May Day mayhem rattles Tempe - East Valley Tribune: News

May Day mayhem rattles Tempe

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Posted: Friday, May 2, 2003 9:32 am | Updated: 2:22 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Police arrested a 23-yearold woman Thursday during a clash with anti-capitalism demonstrators in downtown Tempe.

Police charged a crowd of nearly 100 people that gathered on the southwest corner of Mill Avenue and Seventh Street and seized Elizabeth Venable, said Tempe police Sgt. Dan Masters.

Venable had been using a bull horn to shout anticapitalism and anti-police slogans. She was booked into Tempe City Jail on suspicion of blocking a public sidewalk and held on a $150 bond.

Police warned the crowd repeatedly not to block the sidewalk.

Once Venable was in custody, the crowd regrouped and confronted police, who were dressed in riot gear and armed with pepper spray, but there was no contact.

Nearly 100 officers patrolled downtown, Masters said. A small group of officers armed with rifles were on stand-by in case the demonstration turned violent, Masters said.

The march, which began about 5:30 p.m., was a celebration of May Day, an international workers’ rights holiday.The United States does not recognize the holiday.

Throughout the evening and into the night, the crowd marched through downtown Tempe, beating drums, and waving banners and black anarchist flags. Although anarchists dominated the demonstration, other groups were present, such as socialists and women’s rights organizations.

Many of the demonstrators refused to comment to the Tribune. They cited their contempt of "corporate media."

"Mayday is a day to protest capitalism and government," said protestor Brian Tomasi, who also is upset with Tempe for allowing chain stores such as Borders Books and Abercrombie and Fitch to drive out small businesses.

Several businesses called Tempe police to complain that protesters were blocking entrances and disturbing their customers, Masters said.

Onlookers were confused.

"They don’t know what they’re doing," said Ryan Mayes, who watched the demonstration from his sidewalk table outside Starbucks Coffee. "They don’t offer any solutions."

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