Pot calls kettle black
I was pleased by some of the informative articles in the December 9 issue covering the events of WTO. (I hadn't been very optimistic, given the less-than-objective cover illustration two weeks earlier.) However, the articles by Eric Scigliano, Roger Downey, Rick Anderson, and Nina Shapiro were all excellent. They exposed some of the complexities of the issues involved, which weren't heard on the streets where "Hey hey ho ho . . ." was the standard lead.
As for Geov Parrish, I can only hope "Anarchists, go home!" (12/9) was intended as satire. It's pretty amusing that the pot is calling the kettle black over tactics during the week. Funny thing about groups that take to the streets believing they have some sort of divine mandate to shut things down and force their opinions on the majority . . . they have a tendency to disintegrate into factions who each believe they have heard the REAL TRUTH. Geov, look at the photo accompanying the article: none of the four destroying the NikeTown entry are black-hooded black bloc. And, though the camera angle is pretty narrow, I don't see a lot of action among the other nonanarchists to discourage them. My experience from walking among the crowd leads me to believe there wasn't much.
Thank for the insight in your article about the so-called anarchists and their antics during the WTO protest ("Anarchists, go home!" 12/9). The fact that this small, misguided, and politically ignorant group destroyed much of the work of true change agents needs to be remembered. It is incumbent on those of us determined to bring about change through nonviolence to develop plans and methods to deter and thwart violent individuals and groups when they try to use our activities as a stage for their theater of the absurd. The violent fringe group of so-called revolutionaries did more to promote the goals of the WTO than all 135 trade delegates combined.
Your views are well publicized and well respected by both liberals and the radical left in this city. Deciding that you don't want the fucking Eugene Anarchists and their cohorts in your fucking revolution ("Anarchists, go home!" 12/9) places you, in your mind, as aware of not only your political zeal, but your position of political power and dare I say: superiority. As an anarchist of 25 years, that is a sorry position for you to take.
Having organized with anarchists on the daily level in Seattle before this conference, I was well aware that many anarchists attending DAN meetings were never intending to rely only on civil disobedience to make their academic point. They were organizing entirely on a consensus basis in their meetings understanding that black blocs might be formed autonomously. Clearly DAN was exercising a hierarchical approach to their organizing by deciding this would be a nonviolent protest, relying on a majority group to enforce this strategy rather than considering the opinion of every participant. DAN's method of organizing—however effective it indeed was and is—creates resentment among its participants in the long run and is far more immature and naive than any rage displayed by the Black Blocs. Consider where the rage of the Black Bloc comes from. Rage comes from not being heard, from being shoved under the rug, from being intimidated to lie. When a huge majority of organizers are breathing down your neck telling you to be nonviolent when they don't even differentiate between buildings and humans, you'd lie too. Or do you always write what your editor tells you to? Of course not. That's why your voice has become important in this city.
You are simply sharpening the knife for the division of the left by venting your frustration atop such a powerful soap box which is "Impolitiques." Vent in a bar.
A social revolution cannot be exclusionary to any degree. Trying to restrict the many personalities involved in a protest of this scale to merely one type of expression simply to align ourselves with the status quo interpretation of an "intelligent statement" is myopic. The corporate media will always twist its lense. Why be mad at the protesters? Why defend Nike for any reason? The Downtown Business Association is doing a fine job of that already. And of course the insurance companies will pay for the damage, that's the point, it's simply a gesture. Property destruction creates a direct consumer response that might take several generations to fully absorb, but it bypasses politics and bureaucracy which civil disobedience mainly increases. Both statements can be effective against capitalism. Let's start working together with more complexity and less xenophobia.
Whose revolution is it, anyway?
I was amazed at the arrogance of Geov Parrish's "Anarchists, go home!" piece (12/9). Who said the revolution was yours anyway? Who said you or any group owned the protests against the WTO on November 30th? Your sensational name-calling ("vandals," "thugs," "parasites," "punks") and your final "fuck you" did more to serve the interests of corporations and the state than did the destruction of corporate property during the protests (as you assert). If your ideas are so closely mirroring those presented by corporate media, perhaps you should do some deeper analysis. Corporations could not have written a better piece to prevent future destruction of their property and work to create divisions among those of us in the struggle for a just world.
