What Really Happened

Eyewitness Reports compiled and with commentary by Phil Agre pagre@alpha.oac.ucla.edu, publisher of Red Rock Eater News

[A bunch of RRE subscribers forwarded eyewitness reports to me about the protests against the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. Although these kinds of messages are exactly what the Internet is about, I wasn't going to forward them. A few days had passed, I was tired, I didn't have a lot of bandwidth, and it was going to be a hassle to track the authors down and get their permission. But then on the Web yesterday I read the following sentence in the LA Times:

SEATTLE -- Police Chief Norm Stamper said Tuesday that he will step down, a week after his outnumbered officers watched helplessly as mobs of World Trade Organization protesters rampaged through downtown Seattle -- leaving behind $19 million in damage and lost retail sales.

My goodness, this is certainly "on message". It quite economically packages two startling lies. The police officers did not watch helplessly. Indeed, the whole event would be much more accurately described as a police riot. And mobs of protesters did not do any rampaging or leave behind damage. A tiny number of anarchists not associated with the protest organizers -- not remotely enough to be called "mobs" -- did engage in vandalism, but nobody saw the police show any interest in stopping them. The only people who tried to protect property were protesters. The only violence against persons was that of the police. The great majority of the people who the police attacked -- all of them, in fact, by every account that I have seen -- were peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders. Almost all of the property damage occurred after the police began extensively gassing, beating, and shooting rubber pellets at innocent people. So what to make of this? The radical interpretation is that the police attacked the peacefully marching citizens because it is they, and not the violent nutcase anarchists, who posed the greater risk to the WTO. After all, the United States has a long history of extreme police violence against peaceful protesters, particularly when those protesters, like a majority of the protesters in Seattle, are engaged in legal union activity. But that theory does not comport with the many cases in which police have managed protests with basically decent regard for the civil liberties of everyone involved. Despite what our friends on the left often say, the police are not intrinsically tools of international capital. Like any institution, the police respond to pressures from many sides, and the outcome of those pressures is not simple or inevitable. In the case of Seattle the simpler theory explains the data perfectly well: the city government simply failed to prepare for the protests, and so the unprepared cops, ordinary working people like the rest of us dropped in the middle of a global political battle, freaked out and started randomly attacking people. This sort of behavior is obviously completely immoral, yet we are not surprised that the vocal public guardians of morality are silent about it. For them, morality is just a stick to hit people with. They hate American society, and their contempt for normal Americans is obvious every time they stereotype American culture as immoral. (Yes, of course, I'm just using their rhetoric against them to show how arbitrary it all is. I don't want to talk that way myself.) The real question is, how could this happen? The WTO, I mean. How could citizens of democratic countries wake up to realize that such vast powers had been taken away from them and signed over to a secretive and unaccountable body that is totally dominated by narrow private interests? And the answer is, we got hit by something in our blind spot. Here is what happened. In the old days, there was a distinction between two areas of public policy, domestic and foreign. Domestic policy was the main focus of democratic activity because it directly affected the lives of voters. Foreign policy, meanwhile, was dominated by the promoting of overseas commercial interests of large domestic businesses. This was no secret. Everyone did it, and it had been going on for hundreds of years. It made sense: if "our" firms do well, if they sell their goods on advantageous terms overseas, then everyone "here" benefits. Management and labor were on the same side. After all, those other countries were doing it too. It was competition. It didn't matter what "we" were selling, whether steel or opium. And it didn't matter either what means were used, whether friendly persuasion or military intervention. It didn't affect "us" either way. This system became profoundly institutionalized over those hundreds of years. It is a great revolving door of lobbyists-turned-diplomats-turned-lobbyists with a career ladder, tame journalists, and think tanks that they can hire any time to tell them what they want to hear. And being about "foreign" things, far from the experience of most voters, and having no need for publicity, it took on a life of its own. But then something important happened. The world started becoming much more