The air was like honey and the spring’s blossoms bathed in amber as prognosticator’s predicted uninterrupted sun, sun, sun for the next several days. And to sweeten the mood even more, the young women wore their summer dresses to Olympia’s Sylvester park for the May Day festivities. Little girls danced with colored ribbon about a makeshift May Pole and a band performed from the gazebo. A free picnic buffet was organized, the grass was green, and despite a massive police presence literally outnumbering the evening’s march participants, everyone was on their best (well mostly) behavior. The police were professional and congenial. Larry Hildes showed up with a coterie of National Lawyer’s Guild legal observers including LeGrande Jones.
If they were present, this reporter did not see KteeO, Matt Duran, ‘Maddy’ Pfeifer, or Portland’s Wanda or Kerry Cunneen. Peter Bohmer appeared absent, but others like Media Island’s Ava, James, Dana, and Rick Fellows were there. So were some folks regularly making Food Not Bombs happen at the Olympia Timberland Library on Saturday afternoons. Mary Hath came as Lady Liberty. Mike Coday came as himself. A few homeless arrived and a sprinkling of ethnic minorities. For the most part, the crowd seemed like they haled from Evergreen…white yuppies to the core in all but name only.
None of the participants had bothered to obtain a parade permit, but in a display of professionalism and flexibility, the police allowed the marchers to block traffic anyway. A few of the more juvenile personalities invoked insulting invective directed at the police present. In turn, the cops did not react. They’d been friendly earlier, smiled, and avoided arresting anyone. No windows were smashed or property destroyed. The usual airheads were lurking in the wings, challenging this photographer for taking pictures in the public venue at Sylvester Park as well as on the sidewalks of Olympia…some more aggressive/threatening than others.
Flag poles sporting various banners were seen…poles that could be used as weapons in a pinch. At least one man was carrying a wooden club while the police geared up with thinner longer clubs than their usual nightstick. There were police cruisers, bicycle cops, foot patrols, and a KOMO news helicopter with a high definition camera pod on its nose hovering about the crowd from about noon onward…i.e. all day. Olympia police had evicted any transients found in the train tunnel running under Sylvester Park a couple of days ago to prevent any possibility it would be torched in protest. Rumors of street violence in this year’s Seattle May Day demonstration reached Olympia late in the day.
The City of Olympia, for its part, had drawn police from Tumwater, Lacey, Olympia, the Capitol Campus WSP, state police, federal undercover agents (no doubt). The mainstream media was present in force with large video rigs, expensive cameras, and reporters teamed in pairs. Few homeless, poor, or ethnic minorities were visible.
The warm weather brought out soap bubbles, small children, and physical games adults could enjoy. A number of large dogs including pit bulls, German shepherds, and assorted mutts accompanied their owners without much incident. Most of the rhetoric was more subdued than what can be found on area (A)narchist websites. Some notable exceptions were toward the end of the evening march while participants were allowed to block the main thoroughfares of the city without a permit. The police present (who, in total, outnumbered the marchers) were rudely castigated but showed remarkable restraint and professionalism. Chalk art/messages were left on the sidewalks of Sylvester park including a few so vulgar/juvenile some local residents living across the way complained of them.
The KOMO news helicopter hovered overhead for the entire day beginning at around noon. It sported a large high definition camera pod beneath its nose. A few individuals including one young white man w/dreadlocks were aggressively hostile to having their picture taken though he was engaged in photographing the police. Links to audio excerpts are included in this report. The right of the people to full press coverage of events in public venues remains a hot-button issue for some. The violence and threats leveled at those bold enough to exercise 1st Amendment principles remains as well. The double standards inveighed were and remain stark.
Hooliganism was kept in check. Overall, the day was a complete success for those who valued non-violence, pleasant surroundings/company, hospitality, youthful vigor, free speech and 1st Amendment guarantees for all, and professional competency on the part of the police keeping the peace.