GENTECH archive


The morning-after menu -The Whole World's Watching-

Two items from today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer;

Read the second item especially  to learn what police think about "civil" 
or even "democratic" control of police actions.
[ But they're only like that in Seattle !!- dontcha know !! Not where I
Cheers - 

Saturday, December 4, 1999

Party time for the protesters

Buoyant evening isn't shared by somber delegates


Throngs of demonstrators who vowed all week to shut down the World Trade
Organization danced in the streets last night as word spread that
delegates would leave Seattle without agreeing on an agenda for future
trade talks.

"I think it's great for the world," cried Andrea, a protester outside the
Westin Hotel, where a handful of demonstrators had chained themselves to
the hotel's door.

"It's important to remember that the 30,000 little voices came from all
over the world," she said of the other demonstrators who had traveled to
Seattle for the WTO conference.

The scene outside the hotel resemembled a New Year's Eve party: People
banged on drums, blew horns and tossed flying discs through the air. One
landed at the foot of a police officer, who threw it back to the crowd
amid cheers.

Inside the hotel, where delegates had been staying, the mood couldn't have
been more different. Late last night, delegates walked somberly from
buses, looking haggard, tired and annoyed.

Outside the King County Jail, more than 300 protesters had gathered for
hours to demand that jailed demonstrators be released.

When word spread that the talks were falling apart, the mood, which was
already carnival-like, turned jubilant.

"This gives me a spark of hope that this corporate machine that is trying
to take over the world is not as powerful as it seems to be," said Robert
Servine, 27, of Seattle.

He called the WTO an "evil, evil thing."

By midnight, more than 100 people remained at the jail as negotiations
continued with Ron Sims, King County executive.

Demonstrators wrapped themselves in blankets and vowed they would stay
there. They had three demands: They wanted food and medical care given to
those behind bars; they wanted the demonstrators released from jail; and
they wanted the arrests wiped from their criminal records.

For Seattle, the WTO conference had come at a hefty price: Parts of the
city had been under curfew, and National Guard troops had been called to
hgelp restore order.

Earlier yesterday, hundreds of people hoisted signs, chanted and clogged
Seattle streets in a final hurrah of civil disobedience.

But after two days of tear gas earlier in the week, the message had
changed: What began Monday as a fight against the WTO ended yesterday with
a candlelight vigil and a battle for civil rights.

"I think it started out about workers' rights and human rights around the
world," said Ryan Hinkel, a plumber who took part in a labor march
yesterday. "And then it developed more into being about the right to
protest as the week went on."

National Guard troops remained on city streets, and Mayor Paul Schell
decided a limited curfew area would remain in effect until 7 this morning.

Under Schell's order, demonstrators are not allowed in the area bounded by
Fourth Avenue, Interstate 5, Pine Street and Seneca Street.

The protests united a cross-section of people, from laborers to students.
Some said it was the first intense show of activism in the country since
the 1960s.

"We saw three decades of virtually nothing," said Rich Horner, a part-time
environment professor at the University of Washington, who was out
watching the marches.

"As far as this kind of mass, perseverant activism, it's an incredible
surprise and almost a shock. And I think it will be to the nation and the

Yesterday's protests began at noon, when students, elected officials and
labor and religious groups gathered at the King County Labor Temple to
march through downtown. Police mostly kept their distance.

The mood was buoyant, but the week had taken its toll: Crowds were
thinner, people walked slower. Their zippy chants sounded a little stale
and some onlookers grumbled.

"I'm so sick of these people," said a man clutching two Bon Marche bags.

But there were a few fresh outbursts. Three topless girls danced on the
streets. The writing on one of the girl's back explained: "Better naked
than Nike."

At the convention center, some protesters sneaked inside and shouted about
sea turtles. Below them, delegates smoked and probably didn't absorb much
of the message. Within seconds, police grabbed the person holding the

Later in the day, at the county jail, protesters offered a picture of
democracy, allowing everyone to be heard. They even spoke in sign language
for the hearing-impaired. At one point, they considered staging a sit-in
at Schell's house.

