to Olive Street. But several dozen police officers used their bicycles, flash bangs and pepper spray to push the protestors back up toward Capitol Hill and eventually hemmed them in at the Seattle Central College plaza where they began what was billed as an anti-capitalist march.
“The march quickly went violent,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said. “The officers made the appropriate decision to stop that march at that point.”
The protest crowd dwindled by late Friday night.
Rioters severely damaged one media SUV, bashing in its windows and tossing a smoke bomb inside.
In all, officials said 15 men and one woman were arrested for investigation of assault, obstruction, and failure to disperse.
Officers on the scene also recovered weapons and vandalism tools from those arrested. One man who was arrested for throwing a rock through a window in the 1600 block of Belmont Ave. was found carrying a soda bottle filled with green paint, a wrench, and a machete painted with the word “death,” according to Seattle Police.
Hundreds earlier joined in peaceful May Day marches in Seattle and Yakima, Washington, in support of workers’ rights, an end to police brutality and other causes.