WTO anniversary turns ugly at end


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

More in Local News

Members of South County Fire practice onboarding and offboarding a hovering Huey helicopter during an interagency disaster response training exercise at Arlington Municipal Airport on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. The crews learned about and practiced safe entry and exit protocols with crew from Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue before begin given a chance to do a live training. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish, King counties train together for region’s next disaster

Dozens of agencies worked with aviators Tuesday to coordinate a response to a simulated earthquake or tsunami.

Police stand along Linden Street next to orange cones marking pullet casings in a crime scene of a police involved shooting on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lake Stevens man identified in Everett manhunt, deadly police shooting

Travis Hammons, 34, was killed by officers following a search for an armed wanted man in a north Everett neighborhood.

Ciscoe Morris, a longtime horticulturist and gardening expert, will speak at Sorticulture. (Photo provided by Sorticulture)
Get your Sorticulture on: Garden festival returns to downtown Everett

It’s a chance to shop, dance, get gardening tips, throw an axe and look through a big kaleidoscope. Admission is free.

Funko mascots Freddy Funko roll past on a conveyor belt in the Pop! Factory of the company's new flagship store on Aug. 18, 2017.  (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Lawsuit: Funko misled investors about Arizona move

A shareholder claims Funko’s decision to relocate its distribution center from Everett to Arizona was “disastrous.”

1 stabbed at apartment in Lynnwood

The man, 26, was taken to an Everett hospital with “serious injuries.”

A firefighting helicopter carries a bucket of water from a nearby river to the Bolt Creek Fire on Saturday, Sep. 10, 2022, on U.S. Highway 2 near Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Red flag fire warning issued west of Cascades

There are “critical fire weather” conditions due to humidity and wind in the Cascades, according to the National Weather Service.

A house fire damaged two homes around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 6, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Photo provided by Marysville Fire District)
Fire burns 2 homes in Marysville, killing 2 dogs

Firefighters responded to a report of a fire north of Lakewood Crossing early Tuesday, finding two houses engulfed in flames.

Dolly Hunnicutt holds onto a metal raccoon cutout while looking through metal wildflowers at the Freeborn Metal Art booth during the first day of Sorticulture on Friday, June 9, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Sorticulture brings gardening galore, fun by the bushel at 130 booths

“Every year there’s something different to see,” one attendee said at the opening of the three-day festival in downtown Everett.

Alex Dold lived with his mother and grandmother, Ruby Virtue, near Echo Lake. His sisters, Vanessa and Jen Dold, often would visit to play board games and watch soccer on television.
Troubled deputies at center of $1.5M settlement in Maltby man’s death

In 2017, Bryson McGee and Cody McCoy killed Alex Dold with their Tasers. Neither of them work for the sheriff’s office anymore.

Most Read