Activists said their negotiations had gotten some people out of solitary
confinement and into the general jail population.

At Denny Park, several dozen people prayed around flickering candles,
while evening traffic whizzed by. Around them were no police, banners or

Last night's protests also included a small holdout in an abandoned
apartment building at Ninth and Virginia, where a few dozen squatters
demanded housing for homeless. The group seized the former artists' lofts
Sunday. Yesterday, they ate vegan stir fry and soup by flashlight,
occupying two floors of 12 large rooms.

"This is a political action,' said a 27-year-old man named "Black," his
face covered with a dark bandana and a scraggly beard.

He said the group, which isn't associated with the anarchists, planned to
stay until there was a "successful resolution" for low-income housing for
homeless people.

As the week wound down, protesters and visitors -- including a water polo
team from Arizona -- snapped souvenir shots of themselves with officers in
riot gear.

P-I reporters Kristin Dizon, Robert McClure, Vanessa Ho, D. Parvaz,
Robert L. Jamieson Jr., Angela Galloway, Tracy Johnson, Judd Slivka
and Judi Hunt contributed to this report.

Saturday, December 4, 1999

City rejected offers of help even as tear gas filled streets

Schell's gamble undercuts police; preparation, leadership lambasted

By MIKE BARBER Mail Author

Seattle's mayor and police chief were offered help from Attorney General
Janet Reno and Gov. Gary Locke as tear gas began to fill the city's
streets Tuesday, but they initially rejected it.

They also had received warnings from police rank and file that the
department was ill-equipped and undermanned to handle protests. But Mayor
Paul Schell and Chief Norm Stamper disregarded those apprehensions.

"Schell rolled the dice that we could pull this off peacefully and lost,"
said a veteran police official with knowledge of the planning process, who
declined to be named. "He thought it would be a great coup to host such a
large convention without much police presence."

Many of the officers on the front lines of the chaos on Seattle's streets
this week say they feel betrayed.

>From the start, King County Sheriff Dave Reichert said Schell sent
messages contradictory to the concerns of law enforcement.

A week before the World Trade Organization conference began, Reichert
recalls, "I told people not to come downtown -- it would be more than
inconvenient. The next day, the mayor says, 'Come down and shop; it will
be just fine.' He didn't have a clue."

Reichert, who broke ranks with top brass in publicly criticizing Schell,
promised to address deeper concerns about planning -- or lack of it --
next week. "I intend to say a little more about some of the frustrations
we experienced with WTO," said Reichert, who placed 300 of his officers
under Seattle's command.

King County police then and now had a supporting role with the city, who
held the ultimate command, and Reichert indicated he wasn't pleased with
the leadership of Schell.

Schell denied that he had turned down offers of help and that he had
ignored early warnings that the city was not prepared.

The city eventually accepted the offer of aid from Locke. But that didn't
happen until Tuesday afternoon and the 200 unarmed National Guard members
did not show up on the streets of Seattle until Wednesday morning.

The attorney general's offer of assistance was never accepted, law
enforcement sources said.

Schell disputed those accounts last night. "I doubt we would have turned
down help from anybody," he said.

He also defended the city's planning and defended the officers on the

"I've been out there talking to them," he said. "They feel abused by the
media, not supported by the mayor or their chief.

"I expressed my regrets (to) people here in our city who were innocently
involved and suffered from the use of tear gas, pepper spray and other
necessary measures. People may have taken my apology as a statement that
police overreacted and that is not the case. These tactics were
unavoidable and appropriate," he said.

Schell also said the department was well-prepared and well-equipped from
the outset.

"We've given them 'robo-cop' material. We've spent considerable time
training them to expect violence," the mayor said.

"Everybody, including the King County sheriff, was involved in the
planning with the FBI, Secret Service and state police. There was
extensive planning for all contingencies and possibilities."

