Seattle: "This is What a Police State Looks Like!"

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Dec 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM12/9/99
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Dec. 16, 1999
issue of Workers World newspaper


By Key Martin

After the WTO had to shut down because most delegates
couldn't get through protests on Nov. 30, the demonstrations
continued throughout the week.

Police carried out mass arrests on Dec. 1, jailing some
500 people. National Guard troops buttressed police lines
used to blockade streets for blocks around the Convention
Center and posh hotels like the Four Seasons.

Pointing toward their own protests, activists chanted,
"This is what democracy looks like." Pointing toward the
lines of troops and riot-clad cops, demonstrators chanted,
"That is what a police state looks like."

Big "Free Mumia" banners were visible throughout the
marches. Throughout the protests here there was evidence of
the growing struggle to stop the execution of this well-
known African American political prisoner and win him a new

Many protesters--predominantly youths --joined a Steel
Workers union march to the Seattle docks on Dec. 1. The
spirit of unity showed, as did a growing sense of solidarity
between the youths and the unionists of all ages.

When more than 1,000 youths later marched away from the
docks toward downtown, chanting "No to WTO," they were still
outside the "no protest zone." But police assaulted them

Cops jumped off armored vehicles, firing tear gas,
percussion grenades, and plastic and wooden bullets.

Police also tear gassed those caught in rush-hour traffic,
in stores, buses and on the streets. One 5-year-old child
was in intensive care after she was trampled by those
fleeing the gas attack.

Doctors and other medical workers reported that police had
trashed their equipment. And they added that no emergency
medical crews were dispatched, even for an elderly man in a
wheelchair who was severely gassed.

Police blocked Swedish Medical Center to prevent injured
demonstrators from seeking treatment.

Police forced groups of young people down streets into
"pincer" traps, then tear gassed and arrested them.

The head of the Central Labor Council, Ron Judd, was on
the phone with City Hall for an hour seeking the release of
50 protesters. The activists had reportedly been gassed in
police custody while they were forced to lie on the ground.

Despite mass arrests, protests continued late into the
night, as people continued to join marchers headed to the
Capital Hill district overlooking downtown.

Residents and shop owners--including many lesbian, gay, bi
and trans people who live or work in the district--described
what they called a "police riot." Witnesses said cops even
beat residents who were taking out their garbage or parking
their cars. They made any reporter who described their
brutal work a target.

Capital Hill residents--gay and straight--marched together
on Dec. 2 to protest this police violence.

On Dec. 3, a 10,000-strong labor march defied the "no
protest zone."

On Dec. 7, Seattle Police Chief Norman Stamper announced
his resignation following widespread denunciations of the
use of violence against demonstrators by his police

- END -

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