Joshua Wollstein says he’s no angel, but neither, he insists, is he a bottle-tossing, window-smashing anarchist. This afternoon, he appeared in a King County jailhouse courtroom where he was arraigned on charges of felony riot. A young clean-cut man, Wollstein is accused of knocking over a couple of garbage cans and hurling a few bottles at police during the May Day protest.
He conceded he may have had his way with a garbage can or two, but as far as throwing bottles -- no way.
“I am not an anarchist, I am a libertarian,” he told a handful of reporters after leaving the small courtroom following a brief hearing. Wollstein added that “I am informed by Marxism and I believe Marx’s theories about capitalism have to come to bear.”
Wollstein says he was arrested under the monorail tracks at Fifth and Olive, where a large hostile crowd converged last Wednesday night. Many of them were masked and hooded and, according to police, were hurling baseball-size rocks, along with bottles and other objects.
“I went as a free-market believer,” he said. “My goal was not to smash property.”
According to state statue, felony riot is a Class C felony, and a person can be found guilty if he or she is “acting with three or more other persons, [or] he or she knowingly and unlawfully uses or threatens to use force, or in any way participates in the use of such force, against any other person or against property.” The guilty party must also be armed with a deadly weapon, which presumably can mean a bottle.
According to police charging documents, Woolstein wore Black Bloc anarchist-style clothing, a black baseball cap turned backward, a dark bandanna with a dark jacket.
“Woolstein turned over the trash can, spilling the contents into the street,” according to police. “He rummaged around in the spilled trash and removed an empty 12-ounce green bottle. He threw it at the uniformed Seattle Police officers.”
He then found another green bottle in the trash and let that one fly as well, aimed at the cops, according to the charging document. Neither detective who said they saw Wollstein doing his best imitation of hard-throwing right-handed pitcher were able to see if the bottles hit any officers, but heard on police radio that some cops were struck.
Wollstein will be arraigned May 20 and said, quite adamantly, that he will plead not guilty at that time.
Of the 17 people arrested at the scene last week, five have been charged with felonies in the May Day melee, the King County Prosecutor’s Office announced Monday.