integrated. The policy processes of different countries started to interact. Policies adopted in one country set dynamics in motion that tended to pressure other countries to adopt the same policies. "Our" firms increasingly became identical with "their" firms. And measures that "we" took to influence "them" increasingly started amounting to measures that "we" took to influence "us". The border between foreign and domestic policy eroded, and then it collapsed, and "domestic" policy was now being made by the institutional apparatus that had formerly made "foreign" policy. This happened slowly and quietly, in large numbers of extremely boring meetings in distant places, so that nobody except marginalized academics and wild-eyed consumer activists really noticed. Then one day, boom, we woke up to a world in which the deeply institutionalized promotion of private commercial interests against "them" had turned into the deeply institutionalized promotion of private commercial interests against "us". It was no longer just a dynamic, just a tendency, just an abstract globalization of the policy process. It was an actual specific institution with a name and address whose primary job was to tell the citizens of democratic countries what they can and cannot do. This was more of a surprise in the United States than in most countries, given that the United States has a long history of simply ignoring judgements against it by the likes of the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Yet now it's happening. We're waking up to interviews with global bureaucrats blandly assuring us that the decisions of these vague WTO tribunals can be appealed to other vague WTO tribunals. Beyond simply avoiding any accountability, the vagueness itself serves a purpose. The op-ed elites have been out in force this week, blandly telling us that the Seattle protesters are opposed to "globalization", as one might try to oppose the wind. Their very ability to frame the issue in such terms tells us something about the media, which are now full of things that you can only say with a straight face if you control the media (e.g., that Al Gore claimed to have invented the Internet). Or that the protesters were opposed to "free trade". No. Come on. The WTO is government of, by, and for private commercial interests. They are not interested in reducing regulation. They happily support regulation whenever it gives them an advantage, and they do so every day. Look at all of the special-interest handouts that the supposedly regulation-shy Internet industry has been gathering lately from the supposedly regulation-shy Congress. Microsoft howls against government intervention when it is caught breaking the law, but it howls just as loudly in support of government intervention whenever someone might be ripping off its software. It's the same deal at the WTO. It's not about freedom, but about institutionalizing the centuries-old combat among private commercial interests that has always defined international relations. We're not going to figure this out, much less do anything about it, until we eliminate the conceptual distinction between domestic and foreign policy. It never was a good distinction, and now it's an awful one. In fact, globalization causes even more of our intuitions to fail. Take, for example, the equation between government and centralization, and between markets and decentralization. Now that economies of scale operate on a global basis, firms are increasingly centralized and globalized. Governments, meanwhile, are hemmed in by borders. If you want decentralization, therefore, then you should be on the side of governments. If you want centralization, the market is where you will find it. The ideology of the cyber libertarians is quite reliably the opposite of the truth, and so it is here. Measures that supposedly produce a decentralized society will in fact reliably and predictably accomplish the reverse. Am I saying that we should shut down capitalism and return to the stone age? No. Markets work when they work. We should just stop lying about what markets are and what globalization is. And about many other things, such as the role of the Internet in all of this. Global networks are not a force for decentralization. To the contrary, our lives are increasingly mediated, structured, monitored, and regulated by electronic systems that are controlled by highly centralized firms. This centralization is not an accident; it results naturally from economies of scale and network effects that global networks greatly amplify. (These effects are much more straightforward and consequential than the reductions in transaction costs of which market ideologists make so much.) We must learn to live in a world where these inescapable switchboards of institutionalized human life are much bigger not only than our own selves as individuals, but also than our democratic governments, small as they are, and herded as they are into line by the globalization and privatization of the policy process. The first step in learning is to wake up and smell the coffee. And what better place to smell the coffee than in Seattle, which practically bathes in the stuff.]

