Santa Cruz May Day party turns into riot

May 2, 2010 6:41:24 PM PDT
It was a chaotic night in downtown Santa Cruz after what started as a May Day party turned into a riot which left behind a huge mess.

Workers at more than a dozen businesses along Pacific Avenue spent hours Sunday sweeping up broken glass and scrubbing away graffiti.

An Urban Outfitters store suffered, by far, the most damages of a handful of businesses on Pacific Avenue. Santa Cruz police say the party was not a permitted event. They say the officers in the area Saturday night were outnumbered and had to request mutual aid from other agencies.

In the end, they say the riot cause at least $100,000 in damage.

The clean-up went on for hours. Workers spent the day sweeping glass and boarding up storefronts. Most of the damage hit chain stores, but some family-owned shops like Velvet Underground were also stuck picking up the pieces.

"It really is about us members of the community and our fellow businesses being harmed senselessly, really, and you can't put a price tag on that kind of damage," said Beverley Martin with Velvet Underground.

Police say the May Day rally quickly turned ugly around 10:30 Saturday night when about 200 marchers began rioting on Pacific Avenue. Those who were there say it began as a celebration advertised by anonymous fliers posted around the town.

Witness Brian Garrison says as soon as one person threw a rock, others followed.

"Kids celebrating, partying, drinking, eating, dancing, a little throwing, a little aggression," recalled the UCSC student.

On a day for workers' rights, some who were there say the destruction sends a message to large corporations.

"At the minimal, it brings people to realize that we're all in this together," said UCSC student Vie Sanchez. "There's some things going on that people are angry about."

24-year-old Jimi Haynes, from Fresno, was the only person police arrested. He now faces felony vandalism charges. Authorities say he told them he learned of the rally at a local anarchist cafe.

On Sunday, a symbol of anarchy remained spray-painted on a wall near Tobe Thompson's jewelry shop. With just minimal damage to her windows, she considers herself one of the lucky ones.

"I heard the word anarchy thrown around a lot," she said. "That somehow the businesses were evil or businesses were the enemy, and this was justified."

Police say officers actually witnessed Haynes throw a boulder through the window of a jewelry store. They say that store is one of the oldest family-owned businesses in all of Santa Cruz.

Authorities hope local surveillance video will lead them to more arrests.


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