On May Day, as police broke up a downtown demonstration and pushed activists (including anarchists) up Capitol Hill, some windows were broken at local bar Bill's Off Broadway, local bar/distillery Sun Liquor, and a Walgreens drug store.
A poorly disguised undercover officer.
This prompted some immediate debate about who broke them and why. I heard activist types saying variations on: I'd gladly smash a Bank of America window, but I'd never—and I don't know anyone who would ever—want to break the window of a neighborhood bar or pizzeria. What the hell happened there? There were theories: agents provocateur? That sounds nutty at first, but there were some sloppily disguised undercover types in the crowd. (And it turns out that fellow in the photo on the left, who I'd speculated about on May Day, was in fact briefly undercover—last night, someone sent me photos and descriptions of him working as a police officer. I recognized the guy by his shoes.)
Or was it random folks who just got excited at the prospect of smashing anything? Or some demonstrators who forgot the "targeted" part of "targeted property damage"?
Regardless, the next day some group who wanted to be credited as "the Anarchists of the Puget Sound" sent me an email saying:
We support everything that happened last night but feel that it is our responsibility to support our neighborhood small businesses as well... We would like to throw a benefit for Bill's Off Broadway and other small businesses to help them with the cost of replacing their windows. This does not include Walgreens, for obvious reasons.
Both Bill's and Sun Liquor soon responded to that gesture. From Sun Liquor:
If anything was immediately apparent last night it was that we have an amazingly supportive and loving community on Capitol Hill. So many people reached out to us in person and via social media to express their outrage as well as their love that we can't help but feel strengthened by the incident. Having you reach out to us only emphasizes that feeling... We have a temporary repair in place and our insurance will handle the rest. If any funds are raised we would ask that they be redirected to an organization or organizations whose work represents what May Day is really about.
Then Bill's Off Broadway talked to activists and allegedly said they aren't that concerned about the window, but want people to come support the staff. Another group organized this on May 8:
"Bill's Off Broadway Worker Solidarity Fundrasier"
Come show solidarity with the staff of Bill's Off Broadway impacted by the May Day Anti Capitalist March.
Mr. Bill is not interested in money for the window. He is more concerned about the staff working that evening, the dishwasher, waitstaff, and bartender. He said the best thing we can do is come in, order pizza, drink some beer, and show solidarity.
Mr. Bill said: "The window was only a physical thing."
Our argument is with the corporations and government not small businesses or workers.
Come, order some food, order some drinks, tip well, and have fun! This is a party and celebration!
The activists added, in a press release, that no matter who broke the windows, for whatever reason, "our battle is directed, not towards local businesses, but towards the symbols and harbingers of both government and corporate excess." Good to know.
If you want to give those neighborhood businesses a hand, you can donate here* or go eat and drink at Bill's next Wednesday—and expect undercover police officers.
* Of course, these folks are anonymous and we have no way to guarantee who they are or what they might do with money.