May 1st, or May Day, was for the longest time the most innocent of occasions – and one of the sweetest. It recognized the onset of spring through festivals and celebrations across the world. But that was long ago, before the Soviet Union co-opted the occasion and transformed it into a Marxist holiday dedicated to uniting the workers of the world.
And so, for the militant group Antifa, May Day 2017 presented a special opportunity. If you are not familiar with Antifa, they bill themselves as “anti-fascist,” and yet are unmoved by the irony of their own textbook fascism – shouting down and in some cases physically attacking those who oppose their radical agenda.
This was a day which emboldened Antifa to come out and turn up the heat on conservatives, law enforcement, little old men wearing MAGA baseball caps – you name it. In the Pacific Northwest particularly, May Day has predictably evolved into an opportunity for social justice warriors to march in large numbers and for masked Antifa to create mayhem. Not surprisingly, that region has seen widespread property damage and violence in several cities, including Seattle and Portland, on May Day.
This year, Liberty Nation was on hand for May Day in Seattle, and there was minimal conflict, few arrests, and no injuries or property damage. By contrast, as reported in The Seattle Times, in Portland, Oregon, Antifa threw smoke bombs, Molotov cocktails, and other items at police and attacked them. They also damaged a police vehicle, set fires, and broke windows. Portland Police Department responded by canceling the protest permit and arresting 25 Antifa. In Olympia, Washington, the day also resembled May Days of Seattle’s past. Police arrested eight Antifa for throwing rocks and smashing windows.
While Liberty Nation would love to take credit for Seattle’s success, it is actually due to two other factors.
Free speech Patriots showed up early and stole Antifa’s thunder. Several conservative free speech defense groups, including Patriot Prayer, American Freedom Keepers, and The Proud Boys, showed up at Westlake Plaza in downtown Seattle, ready to rally against communism and defend their right to free speech. They arrived three hours before a scheduled anti-capitalist rally, which typically draws many Anti-Fa troublemakers, at the same location.
Seattle’s Police Department was also extremely prepared. They showed up with overwhelming force, and responded immediately to any tension or violent action, no matter how minor, by separating the parties, often standing in between anti-communists and Antifa.
The afternoon began with Patriot groups arriving in force. The few Antifa who arrived early lightly heckled the Patriots as they spoke. In the spirit of free speech, Patriots allowed a leftist to share the stage holding a sign insulting President Trump. After several speeches, the Patriot groups marched north through the city for about two miles, and Antifa and other leftists protestors were allowed to join them. Again there was light heckling, but the parties were mostly tolerant of each other, being constantly within sight of no less than forty Seattle Police on bicycles who followed alongside the procession.
The marchers then returned to Westlake Plaza, where groups of Antifa had arrived and were continuing to stream in. Several heated discussions broke out, and a few escalated to a scuffle. Each time, Seattle Police immediately interjected themselves into the scrum, separating the parties as best they could. And each time, the parties rearranged themselves. As time went on, with one exception, it became tough for Antifa to engage in anonymous violence. They had become hopelessly intermingled with the Patriots, and any violence would result in immediate retaliation. The lone Antifa who attempted to throw a rock at the stage from across the street was immediately set upon and arrested by Seattle Police.
The crowd took on a life of its own as small groups of Patriots and leftists interacted with each other. With a few exceptions, tempers flared, shouting began, and partisans would have to choose between being broken up or listening to each other. In one fantastic series of peace offerings, many Patriots and Antifa smoked marijuana, the social beer of the Pacific Northwest, together for about 15 minutes.
After another march, more speeches, and continuing small debates and similar conflicts, Seattle Police decided they had enough, and ordered that the crowd leave the park. Most present complied with the order, and continued milling about in small mixed groups surrounding the park. Later, Seattle Police ordered another dispersal, and something exceptional happened. Both some Antifa and Patriots chose to resist the order peacefully, together. After fifteen minutes of jostling, they were pushed down the street together by Seattle Police and the crowd slowly filtered into the night.
In the end, it was an excellent day for our first liberty. All present had their say. No one successfully harmed another. The law prevailed. The Patriots of the Pacific Northwest and Seattle Police Department may have just stumbled onto the right recipe for promoting heated but civil public discourse in these United States.