SPD happy with its May Day response

SEATTLE -- Seattle police call their response to Wednesday  night’s riot a success.

For the second year in a row, anarchist groups disrupted May Day protests by trying to damage storefronts and attacking police. SPD says it was able to quash much of that while making 17 arrests.

Detectives are still investigating and hope to make more arrests

It was a day of protest that started with a peaceful celebration, and ended in chaos.

An anti-capitalist march that started in the evening weaved through the streets of Seattle, with  several anarchists, their faces hidden, causing trouble along the way.

They broke windows, threatened  drivers, and ultimately police, hurling rocks, bottles, and steel pipes.

“They provided criminal behavior downtown,” said SPD Assistant Chief Paul McDonagh. “That’ illegal, and we’re going to take actions against that.”

When police began making arrests, the crowd surged on them.

On May Day, 2012, police were criticized for not controlling the violence sooner. This time police took charge of the streets, with a larger presence and a different plan.

Commanders say they developed new techniques over the last year and trained for this day.

When it was time to disperse the crowd, police in riot gear created a wall of officers to move the crowd away. When the crowd wouldn’t move, they were hit, with pepper spray and flash grenades.

Officers dispersed the crowd by moving small pockets in different directions, and ultimately back to Capital Hill, where the march started.

“As they start to get smaller and smaller that takes the energy out of the crowd,” said Capt. Chris Fowler, the lead commander for the march.

City Councilor Bruce Harrell, who heads up the Public Safety Committee, said they’ll now review the police response. But what he’s seen so far he supports.

“I thought we were aggressive but I think we have to be,” said Harrell. “We do not want annual occurrences where people think it’s appropriate to destroy property, and throw rocks at officers.”

Harrell also said the council may consider some changes to rules about public marches in Seattle, including not allowing anyone who wears masks.