SEATTLE – May Day 2013, started with peaceful protests and marches. But that night it saw eight police officers injured and some 17 protesters under arrest. What will happen this year?
On Wednesday before the Seattle City Council’s committee on Public Safety, Chairman Bruce Harrell hear from interim Seattle Police Chief Harry Bailey and incident commander Capt. Chris Fowler. Much of the police planning to deal with violent protesters is under wraps, but police vow tolerance of what is peaceful, and a response for what turns violent.
“We’re a little different here,” said committee chair Harrell, referring to the city’s reputation as a place where people can speak their minds. “At the same time, we’re prepared to be as aggressive as possible.”
After a messy 2012 May Day, Seattle police were given good reviews for the way they handled 2013. And the plan going forward - publicly at least - promises to be very similar.
Decision involving crowd dispersing tactics like loud “flash-bang” explosives and tear gas is up to the commanders.
But Captain Chris Fowler, who will be the incident commander, last year said individual officers will have discretion.
“We never preclude an individual officer’s use of force to protect themselves or citizens, or prevent crimes,” said Fowler.