Important free speech court case in Seattle - 7 years after WTO protests!
From: < email@example.com>
Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2006 12:00:57 -0800
I'm trying to get information out broadly about a class action lawsuit
from the 1999 WTO protest arrests that affects us all.
PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE WORD!
>Please forward this to anyone concerned about free speech issues ---but
particularly those might have been in Seattle in 1999 at the WTO protests.
>We also need people who can attend the court case in early January 2007
in Seattle. If you know folks in the Seattle area, please let them know
about this case! If you are nearby, please attend yourself.
>Hello fellow WTO '99 arrestees and those concerned about free speech in
>Yes, 7 years after being arrested during the WTO protests in Seattle,
we're getting our day in court. This is a crucial court case for us all!
(And...this is the real thing; this is not a movie!)
>Of all the legal actions taken by protesters after the 1999 WTO protests,
one final class action case is left to resolve. It is also among the
most likely to affect us today. This is the largest of the class action
cases emerging from those protests and specifically involves those people
arrested on Dec 1, 1999 at Westlake. (Brief background below)
>The case is stronger if the jury knows how important our 1st & 4th
amendment rights are to us and that we haven't forgotten how the City of
Seattle & the police tromped on protesters' rights in 1999. Email me
( firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to be sure to get updated details about
what's happening with the case, including scheduling updates and such .
>We'd like to be able to fill the courtroom but many people who care about
this case or where involved do not live near Seattle. If you are
interested in coming to Seattle for this, that's great, but we mostly
hope you can send others who live in the area.
>The case is due to begin Jan 8, 2007 (see below) and may last two plus
>This case is important to everyone who was on the streets in 1999 to be
sure, but, it is particularly important to those of us speaking out
> All of us. Whether your key issues include globalization, human rights,
>the environment, the war(s) or other more specific peace and justice
issues, the results of this case will affect your work.
>Just as the people of Seattle took on their responsibility to be on the
streets in 1999 speaking against the WTO's policies, I 'd suggest that
people near Seattle have a responsibility to be in this courtroom as
witness for the jury to see. In 1999, we represented the millions around
the world negatively affected by WTO; in 2007, let's represent the
millions around the US whose rights have been eroding since the WTO
protests happened here.
>Please read the message below from the attorney for an update (some good
news about the case!) and what to expect in court. Obviously his
comments about the "formality" of the proceedings are important and are
intended to help us win the case. If there's interest in doing other
types of things in conjunction with the trial, I suggest we do it away
from the courthouse setting. Wearing buttons and carrying signs are
going to affect the general public more favorably than the jury anyway,
>Oh yeah, and what about the news that the judge ruled that we were
wrongfully arrested!!!!!!!!! (A no-brainer to me and vital to the case,
as Tyler notes below. He says it is not a complete victory but sounds
pretty darned good to me.)
>I asked when it's most critical to have a full courtroom to buoy the
success of the case. What I heard is that we should definitely be jammed
on the first two days (Jan 8-9) but also need to keep a consistent
presence throughout the trial. Plan accordingly. Stop by when you can.
Send friends. Let's keep those seats filled throughout. FYI, it seems
likely some of the more interesting testimony will happen in the 2nd
>Brief Background on the court case(s):
> On Dec 1, 2000, close to 600 people were arrested during the WTO
>protests in Seattle at several different times and different locations.
Originally we tried to construct class action lawsuits for everyone
negatively affected by police action during that time but that was too
broad. Next we put all arrestees together in a lawsuit and stuck with
that for a while. Ultimately, however, several sort of separate suits
emerged. This one is the last unresolved case (that I know about.)
> This case is for all those arrested in the morning at Westlake Park.
> Several other cases have been settled: the ACLU got a pretty good
>outcome and people arrested later in the day at First & Broad settled as
well. The city paid protesters significant damages! Some arrestees (the
largest group being arrested first thing in the am at 8th & Lenora, soon
after departing from Denny Park) ultimately didn't fall into any of the
lawsuits, even though I think their rights were tromped as well. !Arrest
is NOT an acceptable crowd control method, right!?!
> Because of the legal requirements for class action lawsuits, there was
>no lawsuit of that type (class action) for the many other rights
violations experienced during the protests. One year after the protests
however, nearly 200 individuals filed their own claims against the city
of Seattle enmass. Some of the bigger cases pushed on and, as far as I
know, all are resolved. The city settled with protesters in a number of
these cases but, after 7 years, I've lost track of the specifics.
> Since the Seattle protests, other cities in the US adopted
>increasingly aggressive tactics to interfere with protesters. Each
claimed to have learned lessons from the mistakes made by police and the
> (Of course, we know that the lessons they learned were the wrong,
>anti-free speech lessons, but learn they did.) Pre-emptive arrest became
prevalent as did other even more violent police strategies. DC, Miami,
NYC, and many more cities routinely use tactics that ignore free speech
rights. Protesters in a number of those cities have filed important class
action lawsuits as well. I've lost track of most of these as well but
would love updates on some of them if you've kept track.
>Hoping to see you or your friends in January!
>----- Original Message sent to People arrested at Westlake on December 1,
1999 from our Attorney: -----
>Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2006 1:38 PM
>Subject: [jwto] Update regarding WTO litigation
(Note: highlights & bolding >are mine
>This is a message from one of the attorneys representing the class of
individuals arrested at Westlake Park on December 1, 1999. I've got an
update and an announcement.
>First, I am pleased to report that late yesterday, Judge Pechman ruled
that everyone arrested at Westlake Park was arrested without probable
cause. While this is not a complete victory, it is an important one. It
seriously damages the City's case and means that all of you were
> Period. It may also mean that we can proceed to the damages phase of
>this case without a liability trial.
>Second, although the judge has raised questions about whether a trial on
liability is necessary, trial is still scheduled in this case for January
8, 2007, at the United States Federal Courthouse in Seattle, at Seventh &
Stewart, in Judge Marsha Pechman's courtroom on the 12th floor. I expect
it will last 2 weeks, possibly spilling into a third.
>You are all welcome to attend all or part of the trial, and we hope that
many of you will attend to show that there is still strong interest in
the outcome of this case and what happened here 7 years ago (yes, it
really has been that long). However, if you attend the trial, please
keep in mind that this is a formal proceeding, before a jury, in federal
court. What that means is that it is very important to be respectful and
professional at all times, with no outbursts or yelling if you don't like
something, and not drawing unnecessary attention to yourself in the
courtroom, elsewhere in the building, or even out in the courtyard in
front of the building. Judge Pechman in particular would likely be upset
by any demonstrations outside the building, or signs or buttons in the
courtroom about the WTO, and our relationship with her is very important.
We also do not want to unnecessarily awaken any slumbering prejudice
that the jury might have after having been told by the media for years
that you were a bunch of rioters. That said, we do want people to attend
and we hope there will be a significant showing.
>If you do attend but you have never been to a federal courthouse before,
be prepared for security along the lines of what you see at the airport,
only more intimidating. You will be required to show ID and won't be
allowed in without it. You will have to have your bags scanned, and you
will also have to walk through a magnetometer. So, no pocketknives or
anything else that could be considered a weapon of any sort.
>Looking forward to seeing you on January 8. If for this trial date is
vacated for any reason, I will let you know via another update.
>Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro
add a comment on this article
add a comment on this article