May Day Reports from San Francisco and Seattle

by on May 1, 2012 · 0 comments

in California, Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, Economy

Photo by Doug Sovern.

San Francisco Commune Resurrected

by Michael Steinberg / May 1, 2012

As part of Bay Area May Day actions, Occupy San Francisco resurrected the San Francisco Commune. The SF Commune began exactly a month ago today, on April 1. The following day the SFPD shut down the Commune at the behest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the legal owner of the vacant building.

San Francisco, May 1-At mid afternoon today the intersection of Market and Van Ness in San Francisco had been taken over by Occupy SF. The adjacent Bank of America was shut down.

Earlier Occupy SF had reported that it would bring back the SF Commune, a social center and home for the poor and homeless it had started at 888 Turk Street on April 1. The owner of the then vacant building is the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

OSF claimed the building in the Western Addition had been empty for five years. It invited the Archdiocese to join them in bringing life back to the building to serve the needs of the city’s oppressed.   Instead, on April 2, the Archdiocese sent in the SFPD to raid the Commune and arrest its residents.

Yesterday Occupy SF folks on KPFA announced that they had in fact restarted the Commune on Easter, April 8, one week after the original occupation. They also announced that on May Day they would march to the site.

 On the March

There was a heavy police presence at Market and Van Ness today, rivaling in numbers those occupying the intersection. SFPD vehicles included numerous vans, cars, and motorcycles. At least one MUNI bus had been converted into a bust bus, eagerly awaiting passengers. Foot cops abounded as well.

All at once the march took off up Van Ness towards the Civic Center. Soon several hundred people had stretched out on both sides of the street over two blocks.

Lines of police on foot moved up the two sides of the street alongside the marchers. Numerous SFPD vehicles lurked behind the march.

As we passed City Hall, I heard from someone on its steps, “Why don’t they beat them off the streets?”

Up the hill past Mickey Dees we went, then the march swung left onto Turk. We weren’t going to…it couldn’t be…But very soon it became obvious—we were headed straight back to 888 Turk Street!

When we arrived, atop the roof a handful of mostly black clad figures held a large banner reading “From the Ashes We Have Risen.” As the crowd occupied Turk in front of the building, police threw up concentrated lines in front of 888 as well as at the Parkview Terrace apartment across Turk. Their menacing vehicles still lurked behind the crowd.

But soon the police force made a tactical retreat, if only to a block away. Soon occupiers came out of the building and started peeling back part of the chain link fence in front of it. They opened the fence’s gate and called out, “Out of the streets and into our home!”

I took them up on their offer and was checking out the first floor when I heard sirens. I peeked back out and saw four police vans speeding up Turk towards us. But they kept going and turned left to park on Gough.

I stepped back out onto Turk and heard someone laugh. Then I heard him say, “Did you see that taxi, it had an Occupy sign and the driver was leaning on his horn.”

As this sunny windswept day went on, everyone seemed to relax and enjoy its peace and beauty, for now.

As for the cops, they were lounging around, at ease, awaiting their kind of marching orders from the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

As it turned out, that didn’t take long. While listening to the KPFA 6 o’clock news as I’m working on this story, I just heard a report that riot police are storming the Commune, and have fired a projectile at one occupier.


May Day protests turn violent in downtown Seattle

By Casey McNerthney / Seattle pi / May 1, 2012

May Day protests and traffic jams quickly turned to vandalism and chaos in downtown Seattle Tuesday, resulting in eight arrests, late school buses and an emergency order from Mayor Mike McGinn.

After vandals smashed cars and business storefronts, McGinn signed an order allowing police to confiscate such potential weapons as sticks. He worried that vandalism could continue during marches scheduled for late afternoon, and that was echoed by Police Chief John Diaz, who had warned city leaders of potential violence two weeks ago.

By 5 p.m., predictions of increased violence in downtown Seattle were proving true. A man who hit an officer in the face with a bottle was arrested. At least three people had their flags confiscated as possible weapons and were arrested after fighting back.

Anarchists dressed in black began rioting in downtown Seattle shortly after noon. Some demonstrators tried to stop violence as red paint was thrown onto windows of the Wells Fargo building at 1215 Fourth Avenue. But violence continued when several Wells Fargo windows were shattered.

The violence erupted again when anarchists stormed the former federal courthouse, shattering windows, starting a brief fire and igniting smoke bombs near damaged doors.

The violent demonstrators calling for the end of capitalism and school were mostly white teens and adults in their early 20s. Mostly young men used wooden sticks to shatter the former courthouse windows while several young women threw projectiles into federal building windows.

The anarchists also turned on photographers and a KING cameraman who was attacked had blood dripping the left side of his face as he continued to film.

At one point, police found a backpack near sixth Avenue and Pike Street containing a ziplock bag with feces. Anarchists also littered streets near the downtown Seattle library with paint bombs – roughly egg-size projectiles that could be thrown with florescent green and blood red paint.

By 6:30 p.m., police had made eight arrests. A 19-year-old man was arrested for carrying a fixed-blade knife in the 400 block of Pike Street, and a 23-year-old man was arrested for vandalism in the 1300 block of Sixth Avenue.

“Some of these people think it’s fun and games out there. It isn’t,” said Seattle Police Chief John Diaz. He said police were searching for several more suspects and that he will seek the toughest charges possible against them.

Damage to storefronts amounted to tens of thousands of dollars, Seattle police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said.

About three dozen protesters dressed in black turned their attention to a Porche, busting its windows. Windows were broken at Niketown, the Taphouse Grill, American Apparel and other locations. The Homestreet Bank in the 1300 block of Sixth Avenue had a large window shattered and a Bank of America in the 500 block of Olive Street had windows shattered during the afternoon rally.

Police were expecting the violence to continue and were preparing for many more arrests, Diaz said about 2:30 p.m.

Both he and McGinn stopped short of telling Seattleites to stay home or leave work early, though McGinn said people downtown should take due diligence.

By 4:30 p.m., some downtown Seattle businesses began covering their windows with plywood to avoid potential damage. Earlier at the downtown American Eagle, customers were briefly locked inside to keep safe as black-clad anarchists vandalized property outside.

About 4:45 p.m., demonstrators were going east on Pike Street and traffic on First and Second avenues was blocked. Dozens of Seattle bike officers followed on the sides of protestors, and at least a half dozen sticks were confiscated as potential threats. As the protest turned more chaotic, police officials did not immediately have exact numbers of those arrests and the items confiscated.

At least three people were arrested before 5 p.m. for refusing to give up their flag poles.

The May Day protest in downtown Seattle clogs traffic each year, though most annual demonstrations are done without major property damage. City officials had been warning the public for days that activists bent on violence planned to take part in Tuesday’s event.

Earlier this month, local anarchists held a Cascadian Anarchist Olympics in downtown Seattle. The three-day event included sessions on how to deal with “pigs on horses,” a slingshot shooting gallery and a session on tear gas.

Last week, an incendiary device was thrown at a bank in Columbia City, similar to an attack at a Portland bank the night before. No injuries were reported in the Seattle case. Seattle police had been working with protest organizers to try and prevent criminal acts and property damage, similar to damage done during some Occupy protests.

Before the 5 p.m. rally, Deputy Chief Nick Metz and other city leaders met with organizers of the rally from Judkins Park to try and prevent potential violence.

As the demonstration intensified just before 5 p.m., Metro routes 10, 11, 12, 14, 43, 49, 125 & 196 were rerouted off of Pine St to Seventh and Union.

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