COLLATERAL DAMAGE IN SEATTLE
Called-in from a pay phone outside Seattle. Wed., 7:30 pm Pacific time. I just spent 4 days in Seattle. The "information" people are getting from themass media is false. This was not, as Pres. Clinton claims, a peaceful protest marred by the actions of violent protesters.
This was a massive, strong but peaceful demonstration which was attacked repeatedly by the policewith the express purpose of provoking a violent response to dismiss themovement and to provide photo opportunities for the Western media. I knowbecause I watched it happening. I'll tell you how they did it. The government put a lot of effort into making sure the protesters in Seattle were a "loyal opposition" who wanted to reform the WTO, not get rid of it But the people in Seattle - American steel workers, Canadian postal workers,college kids from all over, environmentalists from Australia - you name it-were not for reforming the WTO.
They were for getting rid of it. And this wasn't just true of the protesters. I interviewed delegates. Noneof them had anything favorable to say about the WTO. Two delegates from the Caribbean were angry about job loss. One delegate from Peru took a bullhorn and got up on a car and spoke to the protestors against the World TradeOrganization. He said it hurts the workers and farmers. I interviewed a Norwegian guy from Greenpeace. Totally against it. Even a delegate from Holland said it had hurt the farmers there. He said though it is supposedly democratic, that's actually a lie: the US, England and Canada and a few others get together and decide what they want to do. Then they ask the rest of the countries to vote and if they vote wrong they threaten,"You won'tget loans," or whatever. They get them to do what they want by blackmailingthem. The Italians we interviewed were upset too. I couldn't find any delegates who were in favor.
So the government instigated a "riot" to discredit the movement against the WTO because they couldn't dilute it. I am not guessing about this. I was there. I saw it happening. And I will tell you I am frankly shocked to see,close up, just how little our leaders care what happens to ordinary people.Clinton can pose and speak a lot of flowery stuff but the truth is - we are nothing to them. I saw this with my own eyes. Sunday and Monday, there was no violence. None.
The people were aggressively non-violent; they were self-policing. Up until Tuesday at 4pm there was one window broken in the whole city - a McDonalds window. This compares favorably to the typical rock concert, let alone a demonstration of people who were non-violently barring entry to the World Trade Center! At this point, a new group of police - tactical police - moved in & started gassing people and shooting rubber bullets. Is it any surprise that people got mad? Of course, the young kids hit back by breaking some windows in retaliation for being gassed, sprayed with very painful pepper gas, and shot with dangerous "rubber" bullets. The police instigated these kids, plain and simple. Sunday and Monday they had young cops, using them to block the streets.
These were trainees. But Tuesday they had the real cops; none of them were young. They were trained to attack people. A small group, maybe 100 people total, struck back. Then these cops herded that group around the city, making sure there were plenty of photo ops of "violent protesters." A number of times they had these 100 or so protesters caught between buildings and walls of police.
They could easily have arrested and detained this small number of people and gotten it over with. Instead they would gas them and let them go. Then trap them again, gas them again, and again let them go. The cops made no arrests that I know of until late Tuesday night though the skirmishing was going on from three till 9:30. The cops would blockade three or five blocks of an area, give the angry kids room to operate, keep gassing them - when you gas a person, let me tell you, it gets them fighting mad. Tuesday night the police gassed all of downtown. This was going on from 3PM, till 6 PM.. Gas everywhere. The kids broke a few windows - McD's, Starbucks-small stuff - burned a few garbage cans. The police were using these people as extras. It was staged. I believe also the police had their own people in there, encouraging people to break stuff - if people think I may be exaggerating, I saw supposed protesters - they were screaming and so on - and then later, when everything was over, the same people tackled other protestors and put handcuffs on them.
At 6pm they issued a State of Emergency. At that point they had pushed the 100 people outside the city limits, so the police went outside the limits too, and they started gassing that area too, gassing the neighborhoods where the regular people live. I am not exaggerating. The police were relentless. This was in an area from the city limits for about 10 blocks to the Seattle Central Community College. If you were alive, the police gassed you.
People coming back from work, kids, women, everyone. People would go out of their houses to see what was happening because these tear gas guns sound like a cannon - and they would get gassed. A block away there was a Texaco gas station - they threw tear gas at gas pumps, believe it or not - they were like vandals. They gassed a bus. I saw it with my own eyes. A bus. The driver, the riders, the people just abandoned it . I was sitting in a little coffee shop called Rauhaus, [Jim did not spell this-the spelling may be wrong.] They were shooting "rubber" bullets at the glass. I picked up a dozen of the things in a few square feet. They were also shooting this paint that you can only see with a florescent light. They would paint anyone and everyone and then go hunting them. Anyway, because they were gassing everybody, the local people got mad too and they joined the 100 who had been herded out of the city. So soon there were 500 including the neighborhood people and all very angry.