Destruction of corporate property is not violence: Violence harms people. The only violence that I know of that occurred on November 30th was by the police/military and by the "nonviolent" protesters assaulting people who were breaking the windows of the Bank of America, the Gap, and NikeTown. Holding a banner up to protect NikeTown is pacifism in its most absurd and co-opted form. It is not the stuff of heroes.
There are valid reasons why property destruction is not an effective means of building a movement for social change. However, it was the combined efforts and tactics of everyone who took part in the resistance that led to the globalization of the message that the WTO hurts working people and the planet. If anything, it was the corporate core of downtown Seattle left in shambles that catapulted the message of the protests onto headlines across the world. Corporate media could not turn its ugly head.
Whereas we as members of the left need to critically analyze the actions that took place on November 30th, the Weekly is not the place. It is not a place where dialogue among those of us involved in efforts for progressive and radical social change takes place. As with your recent slam of the tactics of supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal, you seem more and more to use your column to chastise the tactics of the left. Most of your readers are looking for reinforcement of the right-wing assertions of the strategies and ideas of the left. You are providing them with exactly that. In this instance, you jumped on the bandwagon of corporate media with your tirade against the "Eugene anarchists." Clearly everyone involved in the destruction of corporate property was not from Eugene, nor were they all anarchists.
Perhaps you might have better served "your" revolution by actually sharing your vision of anarchy and the actions of anarchists during the WTO ministerial that furthered your cause. When chaos is still used synonymously with anarchy by corporate media, we as anarchists have work to do. The word "mutual aid" has very little meaning to most people. It is the language of the left, not of the readers of the Weekly. Threatening to spit in someone's face (a true act of degrading violence) is not a step forward in the struggle for democracy—is that what democracy looks like to you?
Foul language, graphic nudity
I greatly appreciate Geov Parrish's long-term commitment to justice and trying to wake Seattle from its latte-induced sleep in response to the evils of the global economy. Having said that, however, I think his foul-mouthed diatribe aimed at the anarchists was misplaced ("Anarchists, go home!" 12/9).
One of the great chants of the WTO week was "THIS is what democracy looks like!" Indeed. And sorry to say, Geov, democracy comes complete with anarchists, both nonviolent and violent. While I am personally committed to nonviolence from both a tactical and religious foundation, I recognize that it was a pair of more dangerous types than those we saw in Seattle who were crucified at the right and left sides of Jesus. Somehow, our challenge is to recognize even those whose tactics we deplore as our brothers and sisters.
Geov seems concerned that the anarchistic violence ruined the media coverage. Come on, Geov, you know better. The corporate media were not going to put a pretty face on the protests no matter what, even if they (or Schell's police) had to invent the violence themselves. The truth will be told and retold on the streets, in living rooms, and on the Internet.
Finally, let's not be distracted by the predictable infighting among "revolutionaries" that inevitably spoils most coalitions. Let's keep our eyes on the ball where it belongs: the Schell-Locke-Clinton troika that has been graphically shown to wear no clothes. It's corporate liberalism, not anarchy, which needs the power of Geov's invective.
Not so nice
How refreshing were your reports from the street contained in the December 2 Seattle Weekly. I especially enjoyed—and yes, identified with—Knute Berger's piece "Not-so-nice Seattle."
What a contrast to the condescending tone set by the mainstream media, whether it was The Seattle Times profiling WTO players (I think two out of the 10 were actual protesters), our Price Is Right TV stations chasing anarchists down the street in shocked disbelief that this could happen in Latte Land, or all of these corporate-controlled media reacting as if the swells of anger and the issues raised had come out of left field. While the vast majority of us don't condone the destruction that occurred, it seems that much of the real message, contained in Berger's article, was very quickly lost or, actually, never heard by the politicians, media and corporate heads in this town at all.
What amazed me was how the businesses in our "jewel" of a downtown core suddenly opened their doors to all the masses on the weekend after the WTO events. It's true that many small businesses suffered and lower-level employees (as usual) pay the biggest price in such instances, but I can't feel much sympathy for the Nordstrom/NikeTown crowd—the ones that the "vibrant Seattle downtown core" is built on and the ones who often represent the worst of what the anti-WTO crowd was protesting.
A lot of what was so refreshing about the protests, as voiced in Berger's article, was that the so-called have-nots of the region took over a part of the city that is not intended for them anymore at all. It's a section reserved, basically, for the high-tech millionaire types who can afford the parking and shopping at Nordstrom's or the Bon. It represents the bubble world for those with Microsoft stock who want us all to subsidize big-money downtown projects and stadiums for other millionaires while trying to shove under the rug issues like homelessness and skyrocketing rents.
