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Post-presidential Disorder

by Paul de Armond

Tear gas contaminated food
On the streets, Wednesday afternoon was a repeat of Tuesday. The police pulled back for the four hours that President Clinton was in public view, just as they had pulled back as the AFL-CIO parade approached downtown. In the words of one TV reporter, "The streets were strangely quiet." At 1PM, Washington Governor Gary Locke gave a live interview on local television. Locke stated that order was restored to Seattle and told local shoppers to "come downtown" -- inside the perimeter of the "no protest" zone. Unfortunately, the governor hadn't heard about police plans for a 4PM crackdown to drive protesters out of the downtown core, a time which coincides with the downtown rush hour.

As Clinton's motorcade departed, the streets were once again blanketed in tear gas and police fired pepper-spray at anyone who got in their way. At the Pike Place Market tear gas was severe enough that produce merchants put out signs the next day announcing they were closed because their fruits and vegetables were contaminated by tear gas.

As on Tuesday, the police failed to move the crowds of protesters and the main axis of protest movement once again became Pike and Pine Streets. After two hours, police were only able to move two blocks, up to Second Avenue. A protester blockade at Third and Pine stayed in place until voluntarily dispersed at 6:45PM It appears likely that the Direct Action Network had decided to hold the streets until the 7PM curfew and then withdraw to Capitol Hill.

"I'm 58 years old. I had on a $400 suit, but last night, I was just another nigger"
As the curfew went into effect at 7PM, the streets were mostly empty. As if to celebrate their "control" of the streets, a column of a dozen police cars raced through the empty downtown core with emergency lights flashing and sirens blaring. Police officials explained to reporters that the "wild weasel" operation was a "show of force to clear the streets." The news videos of the stream of cars are one of the more surreal images from the entire week. Things would get even stranger that night.

At about the same time as the "wild weasels" were racing through the streets, police assaulted Seattle City Councilman Richard McIver. McIver said city police officers yanked him from his car, pulled his arms behind his back and started to cuff him as he drove to a World Trade Organization reception event at the nearby Westin Hotel. The council member had been stopped shortly before by police who let him continue after identifying himself. The second time he was stopped and identified himself, a policeman threw McIvor's city council business card on the ground and assaulted him.

The incident was witnessed by a U.S. Congressman, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, (D - Ohio), and Bill Lambrecht, Washington, D.C.-correspondent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"What he [McIver] describes is what I saw," Kucinich said. "Four to five policemen converged on him and kind of spun him around. I thought the people who handled it were overly aggressive. I'm sure given the tension that existed in the city, there might be many cases where in hindsight they might do things differently but that seemed excessive."

"It was clear that he was telling them who he was. They seemed unpersuadable," Lambrecht said. "One of the officers pulled him out of the car and not gingerly."

"I don't want to aid the hooligans who are raising hell and I don't want to take on specific officers. . . . But there are huge flaws with the officers when it comes to people of color. I'm 58 years old. I had on a $400 suit, but last night, I was just another nigger," said Councilman McIver. A few days later, Councilman McIver stated that he was not pursuing the matter and wanted it dropped.

NEXT: Police Hallucinations

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Albion Monitor February 29, 2000 (

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