Seattle's Dirty Little Secret

Seattle is a town very proud of itself. They like to think of themselves as very progressive; on the cutting edge of such things like business, technology, and culture. Hell, they were named ‘Most Literate City’ back a few years ago; a title which I have no idea what it means, thought almost everyone knows how to read. Regardless, Seattle loves to pat themselves on the back for being smart, forward-thinking, and just plain awesome. And for the most part, I can get behind their self-congratulatory nature.

But Seattle, like all cities, is not perfect. And today, one of those things will occur.

This is Seattle’s dirty little secret:

May Day riots.

Yes folks, every May Day, people march, parade around, and protest whatever en vogue thing it is to protest during the day and by night, other people show up and riot the greater downtown area with vandalism, affronts to the police, and overall shows of aggression.

My first year in Seattle, I sort of dismissed this thing and thought it really wasn’t a big deal. I thought it was a simple little thing that didn’t mean much.

Apparently I was wrong.

Each year, the amount of violence and damage varies, but on average about 50+ stores have windows broken, about 8 police officers get injured, and over $100,000 worth of public property is damaged. My work even sends out a warning about May Day, saying if you pass by the downtown area, you should go home early. This event is sort of like that movie ‘The Purge’, except even stupider.

So how did all of this start? Well, in 1999 when the World Trade Organization met in Seattle, there were tons of protesters with an anti-capitalist slant to their ideology. That was the seed that germinated into what has been an ‘organized’ protest since 2012. In other words, it is an assembly of anarchists displaying their disgruntlement over a world that is…well…not an anarchy. And over the years, this has transformed into a time for other to protest things, and for more anarchists (aka: homeless people) to commit senseless acts of idiocy.

First off, I find it very ironic that a group of people that pride themselves on believing in no organization find time to organize themselves to meet at the same time of year to do their thing.

Secondly, I am not sure how this is still (or ever) a ‘thing’ here in Seattle. Someone new here asked me why does Seattle even allow it. My first instinct was to say that it is more complicated than simply allowing people to riot. But then I paused and realized that is a very reasonable question. I have no idea why Seattle allows this to occur. I am sure this is not something Seattle wants to deal with, but why not quash it for good? Do other cities do this? Of course not. So why Seattle?

This city is very soft on crime, homeless, and people who do bad things. This may make the city feel like a sympathetic beacon for other cities to follow suit or maybe it is just another way for the city to pat themselves on the back for being so understanding to the downtrodden. But the reality is that when the city goes soft, they are essentially enabling people who are ‘bad’ to interfere (and harm in many ways) people who are not doing ‘bad’ things.

I can go on way longer about my overall feelings about the way Seattle handles certain humanitarian issues, but the short of it today is this; people will riot, break things, hurt other people who want nothing to do with this, Seattle will arrest only a few of these people, and it will occur next year…same time…..same place.

Sorry, have to cut this short; have to go home now and hide.