Police, protesters look back on week of tear gas and trade meetings
December 3, 1999
From staff and wire reports
SEATTLE (CNN) -- Seattle authorities and demonstrators who clashed with police during the World Trade Organization conference are looking back at what went wrong and what may have been accomplished.
More than 500 people were arrested during the most violent clashes between protesters and police Tuesday and Wednesday. By Friday, protest groups were holding news conferences accusing police of brutality.
Three arrested members of the Direct Action Network, like many of those detained, would identify themselves only as "John WTO" or "Jane WTO." They said they were arrested for protesting peacefully and were denied proper access to legal help once in jail.
Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper and Mayor Paul Schell have praised the way police responded to protesters, with a few exceptions.
Stamper accused some demonstrators of premeditated violence and offered as evidence what they said were confiscated large sticks, gas masks, smoke grenades, Super Soaker squirt guns, paint, slingshots, Molotov cocktails and rakes.
"They have also not been shy about chucking rocks and bottles at our police officers," Stamper said.
But the window-smashing and trash burning that shattered the peace earlier this week have ended, and police have not used concussion grenades or chemical spray since the final violent clash early Thursday morning.
Some protesters say the violence started when police overreacted to about 30 anarchists from Oregon who joined a rally of about 30,000 protesters Tuesday to destroy Seattle storefronts.
The event did bring together some strange bedfellows including labor groups, environmentalists and farmers, not to mention anarchists, all trying to deliver their messages to trade ministers who were attending the talks.
While tens-of-thousands cheered peacefully at an AFL-CIO rally Tuesday, protesters with more violent agendas grabbed newspaper headlines.
Some delegates on the inside said the cries on the outside were tough to ignore.
A protest march on Friday, the start of the Jewish holiday of Hannukah, began with a religious theme. Representatives of several religious organizations denounced the WTO.
"Tonight is the first night of Hannukah, the Jewish night of celebration of liberation from imperialism and oppression," Rabbi David Seidenberg told the crowd.
The march was confronted by a line of police in riot gear when it reached the border of the "no-protest" zone around the meeting site, but after cries of "down with police brutality" the marchers moved away without a confrontation.
Correspondent Rusty Dornin and Reuters contributed to this report.
Final day of WTO conference brings calm, signs of normalcy
World Trade Organization (WTO)
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