May Day 2017

The El Comite annual May Day march for workers and immigrants rights started at Judkins Park with a rally and took the streets around 1pm. The march of approximately 2000 moved down Jefferson to 12th, stopping briefly at the Juvenile Detention Center before making their way down Madison to 6th and on to Seattle Center. The march was significantly smaller than in previous years, perhaps due to the rain, perhaps due to the threat of ICE raids, or perhaps to the fear mongering of media outlets in response to SPD’s threats of violence that never materialized.

 

As the immigrants and workers rights march snaked it’s way downtown, two blocks West at Westlake Park, another group was gathering. This group, under the call out for supporters of “Free Speech” included Trump supporters, Gun advocates, “3 percenters”, Alt-Right, “Proud Boys”, “Oath Keepers”, and conservative issues advocates. They numbered in the 20’s but their numbers rose quickly to almost 150 by 4pm when the “Anti-Communist” rally was set to begin. They were met by citizens with signs, anti-fascists, and communists as they gathered in Westlake Park. By 4pm nearly 20 journalists had joined the group and were taking almost as many photos as the “Free speech” supporters. Several SPD were seen in or near the crowd, some uniformed, some not, and some on horseback. The group had a very short march down fourth, around the block and back to Westlake Park. The police moved in to separate the growing opposition soon after coverage was directed towards the Block Party at the Juvenile Detention Center.

 

While a few anti-fascists challenged the opposition at Westlake Park, several anti-fascists using Black Bloc tactics gathered at the Juvenile Detention Center at 12th and Spruce. These tactics are put in place to protect anti-fascists from “doxxing” by the opposition (releasing sensitive and personal information to the public about people’s identities) which can lead to arrests and harassment by law enforcement or those looking to cause harm.  Tents were set up with information and Anarchist zines, music was spun by local DJ’s, and the streets were covered in chalk art. Some local anarchist grilled hot dogs and chicken and served (free of charge) anyone who was hungry. Mayoral Candidate Nikkita Oliver spoke about using our creativity to take youth jails out of the equation and local hip hop talent Julie C, Suntonio Bandanaz, and Raz Simone dropped lines of poetic knowledge about their experiences growing up in the Central District. With the exception of police blocking both ends of the street after rumors of the opposition moving from Westlake towards the Juvenile Detention Center (they were turned around by SPD), the event was peaceful. When asked about the event, a neighbor replied, “I like this better than last year. This is nice. I endorse this.”.

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