GENTECH archive


Chemical war in Seattle-The World's Still Watching-

Thanks Jon: 
I've reconfigured this item so that it becomes readable in ASCII;


[Seattle Independent Media Center]
The Seattle Indy Media Center is a
coalition of many independent media
organizations and producers, offering
live coverage of the WTO protests
ignored by the corporate media.

Latest News:

Neurotoxic Symptoms In Chemical Warfare 
Casualties At Seattle WTO Meeting
by kirk james murphy, MD
< 10:04am
Tue Dec 7 '99

Direct Action Network Medical
Collective members provided first aid
and other  care for thousands of
casualties of chemical warfare during
the Seattle WTO protests.

Collective members identified a subset
of casualties with  symptoms consistent 
 with exposure to neurotoxins which
disrupt  acetylcholine irritant agents
do not explain the symptoms.

The Direct Action Network Medical
Collective was organized to provide
first aid and other health services to
activists and others (onlookers, media, 
residents, and anyone else requesting
assistance) in Seattle for the WTO
meeting last week.

The Collective members  provided care
for literally hundreds of chemical
warfare casualties on both  November 30 
and December 1; hundreds more have
requested information and treatment in
subsequent days. As one may imagine,
Collective members have acquired
extensive expertise in the recognition  
and treatment of symptoms arising from
exposure to pepper spray (OC) and "tear 
gases" (CS and CN).

Individuals exposed to chemical weapons 
in the late afternoon and evening of    
       December 1st at two locations
downtown  blocks adjacent to Pike Place 
Market and   the Seattle neighborhood
of Capitol Hill  evinced and reported a 
pattern of  symptoms which is
inconsistent with the  pattern of
symptoms which may be ascribed  to
irritating agents. 

This "atypical"  pattern of symptoms
includes the rapid onset of: 

mydriasis (pupillary dilation) with
resultant impairment of visual acuity;

tachycardia (rapid heart rate) with
some palpitations;

new-onset hypertension (high blood
pressure) in one individual;

nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (persisting
for days after exposure);

abrupt or immediate onset of
menstruation (asynchronous with usual
menstrual cycle);

muscular fasciculation (twitches);

muscular dyscoordination;

diminished concentration, 
nocturnal hallucinations.

Moreover, some casualties reported an
abrupt experience of loss of muscular   
tone and strength that sometimes (but
not always) immediately preceded a loss 
of  consciousness; one observer of
these affected individuals reported
uncontrolled, spasmodic movements in
those affected.

Some individuals exposed in the Pike
Place Market area reported that the
aforementioned symptoms came
immediately  after exposure to a
non-irritating agent which was did not
cause pain, lacrimation, or burning on
mucous  membranes.

At least one individual complaining of
fasciculations and cognitive impairment 
  days after exposure reported
resolution of both symptoms for a
duration of   approximately five to six 
hours within twenty to thirty minutes
after treatment with 10 mg of the
specific antidote dicyclomine (Bentyl)
- an anticholinergic  medication which
crosses the blood-brain  barrier and
hence can relieve central nervous
symptoms of excessive cholinergic
activity as well as relieving
peripheral  symptoms of the same

The pattern of symptoms is not
consistent with known mechanisms of
action of the irritant chemical weapons 
OC, CS, or CN. The pattern, however, is 
consistent with  disruption of
neurotransmitter activity. Lamentably,
the single most compelling explanation
for the observed findings is  the
(deliberate or accidental) inclusion
of "incapacitating agents" which
disrupt  neuronal function in the
chemical  munitions discharged by law
enforcement  agencies in Seattle during 
the WTO protest.

While direct cholinergic effects or
indirect (inhibition of
acetylcholinesterase) effects arising
from synergistic combinations (of OC,
CS, and CN) cannot be ruled out at this 
time,  the experience and observations  
Medical Collective members, together
with  the aforementioned information,
appears  to most robustly support the
hypothesis   that the casualties
described above  resulted from exposure 
to cholinesterase      inhibitors used
as chemical weapons in crowd control.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported 
on December 4 that the Seattle Police   
Department had to replenish its
chemical weapons stocks by going to
outside sources. Various individuals
have  reported being told by individual 
law enforcement officers that chemical
weapons in addition to OC, CS, and CN   
were deployed by various entities;
these  anecdotal accounts are not yet

Any information regarding the use of
chemical munitions in addition to OC,
CS  or CN, as well as information
regarding  the discharge of chemical
weapons by   agencies other than the
Seattle Police Department would be

Available Internet information from
presumably authoritative (eg, DOD)
sources describes "nerve gases" as
lethal  agents. While the casualties
described   above - fortunately - have
not included fatalities, the apparent
pattern of  excessive cholinergic
activity and the fact that
"incapacitating agents" is the  term of 
art for a subset of chemical weapons
used in crowd control suggests  that
the term "nerve gas" may be a
suboptimal descriptive term.
"Incapacitating agents" or "neurotoxic  
 agents" may be more precise ways of
describing chemical munitions with the  
effects described above.

If you were exposed to chemical weapons 
 during the WTO protests and have the
pattern of "atypical" symptoms
discussed  below, please make a
written, signed, and dated account of
your exposure, including details such
as the (approximate)  location in which 
you were exposed and  the date and part 
of the day (morning,    midday,
afternoon, evening) of your exposure,
as well as the nature of your
symptoms. Please send such accounts to  
the email above and to the ACLU unit    
investigating law enforcement actions
in Seattle during the WTO protests.

Collection of discharged chemical
weapons  munitions is proceeding apace
at this time. Collection of serum
samples from affected individuals will
probably be organized over the next 48
hours. Assay  of garments (and other
materials) exposed    to the chemical
warfare agents on  individuals
demonstrating the aforementioned
pattern of symptoms is also
contemplated. If you have canisters  or 
other chemical munitions containers
discharged during the WTO protest,
please  contact the above email address 
for information about how to forward
these  containers for chemical analysis

[NOTE: Canisters of "CS" or "CN" (tear
gas) or "OC" (Oleoresin Capsaiscum) are 
not   needed - we know they were used.
The   containers to be sent for
chemical analysis would only be those
without the  above markings or those
with markings  consistent with the use
of other agents.]

Your comments are invited and desired.  
Obviously, the escalation of chemical
weapons used in "crowd control" to
include even non-lethal neurotoxins is
an exceedingly grave prospect: the
qualitative leap from irritant agents
(OC, CS, CN) to agents which disrupt
neuronal function is truly an appalling 
 prospect. This communication is
intended  to ensure the fullest
possible discussion  and consideration
of the events and  mechanisms described