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Seattle - CrimethInc

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                                                                                                                                      The Power is
November 30, 2006
Fourteen years ago, many of us didn’t even know we were
anarchists. We made tentative steps to change our lives,
without a clear idea of where we were going or why. We




                                                                                                                                           running
joined environmental organizations and formed punk rock
bands. We experimented with cooperative living, confronta-
tional unemployment, and politically motivated crime. We
occupied trees; we traveled around the planet as witnesses
and volunteers; we developed new traditions and codes of
ethics. In the course of these adventures, we found each
other, one by one; but we still felt isolated, still doubted our
own strength, still wondered how to approach the revolu-
tion some of us dreamed of.

Seven years ago, some of us participated in a demonstration
in Seattle against the World Trade Organization. Seeing each
other there, we discovered that we were part of a worldwide
movement. This infused us with an incredible momentum
and sense of purpose: suddenly, we knew we were going to
change the world, and we had a model for how to do so. The         fought amongst ourselves. We ran into walls, ran out of
events of that one week in Seattle were more real to us than       steam, ran around and around in circles. We renounced
all the years that had led up to them—even for those of us         our visions like jilted lovers, and along with them many
who were not there.                                                of the tactics and strategies they had taught us. We tried to
                                                                   forget the whole thing ever happened. Some of us finally
Over the years that followed, we rode that momentum like           succeeded.
a wild horse, pursuing the visions we had glimpsed in the
streets of Seattle. We tried again and again to recreate that      Today, it has been seven years since the WTO protests in
moment, succeeding only in creating other moments. We              Seattle. Rumor has it that every seven years, every cell in
redefined what had happened, revisiting that point of origin       our bodies regenerates: every seven years, we are born anew
again and again, finding that each time it had changed. We         and begin a new phase of life. If this is true, then today
                                                                   we should finally be able to reflect on the WTO protests
                                                                   without nostalgia, glorification, or defensiveness and derive
                                                                   lessons from them to apply to our current efforts. Today, we
                                                                   are finally free of this specter that has haunted us, and it can
                                                                   finally become our own.

                                                                   Here we present for posterity two texts that stand out in the
                                                                   veritable ocean of material on the subject. They could not
                                                                   be more distinct: one is an impassioned personal account
                                                                   of participation in direct action, the other a dispassionate
                                                                   strategic analysis. It is our hope that together they will
                                                                   provide a sense of what took place that week in 1999—and                      This account was originally
                                                                                                                                                  published in the thirteenth
                                                                   more importantly what is possible now, along with an
                                                                                                                                               issue of Inside Front, a now-
                                                                   inkling of how to make it happen. To this purpose we also                    defunct anarchist magazine
                                                                   humbly append a brief afterword of our own.                                covering underground music,
                                                                                                                                                     culture, and resistance.
                                                                               – CrimethInc. World Tirade Organization


I can’t do it. I can’t. I can’t tell you what it felt like any                                                                                                                outside of the 420 Denny Space, a nerve center
more than a bird could tell me what it feels like to fly.                                                                                                                     of sorts where I find dozens of people bustling
I can tell you my story, but it’s only my head talking.                                                                                                                       around with saws and paint and walkie-talkies,
My heart can’t write, and my guts don’t have lips. I                                                                                                                          plotting and planning and building. This is a
cannot truly explain how it felt to taste ecstasy in                                                                                                                          very good sign, but after seventy-eight hours
every breath as the invincible forces of privilege and                                                                                                                        of Greyhound time it’s also pretty jarring. I’m
coercive power finally lost control, how it felt to stare                                                                                                                     utterly exhausted, ravenously hungry, and
down the world’s most ruinous and abusive bullies                                                                                                                             in no condition to conspire yet. I catch a ride
and watch them blink, how it felt to fall in love with                                                                                                                        south from downtown to the Roasted Filbert,
tens of thousands of people at once, to not know what                                                                                                                         a cavernous, dusty, unmarked warehouse with
would happen next, to become dangerous.                                                                                                                                       concrete floors, no windows, and a purple door:
                                                                                                                                                                              which is serving as a refuge for everyone who
And that is a tragedy that haunts me as I write every                                                                                                                         shows up at 420 with nowhere to stay. I find a
one of these words. Because if somehow I could                                                                                                                                space inside, curl up in my bag, and pass out
share with you what I felt for ten days in Seattle,                                                                                                                           listening to warm bodies breathing all around
you would never settle for anything less again. You                                                                                                                           me.
would kick in your TV, run outside buck naked,
tear up the freeway with your bare hands, flip tanks
                                                                                                                                                                              Friday, November 26
upside down, and dance with panda bears through
the streets. The barbarians would emerge from exile
                                                                                                                                                                              At dawn I ride back up to Denny with four
to knock down heaven’s door and the dead would
                                                                                                                                                                              others from Filbert. None of us know each other.
rise up from their coffins and cubicles. And once you
                                                                                                                                                                              Downtown the towers glitter in the distance
got a taste of the sublime joy of reclaiming control
                                                                                                                                                                              like decorated tombs, spectacular monuments
of your life and your world, of regaining your lost
                                                                                                                                                                              to wealth and power that loom overhead just as
kinship in a human community of which you are an
                                                                                                                                                                              the institutions they embody loom over every
integral component, of realizing your wildest dreams
                                                                                                                                                                              aspect of our lives. I know that we are flying
and desires, you would do whatever it takes to make
                                                                                                                                                                              under their radar, and that we are not alone. For
it happen again.
                                                                                                                                                                              the first time in my life those almighty towers,
                                                                                                                                                                              and all that they stand for, look vulnerable to
                                                                 Monday, November 22 through                           eat, and a dollar, which I give to another grizzled    me.
                                                                 Thursday, November 25                                 old man. I stare and think and try to sleep.                  Up at Denny the bustle and activity of
    I can tell you                                               On Monday I leave for Seattle from Columbus,          Milwaukee, Madison, Eau Claire… Wednesday              Thursday night has multiplied exponentially.

    my story, but                                                Georgia on a Greyhound bus, alone, already
                                                                 hungry, with no money and nothing to eat. Six
                                                                                                                       morning, Minneapolis. Haggard young women
                                                                                                                       with kids, disgruntled truckers, teenage
                                                                                                                                                                              I help out with the kitchen and the dishwash-
                                                                                                                                                                              ing, finally get some food, and spend most of the
     it’s only my                                                hours later in Atlanta my bag is whisked away to
                                                                 a different bus, leaving me with no warm clothes
                                                                                                                       runaways. Fargo, Bismarck, Billings. The North
                                                                                                                       Dakotan whose car broke down in Minnesota
                                                                                                                                                                              day getting my bearings. Around dusk Critical
                                                                                                                                                                              Mass issues out of 420. I ride with somebody
    head talking.                                                and nothing to read, either. I stare blankly out
                                                                 the window at the bleak, diseased wasteland of
                                                                                                                       who can’t afford to fix it. Butte, Missoula, Coeur
                                                                                                                       d’Alene, Spokane. The grizzled young man who
                                                                                                                                                                              on the back of her bike since I don’t have one.
                                                                                                                                                                              Later I just run. We ride around and around the
    My heart can’t                                               concrete and smoke and cars, at the trees and         buys me a waffle in Montana because he hasn’t          upscale shopping districts downtown, taking

      write, and                                                 fields and hills and rivers, at all the cities I’ve
                                                                 never seen before—Chattanooga, Nashville,
                                                                                                                       seen me eat in a day and a half. I fall asleep a few
                                                                                                                       hours past Spokane in the Cascades and wake
                                                                                                                                                                              over whatever streets we want, whenever we
                                                                                                                                                                              want, without any authorization or permis-
    my guts don’t                                                Louisville, Indianapolis, Gary, Chicago.
                                                                        I scrounge what little food I can at bus
                                                                                                                       up, Thursday November 25, at about midnight,
                                                                                                                       in Seattle.
                                                                                                                                                                              sion, singing, dancing, howling, and conversing
                                                                                                                                                                              with anyone who will listen. Someone begins
      have lips.                                                 stations, but by Tuesday night I am hungry
                                                                 enough that I’m starting to get mean. In Chicago
                                                                                                                             I stagger off the bus, meet my mysterious
                                                                                                                       liaison Ms. J, and am miraculously reunited with
                                                                                                                                                                              chanting “We’re gonna win! We’re gonna win!”
                                                                                                                                                                              and for the first time in my life I believe it.
                                                                 a grizzled old man gives me a sandwich, which I       my long lost bag. Fifteen minutes later I stand               Much to my surprise and delight, I chance
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
upon Mr. X in the midst of Critical Mass. I have       complete with giant puppets, street theater,          thousand different projects. I board up windows      by dismantling the contraption that braces
only seen him once since I spent much of the           radical cheerleading, and an anarchic marching        at a breakneck pace with a tireless Danish           it. The latter, where Mr. N has constructed a
summer of 1998 in a van with him. He is in             band rolls out of Seattle Central Community           carpenter. Plywood, two-by-fours, chicken wire,      virtually impregnable barricade out of toilets,
Seattle with Ms. X and X-Dog. Our reunion is           College (SCCC). The street party is a roaring         black plastic, anything. Next room.                  concrete, rebar, plywood, and an iron fire door,
cut short, however, when a psychopath in a             success, reclaiming downtown for hours and                                                                 could only be opened by a tank. The doors
fancy car tries to run us over. Mr. X screams like     railing fiercely at all manifestations of corporate   The cops are coming. They’re about to fire tear      are adjacent to two stairwells, one in front
a banshee, jumps onto the hood, slips a piece          dominance.                                            gas through all these windows.                       and one in back, which lead to either end of a
of cardboard under the wipers and over the                   Unfortunately I miss it. I go back to Hitco     No they’re not.                                      long winding hallway that connects about ten
entire windshield, pounds three big ass dents in       around five to finish the lockboxes, unaware          More rooms.                                          rooms. The rooms are vast and spacious, with
the hood with his fist, and disappears into the        that the festival is still bumping. I get back to     Yes they are. Cover all this up so they can’t tell   25’ ceilings, gigantic windows, and giant stages
night.                                                 420 around eight and run across Ms. C. We are         how many of us are in here.                          and lofts of various shapes and sizes. One has
      Later we invade the Washington Trade and         eating dinner when we hear that a mass public         No they’re not.                                      been furnished with an ample supply of food,
Convention Center, where the WTO summit is             squat is about to be opened on Virginia St. The       “WHO THE FUCK LET IN PHOTOGRAPHERS?”                 water, and medical supplies. Someone runs out
supposed to be held, and ride in circles through       word is free shelter downtown for anyone who          “I’VE GOT FELONY WARRANTS IN WASHING-                of another, arms raised in triumph, a crescent
the foyer for quite some time before a security        needs it during the protests, and for Seattle’s       TON STATE!”                                          wrench in one fist and a plunger in the other.
guard punches someone in the face and the              homeless after. About forty of us steal through       The cops are coming.                                 “THE TOILET WORKS!” In yet another Ms. I
police finally manage to chase us away.                the night to recover a fragment of the world that     Two rooms left.                                      and Ms. S arm a security team with short wave
                                                       has been stolen from us.                              No they’re not.                                      radios. Every window on this floor is boarded
Saturday, November 27                                        913 Virginia Street. The door opens, and        “KEEP THOSE FUCKING PHOTOGRAPHERS IN                 up except for those in the front room—where
I spend all morning and early afternoon at             two masked heads emerge from the darkness.            THAT FRONT ROOM!”                                    earlier we gave a full fledged press conference
Denny. The 420 Space is serving as a welcome           “GET IN!” I run through the door, up the stairs,      “SOMEBODY GO TALK TO THEM!”                          before banishing the blow-dried talking heads
mat, training grounds, mess hall, and nerve            through a wooden hatch, onto the second floor.        Yes they are.                                        of the corporate media altogether—and nothing
center, and it is turning into a complete              The door closes behind me. The building is            We’re done.                                          inside can be distinguished from below. The
madhouse. Countless meetings and workshops,            enormous. This floor could harbor a horde of          No they’re not…                                      third floor is essentially identical to the second,
endless training and skill sharing, and ceaseless      barbarians. The power is running. Androgy-                                                                 except that none of the windows are boarded
cooking, cleaning, eating, and welding all rage        nous ninja elves scamper about everywhere             There are two doors, one in front and one in         up and there is a ladder to the roof in the back
perpetually and simultaneously under Denny’s           around me, hammering away furiously on a              back. The former can be opened from inside           stairwell. There is no way to approach the
roof. More and more people pour in throughout                                                                                                                     building that is not visible from the roof, where
the day, and it is beginning to get difficult to                                                                                                                  someone stands guard with a short-wave radio,
move around inside.                                                                                                                                               waiting for the inevitable. Here come the cops,
      I leave late Saturday afternoon for the                                                                                                                     this time for real…
Hitco space to make lockboxes. Hitco is every                                                                                                                           We assemble in The Spiral Room and send
bit as wild as Denny. While others hammer                                                                                                                         Mr. G outside to negotiate, agreeing that he will
away at mammoth puppets and matching sea                                                                                                                          not accept, refuse, offer, or request any proposal
turtle suits we set up an assembly line and build                                                                                                                 before we have all consensed to do so. The
hundreds of lockboxes out of PVC pipe, chicken                                                                                                                    cops say we need to let in a fire inspector. They
wire, framing nails, tar, sand, yarn, and duct                                                                                                                    need to know if we are posing a fire hazard to
tape. We turn them out late into the night. I ride                                                                                                                ourselves. After much discussion we consense
to 420, walk to Filbert, and sleep covered with tar.                                                                                                              that this is complete bullshit. They don’t know
                                                                                                                                                                  the layout of the building, they or how many
Sunday, November 28                                                                                                                                               of us are inside, how sturdy our barricades are,
Sunday morning Denny is an utterly unfathom-                                                                                                                      or for that matter if we all have machine guns
able zoo. I learn that Saturday night banners                                                                                                                     or not. They want to inspect the building to
were dropped all over downtown, one from                                                                                                                          determine how difficult it will be to raid. When
the top of a crane over I-5. At noon a parade                                                                                                                     we refuse they cut the water, then the power.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
      By this time a bizarre circus has gathered
below. Reporters, feds, and undercover agents
film us, and our friends from 420 and the In-
dependent Media Center film them. We hang
banners and signs from the roof and windows.
Mine says “RESISTANCE IS FERTILE.” Outside
Mr. G wrangles with the cops. Inside we are
embroiled in an absolutely endless meeting
regarding their ever-changing promises and
threats. As it gets later and later we are left
with less friends and more enemies, who make
less promises and more threats. The situation
becomes increasingly tense, but they never
move in on us. Around four they finally leave,
swearing that they will return at eight with the
landlord to chase us out. I sleep with one eye
open, and wake up four different times to false
alarms.
The cops are coming.
No they’re not.
Yes they are.
No they’re not.

