GENTECH archive


first-hand play-by-play from Seattle

Can't tell who wrote the personal commentary, but it looks like someone we
saw on the streets, and there's only one Tom from Newport.

Perhaps "Radin, David S C" <> will send me the address.

This one ends up in my personal Seattle archive

From: "Radin, David S C" <
Subject: A first-hand play-by-play of a piece of the WTO demonstrations

Good afternoon,

        I realize that, the below subject does not completely fit the
topic of this list, but I felt that this is the type of news that runs
near and dear to our hearts.  Below is a first-hand description of some of
the events during the WTO demonstration.  It is somewhat long, but well
written.  It really gave me a feeling of what it was like to be there.


-----Original Message-----

Hello all. By now you likely have heard about the Battle in Seattle. If
interested, here is a personal account. You might want to copy it into yer
word app for less online reading time:

Michele and I arrived in the Seattle on Sunday evening and headed to a
cybercafe/gallery/coffeehouse called Speakeasy where forest activists had
converged. There were lots of Oregonians and scores of folks I haven't
seen in ages. Word was that Mic had built a 13 foot wooden siege tower and
was hauling it up by flatbed truck. Meanwhile a warehouse on the slopes of
Capital Hill district was rented out as a Convergence Center, where Art
and Revolution, the Direct Action Network, Food Not Bombs and others where
meeting, making props and signs and lockdown apparatus for the shutdown on

At the Speakeasy there was an electricity in the air as folks filtered in
and reconnected and anticipated the events. A lounge a few doors down,
past the druggies and muggers was hosting a jazz band benefit for
International Workers of the World (IWW). My friend and sporadic
co-worker/employer Tom from Newport wanted to video the EVENTS, so armed
with a digital video camera he showed up so I could introduce him to
activists I know for interviews. It turned out that Tom was staying close
to where we were so he became our defacto driver from the City center to
the Wallingford neighborhood, sparing us much waiting and bus fare

Monday morning local newscast gave a glance at the dramas unfolding. There
were police gearing up, beefy security everywhere. Homeless being rounded
up while a major influx of activists that filtered into the city
car-camped and squatted in every nook and cranny. Report of an intrusion
at the WTO Convention Center itself in the wee hours and a shot of the
building's workers standing out in the pre-dawn rain as a SWAT team cased
the building. Meanwhile the Rainforest Action Network had 5 activists high
up on a construction crane, two of which dangling off ropes on either side
of a 25 by 60 foot banner reading "Democracy" (arrow left) "WTO" (arrow
right) This vantage was nicely located near the elevated freeway in full
frontal view of morning commuters. Downtown meanwhile protesters burned
khaki pants in front of The Gap (protesting sweatshop labor).

Tom picked us up with our bagged lunches and we drove in, stopping to
photograph and film to crane hangers. Driving past a park where hundreds
gathered prior to something, past the Cows With Guns bus. We park behind
the Space Needle and looked for the "convergence center" with other lost
activists, some carrying boxes of food donations on their heads. We 3 Mono
railed downtown and heard the reverb echo of a crowd off the city canyons
of the shopping district. We found about 600 marching along a permitted
route calling attention to the environmental destruction encouraged by the
WTO. About 200 were dressed in colorful cardboard Sea Turtle costumes. The
march ended at a podium where speakers and singers riled us up. Senator
Paul Wellstone and others were fiery. But we were feeling penned in the
dead end. 

When it was over the word was that the McDonalds, some blocks away was the
next gathering spot. There a white van blocked the transit mall with rave
music blared from inside. Its roof a stage for speakers who emerged from
the sunroof.I'm thinking, dang if this were an Earth First action that van
would have been tagged and towed by now. But there was a mass throng of
people in the liberated zone, the party had begun. 10 anarchos dancing
atop a blocked bus whose shocks are rocking, unfurling a "Vegan
Revolution" banner. The farmer who spearheaded the French farmers uprising
against factory farming and MacDonalds in France took to the roof gave a
rousing speech, then broke bread with other family farmers from 4
different countries, Spendy French cheese was shared with the crowd. We
head down the block and photograph and jeer a small corps of riot cops
standing droid like in black padded gear in a pay parking lot. Michele,
yet to find markers for her "Hands off Genes" sign pops into a posh
stationary store across from the lot where a surly cashier triple charges
her for water soluble markers. A formation of riot cops closes in on the
intersection. Tom gets some nice behind the police line filming.

