This is my third May Day in Seattle, at least when it comes to covering it. My initiation came just two years ago. That was the year Seattle Police were underprepared - as they later admitted - and more things than usual got broken. As far as pageviews go, it was one of our bigger days online in a while. My assumption is other media outlets experienced a similar boost. It was a learning moment. Since that day, from purely a hype perspective, the media-induced May Day circus has only grown.And why wouldn’t it? People eat this stuff up - at least as it's too commonly sold. This morning, when I dropped my kids off at preschool, one of the teachers asked me if I was going to cover “the May Day crazies.” There’s already helicopter coverage of Westlake. My mother-in-law has come out against May Day violence on Facebook.
May Daze: A Recap In Two Divergent Acts By Kelton Sears
Why We March: The Faces in the May Day Crowd By Morgen Schuler
The wheels, like a self-perpetuating fiasco, are already churning. May Day is bigger than us all now.
It’s kind of a bummer. And in so many ways the way the media covers May Day is to blame. It sucks that some asshole throwing a rock at Niketown will get more play than the legitimate concerns of those participating in today’s workers’ rights march. It’s a disservice that calls for comprehensive immigration reform, an end to inhumane treatment at private detention centers, and an increased minimum wage will likely get drowned out by the media’s infatuation with broken windows and graffiti. It’s depressing that this is what May Day has become, despite all the very legitimate reasons to take to the street in Seattle.
Predictable, sure, but depressing nonetheless.
Yesterday we had an editorial huddle to discuss our coverage. We had no choice. I’m sure every other news outlet had a similar meeting - probably much earlier than we did. May Day is a pre-scheduled spontaneous news event, and it will be milked for all its worth. When it comes to driving web traffic or garnering viewers, the separation is in the preparation, as Russell Wilson might say. May Day packaged as a “showdown” is a proven winner. Expect to see a lot of it. Hopefully we'll be able to do something slightly different.
I’ll be updating this blog throughout the day and evening, as May Day festivities in Seattle play out. The annual May Day March for Worker and Immigrant Rights will take off from Judkins Park at 3pm. The anti-capitalist march and rally is scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m. at Seattle Central on Capitol Hill. We’ll be everywhere we can be.
UPDATE: Predictably, the media was in full hype mode this morning. And at a press conference downtown this afternoon, Seattle Police said the threats and rhetoric have increasted this year, which fueled the fire. Here's a sampling:
UPDATE 2:43 p.m.: Seattle Weekly's Tom James is at Judkins Park, where he says there are "two hundred people, maybe, and half that many cops and media." Sounds about right, at least proportionately. The annual May Day March for Worker and Immigrant Rights, organized by El Comité, is scheduled to leave Judkins Park and head downtown around 3 p.m.
UPDATE 3:07 p.m.: The march has left Judkins Park. Here are some of our photos from the scene so far:
UPDATE: SW: You guys having a good day so far? "Yea!"
UPDATE 3:51 p.m.: According to our reporters on the scene, the crowd is in the low hundreds, and "feels smaller than last year." No official crowd estimate is available. So far the message of the march has revolved around human rights, immigration reform and the minimum wage, though there has been very little mention of Mayor Murray's minimum wage plan in organized speeches. Seattle Weekly's Tom James says there's a "fair police presence," along with a lot of organized blocks of people - like unions, labor rights groups, etc. not to mention a lot of kids and parents.
Ohm Campbell, who's participating in this afternoon's march, tells Seattle Weekly he's a Communist in Seattle on a trip up from California. "I'm more interested in supporting this one," he says when asked whether he'll also be involved in tonight's anti-capitalist march. "Because I support immigration reform."
UPDATE 4:19 p.m.:
Meanwhile, much of the media remains focused on potential conflict (and a Starbucks closing early) ...
UPDATE 4:41 p.m.: Seattle Weekly's Morgen Schuler spoke with 29-year-old Leah, who says she's marching today, "in solidarity with immigrant families and workers."
"I think this struggle is something that effects us all, and should be meaningful to us all," she says. "I don't want to see families continue to be torn apart."