Naturally. Because they had been gassed and hit with pepper spray, that stuff does a number on you. And shot with these damn bullets. Then people set up barricades at Seattle Central Community College. The cops organized themselves for about an hour and then moved in and gassed that area. Today they started mass arrests. That was because Clinton - the Greeks call him the Planitarchis, Ruler of the World - was coming. Weeping crocodile tears about how he just LOVES peaceful protest, which of course you'd have to be two years old to believe he had nothing to do with the police action. This whole thing, this police attack, this was US foreign policy, not some action decided by some bureaucrat in Seattle. This was the State
Department. They wanted to discredit the people. When things started on Sunday, there was a protest rally of solidarity involving people from different walks of life. Monday it got even bigger. Tuesday there was a big sort of carnival where people were doing different things, a band was playing music and people were blocking the World Trade Center. And about 3 PM the cops started throwing tear gas. The thing that drove Clinton crazy was that on Tuesday the protesters had succeeded in making nonviolent human chains and had therefore stopped everyone from going into the World Trade Center. Only maybe 27 delegates got through, mostly US and British. There were what seemed like tens of thousands of protesters involved. So the police did their gassing number against these nonviolent people to break up the human chains and make the protesters look violent.
Today (Wednesday) I followed the union protest put together by the Longshoremen's Union. They went down to the docks and had a rally then marched to Third Avenue. As soon as they got there the cops started gassing them. There was an old lady there. She had gone downtown by bus to buy something. This lady was in her 70's and I saw her trying to run, but she couldn't breathe. She was in shock. I carried her to a building entryway. She was gasping, terrified. She had been in Germany, and it was like she was having flashbacks. The tear gas sounds like gunfire and there were helicopters overhead, sirens, cops on horses, everything. They had clearly made a decision to destroy this movement.
So anyway there I was with her in this building and she wanted to go to the hospital but there was tear gas everywhere and I was afraid if I tried to move her she'd be gassed again. I went to this line of cops and begged - I mean begged - these riot police to help her. They ignored me. A girl told me later that a one year old had been gassed. And I myself saw a girl no more than 18 - a cop had busted her lip wide open - she was bleeding - and then they gassed everyone including her. After that she was kneeling on the ground crying like a baby and praying for 15 minutes, Hail Mary, Hail Mary. Over and over. She was in a state of shock. They just gassed these people who were sitting down non-violently and doing nothing. Nothing. At one point the Seattle Mayor said his boys were not using rubber bullets. Miraculously, by then I had ten in my pocket. I could open a little market, sell the things.
They are everywhere. I and other people started giving them to delegates and stuff. "See what they're doing? They're shooting "rubber" bullets and lying about it." We showed them to the media. I guess enough people and the media got the information because the Mayor made a new statement then that they were using them. As if he hadn't known. They shot rubber bullets from four feet away into the face of a guy next to me, broke all his front teeth. When that happened I lost it. I forgot I was supposed to be getting the news for all of you and I started yelling at the cops, "What the hell is wrong with you? Are you sick, man?" So this cop aimed his gun right at me. That was his answer. So I first put my hands in front of my face because I didn't want to lose my teeth. And then I thought, to hell with it. I was wearing my target shirt that said "Collateral Damage", you know? With a bullseye target, like they wore during the bombing in Yugoslavia. And I told this guy, "Go ahead, shoot!
Here! Here's the target!" He didn't shoot me. I want to emphasize, these protesters were NOT violent people. They were the most non-violent people I have ever seen. Even when I was screaming at the cop, this girl came up to me and said, "Do not scream. This is non-violent." These people were too much to believe. They must meditate all the time, Idon't know. Clinton said he supports nonviolent protest. That is baloney.
Today (Wed.) the protesters were causing absolutely no "trouble". In downtown the cops had people running who weren't even protesters - like that old lady or just people going to work or shopping - everyone was getting gassed. The busses weren't running because of the gas. I was lucky to catch one with a driver who could still see. I begged him to drive the old lady home - the driver changed his route especially for her. If you want to find human decency, stay away from the Planitarchis. Go to the to regular people. They have some. The Planitarchis lost all his years ago. Now he wouldn't know human decency if it came up and bit him. So now I have made personal acquaintance with the people who run this country, and they are quite simply scum. There were people at work, people with babies, they were all getting gassed because the government would not allow an assembly of people speaking their minds. It is the same as what happened in Athens.
