Among the earliest arrivals as downtown street protests swelled were the long-awaited Anarchists from Eugene, Ore.
From the earliest days of planning for protests, there was talk that young, tough anarchists would make a showing during the World Trade Organization meeting.
Yesterday morning, soon after nonviolent protesters blocked the
Sixth Avenue and Pike Street intersection, about a dozen young men and women clad head-to-toe in black, with black masks and combat boots, threw newspaper boxes and garbage cans into the street.
"No violence. No violence," yelled another protester as the group ran up Sixth Avenue.
At the same time, nearly 50 others were marching down the hill to the beat of their small drum corps. Some carried dark green flags with black suns.
It was largely these protesters, sometimes swelling to 100, who broke windows throughout downtown, spray-painted the anarchist logo of an A in a circle on walls, windows and police cars, and punctured the tires of police cruisers, limousines and other cars.
A movement of young anarchists in Eugene surrounds local writer John Zerzan, according to a recent Seattle Weekly article. A message from Eugene anarchists published in that paper criticized unions and other WTO opponents as "part of the glue holding a rotting order together."
"It's time to create a new world from the ashes after the ruined one . . . Fight back and don't get caught."
For much of yesterday, anarchists acted away from the mass of protesters, smashing windows in the shopping district while most protesters tried to shut down the WTO meeting.
When they mixed their rowdy behavior with the larger crowd, protesters urged them to be peaceful and began chanting, "We're non-violent, how about you?"
"It really angers me to see people doing this," said Michelle Myre, a 24-year-old music teacher from Longview. She wore a "Non-Violent Protester" T-shirt and, with her husband, was rolling a wheelbarrow up Third Avenue handing out protest signs.
"I just don't want to be around those people."
Not everyone condemned the vandalism.
"People are angry. There are no avenues to change things in this country," said David Solnit, a puppet maker with the California group Art and Revolution. Solnit helped train people in peaceful protest methods.
"And they're not hurting anybody," he said. "You're talking about property, which is part of our problem because the WTO holds property more sacred than people and the environment."
At the Pike Place Market, the anarchists were met by the head of market maintenance, who calmly talked them out of vandalism, telling them the farmers and vendors there were afraid of them, and that the market is not a corporate center.
But on Fifth Avenue, the anarchists flattened the tires on eight police cars and left their trademark A on each cruiser.
Down the block, they marched in place to the drum corps as they faced off with police. At times the drums would get very quiet and the crowd would still.
With a command from a whistle, the phalanx of two dozen marched a few feet to the window of Fox's Gem Shop, where, again, they marched in place as they faced the shop.
When they eventually marched away, the crowd cheered as they did when the police would retreat.
David Postman's phone-message number is 360-943-9882. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org