Protests in Seattle marking May Day lead to nine arrests according to the city’s police spokesperson. The first of may is celebrated annually as International Labor Day, and is often accompanied by protests from the various movements that associate themselves with labor causes. Seattle seems to have seen more active than usual protests on Thursday, and the police stepped in to repress the actions of the protesters.
According to Reuters, which reported on the protests earlier today, protesters in Seattle threw firecrackers and bottles at police during the course of the protests. Those acts of violence are being blamed on a rogue group of protesters who acted outside the bound of behavior set by the rest of the crowd.
Seattle sees worst of protest violence
The arrest of nine protesters is not the mark of a violent, or even a particularly active, protest in a city the size of Seattle. Last year saw seventeen of the city’s protesters arrested, after eight of the police officers attempting to control the event were injured.
The May Day calendar in Seattle began with the 14th Annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights. Two marches which did not have the permission of city officials were due to take place after the scheduled event. The unofficial marches were, according to local news source MyNorthwest.com, organized by anarchist groups in the area.
All of the arrests were of people between the ages of seventeen and 23, bar an outlier, a 37 year old man arrested for assault during the course of the protests. Damage to the city as a result of the protests was, according to local media reports, minimal, with some cars damaged and minor injuries to some of the would be combatants.
May Day sees little violence
Chicago was one of the centers of the United States labor movement that flourished at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, and it was one of the most active arenas in the most important May Day protests in the country.
On May 1, 1886 a reported 300,000 people walked off of their jobs across the United States. Their slogans often encouraged violence with one of the most extreme reading “One pound of Dynamite is better than a bushel of Ballots!” Bomb blasts in what became known as “Haymarket massacre” killed seven police officers and four civilians.
Seattle had, at the time of the big May Day protests in 1886, not even been incorporated into the Union. Labor movements across the United States have become much less violent and much less cohesive since the end of the nineteenth century. The reduction of industrial and manufacturing jobs in the United States is often blamed, but the rise of worker specialization, and the alienation from a communion it brings, is also an important part of the new state of labor.
Seattle’s protests, which saw just nine people arrested, are not the sort of protests that inspire a national movement, or get remembered the Haymarket Affair did.