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Date: Fri, 3 Dec 1999 09:42:31 -0800
From: "Price, David"
Subject: WTO report, tues 11/2/99

I have been very busy am only now finding time to post the following 2 WTO reports.

The facts are basically: at least 10,000 (with another 10,000 hanging in the general downtown area) people peacefully shut down the entrance to the WTO meeting place (Convention Center) and a bit more than an hour after the meeting the should have started the police in full riot year start telling everyone they are going to mess with them. The rowdies in the crowd taunt them. Cops start firing tear gas into the crowd as well as rubber bullets and beating people with batons who seem to be rowdies. People (naturally get upset) but few leave. Meanwhile, about 1/2 a mile away are 15-20,000 Union folks at a rally who march through another area of down town--but do not come to the area of police violence. Anywhere between 30-50,000 folks take over downtown. Even after the police started shooting gas and rubber bullets at folks the crowd is mostly very peaceful (tipped over garbage cans & some burnt garbage dumpsters). Big deal. I think a trash can or two get burned every day in a city the size of Seattle without it usually turning up on the front page of the newspaper.

At dusk the mayor & governor announce that there will be a curfew from 7:00pm-7:30am and they called in the National Guard (The Governor says they are unarmed even as the TV shows them walking through the streets with sidearms, the obliging media explain to us that he meant they didn't have rifles). All the local news channels have their roving cams showing squads of 30-50 cops sweeping the streets, firing teargas at most any crowd and sweeping in to clear intersections. The most evil and remarkable thing was that the idiot news talking heads kept saying again and again how the police were keeping the peace (with these tanks they insisted on calling "peacekeepers") never bothering to point out the obvious: that everything had been peaceful until the police started shooting at people. They kept showing folks walking through the streets and they'd say, "now that it is night the real protesters have left and only hooligans and anarchists seem to remain". Huh? I got some TV videotape late on Tues. night of this same spin-BS as the camera went over a group of two dozen 70 year old Quakers standing silently holding hands with candles in the street as the cops sweep by in mass in the background. They interview the chamber of commerce and all these clowns who keep saying how well the police have behaved. Meanwhile all the real human beings I know are calling for the mayor and the chief of police to resign.

Someone should do a paper analyzing the order in which visual news bites of police action/"riots" are shown to viewers. I noticed two weeks ago when the cops went ape on those protesters in Athens as Clinton was visiting Greece that on Nightline the order was as follows (a) peaceful walking masses (b) people breaking windows (c) police firing gas & rubber bullets (bullets that if I fired at the police would get me on attempted murder charges) at crowd. This seemed wrong, so the next morning I watched the AM-idiot-new-with-happy- cheerleaders and sure enough...the order that two networks showed the events was: (a),(c),(b) which is the only order that these events make sense. Tues. night the local newsmob was doing its best job to not show the order of these events in any rational order.

At around 7:30 or so the armored vehicles came driving up to police units and delivered new cases of tear gas. The TV talking-heads announced, "now that the police are receiving new teargas canisters, we can announce that they police ran out of tear gas several hours ago and they have been anxiously awaiting these supplies." I'm glad we have such objective reporters who tell us the news we need to know, when we need to know it.

It is of course depressing to realize that the news spin will probably work quite well locally. Many of the teaming masses will forget what order things went down the limited footage of some kids having fun trashing a Starbucks will play again and again letting us learn to remember events as they didn't really happen once again keeping us from the inevitable lesson that I tried to teach my 7 year old from all this: the Cops are not on our side, they work for those who'd have him work in a sweatshop for 37 cents an hour. Most places this is more obvious than here in the USA, but sometimes there are little cracks in the image of our world that show us whats really going on.


Date: Fri, 3 Dec 1999 09:43:41 -0800
From: "Price, David"
Subject: WTO report, 12/2/99

On Weds. (WTO day 2 ) Seattle cops gassed, sprayed and arrested approx. 400 more protesters, none of whom were violent (the protesters not the police) . Most of these people were arrested for walking in the street, or carrying signs in the 10 by 25 city block area that the Mayor declared a no protest zone, and the people of Seattle refer to as a no free speech zone. This is a huge area taking in several miles. The distance between the cite of the WTO meeting and the hotels where the delegates stay is only a few blocks, there is obviously much more at stake here than security. The fact that President Clinton was in town didn't help matters, word on the street and in the press is that the secret service told the cops and mayor to crack down to keep the town safe for the President. Those arrested were cuffed, often ruffed up and bussed up to the Sand Point Naval Station, then processed. Three full busses left everyone on the buss for over 12 hours w/o "processing" people. We're talking busses full of human waste and very upset people. Once again the National Guard and police declared curfew for all of downtown Seattle from 7:00 pm - 7:30 AM. The local news insists on calling the National Guardsmen "unarmed" even though they gas us, and have side arms, though they carry 3 foot wooden rods instead of M16s--the M16s were in trunks of the vehicles that follow them everywhere they go.

