All posts by Snazzy Q

Miss Seattle? Come to D.C.

Thousands of activists will take the streets of Washington D.C., shutting down the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Inspired and enlightened by the victories in Seattle, radicals of all stripes will join in courageous acts of solidarity on April 16 and 17 at the headquarters of these imperialist institutions.

If you regret missing the World Trade Organization meeting festivities last fall, here is your chance to make history as many of us did on November 30.

The D.C. police have estimated that at least 10,000 people will show up and have vowed that the city will not be shut down and the meetings will continue. Activists have vowed to win once again. From the sound of it, the same tensions ignited in Seattle will rock D.C. this spring.

Since November 30, activists around the country and globally have dedicated themselves to studying the dark side of globalization, the rampant poverty and growing income gap created by the free flow of capital across national borders. The WTO, IMF and World Bank, major international institutions created to stabilize global capitalism and spread free-market ideology, are symbols of 21 century imperialism and instruments for the rich to make themselves richer at the expense of impoverished people everywhere.

With amazing force that has united labor, students and radicals from many diverse organizations, the meetings held by these international capitalists have become sites for expressive outrage against the blind force of globalization, a force which moves unannounced, without permission from the people whose lives it transforms and the environment it devastates. A plethora of evidence shows that these international organizations are ineffective and corrupt, causing more damage than “development” (see article inside).

For many, Seattle was a historical moment, a chance to stand up firmly against these injustices. Those most inspired are organizing to keep that spirit alive. Beginning March 31 and continuing until the mass rally on Sunday April 16 and Monday April 17 various public interest groups will hold conferences and teach-ins throughout the DC area. The Ruckus Society, Direct Action Network, Art and Revolution and other action-oriented groups will hold workshops on civil disobedience, media relations, police tactics, legal observing, jail solidarity, street performance and prop-building. Affinity groups will meet and organize at the convergence space in town to plan their specific actions.

The cops are getting ready. In the last days of the havoc in Seattle, D.C. cops were flown in to “observe and learn.” Executive Assistant Chief Terrance W. Gainer has said that protesters can exercise their “First Amendment rights” but for those who become “violent” the arrests will be “quick, swift and certain.” According to Gainer, D.C. cops will not “be caught sleeping.” The Metropolitan Police Department is re-equipping and training 1,400 officers for crowd control, stocking up on “less-than-lethal” weapons like tear gas and rubber bullets, and setting up locations to send suspects if officers conduct mass arrests.

The D.C. National Guard will assist the department, but there is no plan for soldiers to help with crowd control. Several federal agencies, including the FBI, U.S. Park Police, U.S. Capitol Police, the Secret Service and U.S. Marshals Service will lend support to the city cops. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will assist city police with about 65 agents who specialize in bomb detection and detonation. FBI officials do not believe domestic terrorism is a concern at this point.

The DC police chief said he wants to meet with organizers to “lay down the ground rules” and set up “designated protest areas and March routes.” It was talk like this and the cooperation with police of less radical organizations, who decided they could speak for the 30 thousand people in Seattle that caused rifts among the left last fall. The day before November 30 radical activists split off from main organizing centers. Graffiti around town encouraged independent activists to “Subvert D.A.N.” (Direct Action Network, responsible for much of the central organizing in Seattle) and to generally “Fuck Shit Up.”

“Peace Police” and other aggressive “non-violent” protestors physically attacked black-bloc activists who systematically destroyed the property of leading transnational corporations like Nike and McDonalds in downtown Seattle. Since then, the dialog on street tactics has been tense at best. Liberal NGOs such as Global Exchange dismissed many of these independent activists as a minority of “Anarchists from Oregon”. The tension will most likely carry on in D.C.

Nevertheless, history will continue to be made by people who are willing to risk their lives on the streets. Whether it is by locking down and linking arms or destroying property and taking over buildings, we will shut down these meetings. The Midnight Special Law Collective, an off-shoot of the DAN legal team which represented the 570 protestors arrested in Seattle, will be available to represent activists arrested in D.C. They are asking interested affinity groups and clusters to contact them before April 16 at (206) 632-9482.

If you are interested in hooking up with major organizers in the Bay Area planning activities in D.C. you can call (415) 496-6000 x105 or (415) 421-6443 x13. You can also visit www.a16.org. There will be a caravan leaving San Francisco on March 26, conducting teach-ins in Chicago, Antioch and Columbus on their way to D.C. You can e-mail the caravan crew at globalunity@home.com. Activists interested in more militant and independent activities should keep their eyes and ears open in D.C.

WTO Legal Update

As prosecutors scramble to try the last few misdemeanor cases involving WTO protestors, the Direct Action Network Legal Team is claiming victory for jail solidarity and the 570 people arrested on December 1 of last year.

Most of the misdemeaner cases accusing protestors of “failure to disperse,” and “obstruction of justice” were dropped in January. DAN attorneys credit jail solidarity for the sucesses in court. By refusing to give personal information such as names and addresses, refusing to waive rights to a speedy trial and a trial by jury and by failing to cooperate with the police and jail guards in any way possible, arrestees were able to jam the cells and courts long enough to leave the prosecution on its knees.

The five or six cases still pending must be tried by the first week of March or they too will be dropped. Once the misdemeaner cases come to a close, its on to the felonies.

The prosecution just lost the case it was most hopeful about. The city had accused

Seattle resident Eric Larson of assaulting an officer. The police claimed that he didn’t react to the teargas, concluding that he must have been on drugs. A videotape showed no trace of Larson touching a cop, but according to DAN attorneys there is a “nice shot of a cop grabbing him by the testicles.” The court aquitted him, devastating the prosecution.

Meanwhile DAN, the Lawyers Guild, the ACLU and a few private firms are busy filing class-action law suits. The ACLU is focusing on the unconstitutionality of the “No-Protest Zone” which spanned 50 city blocks. The suit claims that the protestors right to speech was violated by Seattle Mayor Paul Shelly who declared martial law on November 30. Several private attorneys are taking individual cases of excessive force, brutality and rubber bullet use. DAN is also working on class action suits aimed at getting compensation for arrested and non-arrested people who were gassed and shot throughout the week of the meetings.