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Officers hurt, 17 arrested in clash at May Day rally in Seattle

By Eric M. Johnson

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Seattle police said on Thursday they would form a task force to investigate any crimes committed during a violent May Day rally which saw eight police officers injured and 17 protesters arrested.

Protesters and police had exchanged a chaotic barrage of rocks, bottles and pepper spray grenades on Wednesday. It was the second year in a row that a rally on May Day had turned violent.

Demonstrators threw large rocks at police, smashed store and car windows, overturned trash cans and lined up newspaper display racks to block streets, police said.

Those arrested so far face charges including property destruction and assault, said police, who reduced the number of arrests to 17 from an earlier tally of 18.

The eight officers who were hurt suffered only scrapes and bruises, police officials said, although a policewoman was hit in the knee by a large chunk of asphalt.

A woman driving by the protest was treated for cuts after a protester threw a glass bottle at her car and shattered her window, police said.

The day started with a peaceful march in support of immigrant rights, part of May Day rallies in cities across the U.S. west planned by a coalition of organized labor activists, students, civil rights advocates and members of the clergy.

The marches came on the heels of an 844-page bill introduced in April by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, and backed by President Barack Obama, that would rewrite many of America's immigration laws.

A centerpiece of the measure would create a path to legal status, and ultimately citizenship, for many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

It also aims to secure the U.S. border with Mexico against illegal entry and to make it easier for industry, particularly high-tech businesses and agriculture, to hire workers from abroad when needed.

(Additional reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Scott Malone and Bernadette Baum)

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