Seattle, WA -- In instances of protests and police presence, the question of how and when they turn violent always arises. Does a peaceful protest turn violent if police never show up?
When answering this question, we often only need to look at who came dressed for a riot -- the answer is almost always the cops.
As people are herded into free speech zones or kettled into tiny alleys by cops dressed in full body armor beating their batons against their shields, one can't help but wonder if police are actually fanning the flames of a riot instead of attempting to prevent it.
A recent example of police escalating situations into dangerous scenarios comes from Seattle this week as protesters took to the streets during Sunday's May Day.
Hundreds of riot police were dispatched to the area to quash the dissent and the situation quickly descended into chaos.
According to reports received by Seattle police, three cars were vandalized near 2nd Avenue and Bell Street, windows were shattered at a coffee shop at 4th Avenue and Pine Street and at a bank at 2nd Avenue and Cherry Street, and a window on a residential building at 4th Avenue and Virginia Street was damaged by a Roman candle that was fired from the crowd.
Whether or not this damage was done after police began their tactics against the protesters is unclear. However, during a press conference on Monday night, Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole told reporters her officers took action as soon as demonstrators started damaging property.
"We had some violence. We had some property damage. We have officers attacked. The demonstrators put some innocent people in jeopardy. So we had to take action," O'Toole said.
Of course, destroying the property of others is unacceptable and criminal. If your message requires attacking innocent people to get your point across, you might want to rethink your message. That being said, the police response to a handful of vandals was to treat hundreds of peaceful protesters like violent criminals. The result was innocent people getting hurt.
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Sam Levine, a citizen journalist, was one of those innocent people. To ostensibly 'disperse' the crowd, police began deploying blast balls, ball-shaped, rubber coated, less-lethal hand grenades designed for police and corrections applications.
Blast balls are similar to stun grenades, like the one used in the raid on the innocent Phonesavanh family that blew their infant's face apart. However, blast balls not only explode like stun grenades, but they can be used to deploy chemical agents too.
"I saw a bright flash of light. My ears started ringing. And then the entire left side of my face went numb," Levine said.
The flash of light was a blast ball and the reason Levine's face went numb was that he was hit with a piece of shrapnel from the explosion.
"It's likely that it sort of went into my cheek. Hit my teeth and then bounced back. And so, the teeth helped cushion the blow and prevented it from going all the way into my teeth," he added.
Levine suffered a one-inch gash in the side of his face and was taken to the hospital. Levine said the doctors told him he was "lucky because it avoided any glands in relation to saliva."
In total, nine people were arrested during the protests, including eight males and one juvenile female. The charges included obstruction, assault and property destruction.
Below is a video of what 'keeping the peace' looks like in a police state.