Monday, November 29
Throughout the morning a crowd from 420 and
everywhere else gathers outside, beating drums
and singing. The cops return at eight with the
landlord, block the doors, and refuse to let
anyone in or out. Around noon we manage to           our “last chance.” Nearly everyone opts out at        way to defend the building, and that there is no      to give us an order or command we just dance,
get a lawyer inside. He tries to cut us a deal. We   this point, understandably having no desire to        point in making martyrs of ourselves—except           but when they try to charge their van across the
will occupy the building until Friday, then hand     spend the 30th in jail. They promise to tear ass      for Mr. B, who says he will hide in the rafters       block to disperse us we surround it and slow it
it over to Share/Wheel, a homeless advocacy          up to Denny and return with as much backup as         and hold out alone if he has to. We dismantle         down to a crawl, then beat and kick and rock it
group, who will convert it into a free shelter.      they can scrape together. I know that whether         the barricade at the front door and run outside.      while the couple inside squirms. It is all they can
The landlord claims he will get sued if someone      this is our “last chance” or not, there are nowhere        We are greeted with a wondrous sight. The        do to limp their wounded warhorse through to
gets hurt in his building. We write up a waiver      near enough cops outside to actually raid the         cavalry has arrived from 420. Somehow hordes          the other side before all the little elves flip the
clearing him of any liability for anything that      building, and I cannot fathom why. Later I learn      of people have slid in between the cops and           damn thing over. The cops leave.
happens inside. He refuses to sign it. This all      that crowds have amassed all over downtown.           the door, and more stream in from all around.                Pandemonium reigns. Up on the roof Mr.
takes hours.                                         Some have surrounded The Gap, some the                Everyone goes berserk. We pound and bang on           B roars in triumph, and the walls tremble at the
      The negotiations break down complete-          Westin Hotel so that the WTO delegates can’t          everything we can get our hands on, howling           tops of the tombs. I suspect that the cops are not
ly by late afternoon. The landlord wants us          get in to sleep, and some have attacked a Mc-         and dancing and taking up most of the block.          prepared to start a riot on Virginia Street when
disposed of. The cops slaver in anticipation.        Donald’s, breaking some windows.                      Mr. B is up on the roof, roaring at the top of his    so much of their force is downtown protecting
Around 5:30 they swear that in thirty minutes               About fifteen of us remain inside. There       lungs with his arms raised to the sky as if all the   the world’s most ruinous and abusive corpora-
they will kick down the doors, beat ass, break       a lot of people out front, but not enough. The        indomitable power of the avenging squatter            tions and the delegates who represent them. A
heads, and arrest everyone inside. They will let     situation looks bleak. At 6 p.m. the riot cops        demon is running through the marrow of his            fragment of the world has been recovered, and
anyone who is willing to leave out now. This is      show up. We decide that there is no longer any        bones. The cops are at a loss. Every time they try    it is safe for now. About forty people run inside,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
and I run back up to Denny. A few hours later,          concrete, dumpsters, cars. We begin to form a              I run up to the barricade at 5th and Seneca,   pours water on my face and rubs life back into
right before I leave 420 for the night, I run into      human chain around the convention center.            which I hear is about to be attacked. The cops,      my eyes. I am born again in their hands. We all
Ms. X and X-Dog. She tells me that Mr. X is in jail.          In an amusing display of either arrogance      sporting Darth Vader suits and unmarked              tear ass back up Seneca towards 5th to make out
She is trying desperately to bail him out before        or stupidity the delegates all wear matching         raincoats, have formed a line across Seneca.         what the cops are doing and how to stop them.
the state discovers exactly who he is and what          beige suits and big ID tags that say “DELEGATE.”     Behind them there are five or six more on horses     I realize that my friends are not all just going to
he has done. I promise to keep in contact with          Whenever they try to approach the building           and a couple with big ass guns. We push a line       bail when things start to get ugly.
her and to do all I can to help. Before I fall asleep   we stop them and chase them off. Without the         of dumpsters in front of them so that they can’t            And here come the cops, storming through
back at the squat, beneath a window with the            protection of their armed servants they are as       trample us, and form an enormous immovable           the sickly clouds, ejaculating toxic gas as fast as
glittering banks looming over me, I remember            powerless as a brain without a body, and their       knot so that they can’t drag us away and arrest      they can stroke their triggers. They open up on
the time Mr. X told me that there were only two         expressions are priceless as they run away.          us. The cops flip on gas masks and begin to fire     us with rubber bullets and concussion grenades,
things that he would never do. He would never           Before long the chain is complete, and the only      tear gas into the crowd. Others blast us with        and we stampede back down Seneca and around
hurt anyone, and he would never take anyone’s           ways in are through parking garages, hotels,         jumbo tanks of pepper spray. One throws a can        the corner. The stampede becomes a fairly
food. His captors do both, and some day they will       and underground tunnels. We cut these off one        of gas into my lap. Ronald McDonald and his          orderly retreat as we book down 4th Avenue,
suffer the consequences. They have locked Mr.           by one. I dart around by myself, patching up         band of merry devils run amok through my             hurling everything we can get our hands on out
X in a cage, and tomorrow it’s time for payback.        holes where blockades need help and trailing         organs, burning plastic bonfires in my windpipe      into the street to protect ourselves from their
                                                        delegates to their secret entrances. I dog one       and hacking at my lungs with chainsaws dipped        cars and horses. Trash cans, newspaper stands,
Tuesday, November 30                                    for blocks, grinning malevolently at him as he       in DDT. Vampire fangs sunk down to the gums          concrete tree planters, dumpsters, construc-
I wake up before dawn and walk to SCCC,                 searches in vain for a way into the convention       suck the soul from my skull, and all that remains    tion barricades, anything that will stop them or
where the festivities begin. Before long I am sur-      center. He finally gives up and asks a cop for       in the hellish wasteland between my ears is fear     slow them down. The gas is inescapable but we
rounded by thousands of friends, and at 7 a.m.          advice, and I listen in, rubbing my hands with       and hatred.                                          grab the cans and throw them back. The rubber
we set out for the Washington Trade and Con-            glee. “How do we get inside?”                              Everyone around me starts to run. While        bullets are legitimately scary but we chuck
vention Center, where the summit is supposed                  “Well, sir… right now there is no way to get   I am getting up a cop bucks me in the face with      sticks, stones, and bottles and hope for the best.
to be held. As we near it we fan out, taking            inside.”                                             pepper spray. Tony the Tiger is scouring my          I find myself on top of a newspaper stand in the
over the surrounding streets and blockading                   The opening ceremonies of the summit           eyes with his chemical claws, my nostrils are        middle of 4th Avenue, unleashing a psychotic
entrances to the building. Everything you can           are postponed, then canceled altogether. This        searing, and I can’t see a damn thing. I scramble    stream of invective at the interchangeable
imagine turns into a barricade. Bodies, puppets,        is when the cops begin to riot. They have failed     down Seneca stone blind and finally collapse         bullies who are approaching through the smoke.
lockboxes, a fifty foot tripod, barrels full of         their masters miserably and they are pissed.         in the street, gasping and convulsing. Someone       “FUCK YOU, COWARDS!, I’M INVINCIBLE!”
                                                                                                                                                                         This is happening all over town. They can
                                                                                                                                                                  move us but they cannot disperse us. At 4th and
                                                                                                                                                                  Union the worm is beginning to turn. The cops,
                                                                                                                                                                  facing thousands and thousands of us now, are
                                                                                                                                                                  a little less gung ho than they were at 5th and
                                                                                                                                                                  Seneca. They form a line across 4th and we come
                                                                                                                                                                  to another standoff. Only this time no one is
                                                                                                                                                                  going to sit down for them. I find myself on top
                                                                                                                                                                  of another newspaper stand in the middle of 4th
                                                                                                                                                                  Avenue, roaring at the top of my lungs. “I can’t
                                                                                                                                                                  TELL you how THRILLED I am to BE here right
                                                                                                                                                                  now. I LOVE every ONE of you, like a SISTER or a
                                                                                                                                                                  BROTHER. There is NOWHERE, in the WORLD,
                                                                                                                                                                  EVER, that I would RATHER BE then WHERE
                                                                                                                                                                  I AM right now. There is NOTHING I would
                                                                                                                                                                  RATHER BE DOING than WHAT I AM DOING
                                                                                                                                                                  right now. I would RATHER be OUT HERE than
                                                                                                                                                                  spend another FUCKING SECOND in my CAR,
10                                                                                                                                                                                                                11
                                                                                                        down police stations and nothing else. We             always been designated as a barbarian, savage,
                                                                                                        freestyle from the newspaper stand until my           communist, jap, criminal, gook, subhuman,
                                                                                                        larynx is throbbing. Eventually the cops get          drug dealer, terrorist, scum; less than human
                                                                                                        impatient and one of them bucks my man full           and therefore legitimate prey. I try to make
                                                                                                        in the face with pepper spray. I kiss him on the      it impossible for him to label me as a faceless
                                                                                                        head, they club me and everyone else they can         protester, the enemy. I pull off my ski mask and
                                                                                                        reach, and back down 4th Avenue I go, a phalanx       continue to stare into his eyes. I tell him that
                                                                                                        of crocodiles in ankylosaurus suits at my heels       I am from the south, about fixing houses and
                                                                                                        wreaking havoc and pain.                              laying floors and loading tractor trailer trucks,
                                                                                                               Yet another standoff at 4th and Pike. The      about nearly getting killed in a car wreck in
                                                                                                        cops form a line across 4th Avenue. This is           October, about carrying my dog around crying
                                                                                                        getting repetitive. I have inhaled so much tear       to all the bushes that she loved to root around in
                                                                                                        gas, ingested so much pepper spray, and ducked        the day she died of cancer. I tell him that we all
                                                                                                        so many concussion grenades and rubber                have our stories, that there are no faceless pro-
                                                                                                        bullets that running the bulls on 4th Avenue          testers here. Nothing.
                                                                                                        is no longer novel or fun. It’s just frustrating.            “Can you look me in the eyes, O’Neil? I
                                                                                                        We outnumber them almost immeasurably, yet            am a human being, and I refuse to let you evade
                                                                                                        they still attack us with impunity. They hold         that. I won’t let you label me as a protester, and I
                                                                                                        all the cards, they make all the rules, and they      don’t want to have to label you as a cop. I refuse
                                                                                                        cheat all the time. I am terrified. We are in no      to accept that they have broken you completely,
                                                                                                        way seriously prepared to defend ourselves.           that there is not something left in you which is
                                                                                                        All it would take would be for one dumb ass           still capable of empathizing with me. I want to
                                                                                                        aggro cop to decide to get his rocks off and open     be able to treat you as an equal, but only if you
                                                                                                        fire for all the rest to follow suit. It would be a   prove to me that you are willing to do the same.
                                                                                                        massacre. Kent State. Bonfires smolder behind         And the only way you can do that is by joining
                                                                                                        my eyes, and the smoke rises out of my mouth.         us, or walking away.”
                                                                                                               I choose one—at random, for they all                  I remain dead still, staring into his weak
                                                                                                        look exactly the same. Every inch of his body is      cow eyes. He is blinking excessively and is
or at my JOB, or WATCHING TV. I DON’T think         the blockades, the wily and mobile Black Bloc       hidden under black cyborg armor. He is armed          visibly uncomfortable. “Can you look me in
these cops can say that. I DON’T think those        dealt with their masters in kind. Masked little     to the teeth. His face is hidden under a gas mask,    the eyes, O’Neil? The difference between me
delegates can say that. I would rather EAT MORE     elves armed with slingshots, sledgehammers,         face shield, and full helmet. “O’Neil” is embroi-     and you is that I want to be here and you don’t.
TEAR GAS than any more of their FUCKING             mallets chains, and crowbars attacked The           dered on his bulletproof vest. I plant myself         I know why I am here. I am enjoying myself. I
fast food. I would rather DRINK MORE PEPPER         Gap, McDonald’s, Niketown, Bank of America,         squarely in front of his face and I stare dead into   am reveling in this. I am rejoicing. I have been
SPRAY than any more of their FUCKING soft           Starbucks, Levi’s, Fidelity Investment, Old Navy,   his eyes. He won’t look at me. He blinks con-         waiting for this to happen since I was a little
drinks. I would rather DEAL WITH THAT than          Key Bank, Washington Mutual, Nordstrom’s, US        stantly, looks down, left, up, right; anywhere        kid. There is nowhere, in the world that I would
ACCEPT THIS SHIT for another FUCKING                Bankcorp, Planet Hollywood, and other mani-         but at me. It infuriates me almost beyond words       rather be than where I am right now. There is
SECOND. And I would rather DIE LIVING than          festations of corporate dominance, smashing         that this coward has the impudence to attack          nothing I would rather be doing than what I am
continue to LIVE DYING…”                            windows and redecorating facades. I am ecstatic.    me when I am unarmed but lacks the courage            doing right now. It has never been so magnifi-
      Somebody hugs me. It has been so long         Those glittering towers are not invincible after    to even look me in the eyes. “Can you look me         cent to feel the sublime power of life running
since anyone has touched me that I nearly melt      all. The greatest trick the vampires ever played    in the eyes? CAN YOU LOOK ME IN THE EYES?             through the marrow of my bones. I know that
in their arms. Someone else jumps up and roars,     was convincing us that garlic did not exist. Let    LOOK ME IN THE EYES, O’NEIL.” Nothing.                you don’t want to be here. I know that you don’t
and then someone else, and then someone else.       their facade be torn to pieces, and may the walls          I know why he won’t look at me. When           know why you are here. I know that you are not
I rest for a minute while a stout Chicano man       come tumbling down.                                 he was halter-broken he joined his trainers in        enjoying yourself. I know that you don’t want
recounts some interesting news. While the                 The stout Chicano man tells me that           a companionship stimulated not by love, but           to be doing this. And no one is holding a gun
servants were busy terrorizing us and the rest of   during the L.A. riot he and his friends burned      by hatred—hatred for the “enemy” who has              to your head and forcing you to. Wherever you
1                                                                                                                                                                                                             13
want to be, go there, now. Whatever you want              Brigade appears. For the first time since I began      first. I dare you to look me in the eyes when you
to be doing, do it, now. Go home and get out              this surreal monologue I look behind me. A             do it. You may be able to hurt me and not look at
my way. Go make love with your girlfriend or              small man wearing a gas mask and fatigues is           me. You may be able to look at me and not hurt
boyfriend, go snuggle with your kids or dog, go           prancing about in front, dancing lustily with two      me. But you won’t be able to look me in the eyes
watch TV if that’s what you want, but stay out            oversized black and green flags. Behind him two        while you hurt me, because you are afraid you
of my way because this is a lot more important            women wearing gas masks and fatigues march             will lose your nerve. You are afraid of me, and
to me than it is to you.”                                 side by side, each bearing an oversized black          you should be.
        I have not moved my feet or my eyeballs at        and green mock wooden rifle. Two columns of                    “O’Neil, you all have been terrorizing us all
all. I have been trying to blink as little as possible.   about fifteen march behind the women with              day. If this goes on all night we will have to start
O’Neil’s eyes are quivering and squirming to              the guns. They are all wearing gas masks and           fighting back. And you and I will be standing
avoid me beneath the mask.                                fatigues, and they are all playing drums and           right here in the middle of it. I have no illusions
        “O’NEIL! CAN YOU LOOK ME IN THE                   horns and all sorts of other noisemakers. They         about what that means. Neither should you.
EYES? CAN YOU DO THAT FOR ME, O’NEIL?                     are making the most glorious uproar that I have        We may get killed. But I would rather deal with
CAN YOU LOOK ME IN THE EYES. Basically                    ever heard.                                            that than accept this one second longer. I would
this whole ‘Battle of Seattle’ boils down to the                The Infernal Noise Brigade marches all the       rather die than give in to you. I don’t think you
relationship between you and me. And really,              way to the front where we are standing. When           can say that, can you, O’Neil? Would you rather
there are only two kinds of relationships that            they reach the line the columns transform into         die than be my brother? Who are you dying
we can have anymore. If you can either join us            a whirling circle. We form more circles around         for? Where are they? Whoever gives you orders
or walk away then you will be my brother, and             them, holding hands and leaping through the            is standing behind you, man. Whoever gives
I will embrace you. If you cannot then you will           air, dancing around and around in concen-              them orders is relaxing down at the station,
be my enemy, and I will fight you. The relation-          tric rings like a tribe of elves. We dance with        and whoever gives them orders is safe in some
ship that we are not going to have is the one             absolute abandon, in possibly the most unre-           high rise somewhere, laughing at your foolish
where you are dominant and I am subservient.              strained explosion of sheer fury and joy I have        ass! Why isn’t your boss, and their boss, out here
That is no longer an option. That will never be           ever seen. On one side of the line across 4th          with you, O’Neil, risking their lives and crying
an option again.                                          Avenue there is a pulsating festival of resistance     in the middle of 4th Avenue? Why should they?
        “Which kind of relationship do you want           and life. On the other side there is a blank wall      You do it all for them! What are you thinking?
to have with me, O’Neil? Look around you. Look            of obedience and death. The comparison is im-          I just don’t get it. They don’t care about you,
at all of these people singing and dancing and            possible to miss. It hits you over the head with a     hell, I care about you more than they do. You’re
making music. Don’t you see how beautiful                 hammer.                                                getting used, hustled, played, man, and you will
this is? Don’t you see how much more healthy                    When the dance is over I return to my            be discarded the minute you become expend-
and strong and fulfilling and desirable and fun           post up in O’Neil’s face. I stare into his eyes        able. Please look me in the eyes. I’m serious,
relationships that rest on mutual respect and             and invoke all the love and rage I can muster          O’Neil, come dance with me…”
consent and understanding and solidarity and              to fashion an auger to bore through his mask                   Someone whispers in my ear that another
love are than ones that rest on force and fear            and into his brain. And Cow Eyes cries crocodile       cop is crying down the line to my right. For a
and coercion and violence and hatred? Don’t               tears. His eyes are brimming, with red veins           fleeting moment I can feel it coming, the fiery
you see that the life and the world that we are           throbbing. His cheeks are moist. He won’t look         dragon breath of the day that will come when
beginning to create out here is superior to the           at me. “O’Neil, I don’t care if you cry or not. I      the servants turn their backs on their masters
one that you have been trained to accept? Don’t           don’t care what you’re thinking right now. I           and dance…
you see that we are going to win? Don’t you               only care about what you do. Before long you                   …And then it’s gone. Because O’Neil is not
want to be a part of this? I know you do because          will get orders to attack us, or one of you will get   dancing. He is completely beaten. His lifeless
you still can’t look me in eyes. If you want to           impatient and provoke another confrontation.           eyes don’t even quiver or squirm. And he won’t
remain my enemy then so be it. But if you want            What are you going to do? When that happens I          look at me. I could whisper in his nightmares
to be my brother all you have to do is join us or         am going to be standing right here. If you choose      for a thousand years, I could burn my face onto
walk away.”                                               to remain our enemy then you are going to have         the backs of his eyelids, I could stare at him
        At this exact moment the Infernal Noise           to hit me first. You are going to have to hurt me      every morning from the bathroom mirror, but
1                                                                                                                                                                 1
he would never look me in the eyes. He is too        away.
well-trained, too completely broken, too weak              There are no words that are poisonous
to feel compassion for the enemy. His eyes are       enough to convey the venom that I hold for
dead. There is nothing left. The magic words         O’Neil and all of the rest of his kind. These
that could pierce his armor and resurrect him        wretched scabs, these Uncle Toms, these despi-
elude me, if they exist at all.                      cable bullies, these hellish machines, these dead
      “O’Neil, I know that you have been broken      bodies are utterly beneath contempt. I look at
and trained. So have I. I know that you are just     their faces and I feel nothing but hatred. I run
following orders and just doing your job. I have     down 4th Avenue, ducking gas and grenades,
done the same. But we are ultimately respon-         my eyes brimming with red veins throbbing.
sible for our actions, and their consequences.       Training has dehumanized me in O’Neil’s eyes,
There is a life and a world and a community          and O’Neil in mine.
waiting for you on this side of the line that can
make you wild and whole again, if you want
them. But if you prefer to lay it all to waste, if
you prefer death and despair to love and life,
if all of these words bounce off of your armor
and you still choose to hurt me then FUCK you,
because the Nuremberg defense doesn’t fly.”
      I have nothing left to say. I sing the last
verse of my beaten heroes’ song, softly, over and
over and over again, staring into O’Neil’s eyes
and waiting for the inevitable. “…In our hands is
placed a power greater than their hoarded gold,
greater than the might of armies magnified
a thousand fold—we can bring to birth a new
world from the ashes of the old…”
      Eventually a cop down to my right either
gets impatient or gets orders. He grabs a guy,
completely randomly, pulls him across the line,
and starts beating him. The crowd surges to
rescue our friend, and O’Neil makes his choice.
“LOOK ME IN THE EYES, O’NEIL!” He clubs the
person standing next to me, and the cop standing
next to him clubs me. “LOOK ME IN THE EYES,
MOTHERFUCKER!” But he never does. I ram
into him as hard as I can, praying that the sea
behind me will finally break through the wall,
drown the both of us, and carry my friend away
to safety. But I am not strong enough, and the
wall of death beats us back once more. Over
my shoulder I watch one cop walk up to a very
small older woman and unload a tank of pepper
spray into her eyes. Her indomitable and bitter
face is the last thing I see before I have to run
1
Netwar iN the
emerald City:
Strategy and tacticS
in the WtO PrOteStS
                                                             themselves leaderless when the dust settled,
     This report was published shortly after the WTO
                                                             and Seattle Mayor Paul Schell, who was left




