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N30 in Seattle

A group of about 400 marched from Capitol Hill to Westlake, commemorating the second anniversary of the 1999 WTO. Police aggressively contained the march, beginning arrests almost immediately after the march began.
March to Westlake, with Arrests
by Xochitl <Esc> 4:46pm Fri Nov 30 '01 (Modified on 6:10pm Fri Nov 30 '01)

A group of about 400 marched from Capitol Hill to Westlake, commemorating the second anniversary of the 1999 WTO. Police aggressively contained the march, beginning arrests almost immediately after the march began.

Demonstrators gathered at Seattle Central Community College on Broadway before marching down Pine St. to Westlake Park. Protest signs criticized the WTO and illegitimate corporate power, but also restrictions of constitutional freedoms in the post-WTO era.

Because the Westlake rally gained a permit only the day before as a result of federal court action, march organizers had little time to develop new plans for their march, or to determine what was officially allowed by the permit.

Seattle Police, outfitted with helmets and heavy batons, massed on Broadway and Pine as the demonstrators discussed options for how to march downtown while both asserting the right of assembly and avoiding arrest.

After prolonged negotiations, SPD told protest marshals that they would allow marchers to walk on the sidewalks only--that demonstrators in the street would be arrested. Nevertheless, in a group vote, a broad majority of demonstrators expressed their intention to march both in the street and on the sidewalk.

Police, however, were successful in containing the march. As the crowd began to walk down the Pine St. sidewalk, police massed along the street, closing it to traffic but corraling demonstrators on the sidewalk.

As the tight crowd of chanting marchers was crossing the first intersection at Pine and Harvard Ave., several cops rapidly pulled two marchers out from the group and dropped them to the street. Two marshals in orange vests, who were trying to help keep the crowd contained on the sidewalk, were also arrested immediately.

This group of aggressive, unprovoked arrests of nonviolent protesters who were not apparently violating police instructions, seemed intended to intimidate both demonstrators and marshals.

Additional arrests took place along the march route; a confirmed number is not yet available. At least one more arrest took place at an intersection, as a demonstrator on a bicycle crossed Bellevue Ave with the rest of the march and was shoved to the ground by a group of police. As in earlier cases, this arrest did not appear to have been provoked by any aggressive or even disorderly action.

At the Belmont crossing, a group of marchers attempted to leave the intended route, walking north up the street, but their route was quickly cut off by a phalanx of bike police.

Reaching Westlake, the group swelled in number and held its scheduled rally. Because the rally had started late, the closing time was extended until 4, and the permit expanded to allow marchers to walk in city streets to Town Hall at 8th and Seneca.

As 4pm approached, many more police began to mass along 4th Ave. and Pike St. As marchers left Westlake, more arrests followed. On Pine St. in front of Niketown, a squad of bike cops forced a group of demonstrators off of the sidewalk into the street. There, police arrested a musician carrying a didgeridoo.

Throughout the afternoon, police wore ponchos which covered any identification they may have been wearing, in violation of established policies.

add your own comments

We were the ones thrown into the street
by Nora 6:10pm Fri Nov 30 '01

My co-worker and I were right behind the mob of police who converged on the bicyclist, throwing him to the ground and grabbing his head back by his long wavy black hair, pulling him in several directions at once. (Later we heard on the news that he had "looked like he was going to graffiti a jewelry store".) Everyone was saying, "Calm down! Calm down!" Organizers tried to keep us moving in spite of this atrocity, so we tried to continue on the sidewalk to the side, though there were about 15 cops clogging the sidewalk right there.
One tall sandy haired helmeted cop (with name and badge conveniently hidden) came out of nowhere, grabbed me and threw me into the street, as if he were dancing with me. Then he said, "Get out of the street!" and started to pepper spray me. He was really jonesing to spray somebody. How Freudian. He wouldn't let me get back on the sidewalk.
Just go clue you in on this picture, I was dressed for work, wearing a long blue raincoat. I looked like a respectable worker, not an anarchist.
I continued to say, "Calm down, calm down," which didn't seem to help. At one point I had to cover my face with my sign for protection.
Too many people were watching and protesting his bullying of peaceful women, so he decided against spraying me.
I was a little occupied at the time, as you can imagine, or I would have noticed that my friend had the same thing happen to her.
Once we had been shoved into the street, other officers were going to arrest us for being in the street.
Hours later it occurred to me that ONLY my coworker and I were targeted. Could it be because were carrying union placards?
A woman named Daria assured me that she had photographed the entire incident (as had many others). I will contact her. I asked a cop nearby to get me the guy's name and badge number, but he refused to speak with me. Lt. Wm. E. Edwards of South Precinct told me that if we could identify the cop, we could file a complaint. He conveniently faded down the street.
We intend to file a civil complaint.
did we learn from N30 '99? 02.Dec.2001 12:11


If there's anything we should have learned from N30 the first time around, it's that success can be found beneath a hail of rocks and bottles. Pigs don't give a shit and will try to shut you down unless you physically prevent them from doing so. Failure to stick up for yourself and create space to be in (through direct action) leaves you looking like sheep - just getting herded.

glad to hear 400 people showed up. even if they did just get pushed around.

oh well, maybe the world will still change signifigantly before our ecosystems collapse. I sure hope some body else does what it takes, don't you?