Michele is usually skittish about confrontations. The media hype about
brutal legions of riot cops and terrorist chemical attacks didn't help
any. She felt like it was a journey to doom. Of course I'm a danger's edge
type, so differences in personal style surfaced. She starts hedging me to
the safe side of intersections. Be calm and steady, I reply. Always keep
an eye for an escape route, etc. The riot cops march in on the liberated
zone, and the masses, like water, flow around them and we begin to march
around the city, thousands strong.  

We are a march taking over the streets going WHERE? Who cares? Just being
in the mass of fellow minded outraged folk was a pleasure. We marched with
joy around corner after corner, finally stopped by riot police guarding
(of all, things) an on-ramp for I-5, like were going to take over the
interstate or something. The call is put out to turn and head to NikeTown
and we get there and the windows are wobbled heavily, but not broken.
Police turn out and are overwhelmed. Intersections everywhere are alive
with knots of activity. Fucking beautiful scene. It lasts nonviolently and
creatively for hours. We lose Tom in the mayhem. I bump into Harry from
Citizens Band and he leads Michele and I on a long trek through the city
to the Convergence Center, 420 East Denny which looks on the outside like
a happening lowbagger nightclub.

 Inside the rented space a huge nexus of activity and meeting, massive
props under construction, announcements being made, a call to support a
squat house that the police are closing in on (I found out later that they
came down hard on the black block squad of anarchos till the media showed
up and they backed down.) --and some ran out to join. We were pretty
bushed tho and caught a bus back to the Space Needle area to get into the
Key Arena where the Peoples Gala was starting. Along the route, Tom saw us
from the street and got on the bus with us. At the GALA Laura Love,
Spearhead, Paul Wellstone, Jello Biafra, Jim Hightower, the RAN crane
hangers (released and back on the street) and other notables sang and
spoke and performed top notch political theater to an arena full of
celebrants. The event was free to all and United Steelworker marshals
provided security, and prevented dancing in the aisles. It was a full-on
event which under normal circumstances I would have been happy to travel
for. News was that a Christian group doing a Jubilee 2000 support drew
thousands that evening in an action circling of the Convention site.But
the main event was looming early the next morning so we bagged it for
nervous sleep instead.

7:30am Tom and Michele and I are back at it, bussing to the Pike street
market area from the free parking area near the Needle. At Pike Street, a
huge rally with wildly colorful props and puppets and a whale blimp are
beginning to march to the Convention Center to shut down the Days WTO
gathering. Its pouring rain and the march is spirited The People United
Will Never Be Defeated! Riot cops are mostly stand-offish as all creative
nonviolent hell breaks loose. We intersection hop to the top of the hill
where a small band is letting no traffic from the freeway enter the
streets. Dumpsters are overturned and used as blockade props, drumming and
chanting.down a block, past the whale blimp that is now an intersection
blockade. There are no cars downtown. All the traffic is locked out, every
intersection is a wild free state where tension and creativity and
possibilities are played out. It was simply stunning, Not 9am yet and
already and taboos of civility are broken. How far to go? My head is
reeling, Michele is a nervous ball of energy but releases tension in
spurts. At the Sheraton we join in the festivities in front of main
entrance. Her non colorfast marker sign is looking more tie dye by the

I'm on top of this humungo concrete planter box waving green Cascadia!
flags to the circus celebration music.Up the block a squadron of black
clad masked anarchos runs to wig out the police. We go around the corner
and there is a human chain of circle. Only people wearing suits are barred
from free movement. We go up to the top of this Sheraton where there is a
perfect vista of a very tense scene where thousands are blocking an
intersection and the riot cops on horseback are trying to break through,
only to be repelled by excellent solidarity of affinity groups. At one
point a passel of riot cops enter the interior of the intersection and are
surrounded by the protesters. A very tired city cop approaches us from our
vantage point and complains about how beat he is, on the 18th hour of his
shift with no end in sight, He jokes with us how he wants to trade us his
SPD jacket for a picket sign. He trails off and we cannot believe our luck
at being 5 flights above the police line that is moving in on the

We could have lobbed serious molotovs from there if we wanted to.Back on
the street, at another intersection we hold the line against a black row
of police, behind which the Delegates Charter busses are waiting for the
streets to be cleared. We haul in street closed sawhorse signs while
others roll dumpsters uphill. The intersection is a magnet for actions and
activists. It goes on for a long while. Reports come in from other fronts,
about rubber bullets and paint guns breaking up the last intersection.
About how a deranged protester charged the police line and wailed a SPD
urban assault vehicle with his fists. About how a friend of ours was
wailed on by close range rubber bullets

People calling out tips for dealing with teargas, high up in lightposts
call out details we cant see in the crowd. Someone brings in a stack of
newspapers and dumps it in the street to start a fire with. 3 uniformed
UPS employees take turns posing in front of it for the Fun Saver. Someone
else kicks the pile apart "This is my city, don't burn it" then the police
start lobbing tear gas at our growing throng. Bandannas up! A good portion
of protesters sport gas masks. There's this one guy who just stands in
front of the cops in a meditation pose as the toxic vapor rises up
mystically around him. Pooof Pooof more canisters are lobbed at us.
Michele has contacts on which are bad news with teargas, but she also
sports goggles, so she's fairly ok Someone of the canisters are thrown
back at them, everywhere people are hacking and spitting and puking, I am
stung but not hellishly.

We pass a parked cop car that someone is deflating the tires of, beating
on. We are pushed back to the next block where its all regrouping
protesters and everyday city pedestrians. A police car with a bloodied
arrestee inside turns the corner in front of us. Solidarity in the crowd,
Someone yelling out asking if anyone needs medical assistance. Another
replies "Do you have valium?" Paul Wellstone limps by and I shake his
hand. I figure that this intersection is safe. I yell out "They wouldn't
teargas shoppers would they?" The scene regroups and another line of
busses is blocked. Ranger's not gonna like this Boo Boo. The guy on stilts
with butterfly wings wanders over. More barriers are dragged uphill to
repeat the process. Regrouping mob freak magnet.I change out of my rain
pants and offer people fig newtons Someone has brought loud music.Seattle
pedestrians linger a while and dance. Uphill the police march down and
take control of the block. And lob gas at us again. Sheeit, I guess so.
Fluid as ever, we cough and hack and turn a corner. All ya have to do is
walk around the quadrant where its another full on spectacle in progress.
BY now its getting on 11:00am and across town at the Memorial Stadium
Labor is having a massive 2 hour rally in preparation for their tens of
thousands march through the city. Hoffa Jr is rallying the Teamsters to
rumble We wander over to another end of the downtown core and everywhere
there are is (A) and NO WTO graffitti'd on the walls.

Business are all closed, its next to impossible to pee anywhere. Suck it
in and walk and wander a magical city full of miracles and wonders and
tragedies. It'll never be this happening again. Every glance yields visual
spectacle. Here an exhausted labor protester holds onto a huge Art and
Revolution puppet, there a sight of a quarter mile of city Pine Street is
throbbing with bodies and signs and costumes and massive props and blimps
and streamers. Billboards with No WTO messages. Stores closed but the
streets alive. Bullhorn chanting "Ain't No Power Like the Power of the
People and the Power of the People Wont Stop". We walk down the sidewalk
along the jammed street, occasionally there a part in the crowd and you
can see tagged and smashed windows, crunch of safety glass underfoot, hear
the muffled siren of a jewelry store alarm, see fresh spraypaint on walls.
A newspaper hawker calling out the headline "Mad River of Protesters Flood
the City" above the din of the mayhem. Hundreds of orange caps at the top
of the bodies choked street, Could this be the AFL-CIO? Turns out to be
parade marshals holding miles of yellow "Unseen Crime" tape. Parade route

We work our way up to the Paramount Theater, where some official function
is being disrupted. Standoff between protesters and line of riot cops
which filmmaker Michael Moore approaches trailed with cameras. The crowd
goes wild. Chanting "We Like Mike", "all we are saying is give Mike a
Chance". The Labor march, joined by thousands more choke the city streets.
All is splendor and celebration and feeble attempts to digest the stimuli
as the pee screams for release and likely restroom venues are either
closed or being plywooded against the hurricane. What a lovely war.

For the record, we left the scene about 3pm, before things turned real
ugly and the anarchist carnage began in earnest. Catching a bus was a
miracle as most bus roofs were elevated dancefloors and some had batteries
and parts stripped from them. Our driver was at his wits end and let
everyone at the remaining stops in for free.