ASIA PACIFIC CITIES SUMMIT PROTESTS
SEVEN ARRESTS BY SEATTLE POLICE
STARBUCKS INCIDENT ON TUESDAY, MAY 8
Seven people have been arrested as a result of demonstrations against the
Asia Pacific Cities Summit in Seattle. On Monday night two individuals were arrested on charges related to the protests when they tried to create political graffitti to protest the summit's agenda of corporate globalization. During demonstrations Tuesday two more anti-corporate globalization protesters were arrested outside the Westin Hotel where
Asia Pacific Cities Summit delegates have been meeting since Sunday.
Three more APC Summit protesters were arrested Tuesday evening related to an incident at the Starbucks on Broadway in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Several protest marchers say that a young woman was assaulted by the manager of Starbucks when she and a group of protesters entered the building banging on plastic buckets during a march which had started at Seattle Central Community College. According to these witnesses, an unidentified woman was struck in the head by a bottle thrown at her by the Starbucks employee during the short protest. According to a Seattle police officer who approached several of the demonstrators, someone called the SPD and claimed that there was an assault on an individual in the coffee shop at Broadway and East Republican Street around 7:30 PM.
Protesters claim that the march was peaceful and that the only violence was committed by the Starbucks employee and police. National Lawyers Guild observers say that the mostly peaceful protest march on the sidewalk was completely legal since they were not obstructing or harassing any pedestrians. Marchers obeyed all traffic laws and waited for walk signals before crossing the streets at all times. No citizens on the sidewalks were threatened by the marchers who allowed people with dogs, residents and children to pass unobstructed. In fact, many of the Capitol Hill residents cheered as the march passed by and drivers honked their horns in support of the anti-corporate globalization demonstration. According to witnesses, demonstrators went into the GAP store at the Broadway Market and banged their makeshift drums for a minute or two to mostly embarassed responses from the sales clerks. But when a few demonstrators entered the Starbucks, the manger reacted by assaulting the protesters with coffee flavoring and throwing a bottle at them, striking the young woman. One protester banged on the counter with a drumstick before leaving, still keeping time with the chants of the marchers.
A large banner was positioned at the front of the march protesting the APC Summit. "Stop the Cops of the World". Given the reaction by police, the SPD officers may have thought that the banner was directed at them instead of the WTO/IMF, World Bank, APEC/APC & FTAA.
Within minutes after the protest had moved on from Starbucks, SPD Seargent K.D. Hooper stopped the legal march by placing himself and his bicycle in front of the marchers who were moving down Broadway on the sidewalk. Legal observers say that a peaceful protest march on the sidewalk is completely legal since they were not obstructing or harassing pedestrians. Some demonstrators used their drumsticks on metal signs, light poles and garbage containers in time with the beat of their anti-APC Summit chants but no property damage was reported by witnesses. Marchers obeyed all traffic laws and waited for walk signals before crossing the streets at all times.
Despite this mostly civil march, the anti-corporate globalization demonstrators were chased and surrounded by Seattle police before they reached the intersection of Broadway and John. A young man and woman were detained while three men were arrested. A bicyclist was arrested but he was later released. One man had outstanding warrants and is being held at the King County Jail. The third man was charged with "failure to comply"(whatever that means), and "posession of a weapon"(a stick and some wire clippers)? Another man was clubbed by police with a baton but he was not arrested or detained, and a young woman has not yet been accounted for. Several of the demonstrators who were apprehended, searched and released, complain about having their hair pulled and being kicked while they were face down on the ground with their hands behind their backs.
Sergeant Hooper was also accused of spitting on a Hispanic man who was involved in the protest during a later incident a half hour after the march was stopped. Apparently, according to recent reports, sometime after this incident the man was arrested by Hooper. A member of the National Lawyers Guild reported tonight that King County Jail officers had the man strapped to the floor at the jail. It is not clear at this time why this action has been taken but the NLG legal observer reported from the jail that the man has asked to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital.
It is not clear at this point as to why police broke up the political protest on Broadway,
but demonstrators claim that the SPD's goal was to supress their freedom of speech and stop the demonstrations against the APC Summit. The Asia Pacific Cities Summit protests which began here last Sunday have caused tension among Seattle police who see the demonstrators as simply trouble makers and city and law enforcement officers don't understand the issues which bring the protesters out onto the streets. First Amendment issues are not the number one priority for the SPD. They see the public expression of freedom of speech and assembly as an irritating nussiance at this point.
Arrests at the Westin Hotel:
SPD officers stopped the legal march at the Westin Hotel around 2 PM on Tuesday
May 8th. A march against corporate globalization had proceeded from
Westlake Center to the Westin Hotel to protest against the Aisa Pacific Cities Summit.
The marchers claim that police officers assaulted several demonstrators, used profanity and homophobic slurs against them and arrested two young men who were also marching on the sidewalk with the group of over 100 anti-corporate globalization demonstrators. Without warning, the peaceful marchers had been blocked by police across the street from the Westin Hotel between 5th and 6th Avenue. The group was marching legally on the sidewalk when suddenly police moved in and according to witnesses assaulted several protesters by pushing them into the bushes. Soon several officers were on top of the demonstrators who had been thrown into the vegetation next to the street. Two of the marchers tried to defend themselves and were immediately arrested.
SPD officers had at that point stopped a legal march outside the Asia Pacific Cities Summit where delgates were meeting to discuss public/private partnerships and privatization of public services. Legal observers say that they don't expect any of the charges to stick since the men arrested broke no laws. One of them was a 15 year old boy.
According to several witnesses who documented their reports for local media, an SPD officer identified as Kruger grabbed a protester by the shirt and yelled obscenities into the man's ear. Kruger wore no name tag or badge and refused to respond to questions about his identity or his rank. When one man informed the officer that he was breaking a city ordinance by not wearing identification, the man was threatened with arrest - for exercising his moral and legal right to demand accountabilty. Legal observers and members of the Committee For Government Accountability immediately called Seattle city council members, including Jim Compton, chairperson of the Seattle City Council's Public Safety Committee. They reported the violation of the police ID law to Civil Rights Committee chairperson Peter Steinbrueck - the man who authored the original legislation calling for the ordinance after repeated reports of police misconduct committed by anonymous police officers during the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle. The Capitol Hill neighborhood had been especially effected by the police riots which took place in that area of the city.
On Monday, a dozen biotechnology activists were expelled from the Westin Hotel by Seattle police when they entered the lobby to ask about the Asia Pacific Cities summit agenda and talk about the risks associated with genetically modified organisms. They were concerned about the corporate sponsorship of the summit, and the involvement of the World Bank and APEC. Immunex was sponsoring a plenary session promoting biotechnology at the time. A press conference and vigil was held outside on the sidewalk and the group handed out leaflets about Immunex's connections to Monsanto, a major producer of GMO's.
A solidarity vigil and briefing will be held at noon at Westlake Center today at those
who were arrested and for the demonstrators in Honolulu who will be kicking off major protests against the APEC Asia Development Bank conference.
On Thursday May 10th a major demonstration will be held at the Westin Hotel again against City Attorney Mark Sidran during his mayoral kick-off campaign event at 7 AM.