Clinton's requirements on the Greek government created the riot and he did the same thing here. And then he says he supports nonviolent protest? How? By shooting rubber bullets? And today they outlawed gas masks. They want to make sure everyone gets his money's worth.Today, just like yesterday night, the police were in the residential neighborhoods. People in caf»s were getting gassed and shot at, you could hear it on the windows, bang, bang, bang. A guy trying to cross the street to go to his house got gassed. First a drunk guy outside a bar yelled at the cops "Get out of here!" so they gassed him. And then this other guys was just crossing the street to go home so the cops figured, might as well gas him too. People got gassed for coming out of restaruants and bars and coffee shops. I'm amazed that nobody died who had asthma or something. Or maybe somebody did die and they didn't talk about it. I mean after all, it's just collateral damage..
okay everyone, I'll try to make this coherent, but it's been a really long two days and tomorrow promises to be pretty crazy as well. i'd like to write more about the entire experience but right now i'll give you the shortened "i need to sleep or i will die version, up-to-minute police state siege class war version." check out whatever news you can about seattle. british seems to be pretty good. there is tons of alternative documentation, live internet feeds, etc. the real deal: as i write this riot squads and the national guard are shooting cs gas (tear gas), concussion grenades, rubber bullets, pepper spray (from cannons and directly into faces), using long batons, boots,etc. against peaceful protesters, shoppers, workers, and anyone else they come across. yesterday (november 30), what seems to be at least 100,000 people took to the streets of seattle for non-violent protest, civil disobedience, and direct action. riot cops (armor, carrying rifles, pepper spray, tear gas cannisters, helmets) gassed people sitting on the ground and dancing in front of them at 9:30 am. the next time i was gas ahead of us up the block, in front of us, trapping people in alleys.
a little later on, more people were out in the streets, checking things out, pissed at the cops. they fired gas, concussion helping to keep the crowds from not panicking, moving slowly and not trampling one another, helping to treat injured people). It was about this time that the rioting really broke loose, and i will stress that if it was mindless, it was still in response to cop brutality and of downtown (which meant marching on us, firing tear gas constantly as we dispersed). they followed far beyond the perimeter they declared, at least two miles out of downtown into a neighborhood which then responded in kind as best they could. this fighting kept on until am hours. is this readable at all? sorry.
I've been gassed more times than i can count now, sprayed with pepper spray, seen children, old women, and anyoneelse you can imagine, brutalized. a girl shot between the eyes with a rubber bullet. people lying on the ground losing consciousness in clouds of gas, running blind and vomiting if they can. today has continued beyond that, with the declaring of martial law, police chief refusing to comment when asked if gas and bullets are being used, claiming that all explosions (the concussion grenades which are fired in rapid succession into crowds) are pipe bombs thrown by demonstrators. the police declared a NO Protest zone in the core of downtown (a clear violation of first amendment rights, as if that is the only violation occurring), a permiter which you would be arrested if crossing into and suspected of being a protester, not a business worker showing ID.
By this early afternoon, they went outside of that zone, way beyond it, firing gas and grenades and rubber bullets into crowds, protests, driving us into an outdoor market and gassing the market (all businesses were open, people on the streets shopping, lunch break, going home, etc.). Then columns of riots squads began to occupy streets, beating people, etc. (assume that that is constant), herding people to the waterfront. There has not been a curfew imposed in seattle since WWII, and martial law was last declared in 1919. I got out of downtown after sundown, up to safe space, and then hours later the cops came and invaded, layed siege to the same neighborhood they had come to the night before and are still in as far as i know, right now. okay, that's the horror stories, but only a fraction of it.
The solidarity here has been amazing, steelworkers supporting ecology activists supporting anarchists, on and on. lots of citizens completely in aggreement and completely disgusted by the police state actions. There are over 500 people in jail, practicing disobediance and jail solidarity there, although their legal rights are being severly abused as well. Supposedly jails are full, which is why the cops have become so much more brutal, as they have no where to put us.
But, yesterday they arrested almost no one at all, and when asked why not, the chief replied "you can't just arrest people for nothing." Oh, but you can brutalize them into submission. So, do not believe whatever mainstream media bullshit you see. This has been by far and large completely non-violent, no-confrontation protest. there was some destruction, and what some would call deserving businesses were targeted for the main part (starbucks, nike, gap,etc.). in my experience, almost all destruction came in response to police attacks on non-violent protestors (not to mention the young black kids taking to the streets after years of police attacks). This is an all-out war at this point, and it is amazing to me that in the face of body armor, batons, grenades, gas, pepperspray, rifles, and what is pretty much a tank, we are defending ourselves with only wetted bandanas, swim goggles (if you're lucky), baking soda and water solutions, and solidarity. I am writing to you from a militarized zone where they are laying siege to entire neighborhoods in the name of "restoring peace", a peace that exists save for the violence they bring. For every news segment showing "the anarchists in black" smashing windows, how about us anarchists giving medical aid and helping to keep order in the streets while under attack? again, the organizing is amazing, medical and communication teams, daily meals, jail solidarity.
It's amazing to see all the red/black flags and neckerchiefs flying everywhere. Please pass this on to everyone you know and get the word out. Spread the truth.
Love and Struggle,
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