                                                                                                                      The Players
     protests by the RAND Corporation, a think tank
                                                             standing alone amidst the political wreckage in
     that touts its “objectivity” and purports to “improve
     policy and decision-making through research and         the aftermath.
     analysis.” Any perspective advanced by such a                 The central fact of the protests is the utter
     dubious entity should obviously be taken with a         surprise and confusion that occurred during
     grain of salt. That said, this analysis is noteworthy   the initial confrontation on Tuesday morning.
     for its comprehensive scope. Aspiring revolutionar-
                                                             “It was a classic example of two armies coming
     ies will be hard-pressed to find a better summary of
                                                             into contact and immediately experiencing the
     what took place on the other side of the barricades                                                            WTO Opponents
     that week. The text can be found online at http://      total collapse their battle plans,” said Daniel
     www.nwcitizen.us/publicgood/reports/wto/.               Junas, a Seattle political researcher.                 The Direct Action Network (DAN) represented         distinction between offensive and defensive.
                                                                   What exactly happened during the crucial         an emerging species of political organization       The overall strategic goal of the Direct Action
                                                             hours of the Battle in Seattle is shrouded in          based on networks rather than institutions. The     Network was to “shut down” the World Trade Or-
Seattle, like many American cities, has                      confusion and controversy, but the broad               primary networked organizations in the Direct       ganization meeting in Seattle. The “shut down”
self-appointed nicknames. One of Seattle’s                   outlines can be discerned. The street action falls     Action Network were a coalition of groups such      was accomplished by a variety of independent
nicknames is “The Emerald City,” a reference to              into three distinct phases: first, the Direct Action   as the Rainforest Action Network, Art & Revolu-     but strategically congruent actions summing
its perpetually soggy evergreen vegetation and               Network (DAN) protesters seized and held a             tion, and the Ruckus Society. Through the Direct    up to a street blockade in the immediate vicinity
to the mythical Land of Oz. On November 30,                  handful of strategic intersections, immobilizing       Action Network, these groups coordinated non-       of the WTO conference. Once the blockade
1999, Seattle awoke to the reality of an emerging            the police. Second, the police strategy                violent protest training, communications, and       came into being, the emphasis would shift to
global protest movement. This movement                       fragmented over two contradictory goals:               collective strategy and tactics through a de-       defending the blockade for as long as possible in
was not created in Seattle. Other protests with              suppressing the DAN protests and allowing the          centralized process of consultation/consensus       the streets. In the spotlight of media attention
similar motives, participants, and strategies had            labor parade. Third, the labor parade failed in        decision-making.                                    created by the blockade, DAN hoped to launch
been happening in the United States and around               its goal of controlling and diverting the DAN                The strategy and tactics of these new—and     a variety of informational operations emphasiz-
the world for a considerable time. What made                 protesters away from the Convention Center.            primarily information-based—networks of             ing the anti-democratic, neo-colonial, and anti-
the “N30” protests remarkable was the shock                  The influx of reinforcements who abandoned             non-governmental organizations evolved from         environmental tendencies of trans-national
that we, like Dorothy and Toto, were no longer               the labor parade and joined the DAN protests           trends represented by the ad hoc mobilization       trade agreements.
in Kansas.                                                   left the streets more firmly in control of the         committees of the Viet Nam protest era, the               The Direct Action Network’s goal was suf-
      The World Trade Organization protests in               protesters, despite the use of tear gas by police      “alternative summits” at recent world environ-      ficiently broad to join together two major WTO
Seattle marked a turning point in national and               since around 10 a.m.. By approximately 3 p.m.          mental and human rights conferences, and the        opponents. The DAN factions can be distin-
international trade policy. The biggest outcome              Tuesday, the battle was decided and the Direct         loose coalitions which formed in opposition         guished by their varying focus on environmen-
of the protests was the resurgence of the                    Action Network had prevailed in their goal of          to U.S. policy during the Gulf War. Networks,       tal or human rights issues.
American Left’s influence on the international               shutting down the conference.                          as opposed to institutions, are shaped by de-             The second major WTO opponent was
trade issue. All in all, it was a stunning surprise                After that time, the outcome was certain.        centralized command and control structures,         American organized labor, the AFL-CIO. The
to many of the parties involved: the Direct                  The battle continued for several days, spreading       are resistant to “decapitation” attacks targeting   AFL-CIO represents a hierarchical institu-
Action Network coordinating the protests, the                into other areas of the city. By Thursday, the         leaders, and are amorphous enough to weld           tion which emphasizes unitary, top-down
AFL-CIO’s new foray into grass-roots politics,               World Trade Organization had capitulated and           together coalitions with significantly different    command. There is little participation by rank
the federal administration trying to steer a                 the police ceased attacking civilians, thereby         agendas while concentrating forces on a single      and file in union decision-making, though
new course in national and multinational                     recognizing a conclusion reached before                symbolic target.                                    ceremonial elections are sometimes held to
trade policies, the Seattle Police who found                 darkness fell on Tuesday.                                    Conflicts involving networks blur the         legitimize leadership decisions. Essentially na-
1                                                                                                                                                                                                                     1
tionalist in outlook, the AFL-CIO policy goals       ized nations. To a lesser extent, the WTO deliber-   for international negotiations. In terms of           ability organization which reported separately
are directed more at American politics and less      ations would broaden the scope of existing trade     the protests, the federal strategy and national       to the Chief and the City Council through
at international issues. Simply stated, the AFL-     agreements to include developing countries.          prestige hinged simply on getting Clinton into        two separate boards. The road to community
CIO’s strategic target was supporting and legiti-    Prior to the Seattle conference, the WTO was         the conference.                                       policing had been rough and rocky, particular-
mizing President Clinton’s actions at the con-       dominated by the three major trading blocs: the           Next on the list of WTO allies is the City       ly in light of the resistance from rank and file
ference through purely symbolic displays by a        western hemisphere block organized around            of Seattle and Mayor Paul Schell. The City of         cops. These frictions heightened the tensions
loyal opposition.                                    the NAFTA treaties, the European Economic            Seattle, as host of the conference and lead ju-       surrounding the contract negotiations between
      As will be seen, Clinton indicated in an       Community (EEC), and the Asian industrialized        risdiction, was the center of responsibility for      the City and the police union.
interview on Tuesday afternoon that there was        nations. The Seattle talks were the first which      containing the demonstrations. Aside from                  The total size of the Seattle Police Depart-
strategic coordination between his administra-       included developing countries. The complex           this hospitality, Schell’s political concerns         ment was roughly 1,800 officers, of whom about
tion and the AFL-CIO in regards to the parade        tensions inside the WTO were reflected in its        were complex. First of all, the primary reason        850 were available for street duty throughout
and protests. In his remarks, President Clinton      structure: on one side, the “green room” discus-     for Seattle hosting the WTO conference was to         the city. Of these, 400 were assigned to the WTO
reinforced and repeated the false distinction        sions dominated by the more powerful WTO             promote regional trade interests: principally         demonstrations. Seattle had about the same ratio
between the AFL-CIO parade as “legitimate”           members; on the other, and the general meeting       timber and forest products, wheat, and a variety      of police to population as Chicago, but Seattle’s
and the DAN protests as “criminal dissent.” This     where the entire body—including developing           of high tech industries, of which Microsoft           smaller size limited in the number of officers
false distinction underscores the very reason for    nations—would attempt to ratify the “green           and Boeing were the best known examples.              it could field against the protesters—unless, of
the protests in the first place: the exclusion of    room” decisions.                                     Secondly, Schell was a liberal Democrat and had       course, the SPD entered into some sort of joint
dissenting opinion from trade policy decisions.           The tensions surrounding this meeting           strong ties to the Democratic Party and its main      WTO operation with other police agencies in
      Overall, the advantage went to the Direct      were considerably greater than previous. The         source of financial support, the AFL-CIO. Third       the region. By Wednesday, the second day of
Action Network, since their informational            trade disagreements between the NAFTA                and last, Schell was deeply beholden to the pro-      the protests, more than 500 state and regional
strategy effectively enclosed the coordinated        nations (led by the U.S.), the EEC (led by France)   gressive Democrats and environmentalists who          police, plus some 200 National Guard would be
strategy of the AFL-CIO and the federal govern-      and the Asian nations (led by Japan) promised        were a key political constituency in Seattle,         deployed.
ment. As will be seen, at the critical moment        to be major stumbling blocks. At the same time,      though mostly excluded from the Democratic                 The largest two outside police forces
in the street actions, the balance shifted to the    the failure of the WTO consensus process would       Party by the labor interests. Schell’s attempts to    available to Seattle were the King County
Direct Action Network as non-union protesters        maintain and extend the dominance of the in-         satisfy all of these interests were so riddled with   Sheriff’s department and the Washington
and a dissenting union members left the AFL-         dustrialized nations over the newer members.         contradictions that he became unable to control       State Patrol. Sheriff Dave Reichert was a con-
CIO parade and joined the street protests, effec-    Even in the absence of protests outside the          events and was ultimately left to twist slowly in     servative Republican and political foe of Mayor
tively sealing the success of the Direct Action      meeting, the tensions inside made it very likely     the wind, abandoned by nearly everyone.               Schell. This reflected the long-standing division
Network’s day-long blockade.                         that the Seattle round of negotiations would              The direct point of contact between the          between Seattle and the King County govern-
                                                     be off to a rocky start. All in all, the American    Direct Action Network and the WTO was the             ment. The suburban fringe surrounding Seattle
The World Trade Organization                         posture consisted of blocking agreements while       Seattle Police Department (SPD). Under the            was the traditional political battleground in
and Allies                                           giving the appearance of support.                    leadership of Chief Norm Stamper, the SPD             which statewide elections were fought. The
On the other side of the conflict, the World Trade        President Clinton’s strategy was concen-        had become a national laboratory for a progres-       outlying areas went to the Republicans and the
Organization and its allies composed a much          trated around his appearance at the conference,      sive philosophy of law enforcement known as           heavily urbanized areas went to the Democrats.
more divided picture. The purpose of the WTO         rather than the success of the conference itself.    “community policing.” Recently, the relations         The suburbs swung back and forth between the
conference was to produce a new framework for        If the talks failed to produce a new framework,      between the police and Mayor Schell’s adminis-        two. The State Patrol chief was responsible to
the next round of negotiations on international      then the existing agreements (which heavily          tration had not been good. One of the outcomes        Gov. Gary Locke, a nominal Democrat who rose
trade. If successful, the “Seattle round” would      favored the shared interests of industrialized       of Chief Stamper’s community policing initia-         to the governorship through the King County
resolve some of the disputes between industrial-     countries) would continue to provide the basis       tive had been the formation of a police account-      Council. The governor also controlled the
0                                                                                                                                                                                                             1
National Guard, although these forces couldn’t      control of the informational conflict in which         truth was that people from Seattle and the          sought to disrupt the chain of command and
be committed without the declaration of a state     the media was both the battleground and the            surrounding region committed much of the            force the initial confrontation with demonstra-
of emergency by the governor and the request of     prize.                                                 vandalism and nearly all of the looting. These      tors into chaos. To put it bluntly, these officers
the mayor. Neither the King County police nor            The first of these groups were the so-called      people were not part of the Black Blocs, nor were   comprised the faction within the police depart-
the State Patrol were supporters of community       “Anarchists from Eugene,” more correctly               their actions politically inspired. The lie was     ment that had been most threatened by Chief
policing policies, which meant that outside as-     known as the “Black Blocs.” The total number           that the Black Bloc faction engaged in property     Stamper’s reforms—the criminal element.
sistance would entail Chief Stamper presiding       of Black Bloc participants numbered between            destruction—which numbered perhaps 40               “Organized crime is the continuation of busi-
over a joint command divided by fundamental         one and two hundred people. The appearance of          people at most—caused the police violence in        ness by criminal means,” says Dr. Phil Williams,
policy differences.                                 Black Blocs at protests is a relatively recent phe-    the streets. The violence began hours before the    international expert on organized crime. And
     Mayor Schell decided that he and Chief         nomenon. The purpose of Black Blocs is to show         window-breaking spree.                              criminal business, just like legitimate business,
Stamper would deal with the demonstrations          a visible presence of the more radical anarchist             When literature captures a concise image      requires the active support and participation of
without the direct support of other law en-         factions. A Black Bloc consists of protesters who      which accurately portrays a larger whole, it is     law enforcement.
forcement agencies. Most critics have claimed       wear black, carry anarchist flags and banners,         known as an archetype. When that process fails            In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Seattle
that this decision was the reason the protests      and take a more confrontational approach to            and the dominant image obscures the truth, it       went through a series of scandals involving
succeeded. There are strong reasons to believe      protest.                                               is stereotyping. In the middle of December, the     organized crime and police corruption. The
that this is not so. The Tuesday protests would          In an interview in Active Transformation, an      Seattle Weekly and KPLU Radio sponsored a panel     popular view of organized crime as an “under-
have succeeded in attaining their goals (though     anarchist journal, one participant in the Seattle      on media coverage of the WTO. The consensus         world” operation, totally divorced from everyday
in a less spectacular fashion) even if the police   Black Blocs explained it this way: “…Anarchists        emerged that both local and national media had      business and politics was seriously challenged
presence had included the outside agencies.         were not isolated in the black bloc. There were        succumbed to “lazy media shorthand” and failed      by the work of William J. Chamblis, a sociolo-
     One of the considerations which weighed        anarchists involved in every possible way. There       to report the overall story in either a balanced    gist at the University of Washington. Chamblis’
against the employment of outside police            were anarchist labor activists, puppeteers,            or accurate way. The message which still hasn’t     study of organized crime in Seattle, On the Take:
on Tuesday was the strong possibility that          non-violent lockdown blockaders, marching              penetrated the media is that the Black Blocs ac-    From Petty Crooks to Presidents, showed that “crime
they would attack the union parade and city         musicians, medics, communication people,               complished an international coup of “culture        is not a by-product of an otherwise effectively
residents. The deployment of outside police         media people, whatever—as well as a group of           jamming” by selectively targeting a handful         working political economy, it a main product
reinforcements was delayed long enough to           about two hundred in black masks who had               of retailers and banks for broken windows. In       of that economy. Crime is in fact a cornerstone
protect the union parade. But the police attacks    prepared, also in affinity groups, to do as much       committing this vandalism, they conformed to        on which the political and economic relations
on city residents occurred on Capitol Hill, on      symbolic physical damage to multi-national             pre-established media stereotypes of “violent       of societies are constructed.” Rather than a “few
Tuesday and Wednesday night. This was an            capitalism as possible. I have seen black blocs        anarchists” and effectively hijacked several        bad apples,” corruption is the normal state
area in which Schell’s political support was        used in protests in the U.S. a lot but never so suc-   weeks of coverage in a manner that served their     of affairs. Chamblis’ work and other research
strongest and also where many of the protesters     cessfully. It is important to note that the black      propaganda goals admirably.                         shows that “organized crime really consists
were staying while in Seattle.                      bloc was not the result of some conspiracy. It               The primary target of the Black Blocs was     of a coalition of politicians, law-enforcement
                                                    too happened quite spontaneously, with people          neither the WTO nor the businesses whose            people, businessmen, union leaders and (in
Wild Cards                                          who came from all over the country—with                windows were broken. The Black Blocs were in        some ways least important of all) racketeers.”
Two more players deserve examination, es-           similar desires.”                                      Seattle to radicalize the WTO opponents. And              Seattle’s police history has been as color-
pecially since one ended up dominating the               The media’s tag-line of “Anarchists from          that is precisely what they did—with the sig-       fully sordid as any other American city’s.
national media coverage. Neither of these two       Eugene” was one of those lazy half-truths which        nificant assistance of the media and second wild    The criminal economy of drugs, prostitu-
groups was numerous nor strategically signifi-      sums up to a conscious lie. The half-truth was         card group.                                         tion, gambling, and the financial apparatus
cant in terms of the overall outcome of the WTO     that people from Eugene participated in the                  The other wild card group was that segment    which such large-scale businesses require is
protests. However, both ended up effectively in     Black Blocs. The other unreported half of the          of the Seattle Police Department which actively     no different in Seattle than elsewhere. From
                                                                                                                                                                                                              3
Seattle’s beginnings around the “Skid Road”            If the mayor and police chief could be maneu-
at the Denny sawmill to the current flap over          vered into declaring a civil emergency, then
“police misconduct,” police morale has been            the regional, state and federal agencies would
a reliable indicator of the level of corruption.       be able to enter the conflict and the hard-liners
Recently, morale had been low, which meant
that the crooked cops were on the defensive.
                                                       strategy would prevail for a while.
                                                                                                               downTown seaTTle
The focus of the criminal element’s displeasure
had been Chief Stamper and his Senior Leader-                                                                                                                                                     Capitol Hill
ship Team—or, as the department’s rank and
file pronounced it, the “sluts.” The criminal
element among the Seattle Police Department
had only one goal: embarrass Mayor Schell and
Chief Stamper.
     The initial approach by the opponents
of police accountability was the circulation                                                                                                                                                          Ne
                                                                                                                                                                                                           ST
                                                                                                                                                                                    Ay           pI
of mutinous talk regarding the “softness” of
                                                                                                                                                                                W
                                                                                                                                                                           ve
                                                                                                                                                                                                 p
                                                                                                                                                                       I
                                                                                                                                                                  Ol

the official strategy for dealing with the dem-
onstrators. During an October crowd control
training session, Assistant Chief Ed Joiner
                                                                                                                                                             H
                                                                                                                                              W
answered questions about protester violence
by saying that there was nothing to worry
about and the protests would be non-violent.                                                                                                                                             H




                                                                                                                p
                                                                                                                Ik
SPD Officer Brett Smith and others claim the




                                                                                                                    e
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                                                                                                                     p
                                                                                                                        lA
                                                                                                                                                   ke
                                                                                                                                              pI




                                                                                                                         C
FBI and Secret Service had briefed King County




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                                                                                                                                                                               ST




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                                                                                                                                                                      IO




                                                                                                                                 e
                                                                                                                                                                 uN
Sheriff’s officers to “fully anticipate that five to




                                                                                                                                     T
six officers would be lost during the protests,
either seriously injured or killed,” as Smith told
the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter Dan Raley.
When Officer Smith and others spoke with
their commander about the stories coming
from the King County police, they were told not
to spread rumors. It appears likely that state-
ments predicting violent attacks were part of
                                                                                                                                         pArADe rOuTe                                        W        WeSTlAke
the Sheriff’s training and it is certain that the
                                                                                                                                                                                                      CeNTer
predictions were hysterical and provocative.                                                                                             BlOCkADeS
     The success in undermining Chief                                                                                                                                                        p        pArAMOuNT
Stamper’s command depended on the                                                                                                        vANDAlISM                                                    THeATre

                                                                                                           N
breakdown of law and order in the streets.
Whose law and what order was the question.                                                                                               CONveNTION                                          H        HOTelS
                                                                                                                                         CeNTer

                                                                                                             resources of county, state, and federal forces
                                                                                                             would have been hard pressed to maintain
                                                                                                             such a perimeter in the face of the approxi-
                                                                                                             mately 40,000 protesters, demonstrators, and