During Weds. night in another part of down some distance from the WTO meetings, hotels etc. the police decided to break up a peaceful and otherwise uneventful rally unrelated to WTO by shooting rubber bullets and people, beating people and tear gassing people. The local media bent over backwards to make sure that no one was allowed to come on the air make statements addressing what happens when the police get a taste using tear gas. Does this mean we can expect to routinely get gassed from now on?

The police and the police friendly local news put the word out that no one could protest anywhere in downtown Seattle on Thursday, those who came should expect to get arrested, so my cohort and I left Olympia for Seattle around 8:00 AM to go and protest some more.

We walked around the convention area and scooped out the 400-500 cops we could see in downtown. We surveyed the damage done the few vandals (while the cops stood and watched) to some downtown buildings. The local news keeps upping the estimates of the damage, now they are saying over 2 million dollars. This is clearly a false number, but the city is doing everything they can to keep the number high, even bringing in graffiti cleaning crews to clean up ancient gang graffiti which will get added to this tab (we counted over 50 workers cleaning mostly old graffiti--one told us he makes 18.75 an hour and he expect to be cleaning here for the next 10 days or so, do the math to see how to keep the damage payment inflated). The local media keeps suggesting that small local businesses were attacked. I saw none. I asked a cop at this point if he could direct me to a local owned business that had been damaged, he said he knew of none. There was large chain drug store, Nordstroms, Planet Hollywood, Starbucks (interestingly not Seattle's Best Coffee), Radio Shack etc. The real economic damage seems to be that no one wants to buy Chirstmas presents downtown right now, but I am sure that one or two media spin cycles will clear the air. The cops were out in strength and letting it be known that no protests were going to be allowed anywhere downtown.

Around 10:00 we met up with a large protest group (min. est. 1500) at Seattle Central Community College. We marched up Pike right towards a large, mean police line we'd just crossed on our way to the College. It was pretty clear that we were going to get gassed again, and the crowd was large enough that we couldn't see what was going on in front of us. No gassing at this time, instead the cops decided to send a single motorcycle in front of us to help control the intersections we were going to cross whether they wanted us to or not. Lots of support from laborers as we passed construction sights, offices, restaurants and other places of business. Truckers very enthusiastically honked their horns, though the extent to which this was in support of WTO protests and extent to which their honks were in response to the half dozen 20-something women from Olympia who'd taken their shirts off and decorated naked (except for 1 inch of tape over their nipples) upper bodies with anti-WTO slogans.

We wound downtown to Victor Steinbreuck Park at Pikes Place Market where there was a rally with Ralph Nader, Jim Hightower, and others. Good strong rally, at this point there were over 5,000 individuals attending. I spoke with a number of people who'd been arrested. One guy from Madison had been caught on the street 10 minutes before the curfew and when he wouldn't give his name to the police he was arrested, brought to a precinct station and locked in a broom closet (literally) for 12 hours and then released (he said they wouldn't even let him go to the bathroom so he'd relieved himself in a dustpan), most had been released on about 175$ bail, one person got a judge who set bail at $2000 for a walking in the street charge. There are real concerns for the health of some elder protesters who are in the 80s and have not been heard from for over a day now.

Following the rally an announcement was made that protesters could follow two different groups: one to protest at Weyerhaeuser the other somewhere else in the opposite direction. Some of the crowd were upset that 5000 people were being divided, but those who knew Seattle geography understood that this really meant that those who wanted to violate the Mayor's no protest zone and confront the hundreds of riots cops could follow those to Weyerhaeuser. This also split the police helicopters and foot/bike cops who were tracking us. Between 2,500 and 4,000 people marched to Weyerhaeuser. This was 3 blocks from the WTO meetings, directly across the street from the Four Seasons Hotel (full of WTO reps). We parked ourselves in the street and blocked the intersection chanting and singing. The police put on their gas masks and brought out the gas guns and real guns and pulled out the pepper spray and snarled while to the North, East and West armored vehicles blocked us in (at the time this seemed really stupid to be because to the South was a meeting were the City Council was voting on the state of marshal law that the mayor had unilaterally enacted two days earlier, as well as the jail). This was a very long and tense time. We covered up for the gas, made more noise and waited for more gas, but the police held back. We waited there about an hour. Most of us walked right up to the police and showed them our signs giving them the opportunity to choose to enforce the "law" but they backed off and just stood there, though some verbally threatened us.

