ACTIVISTS ACCUSE SEATTLE MAYOR PAUL SCHELL OF USING POLITICAL PRESSURE TO HARRASS WTO TEACH-IN ORGANIZERS
Jeremy Simer, of the Roundtable on Environmental and Economic Justice, told a crowd at Saturday's WTO Anniversary Teach-in at Seattle Central Community College that pressure had been put on SCCC President Dr. Mitchell to disassociate the college from the teach-in on corporate globalization.. He said,
"Funding for this event has been pulled by Mitchell as a result of phone calls from the city."
Sponsors of the teach-in included the King County Labor Council AFL-CIO, Jubilee 2000, the Roundtable on Environmental and Economic Justice, the American Friends Service Committe, SCCC Anthropology Department, the Northwest Labor and Employment Law Office, Washington State Jobs With Justice, St. Mark's Cathedral, Teamsters Local 174, and the National Lawyers Guild.
Representatives from various groups expressed outrage and resentment that the Mayor's Office would interfere with the event. Activist Mark Taylor-Canfield said, "Business interests were concerned that SCCC was hosting an event which might give the impression that there is community support for the WTO Anniversary protests."
He suspects that they pushed Schell to put pressure on Mitchell to cancel the event.
Mitchell angered students last year when he supported an economics instructor who was accused by 5 witnesses of assaulting a student during a political rally. Several days ago he forced teach-in organizers to change the name of the event from a "community forum" to a "teach-in" to avoid criticism from those in the city government who did not want to see SCCC hosting a community event in support of the WTO protest anniversary. Although the teach-in was created as an educational event only, organizers were forced to appoint "peace keepers" to satisfy Mitchell. When the funding assistance was pulled by Mitchell after pressure from the city (even though three SCCC student groups were co-sponsoring) organizers fumed and swore to unseat the mayor in the next election.
A Seattle Central Community College anthropology student named Bambi referred to the November 30, 2000 arrests of 140 people and the mayor's meddling when she complained,
"Now that we know we have a mayor and a police chief who both condone mass arrests (including journalists and labor leaders) and interfering with free speech, I think we can safely say that a petty dictatorship has been established in our city. I feel sorry for their small little minds that are so afraid of the truth. It would be better for them to go to Singapore or China where political dissent is eliminated by brute force - they'd really enjoy that."
Utilizing technicalities in the reservation process, Mitchell forced organizers to end the teach-in 2 and 1/2 hours early. People arriving after 4 PM to attend a closing plenary session with world famous author and economist David Korten found that the doors of the college had been chained and locked.
Roundtable on Environmental and Economic Justice
Committee For Local Government Accountability