     Terrain of The baTTlefield                                                                              parade participants present on Tuesday. On
                                                                                                             Wednesday, these additional police forces were
                                                                                                             available and the number of protesters was ap-
                                                                                                             proximately halved. Even with this sizable shift
                                                                                                             in the numbers on opposing sides, the police
                                                                                                             were unable to control downtown effectively.
The geography of the WTO conference site               northeast/southwest through the downtown.                  Amidst all the criticism—mostly coming
played a central role in determining the success       The Market is built on a steep bluff which            from law enforcement agencies which failed
of the protests. The accompanying illustra-            formed Seattle’s original shoreline. The bluff        even more disastrously than the Seattle Police
tions show the field of battle and its significant     forms a geographic barrier which stops all            Department in maintaining order—about the
features.                                              movement towards the waterfront. Capitol              police’s “lack of preparedness” for the demon-
     First and most importantly, the Washing-          Hill is a dense residential neighborhood—the          strations, the larger perimeter, increased security
ton Trade and Convention Center is located on          densest in the city. Broadway, the main street        troops, and suspension of civil liberties which
the edge of downtown. It is built over the I-5         which forms the backbone of the Capitol Hill          accompanied the mayor’s declaration of civil
freeway and is accessible from only two sides.         commercial district, runs north/south along the       emergency failed miserably in the face of much
As a site for a blockade, it is perfect. The area is   crest. There is a steep change in elevation along     smaller numbers of protesters on Wednesday.
triangular, with the freeway side inaccessible.        Seattle’s east-west axis running from the crest of         The geography of Seattle’s downtown
The Direct Action Network blockaded the area           Capital hill to the waterfront.                       favors protesters. In the last decade, two major
along the north and west streets. The blockade              The area immediately to the north of the         civil disturbances—accompanying first the
was several blocks deep and concentrated on a          convention center is predominantly open               Gulf War protests and the “Rodney King” riots—
dozen intersections.                                   parking lots and small buildings, compared to         followed much the same path over the same
     Secondly, the sites of two major skirmish-        the more densely built-up downtown. To the            streets, as did the numerous protests during the
es which dominated media attention, Capitol            west, the long blocks of the downtown avenues         Vietnam War. Given sufficient numbers and
Hill and the Pike Place Market, had nothing to         (7th, 6th, 5th, ending in 1st Ave) form a barrier     even the most hare-brained strategy, protest-
do with conducting the conference or moving            which channels movement into a few streets            ers have the ability to dominate the streets of
delegates between the Convention Center, the           (Pike, Pine, Union, and University). Blockades        Seattle.
Paramount Theatre or the downtown hotels.              on these streets effectively shut off the area. The
Likewise, the area in which the Black Bloc             east and south sides of the Convention Center
vandalism occurred is outside the blockade area        are cut off by the freeway.
and not part of the streets directly connecting             To maintain effective control of the area,
the Convention Center with the Westin Hotel            the police would have needed a perimeter
or the Paramount Theatre.                              roughly on the order of Thursday’s “no protest
     Capitol Hill and the Pike Place Market            zone.” Given the decision to rely on the Seattle
form two poles along the major axis of crowd           Police alone, this lengthy perimeter was impos-
mobility, the named streets which run                  sible to control with 400 officers. The additional
                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                        analysts David Ronfeldt and John Arquilla            like organisms than machines. They approach
                                                                                                        proposed a new framework for viewing conflict        stealthily and from many directions in offense.
                                                                                                        in the information age. The essence of netwar        In defense, they can react like anti-bodies moving


           sTraTegies                                                                                   is the emerging forms of conflict in which one
                                                                                                        or more of the major participants consist of
                                                                                                        networks, rather than institutions. The central
                                                                                                        feature of informational conflicts is the struggle
                                                                                                                                                             towards points of attack. Netwar’s line between
                                                                                                                                                             offense and defense can be blurred, leaving
                                                                                                                                                             opponents unclear about what is occurring and
                                                                                                                                                             how to respond. Throughout the protests, the
                                                                                                        for understanding and knowledge, as opposed          Direct Action Network were able to offensively
                                                                                                        to more traditional conflicts which focus on         swarm their opponents repeatedly, as shown by
                                                                                                        controlling territories or resources.                the seizure of key intersections on Tuesday and
None of the strategies employed by the three         controlled movement in the protest target,               Netwar is inherently less violent than other   the easy penetration of the “no-protest” zone on
major players in Tuesday’s conflict was par-         and hang on until reinforcements arrived. The      forms of conflict, particularly when it involves     Wednesday. The anti-body defense was shown
ticularly hare-brained, but the most unrealistic     second wave comprised protesters who had           non-governmental organizations dedicated to          when crowds moved towards police attacks
belonged to the AFL-CIO, at least in the sense       opted for non-violent demonstration and not        human rights and peace causes. One of the first      or mass arrests. The swarming action was also
of the battle for control of the streets. The AFL-   being arrested. Their task was to protect the      full-blown manifestations of netwar was the          apparent when numerous groups within the
CIO strategy was to hold a rally at the Seattle      first wave from police violence and plug up the    Zapatista conflict in Chiapas. The networked in-     AFL-CIO rally and parade successfully resisted
Center and then march downtown—but not               streets by sheer numbers and passive resistance.   tervention of international groups placed very       efforts by the union leadership to keep them
too far. Central to the AFL-CIO strategy was the     The third wave was a march by the People’s         real limits on the use of violence by the Mexican    from supporting the DAN blockade of the WTO
notion that if they could contain the majority       Assembly, composed mostly of environmental         government in suppressing the insurrection.          convention site.
of the demonstrators and keep them out of            and human rights groups who elected to par-              In the case of the Direct Action Network,           The network form of organization is par-
the downtown area, when Clinton announced            ticipated in the street protests instead of the    the central prize consisted of the understanding     ticularly robust and resilient in the face of
his pro-labor and protectionist policies, the        labor parade. This group entered downtown          that the WTO multi-lateral trade agreements are      adversity. The decentralized command and
AFL-CIO would be able to claim credit. All the       from the south at about 1 p.m. and marched         intensely corrosive to democracy, at least that      control structure allows rapid shifts of strategic
AFL-CIO had to do was prevent any effective          to the Paramount Theatre inside the protest        form of democracy which entails a knowledge-         targeting. It is highly resistant to “decapitation”
protests by groups not under their control and       zone. The first and second waves were loosely      able public participating in policy formation in     (attacks which target leadership) and the dis-
allow the media to spin the tale of how labor        organized into a dozen simultaneously con-         meaningful ways.                                     ruption of communication channels. All three
caused a “sudden change” in national policy.         verging affinity groups, swarming the protest            Netwars are fought by networks; collections    of these features were present during the WTO
The AFL-CIO proved to be unequal to the task         target from all directions. Each affinity group    of groups and organizations guided by non-hi-        protests. The diffuse communications network
of rounding up all the protesters and keeping        blockaded a specific intersection. The blockade    erarchical command structures which commu-           allowed protesters to continuously adapt to
them muzzled.                                        would be maintained as long as possible until      nicate through “all-points” communications           changing conditions. The consultative form of
      The Direct Action Network planned more         police had arrested sufficient demonstrators to    channels of considerable bandwidth and com-          decision-making enhanced the ability to coor-
effectively, and in the end more realistically,      regain control of the streets.                     plexity. The DAN communications channels             dinate large-scale actions. The police attempts
with a “People’s Convergence” consisting of                The Direct Action Network’s strategy is a    blanketed the Seattle area and had global reach      to arrest “ringleaders” on Wednesday were
three waves of blockaders enclosing the WTO          classic example of “netwar” conflict. Netwar is    via the internet. Institutions, such as corporate    fruitless, since leadership was widely shared
conference site. The first wave consisted of         a concept introduced in the early 1990s by two     media, police and the AFL-CIO, tend to depend        throughout the network of protest groups. The
“affinity groups” who had opted for non-violent      researchers at the RAND corporation, a govern-     on narrow communications channels which              communications network was continuously
civil disobedience and arrest. Their job was to      ment-funded think tank which began under the       are highly centralized and hierarchical.             being expanded and modified. On Tuesday,
penetrate the area close to the conference site,     auspices of the U.S. Air Force. In a now-seminal         Networks operate by “swarming” their           police cut off many of the Direct Action Network
seize the dozen strategic intersections which        paper titled “Cyberwar is Coming!”, RAND           opponents like bees or white blood cells—more        communications channels, but in a few hours a
                                                                                                                                                                                                            
