To no one’s great surprise, SPD Capt. Chris Fowler told a huddle of reporters gathered in the bowels of police headquarters this afternoon that Seattle is ready for May Day 2013. Fowler will oversee SPD’s May Day operations, and says that five weeks of preparation have readied the force for whatever Wednesday may bring.
But what might that be? Are we in for the same window breaking and vandalism that marred last year’s event (and effectively drowned out the important workers’ rights and immigrants issues that traditional May Day rallies are built on)?
While Fowler was reluctant to provide too many specifics, he says the later scheduling of events planned this year – specifically the 13th Annual May Day March for Workers and Immigrant Rights that starts at 3 p.m. and a 6 p.m. rally at Seattle Central Community College that has been linked to local anarchist groups – makes May Day 2013, “substantially different than last year.” Fowler says that although SPD has collected “a lot of open source information” about what may be planned for May Day by those hoping to cause disturbances, he says most of this has been inconsequential. He also says SPD hasn’t seen any “precursor activity” that would suggest trouble is brewing.
“[We’ve heard] a lot of generalized requests for individuals to come [downtown] and do what they’re going to do,” said Fowler. “So there isn’t any specific information, but we’re staffing to manage many different contingencies.
“It’s irrelevant who, and what they’re wearing. It’s really about the actions they’re taking,” Fowler said of potential troublemakers.
Included in SPD’s planned contingencies, according to Fowler, is identifying potential targets of would-be May Day vandals – like NikeTown, for instance - and putting police in position to protect them.
“I think we’re taking reasonable precautions against targeted action,” says Fowler. “We’ll have officers that are there to prevent that sort of thing.”
Along with five weeks of preparation for May Day, and refresher training for SPD rank and file on demonstration management (as mandated under the 20/20 plan), Fowler – while again avoiding specifics – says people should expect to see more cops on the street for May Day 2013 than they did last year.
“I was not involved in last year’s event at all, so I really can’t speak to what occurred,” Fowler responded when asked how this year’s May Day preparation is different from last year’s. “The more planning time you have, the better your plan is.”
Was five weeks enough?
“Yeah,” said Fowler.
“We’re as prepared as we could be, given the resources that we’ve got – which have been great – and the time we’ve had to prepare,” he said.