But for many law enforcement sources and officers who worked the front
lines, plans seemed in disarray from the very beginning Tuesday.

What was perceived as a hands-off police approach as protesters began
gathering around the Washington State Convention and Trade Center Tuesday
morning was actually an unprepared department watching Schell's gamble
fail, law enforcement sources said.

Police were unable to form safe-passage corridors for dignitaries or even
to physically protect them from heckling crowds. It frustrated and alarmed
the Secret Service and other agents protecting the foreign ministers,
ambassadors and other diplomats among the WTO representatives here.

The level of preparedness was so flawed that when police decided to use
pepper gas and rubber bullets to compensate for their small undermanned
numbers, they had to beg and borrow.

Law enforcement sources said a policy decision had been made to
dramatically cut the supplies of pepper gas recommended by a consultant
advising the department how to prepare for the WTO conference.

Some sources said the consultant's recommendation for $100,000 of pepper
gas was cut to $20,000.

Police officers who were on the front lines of the melee ran out of
department-issued pepper spray and tear gas midafternoon Tuesday.

A handful of officers took matters into their own hands, getting
permission to empty the munitions stores of police departments in Auburn,
Renton and Tukwila, the King County Jail and the Department of
Corrections. In addition, some drove around in a sport-utility vehicle to
buy chemical agents from a local law enforcement supply business.

Meanwhile, a police captain flew to Casper, Wyo., to pick up a stock of
gas from federal agents.

Once officers had collected several hundred canisters of pepper spray and
tear gas, they drove the supplies as close to downtown as they could get.

Plainclothes officers then loaded the non-lethal munitions into gym bags
and knapsacks and ran through the crowds to deliver them to waiting
uniformed officers barricading protesters outside the Sheraton Seattle
Hotel & Towers at Sixth Avenue and Pike Street.

"Those protesters could have stormed any location while we were out of
supplies," one officer, who declined to be named, said in disgust

"We just didn't have the resources we needed when the time came," another
officer said.

Lisa Ross, a spokesman for the Police Department, acknowledged that "we
were running out of OC."

Stamper declined to be interviewed about criticisms of his role in the

Ross said the chief expected detractors, but that he has supported his
officer's efforts all along.

Several police officials and rank-and-file officers say Schell ignored
their requests for more equipment as far back as September. When officers
voiced concern, Schell berated them, telling them to look elsewhere for
employment if they couldn't do it "his way," said several sources who were
there. "Months ago they said they were going to shut down the city, not
just the WTO, but the city," said an angry Seattle police officer who
declined to be named. "Lots of warnings were there."

But by the time police finally could act with all their officer-safety
precautions in place, it was too late. Outnumbered officers said they were
faced with an uphill, confrontational battle later in the day, when parts
of the demonstration lost its focus on WTO and turned to vandalism and
confrontations downtown. In violation of police procedures, few slept or

"I was so tired I was nauseous," said a Seattle officer who spent nearly
20 hours on the streets.

Those working close to them, who were also suddenly pressed into service,
saw the strain on the faces of officers pushed to incredible limits and
felt it themselves. Joan, a 55-year-old Metro bus driver, who declined to
give her last name because she had been threatened by anarchists, saw her
bus suddenly pressed into service as a 40-foot patrol car.

All day Wednesday, she ferried 30 tired King County sheriff's tactical
team members, 26 men and four women, from one trouble spot to another.

"I wasn't prepared for it, but I wound up feeling like their den mother,"
she said. "You could hear the exhaustion in their voices. They had been up
for 36 out of 48 hours. They had eaten once Tuesday and nothing at all

Police sources said keeping officers on the lines for so long put everyone
at risk, because tired officers are either more prone to being harmed or
losing patience with protesters.

P-I reporter Mike Barber can be reached at 206-448-8018 or

P-I reporters Kery Murakami and Elaine Porterfield contributed to this


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