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by Mark Taylor-Canfield Monday, Nov. 27, 2000 at 7:23 AM

Activists In Seattle Prepare For Possible Confrontations With Police On WTO Protest Anniversary

Seattle WTO 2000 Anniversary Host Committee

November 24, 2000

Information: http://www.scn.org/wtocal/

Mark Taylor-Canfield


Commitee for Government Accountability



SEATTLE- Seattle activists are calling for international human rights

observers from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to be in place during N30-November 30 WTO Anniversary events. Breakdowns in discussions between event organizers and police functionaries are generating a tense situation and fears of police violence.

No one is anticipating anything like last year, when 50,000

people filled downtown Seattle to protest the WTO talks. For three days, police tear-gassed crowds. Nightsticks, tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and other forms of brutality were widely used. The city imposed a

curfew, the National Guard was called out. More than 500 people were

arrested. Former Police Chief Norman Stamper and approximately four

percent of Seattle's police force resigned after the melee. Mayor Paul

Schell was widely criticized for disregarding potential disruptions, and

failing to adequately prepare for WTO protests. He is now preparing for

his re-election.

Hundreds of arrested citizens reported police abuses and brutality

while being detained. Amnesty International released a report citing

examples of human torture in jail situations. Dozens of citizens have

been awarded large financial sums to settle police abuse cases.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington has urged police to

show restraint. "Demonstrators milling boisterously in the street do not

constitute a riot, and they do not warrant heavy-handed tactics by

police," ACLU Executive Director Kathleen Taylor said in a statement.

"Any response by police must ensure that the rights to peacefully

assemble and to express political views are respected." When individual

protesters break the law, "police must use force proportionately and

with discretion," she said.

If trouble breaks out, Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske has said, his troops

are prepared. They are planning "demonstration management platoons,"

"prisoner processing teams," "chemical agent-response teams" and "arrest teams." He and Mayor Paul Schell said they won't tolerate lawlessness, even if it is nonviolent. That includes blocking traffic and sitting in streets. "We are better prepared and better equipped and better trained" Kerlikowske said. "We're not challenging or intimidating or

threatening any group who wants to get a permit." Unlike a year ago,

Kerlikowkse said yesterday, the use of tear gas would be an "absolute

last resort."

"I can assure you we are not going to overreact," Chief Kerlikowske

said. While the city has allowed other non-permitted protests to take

place in recent months, Kerlikowske bristled when asked if his

department would be engaging in selective enforcement against WTO

protesters. "The law is the law," he said. "This isn't rocket science

we're talking about."

Mayor Schell stressed that far fewer demonstrators are expected this

time around and urged holiday shoppers not to avoid downtown. Disruption of the holiday shopping season is of grave concern to downtown Seattle business leaders. "There's no evidence that it will be other than peaceful," the mayor said of the protests. "In the meantime, I'm planning on shopping."


N30 mailing list: N30@lists.riseup.net http://lists.riseup.net/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/n30

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