Thousands march for immigrant, worker rights in Seattle for May Day
SEATTLE - Thousands marched through the streets of Seattle for immigrant and worker rights as part of the annual May Day festivities.
The annual Immigrant and Worker's Rights March, which began with a rally at 11 a.m. at Judkins Park, went through the Central District and Downtown Seattle and ended at the Seattle Center. It has been peaceful and festive.
Chanting "Stand up, fight back," people marched through downtown Seattle to support immigrants and workers.
Native-American dancers walked in front of the larger gathering of protesters.
The marchers paused briefly at the youth detention center amid a large police presence. A plan to build a new youth detention center has caused controversy and parked protests.
The marchers entered downtown after 3 p.m. and took aim at Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos as they headed to Seattle Center.
They carried a giant Bezos robot and chanted "Hey, Bezos, you can't hide. We can see your greedy side."
As they approached Seattle Center, the marchers paused in front of the statue of Chief Seattle.
The march followed a rally at a city park where speakers, including Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, urged resistance to President Donald Trump's policies.
Seattle police say they ultimately expect up to 1,500 people to take part in the march Monday afternoon, and a large police presence was noticeable. Later Monday anti-capitalist gatherings were expected throughout the city.
Several May Day marches and rallies are expected to impact traffic and business all day long on Monday.
Most events are peaceful, but some later demonstrations have dissolved into violence and vandalism in recent years - putting police and people who work downtown on edge.
"Any acts of violence or serious property damage and we’ll attempt to take action if it’s safe for everybody, the officers and the crowd," said Police Capt. Chris Fowler said at a briefing.
Security preparations already got under way Sunday on Capitol Hill and other areas of the city that sometimes experience disruptive protests.
This year, a group of anti-demonstration protesters are also gathering. The pro-Trump group known as the "Proud Boys" are near Westlake Center. Fowler said police are concerned about a "crowd-on-crowd" threat.
After 4:30 p.m. that group began marching. They were confronted by May Day protesters, and police had to separate the two groups.
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Among the businesses preparing for the worst is the Starbucks Reserve on Capitol Hill, which boarded up its windows Sunday night.
Even some schools are closing early Monday - so commuters should expect the evening drive home to look very different than the morning run to work.
Then came the Immigrant and Worker's Rights March.
A KOMO News crew spoke to students who say their evening classes at Seattle Central College are canceled.
Some business owners also tell KOMO they are taking steps to keep their staff safe.
"We're getting extra security," says Amy Burns at Sam's Tavern. "We usually have security come on later around 9 or 10, but we're having them come on earlier. We're just hoping people stay positive."
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole says her officers will not tolerate any kind of violence and officers will take appropriate action. The Washington State Patrol also is assigning about 100 troopers to Seattle on May Day to assist in crowd control.
The marches are meant to be peaceful demonstrations. But last year, 16 people were arrested for assault, vandalism and failure to follow police orders.