new and larger network based on cell phones          or a parade. The police put their money on
was functioning.                                     the parade and lost. The labor parade as the
     The competing strategies of the Direct          dominant factor of the protests was the least
Action Network and the AFL-CIO put the police        likely of all outcomes, but the only one which
in the classically disastrous position of dividing
their forces and inviting defeat in detail. The
                                                     the police had a chance of controlling.
                                                          The current theory of controlling protests            inTelligence failure
AFL-CIO rally and parade was planned in con-         usually revolves around the willingness of pro-
junction with the police. Although it would not      testers to be steered into some venue in which
require much more in the way of security than        the protest can be neutralized, marginalized, and
any other parade, it still demanded adequate         trivialized. When this agreement doesn’t exist,
coverage at the rally and along the parade route.    the older police strategy is to treat a protest as a   Underlying the failure of the police strategy         has had decades of experience being sold down
The security requirements at the WTO confer-         riot—gas, baton charges, assault, and occasion-        for controlling the demonstrations was a              the river by organized labor and has learned that
ence site were subject to considerably more un-      ally arrests. On Tuesday, the first strategy failed    fundamental failure of intelligence. The              lesson well. If there was going to be an alliance
certainty. The DAN organizers had participated       and on Wednesday the second strategy failed.           picture which law enforcement built of the            between protesters and paraders, it was going to
in lengthy negotiations with the police and had                                                             developing protests was a catastrophe of              be on the protesters’ terms or not at all. The city
made their blockade strategy known, at least                                                                wishful thinking, breathing their own exhaust,        officials chose to believe the labor assurances of
in general outline. DAN had repeatedly and                                                                  and the most classic of all blunders—mistaking        controlling the protesters. This led the police
publicly stated that their goal was to “shut down                                                           tactics for strategy. The Seattle police and all      to drastically underestimate the number of
the WTO.” Mayor Schell and Chief Stamper                                                                    of the responsible federal law enforcement            protesters, who were at least as numerous as
were faced with the difficult decision of allo-                                                             agencies had the information necessary to             the paraders. Neither the police nor the unions
cating forces against two different opponents                                                               appraise the situation. What was lacking was          foresaw the Direct Action Network being
using markedly different strategies.                                                                        a comprehensive understanding of the strategy         able to mount a successful protest. Once that
     The ultimate police decision was to rely                                                               of the protests. Without that, all of the pieces of   assumption became the basis for planning, any
on a “tripwire” outer perimeter which would                                                                 the intelligence puzzle were not going to fit into    evidence to the contrary was disregarded or
trigger the arrests at the Convention Center,                                                               an accurate assessment and strategic plan.            misinterpreted.
backed up with an inner perimeter to prevent                                                                     The wishful thinking centered on the                  The intelligence picture was further
the Direct Action Network protesters from                                                                   alliance between the police and the AFL-CIO.          confused by the claims of federal law
entering the WTO conference. Working with                                                                   The plan for the labor parade to engulf the           enforcement officials that the protests would
the labor leaders, the police would use the AFL-                                                            protests and steer them into a marginal venue         be violent. The publicly released text of one FBI
CIO rally as a means of containing the crowds                                                               was never a real possibility. The Direct Action       forecast was replete with hysterical predictions:
and keeping the majority of them away from                                                                  Network and their allies had no intention of          “…elements within the protest community
the Convention Center. Much has been made of                                                                turning the protest organizing over to the            are planning to disrupt the conference…
the decision to rely on a close perimeter defense                                                           unions. On Sunday, November 28, Teamsters             environmental or animal rights extremists or
of the Convention Center, but a larger perimeter                                                            president Hoffa was trumpeting Pat Buchanan           anarchist-induced violence… computer-based
and more police would have simply moved                                                                     as “the only presidential candidate who               attacks on WTO-related web sites, as well as
the line of battle and dispersed the police, as                                                             understands the trade issue.” This was hardly         key corporate and financial sites… Corporate
occurred on Wednesday.                                                                                      the sort of analysis which would convince             sponsors… may be subject to surveillance efforts
     The real question facing the police was                                                                progressive activists to submit to the unions’        from these groups… to identify the residences
whether they would be confronting a protest                                                                 nationalist and protectionist agenda. The Left        of key employees of sponsoring corporations…
30                                                                                                                                                                                                                31
These employees should remain alert for              fantasies of violent terrorists directing the
individuals who may be targeting them in             protests blinded and disabled the police. The
furtherance of anti-WTO activities… Recipients       more inaccurate the assessment of opposing
should remain sensitive to threats made by anti-     forces, the greater the advantage to the side                           corellaTion of forces
WTO groups.”                                         which possesses “topview”—comprehensive                     seizing The ciTy : ProTesTers own The sTreeTs
     Buried within this froth was, “The FBI          and realistic understanding.                        Police go on The offensive : labor’s u-Turn : Pause To regrouP
assesses the potential threat of violence, to
include criminal acts of civil disturbance, as low
to medium for the Seattle area during the time
frame of the WTO Meeting.” Asked by reporters
what “low to medium” meant, FBI spokesman                                                            Correlation of forces                               battle survives contact with the opposition.
Ray Lauer refused to answer, citing the “law-                                                        By Monday evening, November 30, the forces had      This is exactly what happened on the morning
enforcement sensitive” nature of the report                                                          aligned themselves. The Direct Action Network       of November 30, 1999 in Seattle.
and the “controversy concerning planning                                                             planned to shut down the WTO conference by                The Direct Action Network protesters
over WTO.” An anonymous law enforcement                                                              swarming the streets. The AFL-CIO planned to        expected to show up, cross the “tripwires” of the
source cited by the Seattle Times stated that                                                        hold a rally and parade in an effort to influence   flimsy police barriers and be arrested, probably
“low to medium” covered anything from simple                                                         national trade policy—and the upcoming presi-       with a light seasoning of pepper spray. The
civil disobedience to an Oklahoma City-style                                                         dential elections. Police Chief Norm Stamper        police on the streets expected to disperse the
terrorist bombing.                                                                                   had decided the protests could be peacefully        protesters before noon and maybe have a little
     Nowhere in the FBI “Terrorist Threat                                                            controlled by his own forces without outside        tussle doing it. In the meantime, they were going
Advisory” was the slightest inkling of what was                                                      assistance, knowing that the price of assistance    to maintain discipline, show restraint, and “not
going to be happening in the streets beyond                                                          could be the peace. The mayor had decided to        be the spark.” The mayor and the chief of police
                                                                                                     let the AFL-CIO control his actions on Tuesday,     expected a paltry handful of demonstrators to
the fact that the conference was going to be
                                                                                                     hoping against all evidence that the unions         show up downtown and get arrested in a mutual
“disrupted.” The Direct Action Network and
                                                                                                     would swallow and control the protesters. The       display of civility. The AFL-CIO expected to
AFL-CIO plans had been trumpeted loudly,
                                                                                                     Seattle Police Department was tasked with pre-      dominate the media coverage with a colorful
widely, and in considerable detail in the
                                                                                                     venting the protests while allowing the labor       parade from the Seattle Center towards—but
press by the organizers, summing up to non-
                                                                                                     parade. The outside law enforcement agencies        not too close to—downtown. The Black Bloc
violent civil disobedience shutting down the
                                                                                                     were champing at the bit to enter into the fray,    expected to do a little graffiti and smash some
conference and an ineffectual parade designed
                                                                                                     but as long as the SPD maintained order, they       carefully selected windows just as soon as the
to keep protesters away from the Convention
                                                                                                     had to sit on the sidelines. The FBI and Secret     police got too preoccupied with the demonstra-
Center. The city officials at the top elected to
                                                                                                     Service cried doom and gloom—while signing          tors. The FBI, if their “Terrorist Threat Advisory”
pick and choose among information to support
                                                                                                     off on Mayor Schell and Chief Stamper’s plan.       can be believed, were preparing to counter
their plans. The front-line officers did the same,
                                                                                                     The Black Blocs were milling around the edges,      a terrorist onslaught in cyberspace while
if with opposite results. The rumors within the
                                                                                                     fondling their crowbars and dreaming of chaos.      combating terrorist home invasions or kidnap-
police department (fantasy or otherwise) about
                                                                                                     What would happen next was anybody’s guess,         pings. Actually, some of the FBI were dressing
federal expectations of dead and wounded
                                                                                                     but the best guessers would win and the others      up in black protester disguises, complete with
police added to the unreality.
                                                                                                     would lose.                                         masks, and getting ready to join in the street
     Netwar conflicts are struggles for
                                                                                                           It’s a hackneyed truism that no plan of       party with the Black Bloc as close observers.
understanding and information. The FBI
3                                                                                                                                                                                                       33
Seizing the emerald City                             their second wave. Meanwhile, at the Memorial         and visiting government officials, discov-           the ability to move police and delegates through
At 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, Washington State          Stadium at the Seattle Center, the gates were         ered that the streets between the Convention         the streets—had been lost.
Patrol Chief Annette Sandberg had coffee at the      opening for the AFL-CIO rally scheduled to            Center, the adjacent hotels and the Paramount             The divisions between the rival command-
Starbucks near the Convention Center. Nobody         begin at 10 a.m. Chartered busses from around         Theater—a distance of up to five blocks along        ers began to widen as the morning wore on. “This
would be having coffee there that evening, as        the region have been on the road for some time,       some routes—were closed by protesters. “It           was not an integrated command structure,”
it would be smashed and looted. Sandberg saw         carrying a mixture of union members and pro-          hadn’t taken long for things not to be working       King County Sheriff Dave Reichert said. “While
demonstrators moving into strategic positions        testers to Seattle. The AFL-CIO had done a mass       very well.” said Ronald Legan, the special agent     everybody was at the table, it was made clear
before any police had arrived. The converging        mailing throughout Washington State, sending          in charge of the Seattle office of the Secret        that the rest of us were relegated to supporting
columns of the Direct Action Network began to        tasteful green postcards to non-union support-        Service.                                             roles. Seattle was running the show.”
shut down Seattle.                                   ers of a variety of liberal and progressive organi-         Though the police didn’t realize it, the
      The first Direct Action Network “arrest”       zations. “Join the March of the Century,” the         Direct Action Network plan had achieved its          police Go on the Offensive
affinity groups moved in on the strategic in-        cards read. The AFL-CIO strategy of parading          goal. They had blockaded the streets and shut        Shortly after 10 a.m., the Seattle Police Depart-
tersections in the vicinity of the Convention        without protesting dovetailed neatly with the         down the WTO. According to the agreed-upon           ment got their show on the road. The Seattle
Center. Afterwards, these protesters said that       city plans for a minuscule protest and a media-       script, the police would now arrest the protest-     Police began using tear gas to clear the streets.
they were surprised by the absence of any police     genic parade.                                         ers. Unfortunately, the protesters had been so            It’s still not clear if the order was issued
presence on the streets. In many locations, the           As the number of protesters increased,           successful at blockading the area around the         by Assistant Chief Ed Joiner—Chief Stamper
“arrest” groups arrived earlier than the “non-       the 400 police remained in their lines around         convention center that police couldn’t move. It      had delegated control of the WTO operation
arrest” groups which were supposed to protect        the Convention Center or at their positions at        makes no sense to arrest someone if you can’t        to him and did not arrive at the commanders’
them from removal by the police. The news            the Memorial Stadium. The slow infiltration of        remove them from the area. The next phase of         meeting until late that afternoon—or if was a
photographs of these initial “lock-down” groups      demonstrators made it difficult for the police        the protest plan was to hang on to the streets       spontaneous decision made by officers in the
have a surrealistic air to them. In the empty        to gauge the intentions of the crowd. Though          as long as possible. Since the police remained       street. The use of gas may have been an effort
streets after dawn, groups of protesters lock        the police didn’t realize it, the Direct Action       stationary for the most part, other than slowly      to open a pathway into the protest area from
themselves together with bicycle locks or tubes      Network had already swarmed them and now              moving single vehicles through the crowds,           outside, as the gas was fired at on Sixth Avenue,
covering their linked arms to prevent police         shifting to a defensive strategy of holding on to     there was little for the protesters to do but        between University and Union Streets. This is
from removing them individually.                     the streets that they now controlled. The flimsy      enjoy themselves with chants, singing, and           the extreme southern end of the triangular area
      King County Sheriff Dave Reichert says         rope and netting barriers, the “tripwire” at the      drumming. The overall mood was festive rather        blockaded by the Direct Action Network. The
he got a telephone call at 8 a.m. from a county      Paramount Theatre, went down as protesters            than hostile. The protesters had won, though it      Seattle Times said “police used gas to disperse
detective. “He said, ‘Sheriff, we’re trapped…        walked towards the line of city busses next to        was too early for anyone to know that for sure.      demonstrators massing.” Police officials later
We have no backup,’” Reichert claimed. “I had        the theater. The busses were a second line of         Until several hours after dark, the Direct Action    explained that the gas was an attempt to expand
officers barricaded in the hotel with a mob          defense, separating the police from the crowd.        Network would control all movement in the            and re-connect their now isolated perimeters
literally pounding on the glass, and there was                                                             triangle of streets under blockade.                  inside the crowds. None of these explanations
nobody to help them. Nobody.” Reichert wasn’t        protesters Own the Streets                                  Strategic surprise doesn’t occur in the        makes much sense.
on the scene, but already he was seeing “mobs.”      By 9:10 a.m., “crowd-control efforts were en-         field so much as in the mind of the opponent.             The events surrounding the decision to use
KIRO-7 television crews were at the same             countering difficulty,” according to Washington       The longer it’s delayed, the more complete its       gas continue to be cloaked in confusion and con-
location and show lines of grinning demonstra-       State Patrol Chief Sandberg. She placed troopers      effects. In the case of Mayor Schell, the surprise   troversy. Later claims that the police resorted to
tors holding hands and blocking the street—no        throughout Western Washington on alert. The           and disbelief would dominate his actions until       gas in response to widespread violent attacks
“mob literally pounding on the glass.”               day was barely started and the police plan was        late afternoon. By 9:30 a.m., the police command     and vandalism are now known to be absolutely
      By 8 a.m., most of the key intersections had   already beginning to break down. The Secret           post was being inundated by reports from the         untrue. The counter-claims that police were
been seized by the protesters, now reinforced by     Service, responsible for the security of federal      streets that control of the situation—meaning        unprovoked and that the crowds were non-
3                                                                                                                                                                                                              3
confrontational are equally untrue. The more          who saw their main mission as the protection of      Society’s WTO action coordinator, his organiza-       Meanwhile, back at the police command center,
aggressive demonstrators had moved towards            these groups. The crowds were now frightened         tion and other protest groups that formed the         Assistant Chief Ed Joiner was turning down
the police positions and videotapes clearly           and angry, but determined to maintain control        Direct Action Network used the Nextel system          demands from his field commanders to declare
show that there was no buffer space between           of the streets.                                      to create a cellular grid over the city. They broke   a state of civil emergency which would cancel
the opposing sides in many areas. One segment              The overall strategic situation remained        into talk groups of eight people each. One of         the parade.
aired on KIRO TV shows members of the Black           unchanged, despite the tactical chaos. The           the eight overlapped with another talk group,               Joiner said he overruled a recommendation
Bloc confronting police and being extremely           protesters numbers were sufficient to keep the       helping to quickly communicate through the            by Assistant Chief John Pirak to declare a state
provocative, but not attacking anyone or com-         blockade intact, though it was now a blockade        ranks.                                                of emergency Tuesday about 11 a.m. The veto,
mitting vandalism. The police view of the             of continuous movement. The police remained               In addition to the organizers’ all-points        Joiner said, was made in consideration of plans
crowd was framed by these more aggressive             isolated inside the protest area without an open     network, protest communications were                  for the AFL-CIO march towards downtown. “I
demonstrators, while the vast majority of the         avenue to the outside through which arrestees        leavened with individual protesters using cell        felt declaring a state of emergency at that time,
crowd was unable to see the police and was in a       could be removed. Both sides remained under          phones, direct transmissions from roving in-          before the march ever got under way, was going
giddy, triumphant mood.                               the overall command of their respective strat-       dependent media feeding directly onto the             to send a very strong public message that we
     After the first canisters were fired, the use    egies, regardless of the excitement. The area        internet, personal computers with wireless            already had major difficulties as a city,” Joiner
of tear gas and pepper spray spread rapidly           involved in the disorder—as it clearly was after     modems broadcasting live video, and a variety         said.
throughout the protest area.                          an hour of tear gas and chaos—spread down            of other networked communications. Floating                 Joiner’s statement underscores the wide-
     With the release of the gas, mood in the         Pike and Pine Streets. The protests remained         above the tear gas was a pulsing infosphere of        spread fantasy on the part of city officials that
streets rapidly changed. The police were suc-         centered on the Convention Center. Although          enormous bandwidth, reaching around the               the uproar which followed the 10 a.m. deploy-
cessful in advancing against the crowd. There         the crowds expanded into the surrounding             planet via the internet.                              ment of tear gas was somehow a secret which
were no instances where police charges were           blocks under the police attacks, they kept                                                                 they could keep. This air of unreality was dem-
repulsed, or where the crowds counter-attacked        surging back to protect the “lock-down” affinity     labor’s u-turn                                        onstrated by Seattle’s KOMO TV, which tried to
and cut off police. One major effort to re-open       groups holding the key intersections.                By 11 a.m., the rally at Memorial Stadium had         implement a censorship policy by not covering
the street connecting the Paramount Theatre to             The cohesion of the Direct Action Network       been under way for an hour. Roughly 20,000            the news as it unfolded in the streets. KOMO
the hotels moved the crowds back until running        was partly due to their improvised communi-          people half-filled the stadium. The union             has received richly deserved ridicule for their
out of steam. In short, the police tactics were of    cations network assembled out of cell phones,        numbers were swelled by the anti-WTO organi-          censorship of “illegal demonstrations,” but the
limited success and ineffective.                      radios, police scanners, and portable computers.     zations that had accepted the labor invitation to     attitude was not theirs alone. Anyone with an
     The net effect of the use of gas and the         Protesters in the street with wireless Palm Pilots   protest the WTO. These groups were a mixture          internet connection could plug into live video
police charges was to cause the crowds to surge       were able to link into continuously updated          of environmental, social justice, and human           and audio feeds from the street battles from
from one point to another without allowing            web pages giving reports from the streets. Police    rights groups. Over the next two hours, the           the alternative media. The commercial media
police to gain control of the streets. In the midst   scanners monitored transmissions and provided        joint planning by the labor leaders and police        struggled to keep up, but was continuously
of the melee, the “lock-down” affinity groups         some warning of changing police tactics. Cell        to break the DAN blockade would irretrievably         hampered by their inability to understand what
remained in place, blocking intersections and         phones were widely used.                             split the brief alliance between labor and the        was going on. Editorial attempts to reframe the
anchoring the protest to the area around the               Kelly Quirke, Executive Director of the         progressive left.                                     protests as illegitimate and marginal confused
convention center. Police gassed and pepper-          Rainforest Action Network, reports that early             The disorder spreading through the streets       the issue further.
sprayed the immobile groups, but could not            Tuesday, “the authorities had successfully           downtown was instantly communicated to the                  The whereabouts and activities of Mayor
arrest them and remove them from the area due         squashed DAN’s communications system.”               crowd at the rally through cell phones, radios,       Schell and Chief Stamper during this period
to the continued blockade. These tactics were         The solution to the infrastructure attack was        and the rest of the infosphere. Behind the scenes,    remain somewhat mysterious. Given the intense
both ineffective in getting the blockaders to         quickly resolved by purchasing new Nextel cell       furious activity was taking place to prevent the      concern centering on the AFL-CIO parade on the
move and successful in infuriating the crowds         phones. According to Han Shan, the Ruckus            parade from being canceled by city authorities.       part of law enforcement officials, it is a reason-
3                                                                                                                                                                                                               3
able guess that much of the mayor and chief’s         strategy, he said, was for the peaceful march to   Center—due to both political and logistical          carried several blocks beyond the parade’s pivot
time between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. was devoted to        sweep the other demonstrators into its ranks       reasons. If the police tried and failed to prevent   at 5th and Pike. Gaard and her friends found
negotiations with the labor leaders.                  and deposit them several blocks away.              the march, things would clearly take a turn for      themselves at 6th and Pike, one of the most
      The final decision was to allow the AFL-CIO           The march was supposed to wheel away         the worse. Third, if the parade was canceled,        fiercely contested intersections of the battle, but
parade from the Seattle Center to downtown.           from the Washington State Convention and           the AFL-CIO would be denied any credit for the       temporarily an island of relative calm due to the
This sealed the fate of the street actions as a       Trade Center at Fourth Avenue and Pine Street      outcome of the protests. Finally, whoever was        absence of police. Behind them, the labor parade
victory for the Direct Action Network. If the         [several blocks from the Convention Center]        going to be gassed or pepper-sprayed in Seattle,     moved away from downtown and back towards
march had been canceled and the additional            and turn north and west toward a “dispersal        it wasn’t going to be the labor leaders.             the Seattle Center, unmolested by police.
protesters had been prevented from joining in         point” near Republican Avenue [back near the             Greta Gaard had ridden to the rally on a             Though Gaard didn’t know it, the unsuc-
the chaos downtown, the city stood a better           Memorial Stadium]. The police intended to          labor bus from Bellingham, one hundred miles         cessful police push was timed to herd people
chance of restoring order. Instead, the strategy of   move in behind the demonstrators and expand        to the north of Seattle. She reports in Belling-     into the parade. However, as had been the case
using the AFL-CIO to contain and neutralize the       the perimeter around the hotels and conven-        ham’s Every Other Weekly that the “rainbow           all day, the size of the crowds blocked movement
Direct Action Network protests was drastically        tion center.                                       flag” (non-union) participants at the rally          and the police ceased advancing when the now-
modified. The city’s capitulation to the protests           Instead, thousands of the demonstrators      decided around noon that they were going             expanded and enlarged crowd could not fall back
was underscored at 1 p.m. by the announce-            turned into town and chaos ensued.                 to leave the stadium and march downtown.             any further. As shown by Gaard’s relatively easy
ment from the WTO that it was canceling the                 “I still believe we could have controlled    The word of the street battles had reached the       progress to within a block of the Convention
opening ceremonies.                                   what we were dealing with at that time had the     stadium only minutes after the first gas was         Center, the reinforcements strengthened the
      The decision by Mayor Schell and Chief          march turned,” Joiner said. “It was not going to   released at 10 a.m.. It took an hour before the      moving blockade ringing the WTO conference.
Stamper to allow the march was so bizarre that        be clean. It would have been messy. But I think    crowd was lined up in the streets, chanting “We            The AFL-CIO parade delivered crucial
it is worth quoting the December 16 story by          we would have been able to open a corridor to      want to march!” The walk towards downtown            reinforcements to the protesters instead of
Seattle Times reporters Mike Carter and David         get delegates in and out.”                         was oddly quiet. “There were no police, media,       sweeping them out of downtown. As marchers
Postman:                                                    In other words, the Direct Action Network    or crowd-watchers in sight,” wrote Gaard. “Then      left the parade, this completely crushed any
      About 11 a.m., SPD Assistant Chief              protesters were expected to abandon the streets    the answer hit me: we weren’t a threat.”             police fantasies that the demonstrators would
Pirak—watching events unfold from the city’s          and leave downtown when they saw their re-               A sheet-metal union member, Mike               abandon the downtown and return control of
emergency operation center—called Joiner at           inforcements arrive. Assistant Chief Joiner’s      Ottoloino, got into a confrontation with the         the streets to the police.
the MACC [Multi-Agency Command Center]                explanation is simply not credible, as the         AFL-CIO marshals, saying, “This isn’t a march,
and “asked whether we wanted to ask the mayor         WTO ceremonies had been canceled before the        this is a parade!”                                   pause to regroup
if we wanted to declare a state of emergency,”        parade began. Whatever the level of chaos and            As the parade arrived at 5th Avenue and        The police plan to reorganize for an attempt to
Joiner said.                                          unreality at the command center, it is unlikely    Pike Street, AFL-CIO marshals began blocking         force the Direct Action Network protesters out
      Despite the fact “we were getting hit with      that anyone thought a column of twenty             progress towards the convention center, saying       of the downtown area and into the AFL-CIO
much larger numbers of protesters than we had         thousand people would march downtown and           “The route has been changed. Circle around           parade set in motion several different actions
anticipated,” Joiner refused.                         then “sweep the other demonstrators into its       here.” Police were massing several blocks away,      which had a dramatic effect on perceptions of
      Instead, he opted to let the AFL-CIO march      ranks.”                                            but were not visible to the people arriving from     the Battle in Seattle. In order to understand how
proceed, a move that aimed as many as 20,000                Several factors affected the decision to     the Seattle Center. Gaard and several thousand       these actions converged it is necessary to step
more people toward downtown as skirmishes             allow the AFL-CIO parade to proceed. First of      others turned away from the march, just in time      back in time to around noon, when Assistant
between police, demonstrators and anarchist           all, the police were running short of tear gas     to run into the renewed police push to move          Chief Joiner was turning down requests to
vandals were escalating.                              and needed time to obtain new supplies and         people away from the convention center. The          declare a civil emergency and cancel the AFL-
      Joiner believed the march would actually        deliver them downtown. Second, they were           momentum of the thousands leaving the march          CIO parade.
work in favor of his stretched police lines. The      not prepared to arrest marchers at the Seattle     and moving towards the Convention Center                  The repeated attempts by police to establish
3                                                                                                                                                                                                             3
a perimeter connecting the hotels, the Conven-           up the National Guard. An hour earlier, State        own hands” to obtain new supplies of gas and
tion Center and the Paramount Theatre were               Patrol Chief Annette Sandberg had ordered            pepper spray. Later reports suggest that the
blocked all day by the size of the protest. The          State Patrol troopers in Eastern Washington on       new supplies were part of Joiner’s “messy” post-
police command retained strategic cohesion,              higher alert and dispatched a 22-member Civil        parade attack plans.
despite the discord at the top and the chaos in          Disturbance Team from Spokane to drive the                 Things quieted down while the police
the streets. Tactical orders from the command            400 miles to Seattle. Traveling at top speed, they   organized new supplies of gas and pepper spray.
continued to be executed by the officers in the          would not arrive before dark.                        Officers sped to Auburn, Renton, and Tukwila
front line—they charged when ordered and                       Shortly after Locke set the National Guard     police departments, as well as the King County
reformed after each charge. Much attention               in motion, his office in Olympia received a          Jail and Department of Corrections, emptying
has been given to excessive violence by officers,        telephone call from a furious Secretary of State     munitions stores and ferrying the supplies back
including repeated attacks on reporters. These           Madeline Albright. Albright demanded the             to downtown. Other officers bought additional
incidents were relatively commonplace, but               Governor immediately take action to release          chemical agents from a local law enforcement
did not involve loss of control by the upper             her from her hotel where she was trapped by          supply business. Meanwhile, a police captain
command. Seattle political researcher Dan Junas          the demonstrators. The Governor would later          flew to Casper, Wyoming to pick up a large
cites the police ability to regulate the tempo of        get strong pressure from Attorney General Janet      quantity of gas, “stinger shells,” and other para-
the street battles as strong evidence that the           Reno to crack down on the protests.                  phernalia from Defense Technology Corp., a sub-
political leadership remained in control. “As the              Governor Locke was able to claim that he       sidiary of Armor Holdings. The locally-obtained
labor marchers approached, the police got off            was taking action—preparing to call up the           gas and pepper spray were driven as close to the
the gas,” said Junas.                                    National Guard, moving State Patrol troops over      street action as possible. The munitions were
     From about noon on, the Multi-Agency                long distances, and pressuring Mayor Schell          transferred into gym bags and knapsacks which
Command Center in the Public Safety Building             to declare a civil emergency—but all of these        were then run through the streets by plain-
began filling with top-ranking officials from            things would take time. What he did not do was       clothes detectives.
government and law enforcement. Federal                  accept full responsibility and declare a state of          Other preparations did not go as well as the
officials were speaking loudly about the conse-          emergency. That was reserved for Mayor Schell.       deliveries of tear gas and pepper spray. The dec-
quences of not regaining control of the streets.         Locke’s staff counsel, Everett Billingslea, began    laration of civil emergency was delayed until
State Patrol Chief Annette Sandberg described            compiling a chronology of the Governor’s             3:24 p.m., preventing police reinforcements
the federal officials as in a “kind of panicky           actions for the now-inevitable inquest.              from other law enforcement agencies and the
mode.”                                                         SPD Assistant Chief Joiner prepared more       National Guard from being legally deployed
     The decision—never seriously questioned             immediate action. The police attacks on the pro-     until long after the AFL-CIO march had
by those in charge—to guarantee the AFL-CIO              testers reached a peak shortly before the parade     withdrawn. Assistant Chief Ed Joiner’s “messy”
parade took place had several requirements               departed from the Seattle Center. According to       plan was also thwarted by the flat refusal of the
attached to it. First of all, the declaration of civil   police sources, nearly all of the available tear     Seattle Fire Department to turn fire hoses on
emergency was already in motion. There wasn’t            gas was expended before the parade approached        demonstrators, a detail which was not reported
really a question of whether it was going to             downtown. In the preparations for the protest,       in the press until long after the protests were
happen, but only if the crackdown would catch            Mayor Schell and Chief Stamper had laid in           over.
the AFL-CIO parade before it withdrew from               stocks of about $20,000 worth of gas. This was
downtown.                                                one-fifth the amount recommended by federal
     At 12:45 p.m., Governor Gary Locke author-          officials. According to the Seattle Post-Intelli-
ized his chief of staff to begin preparing to call       gencer, police officers “took matters into their
0                                                                                                                                                                 1
                                                                                                        of the Black Bloc only at the beginning and end.    which dominates the picture, are “tagging” sig-
                                                                                                        The majority of the vandalism occurred around       natures, the incomprehensible glyphs common
                                                                                                        4th and Pike, a corner that the Black Bloc          throughout urban areas. The other photo shows
                                                                                                        avoided while being videotaped by KIRO TV. It       two teenagers and the right foot of a third, as
                 The black bloc : declaraTion of emergency                                              is possible that the TV news crews missed the       one breaks off the “T” in the Nike Town sign.
                           baTTle resumes : afTer                                                       early stages of the vandalism and erroneously       None of the teenagers are masked and all three
                                                                                                        reported the vandalism as beginning later than      wear light-colored clothing.
                                                                                                        was actually the case. The discrepancy between            The Black Bloc engaged in property de-
                                                                                                        reports is partly due to the chaos which gripped    struction numbered no more than thirty to forty
                                                                                                        the downtown, but is also due to the fact that      people, all dressed similarly in black and hooded
The Black Bloc                                     closely monitored by the police and FBI since        large numbers of teenagers who were not part        or masked to prevent their identification. They
While the police were regrouping and preparing     the preceding day. Early Tuesday morning, the        of the Black Bloc took advantage of the situation   moved at a brisk pace, occasionally stopping in
to force the Direct Action Network protesters to   FBI had briefed Seattle Police on the Black Bloc’s   and likewise engaged in vandalism.                  small groups to break windows or spray-paint
join the AFL-CIO parade, several groups took       whereabouts and activities. The close observa-            It was this second group, estimated to         anarchist and anti-corporate slogans. Early in
advantage of the lull in the battle. They’ve all   tion of the Black Bloc included undercover FBI       number at least one hundred or more, who            the raid, they twice attacked KIRO TV news
been lumped together into a nameless anarchist     agents dressed to blend in with the anarchists,      engaged in looting some of the broken store         crews, spraying the camera lenses with paint
horde, but the fact remains there were two         right down to wearing masks to hide their faces.     windows, as well as occupying the awning            to stop the crews from taking pictures. After
distinct groups acting out different agendas,      Also present in the streets were members of          over the Nike store. In addition to the damage      these attacks, news crews withdrew half a block
not one “organized” anarchist conspiracy as the    the Army’s Delta Force, a paramilitary counter-      to commercial property, police cars and limou-      to avoid further attacks. The Black Bloc main-
myth would have it.                                terrorist group, also dressed to blend in with the   sines were vandalized with spray paint and by       tained cohesion and moved along their route
      At approximately 1 p.m., the police tempo-   protesters.                                          having their tires slashed.                         in a determined manner, several times scuffling
rarily stopped trying to push corridors through         According to KIRO TV, The Black Bloc                 Jeff Boscole, an eyewitness who was on         with the non-violent protesters from the Direct
the protest area. The “Black Bloc” anarchists      rampage started on 6th Avenue between Pine           Sixth Avenue, described how the two groups          Action Network. A handful of plainclothes
had entered into an understanding with the         Street and Olive Way. Vandals smashed the            could be distinguished by their dress and the       police and FBI shadowed the group, reporting
Direct Action Network that they would refrain      windows of a Starbucks coffee shop in the            different slogans which they spray-painted on       their movements. Police made no effort to halt
from vandalism at least as long as the protests    middle of the block, then moved north towards        buildings and windows. According to Boscole,        the vandalism, but in several instances Direct
remained peaceful. This is another way of          Olive Way. Turning west on Olive Way, they           the Black Bloc graffiti consisted of legible        Action Network protesters stopped or interfered
saying that they were loosely following the lead   attacked the SeaFirst bank, then turned south        political slogans, while the “wilding teenagers”    with members of the Black Bloc, while others
of the DAN organizers. How loosely is shown by     on 5th Avenue. Two or three stores along this        were “tagging” with illegible individualized        chanted “no violence” to little avail.
the fact the Black Bloc arrived downtown armed     block were vandalized. Emerging onto Pine            symbols which were not slogans.                           One anarchist described the action in the
with hammers, crowbars, spray paint, M-80          Street, the Black Bloc turned again, moving west          Three of the “wilding teenagers” are clearly   following terms: “When the large-scale window
firecrackers, and paint bombs. Their goal was a    and attacking three or four more stores in the       shown in two photographs published in the           breaking began it was quite awe-inspiring. All
“propaganda of the deed” centering around van-     next two blocks. Reaching Third Avenue, the          December 1 Seattle Times. One picture shows a       of a sudden people we were walking with pulled
dalizing chosen stores—Nike, Starbucks, the        Black Bloc turned south and dispersed.               lone teenager, standing on a deserted sidewalk      out all sorts of tools: nail pullers, hammers,
Gap, Old Navy and others—which they saw as              The Seattle Times reported that the             and reaching through a broken window. Under         crowbars. They then proceeded to very quickly
fitting targets.                                   vandalism centered mainly along Pike Street,         one arm, he is holding a skateboard. The            knock windows out of every bank, upper class,
      The Black Bloc were simply biding their      between Third and Sixth Avenue. A map                windows and front of the store are defaced with     or multi-national clothing store. I even saw
time and waiting for an opportunity to vandalize   showing the location of vandalized and looted        graffiti, some of which are anarchist slogans       a woman smashing an ATM machine with a
these stores and then get away. They had been      stores published in the Times overlaps the route     and others, particularly the one center-left        sledge hammer. I was afraid at any moment a
                                                                                                                                                                                                         3
police tactical team would break through the        area looked like the three blocks in which the        meeting until Thursday, by which time the           The mayor immediately agreed and authorized
crowd and violently assault the Black Bloc.”        vandalism occurred.                                   street protests had ceased to disrupt the city      [the emergency declaration],” said Joiner. “There
      This same source was very clear that the            Later, news reports echoed police claims        and protest marches were being escorted by          was never any hesitation.” The period between
“Anarchists from Eugene” were only one faction      that the tear gas and subsequent disorder             police instead of being attacked by them. Even      the mayor’s arrival at the MACC and issuing the
among the Black Blocs: “While I know they were      followed, rather than preceded, the Black Bloc        so, the council meeting was canceled because        proclamation of civil emergency was less than
there, the black bloc had a few hundred people      attack. The “Anarchists from Eugene” became a         of “security” concerns. The press reports are       half an hour. At 3:24 p.m., the mayor issued the
in it. I know there were people there from all      convenient, if totally misleading, media hook         not clear, but suggest that the council never       emergency declaration.
over the country. The Eugene people have just       on which to hang the distinction between the          ratified the emergency ordinance before it was            What the declaration of civil emergency
been very open about violent demo tactics.          “peaceful parade” and the “violent protests.” In      rescinded by the mayor.                             meant became a source of constant confusion
The 60 Minutes episode really does disfavor to      fact, the media’s distinction between the two               Mayor Schell spent most of the day at the     during the period it was in effect. The mayor
revolutionary anarchism, in that it portrays all    hinged entirely on whom the police attacked,          WTO conference site, waiting for the opening        banned the possession of gas masks, but it
anarchists through the eyes and mouths of the       not who attacked the police.                          ceremonies to begin. He did not arrive at the       continues to be unclear what law was violated
primitivists—who in my mind make up a small                                                               Multi-Agency Command Center in the Public           by their possession. The “no protest” zone
minority of anarchist activists. The primitivists   Declaration of emergency                              Safety Building until about 3 p.m., two hours       was open to some people and closed to others.
put anti-technology and environmentalism at         Before noon, security officials had been re-          after the ceremonies had been canceled.             Police took to enforcing an informal dress code,
the forefront of their politics, and downplay, in   questing the mayor issue a declaration of civil             Beginning around 1 p.m., Governor Gary        arresting people based on their appearance. In
my opinion, the real social and class struggle      emergency. Seattle’s civil emergency ordinance,       Locke had set in motion a series of unilateral      one case, an arrest was made for possession of an
that has to take place.”                            officially titled Seattle Municipal Code 10.02,       actions including starting the call-up of the       anti-WTO button. Conflicting statements were
      Much has been made of the connection          dates from 1973, when it was passed in response       National Guard and authorizing the movement         made by police officials about what was or was
between the Black Bloc and Eugene, Oregon. Of       to Viet Nam war protests. After the Gulf War          of Washington State Patrol units from around        not allowed in the downtown area. Protesters
the eleven people charged with felony crimes in     protests in 1992, some sections were revised. It      the state to Seattle. He arrived at the MACC        had signs taken away from them in areas outside
connection with the protests, only one is from      is a sweepingly broad ordinance, which author-        at 2:50 p.m., about ten minutes ahead of the        the “no protest” zone, but were not arrested.
Eugene. Five are from Seattle, one from Olympia,    izes “extraordinary measures,” including decla-       mayor. “Almost immediately upon arriving at         Others were arrested both inside and outside the
Washington, one from Portland, Oregon, one          ration of curfew, commandeering of property,          the command center, there was no doubt in my        zone. On Wednesday afternoon, the governor
from Maryland, and two places of residence are      closure of businesses, prohibition of alcoholic       mind that we needed to call up the National         made a statement on television that order had
not reported. All of the five people charged with   beverages, bans on the carrying or posses-            Guard,” Locke said.                                 been restored to downtown and invited people
looting are from Seattle.                           sion of firearms, and “any other measures” the              Upon Schell’s arrival, officials from the     to come shopping, implying that the downtown
      The vandalism and looting occurred in         mayor deems necessary. Under the ordinance,           SPD, Secret Service, FBI, State Patrol, Depart-     was open and the curfew was lifted. Wednesday
the area evacuated by police to create a buffer     the mayor may issue orders “requesting federal        ment of Justice, State Department, King County,     night, residents of Capitol Hill were arrested on
zone between the Direct Action Network pro-         and/or state assistance in combating such civil       the governor’s office, and the White House          their doorsteps when they asked police what
testers and the AFL-CIO parade. The center of       emergency” and “closing to the public any or          moved into a back room and engaged in a heated      was going on. The ACLU went to federal court
the vandalized area coincides with the turning      all public places including streets, alleys, public   discussion. While the argument continued, U.S.      and was turned down on the first of several legal
point of the parade, the corner of 5th and Pike.    ways, schools, parks, beaches, amusement areas,       Attorney General Janet Reno called the governor     challenges to the emergency ordinance.
As the parade entered downtown, the protest-        and public buildings.”                                and insisted that the National Guard be called
ers who left the march for the street protest             The power of declaring a civil emergency        up.                                                 Battle resumes
were immediately confronted by the results of       rests entirely with the mayor. The City Council             After speaking with Reno, Locke met with      By 3 p.m., the belated attempt by police to push
anarchist property destruction. This led some       is directed to meet at the “earliest practicable      the mayor. Schell then spoke with Assistant         the protesters away from the triangle of key in-
of the participants in the parade who joined the    time” for “ratification and confirmation, modi-       Police Chiefs Joiner and Pirak. “By that time, we   tersections surrounding the Convention Center
protests downtown to assume that the entire         fication, or rejection.” The council avoided          had a chance to look at what was happening.         was in full motion. The Direct Action Network
                                                                                                                                                                                                           