UPDATE 4:46 p.m.: Seattle Weekly's Tom James reports the march - which has "gotten bigger" - continues to head toward Westlake. James says "there are no obvious troublemakers," as opposed to this time last year.
UPDATE 5:17 p.m.: Jordan, a 29-year-old chalk artist, says he's currently between jobs but usually works in air conditioning repair. He came to May Day to learn more about the politics behind it.
"Honestly, I don't really know. I've never been to May Day," Jordan says when asked why he's at Westlake today. "I figured I'd come down and see it. Somebody told me there was a parade and kind of a party."
Kshama Sawant introduced as "the honorable Kshama Sawant!" — Anna Minard (@minardanna) May 2, 2014
"The proposal by the mayor today is a result of the direct pressure of our movement. The reality is, it falls far short." -Kshama Sawant — Seattle Weekly (@seattleweekly) May 2, 2014
UPDATE 5:44 p.m.:It appears we have our first "unexpected march" of May Day 2014.
UPDATE TO PREVIOUS UPDATE:
UPDATE 5:48 p.m.:Has it been mentioned lately that there's a possibility things will get destructive and scary for viewers at home?
UPDATE 6:02 p.m.:According to Seattle Weekly's Tom James, the festivities at Westlake are winding down and the media is turning its attention on Capitol Hill and the scheduled 6 p.m. "anti-capitalist march." James says Sawant spoke to the crowd for about ten minutes, mostly about Mayor Ed Murray's freshly unveiled minimum wage proposal (as noted above). Sawant noted that while Murray's proposal wasn't enough, it's important to recognize what a big step the grassroots effort to raise the minimum wage has made already. James says Westlake drew a "big, peaceful crowd," with one KING 5 reporter telling viewers at home there was "no violence reported here at all today."
UPDATE 6:19 p.m.: SPD Scene Commander Capt. Chris Fowler confirms there have been no arrests made so far.
Small group marching east from Broadway down Pine Street. — Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) May 2, 2014
UPDATE 6:23 p.m.:The Capitol Hill march has split into two groups, according to SPD.
UPDATE 6:49 p.m.: Marchers are heading downtown, according to KING 5's Chris Daniels. Meanwhile, The Seattle Times' Mike Lindblom says the crowd has grown.
UPDATE: 7:09 p.m.: What's being described as a small group of marchers is heading north downtown. Many media members are using the opportunity to make funnies.
Crowd size has grown to over 300 including media and the curious. — Michael C. Lindblom (@MikeLindblom) May 2, 2014
UPDATE: SPD says one arrest has been made.
UPDATE 7:36 p.m.: Here's some video Morgen Schuler took of Seattle Police using bikes to push the crowd back at Broadway and Pike, shortly after the arrest was made. UPDATE 7:44 p.m.: What's May Day without silly string?
UPDATE: Seattle Police say they're working to break up a "moving fight" between "anarchists" and "superheroes." It figures ...
UPDATE: Seattle Police say no arrests were made in the "superhero" vs "anarchist" scuffle.
UPDATE: 8:16 p.m.: By some accounts the crowd of protestors has grown considerably.
UPDATE: Seattle Weekly's Tom James reports that from his perspective there are about 200-250 marchers, engaged in what he calls an "impressively calm" protest. "They're just kind of marching around," James says. "Cops are just letting these guys do it."
8:12 pm. About 1000 to 1200 marchers headed north on 4th, then east on Wall. Outdoor patrons at restaurants took photos and continued meal. — Erik Lacitis (@ErikLacitis) May 2, 2014
UPDATE: And we have our first reports of pepper spray.
Anarchists, The 5 Point has shot of whiskey and a can of Hamm's for $3.50. Maybe stop by on the way to Amazon — David Meinert (@davidmeinert) May 2, 2014
UPDATE: Seattle Police says a gun has been recovered during a May-Day related arrest downtown. No further information available at this time.
UPDATE: Seattle Police say a third arrest has been made. Meanwhile, "anarchist" are reportedly changing into more formal attire.
UPDATE: Reports of rising tensions and pepper spray are coming in.
UPDATE: Jesus ... they're still going.