WTO anniversary turns ugly at end

By REBECCA COOK

Associated Press

SEATTLE — Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske today praised and defended his officers who first watched, then cracked down on demonstrations marking the first anniversary of the World Trade Organization meeting here.

Police arrested 140 people, including an Associated Press reporter caught in a crowd that had been surrounded by officers making a mass arrest.

The Thursday night arrests downtown began after a thrown marble or ball bearing injured a police captain’s eye and officers reported seeing people throwing rocks and bottles. The captain was treated at a hospital and released.

The day had started peacefully with about 2,000 people demonstrating in Seattle’s downtown shopping district. As night fell, fewer than 200 remained and the mood had changed, Kerlikowske said.

"They were people bent on causing a problem," he told a morning news conference today.

Police dressed in riot gear ordered the crowd to disperse, then surrounded them and made arrests. "I saw them being very patient," Kerlikowske said of his officers, adding that about an hour passed between the first order to disperse and the arrests.

"There was more than adequate time for people to leave the middle of the street," he said.

Randy Trefethern, a legal observer of the protests for the National Lawyers Guild, said police arrested a protester rolling a cigarette, mistaking it for marijuana, "and that set the crowd off. Things became very tense after that."

Trefethern was among those arrested, as was Legrand Jones, another legal observer.

"They pushed us down the street and ultimately blocked us in," Jones said. "They ordered us to disperse, but there was nowhere for us to disperse."

Gene Johnson, an AP reporter arrested with the protesters, also said a police lieutenant ordered protesters several times to leave although they were hemmed in on four sides by police. Johnson was released on personal recognizance early Friday after being charged with pedestrian interference and failure to disperse.

Five of those arrested were being held on felony charges, including an Edmonds man being investigated for the injury to the police captain, police spokesman Clem Benton said. Most of the arrests were for failure to disperse, a misdemeanor.

At a news briefing, police displayed several weapons they said were seized from demonstrators, including knives, a pellet gun that resembled a standard revolver, and a placard mounted on a baseball bat.

Kerlikowske was hired as police chief earlier this year. The previous chief took early retirement after the chaotic WTO protests in 1999.

A statement issued Friday by the Committee for Local Government Accountability said protesters "regret the injury to the police officer" but added, "the behavior of one individual whose actions are not supported by the marchers does not justify a complete crackdown on the entire demonstration."

The violence and arrests marred what activists earlier had described as a joyful commemoration of the protests by 50,000 people last year that shut down opening WTO ceremonies.

Images of tear gas clouds rising over masses of protesters were beamed around the world last year, as some 630 were arrested and $3 million worth of property damage occurred, mostly in smashed storefront windows.

During the day Thursday, activists said they were happy so many were willing to focus again on the labor, environmental and human rights issues that galvanized them against WTO.

"I think it shows there’s still a lot of passion and energy from a lot of different communities about what took place last year and what continues to happen with globalization," said the Rev. Pete Strimer, a priest at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral and a leader of about 500 people marching to seek debt relief for poor countries.

Protesters briefly blocked streets for afternoon marches and gathered in Westlake Park — scene of several hundred arrests last year — for an impromptu festival of drumming, barbecued tofu dogs and chanting at police and the absent WTO.

Most businesses remained open, with holiday shoppers toting bags through sidewalk crowds of protesters — a marked contrast to the boarded-up and all but abandoned retail district of a year ago.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

Bothell
2 injured in Bothell Everett Highway crash

The highway was briefly reduced to one northbound lane while police investigated the three-car crash Saturday afternoon.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
On I-5 in Everett, traffic nightmare is reminder we’re ‘very vulnerable’

After a police shooting shut down the freeway, commutes turned into all-night affairs. It was just a hint of what could be in a widespread disaster.

Anthony Brock performs at Artisans PNW during the first day of the Fisherman’s Village Music Fest on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At downtown Everett musical festival: ‘Be weird and dance with us’

In its first night, Fisherman’s Village brought together people who “might not normally be in the same room together” — with big acts still to come.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Judge reduces bail for driver accused of killing Marysville trooper

After hearing from Raul Benitez Santana’s family, a judge decreased bail to $100,000. A deputy prosecutor said he was “very disappointed.”

Pet detective Jim Branson stops to poke through some fur that Raphael the dog found while searching on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Everett, Washington. Branson determined the fur in question was likely from a rabbit, and not a missing cat.(Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lost a pet? Pet detective James Branson and his dogs may be able to help

James Branson, founder of Three Retrievers Lost Pet Rescue, helps people in the Seattle area find their missing pets for $350.

Whidbey Renaissance Faire volunteers pose in their costumes. (Photo by Bree Eaton)
Faire thee well: Renaissance is coming to Whidbey Island

The volunteer-run fair May 25 and 26 will feature dancers, a juggler, ‘Fakespeare,’ various live music shows and lots of food.

Community Transit leaders, from left, Chief Communications Officer Geoff Patrick, Zero-Emissions Program Manager Jay Heim, PIO Monica Spain, Director of Maintenance Mike Swehla and CEO Ric Ilgenfritz stand in front of Community Transit’s hydrogen-powered bus on Monday, May 13, 2024, at the Community Transit Operations Base in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New hydrogen, electric buses get trial run in Snohomish County

As part of a zero-emission pilot program from Community Transit, the hydrogen bus will be the first in the Puget Sound area.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Video: Man charged at trooper, shouting ‘Who’s the boss?’ before shooting

The deadly shooting shut down northbound I-5 near Everett for hours. Neither the trooper nor the deceased had been identified as of Friday.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Road rage, fatal police shooting along I-5 blocks traffic near Everett

An attack on road workers preceded a report of shots fired Thursday, snarling freeway traffic in the region for hours.

The Port of Everett and Everett Marina on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Is Port of Everett’s proposed expansion a ‘stealth tax?’ Judge says no

A Snohomish resident lost a battle in court this week protesting what he believes is a misleading measure from the Port of Everett.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.