After a very tense hour we decided to head to the jail to demand the release of the 500 prisoners at the jail. Again, the cops held back as they should have the days before. We circled the jail for a few hours and negotiations between representatives and the police began. Most of the group agreed to disperse for the day if our representatives appeared at the door signifying that negotiations were progressing well.

I saw an on-the-street Seattle Channel Five TV reporter using the crowd for a background for an on the spot report and walked over to stand 10 feel away in the background with my sign. The camera man signaled her and stopped filming. She was very upset and asked me to "leave her alone". I politely asked her to stop using the word "violence" in her reports unless she was referring to the police, that the dozen or so people who had broken windows had committed acts of vandalism (and should be dealt with accordingly), not acts of violence and that her continued use of this term only obscured what was going on. She looked like she was going to cry and started going on about how she's jut trying to do her job etc. I (again politely, but directly) asked her what part of her job required that she not announce on the air that the police had run out of tear gas until the cops had been resupplied. I asked her why she felt the need to provide voice-overs telling viewers that night time protesters were not on the street for any real political cause, they were just troublemakers. She said that the on the street reports were very difficult to do because the newscasters back in the studio gave them grief if they didn't support the police view of the world, she then refused to talk to anyone and I had a heated talk with the cameraman for 10 minutes along these lines (later, making my way to our car, a friend and I had an extended confrontation with a gang of Seattle cops: differentiating between vandalism and violence (police violence), asking them why they hadn't arrested vandals, shot rubber bullets and people sitting on the ground asking to be arrested etc.).

After dusk, the rep. appeared at the door and after some heated discussion, most of the crowd left for the day. The results of these discussions are still unknown.


Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1999 01:39:45 EST
From: Cygayle@aol.com
Subject: Seattle WTO Protest, evening

There were no talks of WTO with the protesters today. Some conversed as they were trying to get into their meeting, but just in passing. I think there were some planned sit down at the table talks yesterday with some labor and environmental respresentatives. I think the phenomenal thing today is nearly 40,000 people (per NPR report) in lil' ol' Seattle, the vast majority peaceful and concerned taking a stand about these issues. If it were the weekend, I bet the crowd would have been doubled. The conciousness is out there. And, btw, I am not at the "front lines", I was warmly at home this morning, in front of the boob tube. i must confess I now see my own latent cyncism. I really didn't think there would have been anywhere near this many people.

From what I have heard, and I just talked to someone in the labor rally, is that that march was peaceful, a great feeling and a great feeling of solidarity. The violence preceded it and then picked up again after. The major march was over by 3:30, and the chaos continued by fringe people. By 4-5 PM, some vandalism picked up again, and the police have been going at it.

What sickens me is that the national guard is being called in and there is a curfew from 7 PM for all of downtown tonight. that is so enormously stupid. Maybe I'm having a flashback to 1970, but where I was in school, Lawrence Kansas, and the national guard was called in (for 3 days), that just escalated the violence, b/c the relatively few violent people are not going to stay away from a curfew, now have a target, and seem energized by the confrontation. I remember hearing gun shots all night long then, it was very frightening.

(by 10:15 PM, it seems my fears are happening as the confrontation with police has moved to another area of town, and the vandalism, and police gassing to clear streets, has continued, with maybe just a couple dozen people causing all the ruckus).

On the way home tonight, I felt in a time warp. Joan Baez was playing on the radio and when I stopped for gas, a man with an NBC press pass was telling of his experiences this morning. He felt the police started the violence. He got clubbed when a policeman was pushed into him. He saw gas canisters thrown at an elderly woman and at some children, and said that rubber bullets were used profusely. He had just been at the local news station and said there was much more footage of the above that wasn't being played. From what I've seen on the news, hours worth, the gas wasn't being used on the vandals, but to disperse crowds. This morning police were restrained for a while, until the delegates could not get in. Then a couple streets away, for some reason, probably some order to get tough, the police started to clear a street where protesters were sitting. which seems useless to me b/c the planned march was on the way soon anyway. I suspect the call for national guard is political. Many delegates were greatly upset that the opening was cancelled and couldn't understand why the police, "were letting this happen".

Some of the vandals are from a group called "anarchists", some of them have been interviewed on the news. They dress in black, with heads and faces covered in scarves. The news here has been pretty good in consistantly separating the groups and identifying the majority as peaceful.

