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Updated Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 01:01 PM

Five more facing charges in May Day destruction

By Jennifer Sullivan
Seattle Times staff reporter

Six months after May Day protesters shattered windows and spray-painted businesses in the downtown Seattle shopping district, prosecutors continue to file charges.

The most recent, filed Nov. 20 against four men and a woman, follow an investigation by a Seattle police task force.

In King County Superior Court, prosecutors have charged Matthew A. Erickson, 26; Kellen M. Linnell, 27; Jason J. Michaels, 29; Phillip A. Neel, 24; and Meaghnn A. Gonzales, 21, with rioting, a gross misdemeanor.

Linnell, Michaels and Neel also were charged with second-degree malicious mischief, a felony. Neel was also charged with fourth-degree assault, a gross misdemeanor.

The five were part of the melee in which vandals rushed through downtown, charging papers say. Seattle police said several officers were attacked, including one Neel is charged with assaulting.

Detective Wes Friesen, who authored the lengthy report, said many protesters that day were part of a "black bloc" — a protest tactic that includes concealing faces, engaging in violence and vandalizing corporations, banks and institutional buildings. Some within the bloc were "known anarchist extremists" from Seattle and Portland.

Protesters "threw rocks, paint projectiles and incendiary devices," according to police, and about 75 black-clad protesters used long poles, hammers and other objects to smash windows in vehicles and at several downtown Seattle businesses, including NikeTown, police say. They then shed their black clothes and masks, and merged into the crowd.

Repairs to NikeTown amounted to nearly $53,000; a Wells Fargo Bank at Fourth Avenue and Seneca Street sustained nearly $26,000 in damage; and a Verizon Wireless store received $1,905 in damage, according to search-warrant paperwork.

In the days after the protests, four people were arrested and charged in King County Superior Court. Charges were dismissed in one case. Of the others, two are serving suspended sentences and the other spent about two months in jail, prosecutors said.

Cody Ingram, 23, from Burlington, Vt., was charged in U.S. District Court with destruction of government property, accused of smashing glass doors at the William Kenzo Nakamura U.S. Federal Courthouse on Fifth Avenue, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

An Oct. 3 affidavit, signed by a member of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, indicates that the federal government began tracking a small group of anarchists in Portland in April.

Agents followed members as they first drove to Olympia in a rental car April 30. Authorities think the anarchists were among about a dozen black-clad protesters who attacked the courthouse, surging at the building with sticks, spray paint and at least one burning object, according to law enforcement.

Mayor Mike McGinn and Police Chief John Diaz have praised the police response to the May Day protests, but an internal memo given to Diaz suggested flawed planning contributed to the violence and vandalism, department sources familiar with the matter told The Seattle Times.

A large part of the criticism focused on Assistant Police Chief Mike Sanford and his role in managing the city's response, including his sudden decision to rush into the downtown crowd to make an arrest, without protective gear. Officers in riot gear had to help pull him from a hostile crowd, diverting police resources from the increasingly violent noontime march that left store and car windows smashed.

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.


MIKE SIEGEL / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Workers begin to remove plywood from the NikeTown store front in downtown after May Day protests earlier this year. More charges have been filed after the vandalism.




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