The Shadow of Seattle 

The Shadow of Seattle 
Posted by FoM on July 23, 2000 at 14:58:31 PT
By Al Martinez 
Source: Los Angeles Times
  Under normal circumstances, hardly anyone in L.A. ever talks about Seattle, except to express delight that they don't live there. These days, however, are an exception. It's Seattle, Seattle, Seattle everywhere you go.   What they're saying is that they don't want what happened in Seattle to happen here. Their reference is to the chaos last year at the world trade summit, during which the Seattle cops came out looking like puppies barking at dinosaurs. 
  The scenes of that calamity are fixed in the minds of our city leaders as the Democratic National Convention looms closer. "We don't want what happened in Seattle to happen here," they sing, like so many sopranos in a church choir.   Mayor Richard Riordan is bustling around these days asking, Rodney King-like, "Can't we all just be nice?" Toward that end, he's been shaking his fist and joining efforts to keep all those Seattle-type people as far away as possible from Staples Center when the Democrats come to party Aug. 14. The effort failed.   A wise federal magistrate, U.S. District Judge Gary Feess, in striking down a city proposal to create a wide "security zone" (Riordan Road?) around the center, said more or less that you can't subvert the 1st Amendment for the sake of image or convenience.   In effect, he explained to the city that the purpose of protest is to reach the protestees, and to do so the protesters must be within at least shouting range. Amen to that.   Those affected by the decision were elated, insofar as protesters are capable of expressing elation and at the same time remaining cool. As everyone knows, when protesters get too worked up they have a tendency to smash and loot.   Don't take my word for it. Ask around at City Hall or Parker Center. The LAPD even has a code name for them: STPs. Right. Seattle-Type People.   I spoke with a couple of the STPs the other day in the old building where they have established their headquarters about a mile north of Staples Center. One of them is actually an L.A. teacher, so I guess she's an LASTP.   Both Sarah Knopp, 23, the teacher, and Lisa Fithian, 39, a New York political activist, promise that their purpose in demonstrating is not to create violence or cause property damage but to protest corporate greed, racism, unemployment, militarism, a biased criminal justice system, inadequate medical treatment for the poor and some other things I can't recall. People things.   Fithian, however, points out that not everyone considers property damage to be a form of violence and adds: "The only clear violence in Seattle was committed by the police." An organizer of the protests planned in L.A., she otherwise wanders the country raising hell for social justice.   Knopp, a socialist since high school, sees "something boiling under the surface of America," adding: "Thousands and thousands of people are angry at the way politics are going in this country, and those of us on the street represent them."   The suit challenging the existence of Riordan Road was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. Among those cheering Judge Feess' decision (but never smashing or looting) was Ramona Ripston, executive director of the ACLU.   "We weren't asking that the protesters be allowed to demonstrate at the door of Staples," she said over the phone, "but they shouldn't be kept two football fields away either."   She was especially annoyed at Riordan's recent rabble-rousing essay on our op-ed page. "It was heavy-handed," she said, "and the demonstrators were offended by it. That could cause trouble."   Often the voice of reason in L.A., Ripston points out that in a democracy, things aren't always "tidy and perfect." Freedom involves risks, she says, but repression should never be the answer to those risks.   Tom Hayden agrees. The feisty state senator, a leader in the earth-shaking social revolutions of the 1960s, accuses the city of trying to invoke prior restraint on the demonstrators. "Stop 'em before they start," he said, mocking Riordan and the LAPD. "Arrest 'em because they might do something."   Hayden adds: "Riordan wanted to showcase L.A. with the convention, to say, 'Look, we're back!' Then along comes the shadow of Seattle. . . . "   All of those above, even the STPs, seem to be hoping that the convention will be carried off in a reasonable manner. I see that as meaning that inside Staples, speakers will bore everyone to death and outside, protesters will yell everyone to death. Nothing will change. Nothing will be accomplished.   But at least the shadow of Seattle will be lifted and we can all get back to lolling in the nice Riordan sunshine.   Al Martinez's column appears Sundays and Wednesdays. He can be reached online at: al.martinez Contact: letters Published: July 23, 2000Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times You've Got To Change The Political Wind Conventions Articles On The Shadow Conventions: The WTO Riots 1999: Pictures from the WTO Riots in 1999
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Comment #2 posted by dddd on July 24, 2000 at 02:50:21 PT
manipulation via media
 I was born and raised in Seattle,and I wasnt there for the wto incident,,,but from talking to my friends who live there,90% of the violence was from law enforcement.News footage of a few broken windows,and burning dumpsters was portrayed as if it was a riot. While it's true,that the crowds were angry,and somewhat threatening,they were mostly non-violent citizens,trying to make a statement.My friend who lives on Capitol Hill,near downtown,went outside his house to see what the commotion was,he got pepper sprayed for no apparent reason.He said they were using pepper spray like air freshener. Not much coverage was given to the fact that it was the cops that freaked out,,the chief of police resigned,etc. Here in L.A.,,the car chase capitol of the world,,,the media is all wound up,and poised to embellish the facts,and fabricate total anarchy,by showing a burning car,and a broken window,,,things that happen in LA every night. While Mr Martinezs' article is nice,,but dont be fooled.The only people in LA who are talking about Seattle,are those who have an interest in making a conjured up spectacle out of it,,,perhaps to also justify paramilitary style law enforcement....dddd
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Comment #1 posted by Dan B on July 24, 2000 at 01:55:45 PT:
Sick of this Prejudice
"As everyone knows, when protesters get too worked up they have a tendency to smash and loot."This prejudice is neither warranted nor appreciated by those who wish to present their opinions in a peaceful manner. When those in power have attitudes such as these against protesters in general, the most likely result is that the powers-that-be will instigate the riots they say they wish to avoid. By launching these slurs against all protesters, they ignore the possibility of peace. These comments will inevitably become a self-fulfilling prophecy. This time (as usual), the cops and politicians will be the originators of violence--the ones to get the protesters "worked up" to begin with--should riots occur.And nobody will report it that way. Those who do will be labeled as "kooks" and "fringe."
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