Unfortunately, in watching the News Hour, it seems, as per usual, it's the violence that is the story, not the over 30,000 people amassed peacefully--they didn't even mention the size of that crowd. No pictures of the streets filled in every direction with people, in peace--it was phenomenal to see. they only showed the war zone pictures. I heard from another one down there, there were a kzillion personal camcorders going. Hopefully the right pictures can get shown and shared out there.

This I think is a phenomenal event, an historical event, of significant import, not necessarily by the impact will have on WTO but on education, consciousness building, and inspiration for like minded and kindred spirits. I feel inspired in the particular work that I have been trying to plug away at, often in isolation (b/c of the unique nature of the craft I want to use), and I wasn't even down there. I have been very moved, even to tears sometimes (good tears).

Would love to hear from some of you who were down there. Please share your experiences when you get a chance.

(Just heard the mayor say he's sickened to be calling the national guard. well, yeah.............)


Date: Tue, 30 Nov 1999 21:08:32 -0800
From: "Paul R. Lehto"
Subject: Seattle WTO Protest

A few Seattle WTO observations from direct observation:

The various demonstrations were so large that despite months of preparation the police did not have enough personnel, and the inability to find enough police for WTO security was what shut the WTO down today. Technically, the opening ceremonies were cancelled and only about one half of the delegates were able to make it in for a plenary discussion late in the afternoon, so a few things did happen at WTO today.

I don't know what happened in the morning, that was not part of the labor rally, it was mostly younger students and direct action people. I'm told that it was the same as what I'm describing for the afternoon, (police resort to tear gas and rubber bullets instead of arrests and small elements of the enraged and angered crowd start trashing windows, but only windows of multinational businesses, with the rest of the protesters telling them not to do it).

The afternoon went very well as the labor rally joined up, adding at least 30,000 and I would never back off that figure. My real estimate is between 50,000 and 100,000 at its peak. There were people sidewalk to sidewalk, at every intersection cramming 3 separate avenues as far as you could see. However, as the labor rally marched up, we met what can only be described as a darth vader police state of rows of gas masked riot police with nightsticks dividing the city in half with protestors on each side rallying. I saw at least seven different police lines, with armored personnel carriers and marching reinforcements. It was really an incredible sight complete with everything except goosestepping and swastikas.

Around 4 pm I was nearby a police line wearing my suit and tie and reading a fresh newspaper after having been interviewed by the International Herald Tribune on WTO policy. The captain at that police line about a half hour earlier had stated that "you guys have been really great, you really have."

At around 4 pm, there were up to a thousand who were blocking accesses to various WTO sites with the stated and well known goal of "shutting down the WTO". They fully expected and wished to be arrested rather than give up their blockade, and got rid of ID and prepared for jail time in that full expectation.

Rather than arrest the hard core activists get on with the well known way things are supposed to go, the cops claim they ordered dispersal (nobody heard anything but I'll not dispute this) and followed immediately with concussion grenades, rubber bullets, tear gas cannisters. There were then slow police charges with cops taking alternating big steps and baby steps, backed up by police cars with lights flashing and armored personnel carriers. One of the first two concussion grenades landed four feet from me and went off with a powerful blast that definitely stopped me from reading the paper. That is a huge understatement.

At least one person got shot in the face and another in the head with these round rubber balls that you cannot compress with your fingers.

In my opinion and observation it was the complete failure of the police to make arrests that made the situation what it was. They also failed to pursue and stop any of the vandalism. They continued this pattern of tear gas and advances with hardly any arrests through the early evening as I write this, failing to show any interest in arresting vandals or looters. The police have been very slow and even the media (very biased against the protesters at this point) was stating aloud "why aren't the police moving in??" This was around 8 pm when I was home and watching TV since the curfew was on.

I can only wonder and speculate as to why the police refused to arrest like the normal drama is supposed to end. The local TV station KIRO attempted an explanation by condemning the "violence of the protesters" (as if guns with rubber bullets, tear gas and batons are not violent), and "explaining" that the police had had a long and frustrating day.

But that doesn't cut it for me. And the cops I saw were fine, though alert and watchful. Most were chatting off and on through the day, although some attempted to take the Buckingham palace guard approach.