Thanks again for your great stories of December 2 and for saying more in a couple of pages than the dailies and newscasts said all week.
Think before you shop
It's all well and good that we should investigate the roles of city, federal, and police personnel in the often brutal mishandling of the WTO events. But lost in the chemical haze, some of the biggest villains in this scenario have gotten off scot-free: namely, the multinational corporations who attracted the WTO to Seattle in the first place.
I'm talking about corporations like Microsoft and Boeing, the two biggest contributors to the WTO Seattle Host Organization, which was co-chaired by their respective CEOs, Bill Gates and Phil Condit. Other business interests who made large contributions to the Seattle Round include Honeywell, Ford, General Motors, US West, Hewlett Packard, Allied Signal, Motorola, Weyerhaeuser, AT&T, Cargill, Procter & Gamble, IBM, Intel, Northwest Airlines, Starbucks, and US Bank. The chairman of the WTO hospitality committee is a senior VP at Bank of America. Surprised?
In a very real sense, megacorporations like these are the WTO. You'd better believe they influence WTO policy decisions and are poised to profit most from the trade body's exploitative practices.
Whether you oppose the WTO on principle or are simply upset at the chaos that enveloped your city, there is something you can do: Refuse to buy these corporations' products. The next time you plan a vacation, don't fly Northwest. When you find yourself jonesing for a cup of coffee, skip Starbucks and walk an extra block or two. Wean yourself away from Microsoft software, boycott Procter & Gamble, do your banking elsewhere—in short, think carefully before you buy, because ultimately the consumer is the source of the corporations' power.
A complete list of Seattle WTO sponsors can be found at www.wtoseattle.org/seattlehost/
Police violence, stolen lives
The Weekly's November 4th cover story "License to Kill" about the local history of police killing and judicial inquests was excellent—a great contribution to exposing the injustice of the epidemic of police brutality.
As shown by police killings always being found "justified," these inquests are pointedly not about justice; they are designed to calm the public, in effect sanctioning police violence. King County Executive Ron Sims has admitted, "Without such a public fact-finding hearing, questions regarding conditions surrounding the death may go unanswered, generating unnecessary suspicion and undermining the public's confidence in their institutions and government officials" (South County Journal, 1/21/99).
A growing nationwide movement to stop police brutality challenges this undeserved "public confidence." Our coalition—the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a
Generation—just concluded our fourth annual national day of protest, holding actions in over sixty cities. This year, we released the second edition of the national Stolen Lives Project book, a joint project of the October 22nd Coalition, National Lawyers' Guild, and the Anthony Baez Foundation. The book contains documentation of over 2000 cases of police killing in the 1990s. It is a shocking indictment of institutions and government officials.
The movement to stop police brutality has been characterized by the active participation and leadership of those directly under attack, including many courageous families of those killed by police. It is through their effort and sacrifice that this epidemic has become widely known. Thus, politicians are forced to speak to the issue. Amnesty International just concluded a yearlong worldwide campaign to focus on injustice in the United States. Human Rights Watch published a major study of police brutality and jail cruelty. Thousands protested in New York this spring after the police murder of Amadou Diallo and in California for Tyisha Miller. And, in some cases—such as the New York officers who tortured Abner Louima with a toilet plunger, the killers of Amadou Diallo, the King County sheriff's deputy who murdered James Wren and Guadalupe Rios, and others—police have actually gone to jail for their crimes. There is even a possibility that Seattle police detective Sonny Davis might be a convicted for stealing $10,000 from 84-year-old Bodegard Mitchell after he was killed by a Seattle police SWAT team in 1996.
While researching the Stolen Lives book locally, we noticed that in case after case, newspaper archives reported that "an inquest has been called" to investigate the death, and then, predictably, a later article would declare, "officers justified." Early this year, during the Michael Ealy inquest (which later found officers justified), we thought that this "100 percent justified" pattern should be exposed as part of the continuing struggle for justice in that case. It took Rick Anderson's excellent article in the Weekly to powerfully bring this injustice to light.
In the words of Michael Ealy's mother, Ophelia Ealy, "When will we get justice?"
SEATTLE OCT. 22ND COALITION
A candlelight vigil will be held in honor of Michael Ealy on Friday, Dec. 17, 4pm at the Public Safety Building, 3rd and James.
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