blockade was still intact, immobilizing the           projectiles, and accompanied in some instances        window, enabling others to enter and destroy          After
police and preventing movement through the            by vehicles. The police did not maintain close        the inside of the Starbucks,” according to a          With the departure of the AFL-CIO parade par-
strategic triangle northeast of the AFL-CIO           contact with the crowds and followed—not              police report. “Babcock entered the store and         ticipants, the Direct Action Network assumed
parade route and the downtown shopping                drove—them into Capitol Hill. The turning             was arrested as he emerged from the crowd             total control of the protests in Seattle. With their
district. As a result, most of the police action      movement of the police—from a northern                carrying several bags of coffee from the display      one brief appearance, the Black Bloc presence
took place south and west of the Convention           push to an eastern one—was not according to           inside of the store,” the report said. The criminal   in the streets subsided. The media, however,
Center. Starting from the south along Union           the plan outlined by Assistant Chief Ed Joiner.       complaint against Babcock states that he handed       directed considerable attention to the Eugene
and University Streets, the police moved north        According to political researcher Daniel Junas,       a one-pound bag of coffee to a police detective       contingent. The media coup for the Black Bloc
along Third to Seventh Avenue to sweep the            the Direct Action Network overheard police            outside the store. Of the four people arrested        created an unprecedented amount of attention
demonstrators north into the route along which        radio messages in which units in the East             at the coffee shop and charged with felonies,         for the philosophy of “autonomist” anarchism.
the parade had retreated.                             Precinct on Capitol Hill frantically demanded         none were “Anarchists from Eugene.” One was                 The Direct Action Network strategy of
     The police sweep northwards compressed           that the police downtown cease pushing dem-           from Seattle, two appeared to be from Portland        non-violent civil disobedience clearly had
the crowds into the east-west corridor running        onstrators up the hill. The central command           (although they gave the address of a Seattle          succeeded against the AFL-CIO’s strategy of
along Pike and Pine Streets. Here, the police         replied that they were pushing the crowds north       homeless shelter), and Babcock’s residence was        controlling and marginalizing protests in favor
again stalled against the large size of the crowds.   (i.e., along the route of the AFL-CIO retreat from    not disclosed in news reports.                        of a symbolic parade, the attempts of the Seattle
The compression halted the police movement            downtown), not east.                                       The process of the protesters’ withdrawal        police to clear the streets with tear gas, and
for several hours, as dumpsters which had been               The loose contact between police and           from downtown coincided with the arrival of           the media effort to frame the issue in terms of
pushed into the streets to block the center of        demonstrators permitted the last act of serious       additional police reinforcements, the declara-        “violent protesters.” The DAN plan remained
intersections began to burn. These bonfires           vandalism of the day. Police were not con-            tion of a 7 p.m. curfew, and the fall of darkness.    one of direct action by civil disobedience and
slowly spread in an irregular way as the crowds       trolling the intersection at Sixth Avenue and         The WTO had announced the cancellation of             deep, multi-layered support for autonomous
withdrew west, not north as the police wished,        Stewart Street, near the Westin Hotel. Protest-       activities around 1 p.m., although word of the        affinity groups. The DAN strategy to emphasize
and moved up into Capitol Hill in the early           ers had built a bonfire in the center of the inter-   cancellation did not become widespread until          the failure of the WTO to allow democratic par-
evening.                                              section. At approximately 7:15 p.m., a group of       late afternoon. Based on the videos and photo-        ticipation in international trade discussions
     The Mayor’s declaration of civil emergency       vandals smashed the window of the Starbucks           graphs of the move up Pine Street, the protest-       would now be tested against the hard-line strat-
at 3:25 p.m. set in motion the reinforcements         coffee shop. This was the same coffee shop from       ers appear to have decided to leave downtown          egies advocated by federal security officials.
from the King County Sheriff’s Department, the        which Washington State Patrol Chief Annette           and were followed, not “swept,” by police. The              Mayor Paul Schell’s declaration of civil
Washington State Patrol, and local police de-         Sandberg saw the Direct Action Network                police decision to follow up the hill, firing tear    emergency dramatically altered the police
partments from surrounding cities and towns.          affinity groups at 5:30 a.m., as they moved into      gas and rubber bullets, is inexplicable in terms      strategy for suppressing the protests. As the
The arrival of the reinforcements in the streets      position and seized the strategic intersections       of clearing downtown. Of all the police actions       hard-liners inside and outside the Seattle Police
occurred relatively slowly over the next three        surrounding the WTO conference site. Events           during Tuesday, only the initial deployment of        Department had wished, law enforcement
hours, impeded by the discord which dominated         had come full circle.                                 tear gas at 6th and University and the pursuit up     was now “prepared.” For the entire month of
the relations between the Seattle Police and the             As in the morning, the police presence         Capitol Hill suggest a breakdown in command.          December, the wail went up from law enforce-
King County Sheriff Dave Reichert.                    was not visible to the protesters, although the       The police decision not to disengage continued        ment “we weren’t prepared.” On Wednesday,
     By 5:30 p.m., the police lines—now               evening response was quicker. Prosecutors             the disturbance late into the night. The clashes      the police were prepared with more troops,
increased by the arrival of Sheriff’s deputies—       alleged that Danny Babcock and an uniden-             with police at the top of Capitol Hill were           more gas, more barricades, a declaration of civil
had reached the corner of Fourth and Pike. The        tified accomplice took a USA Today vending            simply echoes of the earlier police defeat in the     emergency complete with a “no protest zone”
protesters began withdrawing west along Pike          machine and hurled it through a window of             day-long “Battle in Seattle.”                         enclosing downtown, a curfew, and the suspen-
and Pine Streets, towards Capitol Hill, followed      the Starbucks store. “Defendant Babcock then                                                                sion of civil liberties. The AFL-CIO parade was
by police firing tear gas and rubber and wooden       kicked and pulled away the glass from the                                                                   over and done with and the “day-trip” protesters
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
who rode to town on union busses were gone.
The conditions on Wednesday were far more
favorable to the police than anything which
could possibly have been arranged on Tuesday.
     Assistant Chief Ed Joiner said Seattle police             mass arresTs a day laTe : PresidenTial aPPearance
and their law enforcement partners initially              PosT-PresidenTial disorder : sTreeT baTTles for The hell of iT
looked hard at a plan based on preparations for
the NATO conference in Washington, D.C. This
plan was similar to the strategy which was put
in place after the declaration of civil emergency:
“We considered it and basically rejected it as        Mass Arrests A Day late                            apparent that Westlake Center, rather than
something that, in a perfect world, we’d like         At 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, the police      the WTO conference location, was the focus
to do, but in a real world is a less viable option.   began mass arrests. Direct Action Network          of Wednesday’s blockade. The Direct Action
Can you imagine me going to the mayor and the         protesters began assembling at a few locations     Network had correctly identified the shopping
governor, before the conference even happened,        and others made their way into the downtown        and business district as being the vulner-
and saying ‘I need to create this security            core. Some of the arrests occurred at Denny        able point in the new police strategy. By 9 a.m.
perimeter from Seneca to Lenora Streets, from         Park, well to the north of the downtown. Police    Westlake Center was clogged by a peaceful sit-
Fourth Avenue to the freeway, and I need to           handcuffed some demonstrators and put them         down protest as protesters patiently waited for
shut all the businesses down for five days the        on city busses which moved the arrestees to the    police to arrest them. The crowds, consisting
week after Thanksgiving?’ Can you imagine the         temporary jail at the former Sand Point Naval      of demonstrators waiting to join the sit in and
kind of response I’d get, besides them asking me      Air Station. Other demonstrators had their signs   spectators from business district, continued to
for my resignation then?”                             taken away from them, but were not arrested.       swell. As one protester was arrested more would
     “It was impossible,” Joiner said. “Politically   These proceeded downtown.                          leave the crowd and sit down. Once again, the
it was impossible. The damage to the downtown              According to Kelly Quirke, Executive          netwar tactic of “swarming” the target by
business core would have been substantial.”           Director of the Rainforest Action Network, the     stealthy approach succeeded.
     Once again, the Direct Action Network            police mass arrest strategy included targeting          By 10 a.m. it was becoming evident that
prevailed. The victory on Tuesday was re-             protest leaders. “At the police chief’s and        the police tactics were not going to halt the sit-
affirmed Wednesday, and Chief Stamper’s               mayor’s press conference we had watched on         in and that the police were creating a situation
concerns about bringing outside law enforce-          TV late the night before, they announced that      which they could not control. At 10:30 a.m., the
ment into the city were realized in full that         they were going to go after the ringleaders,”      police commander stepped between his men
night when police rioted on Capitol Hill.             Quirke said. The counter-leadership targeting      and the protesters. He walked to the seated
                                                      was as ineffective as other police tactics, due    protesters, leaned down and said, “We’re outta
                                                      to the Direct Action Network’s decentralized       here.” He then motioned to his men to leave
                                                      decision-making process, which operated by         the area and the police withdrew in an orderly
                                                      group consensus. In effect, a network has no       manner. The protesters, both seated and among
                                                      “ringleaders.”                                     the crowd, were jubilant. They had prevailed.
                                                           Protesters converged on the Westlake               The disengagement of the police at Westlake
                                                      Center and arrests there began at approximate-     Center marked the failure of mass arrests as
                                                      ly 8 a.m. As the morning wore on, it became        a police tactic. On Tuesday, the total number
                                                                                                                                                      