The bottom line is that the 25,000 left at the tear gassing have all been shocked and radicalized, with their worst WTO gestapo fears confirmed. And there were thousands more of passersby who were affected by the residual gas, and even some WTO attendees were indirectly gassed. But despite this radicalization and disbelief at the police state and civil emergency and curfew declared, I fear the average viewer, at least if they watched KIRO at least, is told and believes that the police just needed to put an end to a violent demonstration. That is such a lie.

People get gassed and shot first, then a few go wild and trash things. It's impossible not to get angry from concussion grenades and gas, and it takes a commitment to nonviolence to not want to strike back. The sequence of events is critical with the gas first, but the media doesn't cover the chronology.

Luckily there were hundreds of video cameras and thousands of photo cameras there and someday they will get to the bottom of what really happened. And when they do, I believe they will be wondering why there were no real arrests.

And part of the evidence will be the students wandering seattle looking for a place to stay they thought they would never need.


Date: Thu, 09 Dec 1999 07:26:46 -0800
From: "Paul R. Lehto"
Subject: WTO: Torture in Seattle

Many people here in Seattle are too busy caring for the wounded and trying to tell the truth to get to the big picture regarding WTO or get into a "festive holiday mood" especially when listening to detailed stories and evidence of police torture of jailed peaceful demonstrators.

Last night, (12/8/99) there were hundreds who could not get into a WTO comment forum sponsored by the Seattle City Council. It lasted EIGHT SOLID HOURS, and still hundred were not able to give their testimony, limited to three minutes per person. One hundred fifty people spoke, 148 speaking against the actions of the police, and 2 speaking in favor. The 148 people provided the most riveting and disturbing testimony I've ever heard (and the council members have said they have ever heard). Testimony included:

1. Detailed testimony about torture techniques designed to leave no marks (but did anyway) on the hands of up to a dozen jailed demonstrators. Amnesty International has called.

2. Testimony from MDs providing expert testimony that symptoms of protesters like immediate out of cycle menstruation, diarrhea and others were consistent with acetylcholine esterase inhibition, a kind of nerve agent/action not possible with tear gas, pepper spray and OC gas.

3. Testimony of 2 miscarriages caused by unprovoked police violence, including one physical assault and another from gas and pepper spray.

4. Incredibly disturbing video of huddled protestors in the fetal position being attacked by numerous police officers with batons, one pulling a protesters head back in order to spray pepper spray directly in his eye, making him writhe in incredible pain, hands squeezing his head like he was trying to pull his own head off.

5. Video footage of police kidnaps, using unmarked vehicles rushing into crowds.

6. Hundreds of cases of jailed demonstrators being denied food, water, their legal right to counsel, being stripped and humiliated in front of people of the opposite sex.

7. People in dreadlocks being abused and pulled around by their hair.

8. Refusal of the city attorney, Mark Sidran, to negotiate in good faith with attorneys for the demonstrators or to allow the demonstrators even basic constitutional rights.

There were over a hundred calls for the resignation of the mayor and many for the firing of the city attorney and prosecution of police officers.

Even more disturbing is the media coverage. KIRO TV took the single police officer who showed up and led with the story that in an eight hour meeting of "outrage over the handling of the WTO," a police officer "asked for compassion from the crowd". Then the media TOTALLY IGNORED the overwhelming evidence that brought the crowd and even council members to tears, many, many times. And totally ignored the unrebutted testimony that it was a police-created riot from the very beginning.

Another TV station simply said "most spoke against police, but some spoke in favor" (Remember it was 148 to 2, and the 148 were overwhelming, riveting and damning in their testimony) No details of torture, more intentional unprovoked police assaults, and especially no coverage of the fact that there was no significant property damage until after the police started a riot by teargassing and rubber bulleting sitting demonstrators.

As one person testified, the US media doesn't need censorship because it censors itself.

Meanwhile, off duty police officers will rally on Friday and, in effect, demand the deference to which they are normally entitled based on their hazardous service to the community. If this is received well by the media and the public, then there will be thousands upon thousands of friends and families of police victims who will .... well, what will they do? There are too many for this to be swept under the rug and denied.

In Seattle, no healing until the truth can be told publicly and in the media,