Seattle police say this time they're ready for May Day

Apr 30, 2013

Seattle police insist they’re ready for whatever happens on May Day, that they are better staffed, better organized and better trained than last year.

“We’re as prepared as we can be, given our resources,” said Captain Chris Fowler, the designated commander for police May Day response.

Last year on May Day, there was widespread confusion among officers on duty about how to respond to black-clad vandals smashing windows downtown.

What’s different this time?

At a media briefing, Captain Fowler told reporters that more than 500 officers have been trained or received refresher courses in “demonstration  management.”  In addition, he said bicycle officers, often on the front lines in confrontations with crowds, have received specialized training.

Fowler says, to avoid confusion, directives will be clearly given at police roll calls before each major event on Wednesday. While he can’t promise every window will be protected, he said officers will be strategically placed in front of likely targets, such as Niketown.

When asked why police don’t just confiscate flag poles with screws attached, Fowler said police can’t take something away just because it might be used as a weapon.

Once a window breaks, however, the city can issue an emergency directive that prohibits the carrying of sticks or other things used in the destruction.

One reporter asked Fowler why the city doesn’t prevent groups that don’t have permits from marching pointing out that the anti-capitalism protest scheduled to begin at Seattle Central Community College at 6 p.m. has not sought a permit.

“Anybody can come down and protest,” Fowler said. He said it’s part of our tradition in Seattle.