Midday Scan: For a peaceful protest, don't invite anarchists

Seattle May Day vandals prompt disaster-response from a mayor wary of WTO scarring, and Oregon's Governor hopes to issue driver's licenses to undocumented workers. What else do you expect from two of the most heathen states in the nation?
Crosscut archive image.

A police officer talks with a protester during Seattle's May Day protest.

Seattle May Day vandals prompt disaster-response from a mayor wary of WTO scarring, and Oregon's Governor hopes to issue driver's licenses to undocumented workers. What else do you expect from two of the most heathen states in the nation?

As a matter of etiquette, anarchists should be dropped from the invite list. Anarchists are animated and can regale guests with stories of mayhem and riot, true enough, but just as the party gets rolling they abruptly smash all of the porcelain and stemware. Seattle learned the party-crasher lesson during the 1999 WTO riots when anarchists co-opted peaceful protests. The memory of that fiasco, and the political fallout for then-mayor Paul Schell, still stings and likely emboldened Mayor Mike McGinn to act swiftly against May Day scofflaws aping their WTO predecessors. 

"Wind and rain began driving a few May Day protesters away Tuesday evening, hours after a cluster of about 75 demonstrators dressed in black and carrying poles interrupted peaceful marches to smash windows and clash with police in Seattle's downtown retail core," the Seattle Times reports. "Swarms of police on bikes and in riot gear had attempted to corral the early afternoon demonstrators with batons and chemical spray, but the protesters quickly dispersed. Some reintegrated into the crowd, shedding their black clothes, Mayor Mike McGinn said at a news conference, and by early evening there had been only eight arrests."

(Anarchists spooked by rain? Now we know they all trekked in from California.) Seattle's law-and-order mayor "issued an emergency order banning items that could be used as weapons, and authorized police to pre-emptively seize the five-foot poles demonstrators used." McGinn must be studying up on the 1919 Seattle General Strike. In that case, "The strike ended as a public relations disaster for labor, while [then mayor] Ole Hanson took credit," writes Patrick McRoberts in a 1999 HistoryLink essay. 

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber may be the bravest (or most foolish) governor in the country. First, he imposed a moratorium on the death penalty, declaring it a perversion of justice and stating, "I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer, and I will not allow further executions while I am governor."  Now Kitzhaber is tackling the pressing but politcially radioactive question of drivers' licenses for undocumented workers. What's next, meaningful tax reform and a promise to always tell the truth? 

"Gov. John Kitzhaber promised to do what he can to see that thousands of undocumented Oregonians can still get a driver's license," the Oregonian's Ryan Kost writes. "In a letter read to hundreds of people who rallied at the state Capitol Tuesday evening, the governor said he would convene a work group to look at the issue." In the interim, Kost reports, "the Oregon State Police will begin accepting cards issued by the Mexican government as a valid form of ID during traffic stops and other instances."  

No one can replace the inimitable Norm Dicks. One capable successor candidate, state Sen. Derek Kilmer, appears up to the shoe-filling, and the conventional wisdom has been that it's Kilmer's to lose. Now, much to the delight of Republicans and restive Western Washington reporters, Kilmer has drawn a serious, self-financed challenger in Bill Driscoll (the great-great-grandson of Frederick Weyerhaeuser.)

"The announcement could reshape the race for the open 6th Congressional District seat. Driscoll joins several other Republicans vying to take on state Sen. Derek Kilmer, the lone Democrat, but the newcomer immediately showed off a potential advantage: He can spend plenty of his own money," the News Tribune's Jordan Schrader writes. "Driscoll, a Republican and Marine Corps veteran, said he would immediately donate $500,000 to his own campaign."  

GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna announced a platitude-free small-business platform that largely aligns with Republican sensibilities of less state regulation to spur job growth. McKenna's jobs plan contains a number of specifics, including as the Seattle Times' Susan Kelleher writes, "Increasing the number of schools and colleges that emphasize science, technology, engineering, and math in an effort to create a more skilled labor pool for small employers." (College training has generally been a Democratic trope.)

The Inslee camp issued a retort, Kelleher writes. "There isn't anything new, anything innovative or different from what McKenna has said before, and what he's said before are the same things Republicans in Olympia have been saying for years."  

Lastly, it seems that most Washingtonians would rather sit at home pondering life than emulate the state's two patron saints, Marcus Whitman and Mother Joseph. As the News Tribune's Steve Maynard reports, Washington ranks 45th in the nation for church attendance. Our heathen, trend-establishing neighbors in Oregon? They're 48th.     

Link Summary

Seattle TImes, "Rain drives May Day protesters away after earlier outbreak of violence"

Oregonian, "Gov. Kitzhaber promises action on immigrant driver's license issue"

The News Tribune, "Newcomer Bill Driscoll enters race for Norm Dicks's seat"

Seattle Times,  "McKenna campaigns on relief for small businesses" 

The News Tribune, "Washington ranks 45th for church going"


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson