Wednesday, December 01, 1999
This is a first-hand report of the activities in Seattle that occurred in the last 24 hours at the protests of the World Trade Organization meeting.
This is intended only to give a more clear picture that the corporate media gives and to clear up some misconceptions that have been reported as fact by said media sources. Please circulate widely.
7:00am - 12:30pm
Several thousand activists gather and execute a planned non-violent civil disobedience to shut down the WTO meeting. This is accomplished by creating human chains at key locations to block the WTO delegates from entering the building. Some sources report that by 12:00 only 500 of the 3,000 delegates had shown up at the meeting. The opening ceremonies, scheduled for 10:00 am, were delayed, then canceled due to efforts by the protestors. Police violence occurred when a group of locked down activists blocking a street were intentionally run over by a police motorcycle, slowly and deliberately.
Some peaceful demonstrators sitting in front of an entrance to the Seattle Trade Center had powerful police pepper spray applied directly to the eyes by officers, slowly and deliberately. The protestors still refused to move.
Organized labor and other groups hold a large stadium rally and march into downtown. Some estimates are that 70,000 people attended the demonstration.
Some groups break off from the main march and headed toward the line of heavily armed police wearing gas masks, in full riot gear, and holding guns.
An armored personnel carrier was nearby. Several helicopters were flying overhead. This confrontation happened at the intersection nearest to the Seattle Trade Center. The confrontation built steadily until police began attempting to pull a protestor out of the crowd. Then someone threw a wooden sign that landed several yards from any police and the officers responded by pepper spraying the entire front line. They then shot several tear gas canisters into the crowd. The crowd backed up and the confrontation moved down a block as the police continued to launch tear gas and concussion grenades. Rubber bullets were fired at protestors. This sequence of events was repeated at some other locations nearby in downtown Seattle.
Police continue to use violence against protestors. Many, angry from being tear-gassed and shot, began breaking windows of corporate businesses. McDonald's, The GAP, Radio Shack, and Old Navy Stores were damaged mostly by broken windows. A Starbucks restaurant was smashed and totally gutted. Everything inside was completely destroyed as protestors dispersed and the crowd became filled with random thrill seekers and opportunists.
The governor of Washington declares a state of emergency and the mayor imposes a curfew over downtown Seattle. The police continue using violent tactics to move protestors out of downtown toward the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Residents of the neighborhood came out of their homes and confronted the police, being angry about the haze of tear gas building on their streets and the rampant violence against people being perpetrated by officers.
Some things that should be cleared up:
1. Rubber bullets were used on non-violent demonstrators by the police
2. Public property was , for the most part, not destroyed, mainly private, corporate property.
3. The demonstrators, even the black-clad "anarchists", were not engaging in violence against anyone persons. Mostly it was corporate property that was destroyed. This is being reported as a group of violent protestors. Property destruction and violence are two separate things. Look it up.
4. Police were the main instigators of the chaotic situation. Their violence and continued use of tear gas is what caused the crowd to turn to property destruction.
*** Note to my friends and family:
I am fine. I was in the middle of the initial tear gassing and that is why I felt it was necessary to issue this report. Please circulate it widely. The corporate-owned Seattle media is very biased and has characterized the protesters in a very bad light.
Battle in Seattle: 'Anarchists' ruin the message
Wednesday, December 01, 1999
Let me first start by saying that I think the media here in Seattle havecovered the protests here very fairly. They have voiced the concerns raised by the people in the streets. It doesn't appear to be the case with national media.
That said, something strange is happening here. The VAST majority of protesters and demonstrators in our streets have been extremely well behaved and non-violent. But there is a small faction of criminals that are overshadowing this peaceful demonstration. Calling themselves "Anarchists", the black-clad hooded idiots have been allowed to run amuck in our city, smashing in windows, upturning newspaper boxes, smashing up cars, attacking members of the press and spraying graffiti everywhere. Our local CBS (KIRO) affiliate had an on scene reporter named Meagan Black who followed this criminal band around the streets for more than two hours. Where were the police during all this? They were busy gassing the NON-VIOLENT crowds!!! I can't tell you how many times we heard Ms. Black asking why aren't the police doing anything about this! Why haven't these jerks been arrested? Something fishy going on when the cops gas peaceful people and allow criminals to have free reign.
The city went into a state of civil emergency. A curfew was implemented in downtown Seattle. The National Guard and 300 state troopers have been called in. The Mayor has vowed that what happened today will not be allowed to continue. The crowds have been pushed out of the downtown up into the residential areas. Massive amounts a tear gas are being thrown into the crowds and it's getting into people's homes. All this because of a small group of jerks who stole the spotlight from the real protestors.
Their violence has stolen the spotlight from the real message that was meant to take place here, and it's very sad, and more than a little bit suspicious.
Battle in Seattle: Corporate Police take the city
Thursday, December 02, 1999
Well, we here in Seattle today found out just exactly why the police pushed demonstrators into the residential areas of Seattle last night. The city was contacted by the Secret Service and told that if they did not lock down the city, the President would not come to Seattle.
A group of a few hundred peaceful protestors made their way towards the WTO meeting site early this morning with two clear messages: We do not like the WTO and we will show that we can protest without violence. They were met by Seattle Stormtroopers dressed to the nines and arrested immediately.
This is a sad day for, not only Seattle, but the whole United States. A precedent was set here that peaceful demonstrations and protests against the Global Elite will not be allowed. You may only protest if you get a permit.
I wonder if the WTO delegate who was caught on camera waiving a pistol around was arrested. Or the one who was caught on camera assaulting protestors with his fists. I doubt it.
Police officers are conducting searches in people's backpacks and being told that they will not be allowed into the city if they wear clothing or buttons that protest the WTO. One officer informed a citizen that gas masks are not allowed in the city. I heard one officer clearly state that "Protestors are not allowed in the city. Citizens are." Police are not even making distinctions anymore between gassing and concussion bombing groups of protestors and groups of average citizens going about their business.
We no longer have a police force here in the Seattle downtown area. We have a corporate military force that will not tolerate protestors without a permit.
The mayor of Seattle informed the press that he had no way of knowing the WTO meetings would bring this many protestors, so he was caught unprepared. Excuse me? That's absolutely the most ridiculous statement he could have made! The mainstream press has known! Anyone with an internet connection has known! This is completely inexcusable!
And I continue to wonder why police were not doing a damned thing about these black clad, hooded 'Anarchists' who were hell-bent on causing damage and destruction! The police chief decided that if they sent officers after the ones causing destruction, they might lose a foothold on the areas they had locked down against the peaceful demonstrations! What kind of idiotic thinking is that?
One of these 'Anarchists' was asked by a reporter why they were so violent. He commented that it was to take a few pennies away from the greedy corporations who have taken billions of dollars from us. Then they went on and defaced and destroyed the storefront of the NikeTown building. One camera caught the shot of the evening last night as the photographer got a close up of the feet of one of these 'Anarchists' as he was kicking down the Nike logo. Guess what brand name shoes he was wearing: Yep...you guessed it. Nike.
The protests are beginning to turn into protests against police violence instead of protests against the WTO, chanting, "NO MORE VIOLENCE!" and, "SHAME ON YOU!" to the police.
For those of you cynical types out there who think the youth of America don't give a damn anymore (and I'll admit I was one of them until just recently), these last few days should bring you great hope. Most of the tens of thousands of people on the streets these last few days are high school and college aged kids. The great spirit of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness lives on in America. And 99% of them were NON VIOLENT and are aware of the real issues that threaten those values we once fought British tyranny over to gain our freedom. Many risked their own health to stop the idiot 'Anarchists' from their indiscriminant destruction. And for this, we should rejoice.
So despite my sadness, hope springs forth.
WTO and the real story
Thursday, December 02, 1999
I am writing from Seattle, amidst the clouds of tear gas, the percussion bombs/grenades, the several hundred arrested, the pepper spray, the national guard, the armored personnel carriers and the state of emergency declared by the governor of Washington.
I am writing to tell you that the first paragraph is really just a secondary story. It is dramatic and makes good copy but the real story is much more encouraging.
REAL STORY: At the labor rally yesterday there were dozens of huge labor unions, across sectors, represented in strength and unity. Students spoke on the main stage, as did individuals from China, India (Vandana Shiva) and several other countries. Canada was in the house. with perhaps 4 - 5,000 strong.
The march was so huge (about 60,000) that it became unwieldy in the small Seattle streets. Environmentalists, anarchists, artists, farmers, students (5,000 or more!), pro-democracy folks, MEChAistas, pro-fair trade folks, peace and justice religious types, labor, and many many more (this is incomplete - I am a bit nervous as I am writing this and am sure I am missing things) were all in the march. All saying no to the violence of the WTO, and to the madness of its systemic destruction of farms, the environment, cultures, democracy, women, labor standards, etc.
World "leaders" had to cancel the opening ceremonies of the WTO. The afternoon sessions of the WTO occurred, but many delegates could not get through the peaceful protesters...and apparently the afternoon sessions were worthless. And the vigorous protests are exacerbaing the existing tensions *within* the WTO delegates.
Even if nothing else positive happens for the rest of the week, the protest has been a total success well beyond my expectations.
The world knows that this -the percussion grenades, the armored personnel carriers, the national guard, the attacks on civilians, the suspension of rights and announcements of "state of emergency" are all required to make the WTO go.
As I write this, reports are coming in from friends of police riots, attacks on students, taking people into busses and spraying them with pepper spray directly in their faces, countless accounts of folks denied their legal rights, women coming out of an approved NGO peace vigil and being attacked by police, it's just madness.
In a departure from what you would expect, there is some very bizarre police action. Several neighborhoods are, at 1 AM Pacific Time, still be deluged by police running through their streets and throwing tear gas cannisters... regular non-political neighborhood, middle aged folks, residents, are out in the streets, with their kids watching them out the windows, yelling at the police to go home, while their eyes and throats are burning, people spitting, water rolling out of their eyes and noses, people who can hardly breathe, they have their faces totally covered up.
Liz Carlyle, the Deputy Chair, and Jen Anthony, the incoming Deputy Chair of the Canadian Federation of Students have been arrested. Neither intended to be arrested but were caught in some kind of police "action." Lydia Cabasco of People for Fair Trade was also arrested.
I will write more in another post. But remember, however dramatic the police rioting and police violence is, it is nothing compared to the violence of the WTO. That is the story of the week: the violence of the WTO has been named and challenged. People of all kinds will not stand for it anymore.
Center for Campus Organizing
Kirby The Konspiracy Boy Says, "I NEED 2 KONFORM!!!"