Seattle May Day 'riot:' 3 officers injured, 16 protesters arrested, 25 vehicles damaged
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 a Seattle neighborhood turned violent, injuring three officers.
Police responded with pepper spray, pepper balls and flash bang grenades. Officers said several dozen vehicles were damaged. Windows were broken in neighborhood businesses.
Police said 16 people were arrested.
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole said the officers' injuries were not serious.
Capt. Chris Fowler declared the evening event had "turned into a riot."
Hundreds earlier joined in peaceful May Day marches in Seattle in support of workers' rights, an end to police brutality and other causes.
"The violence came after a day of peaceful, planned demonstrations by El Comite and Black Lives Matter demonstrators, who gathered in Judkins Park in the Central District before marching to the Federal Courthouse in downtown Seattle," Seattle police said in a news release.
Mayor Ed Murray said police would continue to work to protect people and property.
Bicycle officers shadowed the marchers, keeping them off Interstate 5 and away from downtown. Police in riot gear eventually hemmed them in at the plaza where they began what was billed as an anti-capitalist march.
“Once they decided to go violent, the march was over,” Murray told Q13 FOX News outside Harborview Medical Center.
“We had a group of individuals who decided they were going to be violent. So the march quickly went violent. And the officers made the appropriate decision to stop that march at that point. Regrettably it stopped on Capitol Hill.”
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, who was with the mayor, said officers were prepared to “escort” the marchers through the downtown area. “When the march became violent early on, we made a decision to stop it right then and there,” she said.
She added that they decided to push the group back to their point of origin — Seattle Central Community College.
Protesters have been seen throwing bricks, overturning dumpsters, and wielding sticks and other weapons.
"All force used by officers during the evening will be thoroughly reviewed, as per department policies developed in partnership with the United States Department of Justice," police said.
"Police arrested 15 men and one woman for a range of crimes–including assault, obstruction, and failure to disperse–and recovered weapons and vandalism tools from suspects. One man 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.”
Firefighters were called to Cal Anderson Park in a separate incident at 6:30 p.m. when a man wielding a hammer was hanging from a basketball hoop. The man appeared to get stuck and crews eventually brought a ladder to help the man down.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.