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Jail Blockade and Release

by Paul de Armond

Graffiti began appearing: "Remember, We Are Winning!"
By Thursday, the success of the Direct Action Network protests was undeniable. The WTO conference was prevented from holding its opening ceremonies on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the conference began to come unraveled when President Clinton made repeated statements supporting the demonstrators -- although it appears he was referring only to the AFL-CIO -- and announced a U.S. policy initiative which guaranteed that major consensus at the WTO conference would be impossible. On Wednesday night, police attacked local residents in the sort of breakdown of command and discipline shown by defeated troops. Graffiti began appearing around Seattle reading: "Remember, We Are Winning!" On Thursday afternoon, police finally came to an accommodation with Direct Action Network protesters and provided a police escort for a march.

The focus of the Direct Action Network strategy now shifted from the WTO to support for those still in jail as a result of the mass arrests. For two days, vigils were held at the Public Safety Building, at times completely surrounding the building.

On Friday evening, after meeting with city officials, Direct Action Network legal staff announced an agreement with the city. Jailed protesters would now begin cooperating with the courts and properly identify themselves. Many had refused to provide their names and addresses, giving their names only as "Jane WTO," "John WTO," or in one case "Emilano Zapata." As they were processed for arraignment, they would be released on personal recognizance. Nearly all of those jailed were released by Sunday. After the jailed protesters were released, Seattle City Attorney Mark Sidran issued a statement to the press denying that any agreement had been reached and promising to prosecute all cases.

In early January, Sidran moved to dismiss over ninety percent of the cases, disclosing that virtually none of them could be prosecuted because police had not bothered to file the necessary reports or identify the arresting officers during the mass arrests.

NEXT: Police Officials Resign

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Albion Monitor February 29, 2000 (

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