Final meeting held for WTO anniversary

Associated Press

Anti-World Trade Organization activists called a final gathering Sunday in downtown Seattle — with speakers, performers and a drum circle — to mark the anniversary of riotous disturbances that disrupted last year’s WTO meeting here.

The gathering at City Hall Park, dubbed "Chant Down Babylon," is "meant to bring spiritual-political closure to a week of activism calling attention to corporate globalism’s priority for short-term profit over life," said Mark Taylor-Canfield of the Roundtable on Environmental and Economic Justice.

The biggest anniversary gathering was held Thursday, one year after 50,000 demonstrators clogged downtown, setting the stage for a confrontation with authority that has made "Seattle!" a rallying cry for a new generation of protesters.

About 2,000 people held peaceful protests downtown and on Capitol Hill during daylight hours Thursday, but scores — including an Associated Press reporter caught in a crowd — were arrested later.

Police say some demonstrators threw rocks and bottles at officers. Protesters, reporters and legal observers say activists were hemmed in by officers and could not disperse as ordered.

Most of those arrested were released Friday on their own recognizance. A handful, facing felony charges, remained in custody Sunday at the King County Jail.

One man was held on $5,000 bail, accused of injuring a policeman. Officer Ron Michizuki was treated for an eye injury and released.

Bail was set at $1,000 for another protester, also accused of felony assault on an officer for throwing a large firecracker into a group of police.

Last year, authorities were overwhelmed by the sheer number of mostly peaceful protesters. Then vandalism by a handful of self-styled anarchists prompted a wave of violence that caused about $3 million in property damage.

The clashes led to more than 630 arrests, civil-rights lawsuits and the sudden early resignation of former Police Chief Norm Stamper.

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