On November 30th, 1999, my friend Darcy and I caught the bus on California Avenue in West Seattle and headed downtown to show our opposition to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Armed with our digital cameras, tofu, crackers and hot tea, we found ourselves in the middle of what was one of the largest acts of civil disobedience since the Vietnam War. Tens of thousands of people came from all over the world and took to the streets surrounding the Seattle Convention Center in opposition to the WTO conference.

We downed the last of our tea, got off the 55 at 1st and Pike and walked up toward the Convention Center. We crossed over a block to Pine where a massive crowd filled the block and surrounding streets. A small group of people had climbed the FAO Swartz bear and were taunting riot police with a donut tied to the end of a stick like a worm on a fishing pole.

Like hundreds of others, Darcy and I were tear gassed unexpectedly at around 11:30 AM while we were at one of the human blockades off Pike near 5th Avenue. We moved over to Pine at the top of the police line where a very-well-organized group were performing street-theater and using a loudspeaker to deploy people and block holes where WTO delegates could get through.

Darcy and I spent the day shooting pictures of giant puppets, various street-theater and crowds and watched as the labor-organized march moved in to downtown from Seattle Center.

Many groups came together in solidarity to march through the city. Among them, French farmer Jose Bove, who became a national hero in France when he damaged a McDonalds with his Tractor, Vandana Shiva, Director of The Research Foundation for Science and Natural Resource Policy in New Delhi, India, and Victor Minotti of The International Forum on Globalization. Unfortunately local and mainstream media largely neglected the chance to interview these people, not to mention discuss the issues surrounding the protests, and instead focused on police riots. Many independent media groups, including Jim Hightower, Amy Goodman of Democracy NOW and film maker/activist Michael Moore spent the week covering the WTO in Seattle.

An estimated 500 longshore workers walked off the job to participate in the anti-WTO march, immobilizing the Port of Seattle. Many other West Coast ports also planned a walkout and about 9,600 International Longshore and Warehouse Union members took part in objecting to WTO policies.

Following the HUGE crowd who participated in the labor march, we headed down to 1st Avenue and caught what the driver said would be the last bus going to West Seattle, our neighborhood. The driver encouraged anyone going her way to get on her bus NOW. All Metro drivers were told to get out of downtown. She ended up taking people outside of her route through Admiral, the Admiral Junction and the Alaska Junction.

By the end of the evening, Seattle police had raged war against protesters, firing tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets at the crowds. Seattle Mayor Paul Schell declared a Cival State of Emergency and created a 50-block No Protest Zone. On March 7th, 2000 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the city of Seattle, saying the no-protest zone violated rights to free speech, peaceful assembly and due process.

Later in the week I met my friend VThattai at Seattle Central Community College and we marched down Broadway with a group of about a thousand people responding to the night before when police went out of control in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

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