of arrests was around sixty. On Wednesday             did not end with the arrest of protesters. The        Secret Service in Seattle, Special Agent Ronald          a working group on labor within the WTO, and
morning, somewhere around three hundred               target simply shifted from the streets to the jails   Legan, estimated that the parade numbered                then that working group should develop these
arrests were made at two locations. Wednesday         and then the courts. The second reason for the        20,000 and the total number of demonstrators             core labor standards, and then they ought to be
evening, two hundred more arrests were made           police withdrawal was the demand by the Secret        was 50,000. As the excerpts from Clinton’s state-        a part of every trade agreement, and ultimately I
at First Avenue and Clay Street, near the Seattle     Service that the presidential motorcade route         ments clearly show, some understanding that              would favor a system in which sanctions would
Center. Another dozen or fewer people, mostly         and speaking locations be given top priority by       the AFL-CIO would control the protests existed           come for violating any provision of a trade
residents of Capitol Hill, would be arrested          police.                                               between the President and the labor leaders:             agreement, but we’ve got to do this in steps.
during the night. Approximately five hundred               The preceding day, as police and federal               “I think certainly if we’d had it [the protests]         “I do think it is worth noting that the
and forty of the arrests were for misdemean-          security officials had milled around in an            any place in the continental United States we            strongest opposition to this position, however,
ors and eleven were for felony charges such as        atmosphere of panic at the Multi-Agency               would have had the same thing and even if                comes from the leaders of developing countries,
vandalism or looting. One of the felony arrests       Command Center in the Public Safety Building,         we’d gone to Honolulu there might have been              including a lot of developing countries who
occurred in the Greenwood district, miles from        Ronald Legan, the special agent in charge of the      thousands of people there. What I regret is not          have left-wing governments, not right-wing
the downtown area.                                    Seattle office of the Secret Service, laid down an    that there are protesters there… What I regret is        governments, who believe that this is a strategy
      The arrests ended for two reasons. First and    ultimatum to Seattle officials about the presi-       that a small number of people have done non-             by the American labor movement to keep them
most importantly, the police were running out         dential visit. “I remember saying that unless         peaceful things and have tried to block access           down and keep them poor and keep them from
of transportation to remove those arrested from       we could get control of the streets, we would         and prevent meetings. That’s wrong. It’s not             selling products that they’d otherwise be highly
downtown. As the city busses arrived at Sand          recommend that he not come,” Legan said. “Now         only illegal, it’s just wrong.                           competitive in the American market. It certainly
Point, protesters refused to leave some of the        the problem there is that, with this president, he          “I regret very much that a few people have         could be used that way.
busses. Others obstructed the booking proce-          sets his own agenda and goes where he wants.          given the protesters a bad name, because I                     “…Again, if we can just get by the few people
dures by refusing to identify themselves. Many        And we did not want to have to battle a 30-car        think the fact that the protesters are there, were       that aren’t being peaceful and the people that
of the “arrest” affinity groups carried no identi-    motorcade in and out of Seattle.”                     it not for those stopping meetings, stopping             are trying to stop people from meeting, I think
fication for this very purpose.                            Seattle Assistant Chief Ed Joiner said he        movements and not being peaceful, would be a             the presence of others with legitimate questions
      Kelly Quirke, executive director of the Rain-   would not characterize the discussion as “threat-     positive.                                                about the WTO process, the environment and
forest Action Network, was arrested at Westlake       ening… but it was clear that if the situation was           “…And then I think finally there are               labor and how poor countries are treated, I
center. “They drove us to a converted naval base,     going to be the following day what it was then,       people who question whether these trading                think this can be a net positive, because we’re
where we spent the next 15 hours on the bus,          there was no way you could bring the president        rules are benefiting lower income countries,             going to have to build a much deeper consensus
eating and drinking only the food and water           of the United States into Seattle.”                   poor countries, and question whether there               for global trade to carry it forward.”
we had on hand (they gave us none), doing in-                                                               is damage to the environment from certain                      This interview had a very direct effect on
terviews and organizing the next morning’s            presidential Appearance                               trading arrangements that wouldn’t otherwise             the WTO negotiations. The Post-Intelligencer
press conference until our cell phones went           President Clinton admitted the coordinated            be there, and who question whether this is               interview was read by many WTO delegates on
dead (we were quite adept at getting out of the       strategy between the AFL-CIO and the White            a race to the bottom or the top. So that labor           Wednesday morning. Roger Downey captured
plastic cuffs), singing, meeting (of course), and     House in an interview with Seattle Post-Intelli-      unions and wealthier countries want to have              the impact of Clinton’s statements in a Seattle
demanding to see our lawyers,” he said.               gencer reporter Michael Paulson. The interview        certain basic core labor standards observed in           Weekly article titled “Clinton Throws Brick”:
      Police arrest procedures were so chaotic        occurred on Tuesday evening, as the President         poorer countries because they think it will be                 “When Clinton got up in Seattle and told
and slipshod that over 400 cases were dropped         was between Washington D.C. and San                   better for average people so that the trading            the ministers that WTO had to clean up its act
by City Attorney Mark Sidran due to the               Francisco. It is clear that Clinton was either not    system actually benefits. So I think that’s what         if it wanted American support, home folks may
absence of arrest reports and the failure of          aware or chose to deny that the Direct Action         is bringing all those people out.                        have nodded sagely in agreement; the delegates
arresting officers to identify themselves. The        Network protests were nearly equal in size                  “…I think that what we ought to do first of        could only goggle speechlessly at his hypocrisy.
Direct Action Network strategy of blockade            to the AFL-CIO parade. Clinton’s chief of the         all to adopt the United States’ position on having       When he dropped the sanctions brick in his
0                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1
P-I interview, they took it to mean that the US      curfew and then withdraw to Capitol Hill.             Lambrecht said. “One of the officers pulled him       of celebration rather than protest.
proposal of a WTO body to consider worldwide               As the curfew went into effect at 7 p.m.,       out of the car and not gingerly.”                           The crowd was predominantly residents of
core labor standards was the first step toward es-   the streets were mostly empty. As if to celebrate          “I don’t want to aid the hooligans who are       Capitol Hill, many of whom had been angered
tablishing compulsory international sanctions        their “control” of the streets, a column of a dozen   raising hell and I don’t want to take on specific     by police the previous night when bystanders
against ‘violators.’”                                police cars raced through the empty downtown          officers… But there are huge flaws with the           and people on their way home from work had
      On the streets, Wednesday afternoon was a      core with emergency lights flashing and sirens        officers when it comes to people of color. I’m        been indiscriminately attacked by the police
repeat of Tuesday. The police pulled back for the    blaring. Police officials explained to reporters      58 years old. I had on a $400 suit, but last night,   who had pursued demonstrators up the hill. At
four hours that President Clinton was in public      that this “wild weasel” operation was a “show         I was just another nigger,” said Councilman           about 9 p.m., police and National Guard forces
view, just as they had pulled back as the AFL-CIO    of force to clear the streets.” The news videos of    McIver. A few days later, Councilman McIver           began arriving in the area. By 9:30 p.m., police
parade approached downtown. In the words of          the stream of cars are one of the more surreal        stated that he was not pursuing the matter and        closed several blocks of Broadway between East
one TV reporter, “The streets were strangely         images from the entire week. Things would get         wanted it dropped.                                    Republican and East John. Tensions were high,
quiet.” At 1 p.m., Washington Governor Gary          even stranger that night.                                                                                   due to the residents resentment of the police
Locke gave a live interview on local television.           At about the same time as the “wild weasels”    Street Battles for the Hell of It                     presence and police fears of violence. KIRO
Locke stated that order was restored to Seattle      were racing through the streets, police assaulted     The final incident of Wednesday night dem-            TV reported that the people opposing police
and told local shoppers to “come downtown”—          Seattle City Councilman Richard McIver. McIver        onstrated the police strategy for clearing the        that night consisted entirely of Capitol Hill
inside the perimeter of the “no protest” zone.       said city police officers yanked him from his car,    streets was not only ineffective, but that civilian   residents. Afterwards, police claimed there were
Unfortunately, the governor hadn’t heard about       pulled his arms behind his back and started to        control of law enforcement ceased to exist for a      reports of agitators carrying gasoline bombs and
police plans for a 4 p.m. crackdown to drive pro-    cuff him as he drove to a World Trade Organiza-       time. The “Battle of Capitol Hill” degenerated        throwing rocks and bottles. They said some pro-
testers out of the downtown core, a time which       tion reception event at the nearby Westin Hotel.      into a “police riot,” perhaps the only time during    testers charged officers. No gasoline bombs were
coincided with the downtown rush hour.               The council member had been stopped shortly           the WTO protests that police temporarily lost         thrown that evening and news videos show only
                                                     before by police who let him continue after           control of their forces on the street.                police charging, not civilians attacking police.
post-presidential Disorder                           identifying himself. The second time he was                As the demonstrators withdrew from                     Police began using pepper spray, tear gas,
As Clinton’s motorcade departed, the streets         stopped and identified himself, a policeman           downtown curfew area at around 7 p.m., a              and concussion grenades shortly after 9:30 p.m.,
were once again blanketed in tear gas, and           threw McIvor’s city council business card on          group of several hundred protesters moved             first at John Street and Broadway to the south,
police fired pepper-spray at anyone who got          the ground and assaulted him.                         north on Fourth Avenue, followed at a distance        moving north, and near Harrison, moving
in their way. At the Pike Place Market, tear gas           The incident was witnessed by a U.S. Con-       by police. The group withdrew in an orderly           south. More police blocked side streets, prevent-
was severe enough that produce merchants put         gressman, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and           manner, stopping several times along the              ing the crowds from dispersing.
out signs the next day announcing they were          Bill Lambrecht, Washington, D.C.-correspond-          way to vote on where they were going. They                  “The protesters looked completely calm to
closed because their fruits and vegetables were      ent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.                  moved east on Denny Way into Capitol Hill             me… They were not instigating this,” said Erin
contaminated.                                              “What he [McIver] describes is what I saw,”     and reached Broadway and East Harrison Street         Katz, a Capitol Hill resident who watched from
     As on Tuesday, the police failed to move        Kucinich said. “Four to five policemen converged      at about 7:45 p.m., where they joined another         behind police lines near Pine Street. “I heard
the crowds of protesters and the main axis of        on him and kind of spun him around. I thought         group which was already at the intersection. By       absolutely no warning and they started to gas
protest movement once again became Pike and          the people who handled it were overly aggres-         now the group numbered approximately 500.             them.”
Pine Streets. After two hours, police were only      sive. I’m sure given the tension that existed in      As they passed through the neighborhood, they               For the next two and a half hours, police
able to move two blocks, up to Second Avenue.        the city, there might be many cases where in          were greeted by cheering residents and honks          rampaged along Broadway. It was during this
A protester blockade at Third and Pine stayed in     hindsight they might do things differently but        of support from motorists. The crowd marched          period that some of the week’s worst instances
place until voluntarily dispersed at 6:45 p.m. It    that seemed excessive.”                               back and forth along Broadway for about an            of police misconduct occurred. National tel-
appears likely that the Direct Action Network              “It was clear that he was telling them          hour, carrying banners and accompanied by a           evision repeatedly aired footage of a Tukwila
had decided to hold the streets until the 7 p.m.     who he was. They seemed unpersuadable,”               band playing music. The atmosphere was one            officer kicking a young man in the groin and
                                                                                                                                                                                                              3
then immediately firing a shotgun within               ‘Jingle Bells,’ and when they started singing
inches of the young man’s torso. Police officials      ‘Silent Night,’ the tear gas started. Something
initially described the officer’s conduct as “ap-      hit me in the back, and there was pandemonium
propriate.” At a parking lot near Broadway,            there, and so we left the area,” Derdowski said.
two journalism students were videotaping the                                                                            Jail blockade & release : Police officials resign
action. A King County deputy went up to their                                                                                       afTermaTh : imPlicaTions
car and motioned for the young women to roll
down a window. When they did, the deputy
pepper-sprayed them both, shouting “Tape
this, bitch!” This footage has also been repeat-
edly aired on national television. The deputy                                                             Jail Blockade and release                           protesters would now begin cooperating with
remained publicly unidentified and on duty                                                                By Thursday, the success of the Direct Action       the courts and properly identify themselves.
while an internal investigation was conducted.                                                            Network protests was undeniable. The WTO            Many had refused to provide their names and
These and other incidents resulted in civil suits                                                         conference was prevented from holding its           addresses, giving their names only as “Jane
filed against the Seattle Police as the agency in                                                         opening ceremonies on Tuesday. On Wednesday,        WTO,” “John WTO,” or in one case “Emiliano
charge, as well as the officers involved.                                                                 the conference began to come unraveled when         Zapata.” As they were processed for arraign-
      Around midnight, the disorder had drawn                                                             President Clinton made repeated statements          ment, they would be released on personal
several local government officials, who tried to                                                          supporting the demonstrators—although               recognizance. Nearly all of those jailed were
get the police and demonstrators to disengage.                                                            it appears he was referring only to the AFL-        released by Sunday. After the jailed protesters
They included King County Councilman Brian                                                                CIO—and announced a U.S. policy initiative          were released Seattle City Attorney Mark Sidran
Derdowski, City Councilmen Richard Conlin                                                                 which guaranteed that major consensus at            issued a statement to the press denying that any
and Nick Licata, and Councilwoman-elect Judy                                                              the WTO conference would be impossible. On          agreement had been reached and promising to
Nicastro.                                                                                                 Wednesday night, police attacked local residents    prosecute all cases.
      “Those council members tried to work                                                                in the sort of breakdown of command and disci-           In early January, Sidran moved to dismiss
through the chain of command of the Police De-                                                            pline shown by defeated troops. Graffiti began      over ninety percent of the cases, disclosing
partment and they were unable to get anybody,”                                                            appearing around Seattle reading: “Remember,        that virtually none of them could be pros-
Derdowski said. For two hours, the civilian                                                               We Are Winning!” On Thursday afternoon,             ecuted because police had not bothered to file
officials tried to get the police to cease attacking                                                      police finally came to an accommodation with        the necessary reports or identify the arresting
the crowd. Finally, around 2 a.m., the crowd                                                              Direct Action Network protesters and provided       officers during the mass arrests.
began to leave. The police responded with                                                                 a police escort for a march.
volleys of gas and rubber projectiles.                                                                         The focus of the Direct Action Network         police Officials resign
      “I asked the police to be professional and                                                          strategy now shifted from the WTO to support        The final act of the WTO protests was the
just take one step back. That would be the                                                                for those still in jail as a result of the mass     announced departures of Seattle Police Chief
sign that these folks needed, and they would                                                              arrests. For two days, vigils were held at the      Norm Stamper, strategic commander Assistant
disperse,” Derdowski said. “The police said they                                                          Public Safety Building, at times completely sur-    Chief Ed Joiner, Nancy McPherson, civilian
couldn’t do that, so we went back and told the                                                            rounding the building.                              director of the Community and Information
people that they needed to leave the area. And                                                                 On Friday evening, after meeting with          Services, and Assistant Chief of Investigations,
a lot of them did, but a few persisted. And they                                                          city officials, Direct Action Network legal staff   Harve Fergusson. Those who made public state-
started singing Christmas carols. They sang                                                               announced an agreement with the city. Jailed        ments regarding their resignations or retire-
                                                                                                                                                                                                          
