GETTING AWAY WITH IT
I have to juxtapose Philip Dawdy’s article “What the Cops Learned” [Nov. 24], re WTO 1999, with the reality of Seattle police out of control on March 22, 2003, and June 2, 2003. Dawdy says, “The use of less-lethal weapons is one of the most ticklish in crowd control. Use them indiscriminately, and the public regards you as thugs. . . . The lesson from Seattle, [Jim] Pugel says, is that you shouldn’t use these weapons on entire crowds, as was done here, but should focus on individual troublemakers.” Does Dawdy believe that Seattle police used “discriminate control on individual troublemakers” at the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit protests on June 2, 2003? Me standing there unarmed, nonviolently protesting in a permitted protest zone, meant I had to have concussion grenades shot next to me, machine guns aimed at me, police acting erratically with name tags covered up, and pepper spray aimed at me why again? So is Dawdy saying that people viewed the SPD as “thugs” for this indiscriminate use of weaponry? How about on March 22, 2003? The SPD corralling something like 400 people downtown, for no clear purpose other than intimidation, and using weaponry upon unarmed, nonviolent antiwar protesters was using “discriminate force on specific individuals” how again?
In the light of reality, I cannot understand how anyone could make the statements made in that article. No, what the police learned from WTO 1999 is they can violently abuse citizens and get away with it. They learned they could cover up their name tags, then go riot anonymously in the streets. They learned they would not be individually held accountable for beating unarmed citizens in broad daylight. And they are still attacking large crowds indiscriminately with “less-lethal” weaponry in 2003, which is well past 1999. And what did the Office of Professional Accountability and the City Council do about all the complaints of police brutality from mothers, clergy, attorneys, and citizens on March 22 and June 2, 2003? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
OK TO BLOODY HEADS?
“Heads were bloodied by baton-swinging, pepper-spraying armored cops wearing no identification and not bothering to distinguish activist from anarchist” [“Whatever Happened to ‘Hippie Bitch’ Forman?” Nov. 24]:
What is Rick Anderson trying to say here? That it’s OK for cops to bloody the heads of anarchists? That there is a difference between an anarchist and an activist that cops could notice on the street anyways?
What Anderson is doing is not only creating a nonexistent divide between anarchist and activist but also presenting the idea that it is acceptable to beat and abuse anarchists. It needs to be stated very clearly that police attacked everyone and anyone without suggesting that their error was simply in attacking activists along with anarchists. The message that needs to be presented is that it is not acceptable for police to be attacking anyone at any time.
I was more than disappointed with your recent coverage of the WTO Ministerial [WTO: Five Years After cover package, Nov. 24]. The articles imply demonstrators were teargassed because windows were broken. Assistant Chief Jim Pugel is allowed to rewrite history, and protesters are compared to terrorists. Since the errors are too numerous to be addressed here, I’ll deal with the worst.
1. Broken Windows: CS (tear) gas was used against thousands of demonstrators hours before a single window was broken. The amount of property damage was minimal. The media showed the same shots of a few windows being broken because that was all there was.
2. SPD Had No Idea What to Expect; the Gas Was a Last Resort: Pugel laments, “No one predicted what happened here,” without contradiction. Labor promised to deliver 50,000–100,000 people. Stories appeared in The New York Times. Many predicted this would be the protest of the century. Organizers called for “shutting the WTO down.” Activists held training workshops in “direct action.”
The SPD’s use of the gas had been planned from the beginning. The King County Sheriff’s after-action report states that the Seattle police “expected fifty thousand demonstrators—their plan was to use tear gas and lots of it.”
3. Lessons Were Learned: Pugel states the lesson of “less-lethal” munitions is that they shouldn’t be used against entire crowds. Could Pugel explain what occurred June 2, 2003, when demonstrators were subject to a half-hour barrage of these munitions while protesting the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit?
Apparently the SPD have not learned this lesson. If Seattle Weekly were doing their job here, maybe they might.
DON’T EXCUSE POWELL
Your Anarchist for Kerry, not content with the idiocy of supporting the nonalternative to warmonger candidate No. 1, must inflict upon us further nonsense [“The Cult of George,” Nov. 24]. Departing Colin Powell was a voice of “relative sanity” in the Bush administration. Geov Parrish would improve his political analysis by reading the comics; I note in a recent Boondocks the observation about the dearly departed Mr. Powell that no one else in the current administration could lie with such dignity and sincerity. Powell’s son, over at the FCC, appears to be cut from the same corrupt mold as dear old dad, doing his darnedest to gather mass communications into fewer corporate hands.
Get over it, Geov—these aren’t “relatively sane” anything; they are just “for hire” like everyone else in the corporate sewer.
KARAOKE AT 10 PACES
In Steve Wiecking’s recent article “Why God, Why?: Babylon’s Superstar has a lot to answer for” [Nov. 24], I think the writer has a lot to answer for. As an actress for 12 years, I have received harsh criticism at times, and I have learned to use these criticisms to improve myself and grow in the world of theater, which is certainly not kind. My opinion is that good critics serve two purposes in the theater world and the culture: to inform audiences of the failings and successes of a production so that they know what they are putting their money toward, and to give honest and just criticism to theaters about the plays they put on so that they can learn and improve. We all need to improve, and there is nothing wrong with giving a wake-up call to the artists. The review that appeared in the Weekly last week did none of these things. The review was harsh, unjust, and dishonest. I don’t know why such angst was pointed at Theatre Babylon’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar, but all credibility of the article was lost when Wiecking wrote, “Nobody can sing. Nobody.” Either he was so intimidated by the “in your face” theatrics of the show that he forgot to use his ears and mind, or he had an ax to grind with the theater or those who participated in the show.
There is only one thing I can thank him for: He challenged us as an ensemble cast to continue to perform with our hearts full and open, and to welcome our audiences unabashedly to see the show we worked on so hard, despite any criticism leveled at us. In that spirit, I would like to refute Wiecking’s comment “Nobody can sing” and challenge him to a karaoke-off. I personally will battle him. So in the spirit of fun and good-natured rivalry, I hope he’ll take my challenge, and we will see if he is so brave to put his voice to some good, entertaining use.
(Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar)
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