Monday, May 1, 2000

May Day rally ends badly. Peaceful protest turns ugly, police reaction cited

By Pat Kossan
The Arizona Republic
May. 2, 2000

Four people were arrested Monday by Phoenix police in a May Day protest against economic inequalities.

One Prescott man suffered a deep cut over his eye and others were bruised during scuffles with police at City Hall.

''Nothing we did justified that kind of explosion,'' protester Daniel Patterson of Tucson said.

Police say the protesters, part of a larger, peaceful demonstration at noon, had been warned not to block traffic again on busy Washington Street.

The protesters had left Patriots Square about 4:30 p.m., headed west down the middle of Washington. They hoisted a black and red anarchist flag, a banner that read ''Free Trade Destroys Democracy,'' and
chanted, ''Ain't no power like the power of the people.''

Seventy-five officers, 50 helmeted in riot gear, surrounded the group as it stopped at City Hall. Police went into action when one or two protesters appeared to head back into the street.

Police wrestled two men to the hot pavement of Washington, which was quickly closed from First to Third avenues, and apprehended two women who came to their aid.

A line of helmeted police, with clubs across their chests, pushed the remaining protesters into a short-walled tree planter, leaving one man with a deep cut over his eye and others battered as they scrambled to get out of harm's way.

''We warned them after their first series of protests they would be arrested if they stepped into the street,'' said Lt. Steve Haynes, who ran the operation. The four were cited for ''obstructing the

Haynes said the show of force - about 2 1/2 officers for each protester - was necessary in case of traffic problems or vandalism.

Many protesters were from Prescott and Tucson, college and high school students, most from activist groups including Earth First! and Arizona Citizen Action. A few had protested recent world economic meetings in Seattle and Washington, D.C.

The protesters were part of a group of 60 that had staged a Monday lunch-hour protest that shut down traffic up Central Avenue and wound west through Wells Fargo and City Hall plazas.

It was peaceful, at one time weaving through a McDonald's restaurant and briefly shutting down the western entrance to Bank One Building.

Police were generally accommodating and shut down streets.