ments said that the decisions had been made           protesters, an act that would normally be con-       and tactical openness. The three key phases of         Implications
before the WTO protests. Chief Stamper stated         sidered assault with a deadly weapon. As the         the street actions were: the Tuesday morning           The most profound outcome of the WTO
that one purpose of announcing his resignation        guard threatened the protesters, some tried to       “swarm” which blockaded strategic intersec-            protests was the appearance of the netwar
was to “de-politicize” the investigations into        grab the guard’s gun arm. Coombs sprayed the         tions; the collapse of the police strategy to          construct in American politics. The “Battle in
police actions during the protests. The depar-        protesters with pepper-spray and hustled the         suppress the Direct Action Network protests            Seattle” was fought not only in the streets, but
tures of the other polices officials were virtually   delegation away from the protesters. His quick       while allowing the AFL-CIO parade; and the             also in the infosphere. The WTO protests were
ignored in the media, though they represent           thinking probably saved lives, said Lt. Neil Low,    failure of the AFL-CIO parade to engulf the            the first to take full advantage of the extremely
the departure of three out of seven of the chief’s    who is writing the commendation letter. The          Direct Action Network protests into a form ac-         dense and wide-reaching alternative media
highest-ranking assistants.                           actions by other officers deserving commenda-        ceptable to the Clinton administration.                network which uses the internet. The use of
     The Seattle police organizations launched        tion have not been disclosed.                               The failure of the police strategy was almost   “media special forces” is one of the hallmarks
a massive public-relations blitz. In one of the             The American Civil Liberties Union, the        instantaneous with the success of the blockade.        of netwar and informational conflicts. With
more bizarre actions, police officers began           National Lawyers Guild, and Amnesty Interna-         Non-violent civil disobedience usually succeeds        the rise of the alternative media, the internet
shaking down local merchants through the              tional announced that they were investigating        when the numbers of protesters is sufficiently         and other unmediated mass communications,
sales of T-shirts—as if the police had won some       the events in Seattle. Amnesty International         large. The use of force to disperse such demon-        it is no longer possible for the establishment
sort of a major victory. Uniformed officers           looked into “widespread police abuses” against       strations is a moral victory for the protesters        to control the information reaching the public.
delivered boxes of the shirts to Dutch Ned’s Bar      protesters, including “indiscriminant use” of        if it succeeds and a double victory if it fails. In    Attempts to distort the news for propaganda
in Pioneer Square. The shirts show the Space          chemical agents, rubber, and wooden projec-          Seattle, the attempts to forcibly disperse the         or public relations purposes will enhance
Needle engulfed in a tornado and say “Battle          tiles, “flashbang” grenades, beatings of prisoners   demonstrations not only failed, but also set into      movement recruiting and create a “credibility
in Seattle WTO 99.” The Guild also organized a        in jail, threats of rape during strip searches,      motion a chain of events which undermined              gap” for establishment policies.
rally to show support for the police. State Rep.      and the use of “four-point restraint chairs” in      the legitimacy of the police actions.                        The WTO protests were the Chiapas in-
Luke Esser, R-Bellevue, a conservative “law and       the jail. The mayor’s office issued a statement             The critical instances in which the police      surrection come to America. Like the Zapatista
order” advocate, issued a statement saying that       saying, “At this time, we have no indication that    lost control of their own strategy began with          netwar, the conflict was one of civil society
he would attend the police rally “commend-            any events such as those described by Amnesty        the initial use of tear gas. The circumstances         networks versus markets. The role of insti-
ing those brave men and women for working             International ever occurred.” The Seattle Weekly     surrounding the decision to use gas are still          tutions, be they police or military forces,
around the clock in treacherous conditions to         published stories substantiating reports of          unknown, as is where the decision originated.          NAFTA, WTO, or political administrations, was
maintain law and order during the WTO riots.”         jail beatings and other charges by Amnesty           The pursuit of demonstrators up Capitol Hill           secondary to the conflict. Institutions interme-
The Seattle Times ran a variety of pro-police         International.                                       on Tuesday and Wednesday nights accelerated            diate netwar conflicts involving markets, but
articles, including one front-page headline an-                                                            the collapsing strategy of forcible dispersion.        they are not the primary actors. In Seattle, the
nouncing the retirement of a police dog.              Aftermath                                            On Wednesday night, the failure of civilian            police could not decide the issue; they could
     And the police department began writing          The WTO protests in Seattle were the largest         officials to control the police dramatically un-       only determine the level of violence.
letters of commendation for actions during the        left-wing demonstrations in America since the        derscored the breakdown of political control.                As it turned out, the introduction of new
protests. “We’re hearing stories from through-        [first] Gulf War. They were also the most suc-       On Thursday, the refusal of the City Council           “non-lethal” armaments such as chemical
out the department of heroism and coura-              cessful American political demonstrations of         to ratify the mayor’s emergency declarations           irritant sprays and pellets, guns firing a variety
geousness,” said Lisa Ross, a spokeswoman for         the decade, if success for a demonstration is        began the process of regaining political control       of rubber, wooden or “bean-bag” projectiles,
Chief Stamper. Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter    measured by the degree of congruence between         of the police. And the January dismissal of            “robocop” armor, and all the rest were not
Kimberly Wilson described some of these               the protesters’ goals and the effect on public       charges against demonstrators underscored the          only ineffective but actually counter-produc-
stories as “surreal,” citing the case of Sgt. Mike    policy issues.                                       tenuous legality of the city’s actions against the     tive in dealing with non-violent protesters.
Coombs. Coombs saw a guard escorting a foreign              The WTO protests succeeded in the              protesters.                                            In most cases, protesters were only infuriated
dignitary draw a handgun when confronted by           streets by a combination of strategic surprise                                                              and stiffened in their resistance by the use of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                
these weapons. The widespread use of “non-
lethal” weapons increased the aggressiveness of
police and the increased combativeness eroded
strategic control.
       The flexible and improvised communica-
tions infrastructure used by the Direct Action           PlagiarisTs’ PosTscriPT
Network was a significant feature in the protests.
One of the dictums of netwar is that netwar
actors have a much greater interest in keeping
communications working, rather than shutting
them down. The dense and diversified commu-           From this vantage point, it is possible to           tactics that succeeded in Seattle be as effective
nications used by the Direct Action Network           interpret the WTO protests according to any          today, or are they subject to a law of diminish-
could not have been significantly harmed by           number of frameworks. They were a watershed          ing returns?
any action less than a total media and communi-       in the development of the contemporary anti-
cations blackout in Seattle. Not only is such an      capitalist movement, at which thousands of           What Happened in Seattle
action impossible for the economic and social         disparate groups discovered each other and the       Immediately following the Seattle WTO
costs which would result, but a blackout of the       power they could wield together. They were           protests, some reformists moaned that the
required magnitude would be the information-          the point at which, a decade after the fall of the   confrontational tactics and far-reaching goals
al equivalent of unconditional surrender by the       Berlin Wall and the end of the old “democracy        of militant participants alienated people and
establishment. Because the ultimate prize in a        versus communism” opposition, the funda-             ruined any chance of concretely affecting
netwar conflict is understanding, not opinion,        mental dichotomy of global politics was recast       national policy. Yet by reformist standards, the
it is the quality of information, not the quantity,   as corporate capitalism versus the common            so-called anti-globalization movement 1 associ-
which determines the final outcome.                   people. They were, as the researchers of the         ated with the Seattle protests achieved practi-
       Netwar is nothing new as a form of conflict.   RAND corporation self-servingly discovered,          cally unprecedented triumphs, and the credit
It is a new concept, but the underlying reality of    the substantiation of theories about how new         for this must go at least in part to the militants.
it has been around for a long time. What is new       communications technologies would shape              The next WTO meeting had to be held in
is the richer informational environment which         social conflict. They were simultaneously the        Qatar, cementing the image of the WTO as an
makes the organization of civil (and uncivil)         beginning and the high point of a “movement          anti-democratic, oppressive elite. Many of the
society into networks easier and more efficient.      of movements” which ended when terrorists            proposals that had most outraged activists were
       The essential conditions for victory in a      hijacked the global stage on September 11th, or      immediately dropped; likewise, the Free Trade
netwar conflict are also the conditions which         when communist splinter groups hijacked the          Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement is now
make waging netwar possible: the shared under-        anti-war movement a year and a half later, or        essentially dead in the water. Some analysts
standing of a situation which demands direct          which continues so long as certain anthropol-        have concluded that the mobilization against
action. In many ways, the victory of the Direct       ogy professors require a subject for inquiry.        corporate globalization peaked early because
Action Network was implicit in the fact that so            The only thing that matters for us anar-        its goals were not ambitious enough.
many people understood the conflict and were          chists, of course, is what we can learn from
willing to act on that understanding.                 the past to act effectively in the present. Does     1 Ironically, the “anti-globalization movement” was perhaps the
                                                                                                           most globally interconnected movement in the history of protest
                                                      it make sense to pursue “another Seattle,” or is     movements. The corporate media christened it with that misnomer
                                                                                                           because identifying it for what it was—a movement opposing capi-
                                                      that just a will-o’-the-wisp? Could any of the       talist globalization—would acknowledge the existence of capital-
                                                                                                           ism, and thus the possibility of other social and economic systems.
                                                                                                                                                                         
     In addition to giving the WTO a public          attention, the thrill of victory, and the effective-   Seattle phase of struggle is not how to handle       request. This enabled the police to concentrate
image makeover and successfully forcing con-         ness of the new model were taken away, many            repression, but how to sustain morale.               on beating and pepper-spraying people before
cessions from it, the militancy of the demon-        anarchists felt they were back at square one.               After anticapitalists lost the initiative,      the union march, controlling the streets during
strators in Seattle pushed its supposed critics                                                             it was inevitable that the partisans of willful      it, and then viciously brutalizing and arresting
to adopt a more uncompromising stance.               A Complex legacy                                       impotence would regain it. Proportionate             everyone who remained in town after it. The
Organized labor and segments of the Democrat-        In reflecting on the mobilization in Seattle,          to the number of participants, the antiwar           police tactics in Miami, which were significant-
ic Party have to present the illusion of being op-   people often overlook the years of failure that        movement of 2002 to 2003 was incredibly in-          ly more aggressive than those of the police in
positional in order to justify their existence. As   had preceded it. What happened in Seattle was          effectual, largely due to the machinations of        Seattle, showed that the fluke in Seattle was not
was frankly acknowledged in the RAND report,         possible precisely because it had been years, if       liberals and communists who did their best to        that the police were so aggressive but that the
they hoped to maintain this illusion and simul-      not decades, since so many people joined in dis-       prevent anyone from taking effective action.         corporate media were caught off guard and acci-
taneously absorb and neutralize any radical          ruptive action against a capitalist institution in     And once the legend of Seattle ceased to be the      dentally reported on their violence. Finally, the
tendencies by putting in an appearance at the        the US. As noted in the RAND analysis, police          origin myth of an existing, vibrant movement,        strategy of the demonstrators in Miami, which
Seattle WTO protests. Once they found them-          expected symbolic arrests à la the anti-nuclear        it became a burden upon everyone who tried to        consisted of a largely symbolic assault on the
selves caught up in a huge, obviously popular        demonstrations of the 1980s, not the coordinat-        apply the mass action model. Even though many        fence surrounding the meetings, had no hope of
demonstration against the WTO, they had to           ed obstruction and rioting they got. Subsequent        anarchist demonstrations between 2002 and            actually interfering with them. The protests in
feign at least some sympathy or else reveal their    mass actions were much more difficult to pull          2005 put everything that happened in the mid-        Miami only succeeded in disrupting business as
“opposition” to be a mere pretense. Thus we can      off, as the authorities mobilized every resource       1990s to shame, they seemed stunted and disap-       usual and giving the FTAA a bad name because
see that direct action is the most effective means   to ensure that what happened in Seattle would          pointing compared with the Battle of Seattle.        the authorities, still transfixed by the specter of
both for putting pressure on adversaries and for     not happen again.                                      Past accomplishments always cast a shadow            Seattle, went to such lengths to repress them.
exerting leverage on supposed allies. Even if              Despite this, Seattle was followed by a          over the present, and shadows loom bigger the              As of this writing, the Miami FTAA minis-
you don’t want to overthrow the government,          series of demonstrations unlike anything in the        further the object casting them recedes.             terial is itself three years behind us, and there
forget about voting and petitioning—the only         preceding decade: Washington, D.C. was shut                 The FTAA ministerial in Miami four years        have been no major mass actions in the US
hope for change is in the streets.                   down the following April by protests against           after the Seattle WTO protests showed how            since Bush’s second inauguration almost two
     Finally, the successes in Seattle brought       the International Monetary Fund, and a year            much ground anticapitalists had lost and how         years ago. Paradoxically, the good news is that
US anarchists worldwide visibility, along with       later the FTAA ministerial in Quebec City oc-          much their adversaries—both those in uniform         enough time may now have elapsed since the
a needed morale boost, and provided a format         casioned the most intense street fighting since        and those carrying protest signs—had learned.        WTO protests that a mass mobilization with
for future actions. The “summit-hopping”             the Los Angeles riots of 1992. All the teargas in      While there were probably almost as many             a clever strategy could catch the powers that
model made a virtue of the transience that has       the country was no match for the enthusiasm            committed anarchists in Miami as there were in       be by surprise again—but the bad news is that
been such a stumbling block for anticapitalist       of the anticapitalist movement once people             Seattle, far fewer other protesters showed up—       anarchists, demoralized from so many years of
organizing in North America; like it or not, a       had a model to work from and a structure to            partly because Miami is so far from the rest of      trying to “repeat Seattle,” may not yet be ready
movement must make the best of its weakness-         plug into. It was not until after September 11,        the US, partly because it has the most reaction-     to stake everything on another attempt.
es, and if many anarchists couldn’t be counted       2001 that the tide finally began to recede, and        ary Latino population of any US city, and partly
on to stay in one place long enough to do            this occurred primarily as a result of the wide-       because the ability of anticapitalist networks to
effective local organizing at least that mobility    spread self-fulfilling prophecy that the high          bring out protesters had been sapped by demor-
enabled them to come together occasionally at        point of anticapitalist mass actions was over.         alization and competition with antiwar organ-         Likewise, as the dramatically militarized police force in Miami
                                                                                                                                                                 consisted of at least six times as many officers as protected the
capitalist summits.                                  The momentum that followed Seattle was not             izing. The AFL-CIO duplicitously coordinated         WTO in Seattle, and they faced off against crowds perhaps a fifth
     The breakthroughs in Seattle that affected      destroyed by the government response, it was           with the police while asking demonstrators not       the size of those that had gathered in 1999, they could not fall back
                                                                                                                                                                 on the excuse of being “overwhelmed” and forced into violence.
the anarchist community turned out in the long       abandoned by those who had maintained it: the          to carry out direct action during their march, and   If anything, the police in Miami were more violent than those
                                                                                                                                                                 in Seattle, thoughtlessly attacking demonstrators, retired union
run to be dangerous gifts: as soon as the media      most significant question presented by the post-       the demonstrators—insanely—agreed to this            members, and corporate media reporters alike.
0                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1
What Next?                                           WTO protests were not an unrepeatable miracle,
The presidential campaign of 2008 will be the        but rather an example of how powerful we can
next backdrop against which major mass actions       be whenever we find ways to work together.
can be expected to take place. Whatever misgiv-
ings some of us currently have about them, for       Suggested reading
anarchists not to have a powerful presence in        We Are Everywhere: The Irresistible Rise of Global
mass actions in 2008 would be tantamount to          Anticapitalism—Through testimony, photos,
our disappearance from the national arena of         tactics, and history, this book provides an
social struggle.                                     excellent context for anticapitalist organizing
      The essential challenge of the mass action     in the years up to and immediately following
model is that its greatest strengths and weak-       the WTO protests.
nesses are identical. Working from the physics
equation tension=force/area, this model brings       “Five Years After WTO Protests” by Chuck
together a great number of people in a small         Munson—In this article, one of the adminis-
space so their coordinated actions can have ex-      trators of www.infoshop.org refutes corporate
ponential effects—but with sufficient warning,       media reports that the movement behind the
the state can also concentrate its forces to neu-    WTO protests had come to an end by 2004.
tralize their efforts. Consequently, successful
mass actions must either come as a surprise          “N30 Black Bloc Communiqué” by the Acme
themselves or employ an unexpected strategy.         Collective—Some of the participants in the                    From the Archives
At the G8 protests in Scotland in 2005, for          Black Bloc in Seattle released this excellent and    This flier advertised the convergence point for
example, participants outwitted the authori-         nuanced defense of anarchist property destruc-       the black bloc that carried out all that famous
ties by dispersing into the countryside to block     tion at the WTO demonstrations immediately             property destruction. Looking at it now, it
roads outside the areas where police forces were     afterwards.                                          seems to support the thesis that the ones who
concentrated.                                                                                              triumphed in Seattle were not possessed of
      Effective mass action necessitates that        “Demonstrating Resistance,” the feature article      any extraordinary skills or organization—that
people from a broad range of perspectives            in the first issue of Rolling Thunder—This             is, unless the designer deliberately made it
work together without limiting each other. In        extensive analysis follows the anarchist experi-       amateurish in order to fly under the radar.
that regard, mass actions are good practice for      mentation with mass action and autonomous
building the symbiotic relationships funda-          action models that occurred between 2000 and
mental to an anarchist society. The mobiliza-        2005, drawing conclusions about what factors
tions that succeeded in Seattle, Quebec City, and    must be present for each approach to succeed.
elsewhere succeeded because a great number                                                                                                                  The people’s republications of
of people simultaneously engaged in a diverse        A simple Google search should turn up online                                                                   CrimethInc.
array of complementary tactics. Regardless of        versions of the last three of these texts.                                                                    p.O. Box 2133
                                                                                                                                                                    Greensboro
the success of a particular action, the ability to                                                                                                                   NC 27402
do this itself constitutes a victory over the seg-                                                                                                              www.crimethinc.com
regation, isolation, and conflict promoted by                                                                                                                    www.infoshop.org
the capitalist system. In that regard, the Seattle
                                                                                                                                                                                           3
One seventeen-year-old girl
grabbed by an aging trucker for
“mindlessly” smashing a GAP
window subjected him to a thirty
second diatribe: “Immigrant Asian
women are lured to Saipan to work
a seven-day week fenced in with
barbed wire, they’re forbidden to
even take a piss while they
sew these fucking clothes!”
she yelled.

“Teenage girls in Honduras work
14-hour shifts for 50 cents an hour and
Chinese migrant women in Russia earn less than
a quarter of that making this stuff. Chief Executive
Millard Dexter earns $24,000 an hour—that’s $47
million a year—and GAP Chairman Donald Fisher
is worth $8 billion. This company spends over $500
million a year advertising this shit while its workers
starve. Don’t call me fucking mindless!”

He stood in stunned silence as glass rained
down around him. “Pick up a brick, asshole!”
someone shouted. For a minute he looked
like he was considering it.                              The People’s Republications of CrimethInc.

				
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