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One month till 10th anniversary of Seattle N30

PeterPannier | 29.10.2009 14:44 | COP15 Climate Summit 2009 | Climate Chaos | Globalisation | Social Struggles | World

With one month to go till the 10th anniversary of the seattle/euston/worldwide demonstration/protests/riots that successfully disrupted the WTO (and began a process whereby that organisation continues to struggle to get a new round of trade talks going...) and highlighted the growing anti-capitalist, alter-globalist movement of movements, it's time to start planning anniversary actions... Climate Justice Action are organising an N30 Climate Day Of Action . Below is some more info on that, and then some info on what happened in the UK/world 10 years ago.

Climate Justice Action are organising an N30 Climate Day Of Action

"Help Organize for Urgent Action on Climate Change

The Mobilization for Climate Justice is a North America-based network of organizations and activists who have joined together to build a North American climate justice movement that emphasizes non-violent direct action and public education to mobilize for effective and just solutions to the climate crisis.

The Mobilization for Climate Justice invites communities, organizations and activists across North America to join us in organizing mass action on climate change on November 30, 2009 (N30). N30 is significant because it both immediately precedes the upcoming UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen (COP-15) and is the ten-year anniversary of the successful shut down of the WTO in Seattle, when activists worldwide came together to demonstrate the power of collective action.

The Copenhagen climate meetings will be a major focus for international mass actions this November and December, and the MCJ is linked to these efforts as well.

Urgent action is needed around the Copenhagen climate talks because this is where governments around the world plan to finalize the international climate regime that will take effect when the Kyoto Protocol climate agreement expires in 2012. So far it appears that the new climate agreement will be nothing more than business as usual-sacrificing real action on climate change in favor of market-based approaches that enhance corporate profits, while delaying urgent measures to forestall catastrophic global heating.

A Radical Change in Direction is Urgently Needed" - has info on actions that took place in london



In an action designed to raise awareness of capitalism and the WTO, around fifty people gathered in and around Euston station at 9:30am to begin distributing leaflets and stickers to commuters and passers-by. Previous to their arrival the concourse had already been staked out by dozens of police teams and even more media. The assembled crowd was later joined by small autonomous groups from other areas of London, and continued to hand out large amounts of information.


At 12pm the Construction Safety Campaign held a demonstration outside the Canadian Embassy (Canada House) on Trafalgar Square. The construction workers and their supporters were protesting at Canada's attempt to use the WTO to reverse the decision by several EU countries to ban asbestos use. Under WTO rules the ban is seen as a barrier to free trade. Here in the UK, the Institute for Cancer Research expects the current numbers of asbestos related cancers to double in the next ten years.

Like the previous action, the protesters were accompanied by large numbers of police and journalists, and the event passed off peacefully.

Following the demonstration the crowd marched past Downing Street while others briefly blockaded Oxford Street in a sit down protest.


The Lewisham branch of Citybank was picketed throughout the afternoon by a small group of students. The bank is one of the major holders of students loan debt. The global trend to underfund and privatise services that accompanies the expansion of free trade has hit education in the UK, with student grants being scrapped in favour of personal loans. The latest round of trade talks threaten to expand this trend throughout health and transport.


President Obasanjo of Nigeria and Mark Moody-Stuart, of Royal-Dutch/Shell faced a people's court in London to answer a number of charges relating to human rights abuses and environmental devastation in the Niger Delta. This piece of street theatre was performed by Nigerians exiles and British environmental activists outside the Magistrates Court in Covent Garden at 2:30pm Others from different campaigns had also attended to show solidarity. More from


Nearly two thousand people gathered at Euston station at 5pm for a rally jointly organised by Reclaim the Streets and the London Strike Support Group designed to highlight the links between the free trade agenda of the WTO and the privatisation of public transport in UK. The event was endorsed by the London Transport Council of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT), whose speaker detailed the opposition to Tube privitisation and the real concerns for safety should it go ahead. As banners were hung the rythms of a samba band mixed with speeches from representatives of various campaigning groups. Although the main focus of the rally was transport, there were also speakers covering a wide array of issues linked to the WTO and the system it governs.

Genetic Engineering Network illustrated how free trade rules make it impossible for people to choose what they eat, putting them in the hands of corporations that push GMO's down their throats.

A speaker from Voices in the Wilderness criticised the British and American governments for maintaining heavy economic sanctions against Iraq. The group openly break sanctions to take medical supplies to Iraq, where it is widely accepted the sanctions are causing severe shortages of food and medicines killing thousands, particularly children.

Campaign Against the Arms Trade highlighted the links between politicians and the global arms market. While admitting it was not the WTO that controlled the worlds arms production, the speaker went on to place the blame for the worlds conflicts on companies like the UK's GEC Marconi, the labour government's so called ethical arms policy, and the inherent greed for profit that places money before lives.

There was also support for the plight of American journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, in death row since 1982 as a result of a thorougly rigged trial in which he was convicted of shooting a Philadelphia policeman. A former member of the Black Panthers and the environmental-anarchist community MOVE, he is widely considered a political prisoner.

Talking from Reclaim The Streets another speaker urged the importance of placing the WTO in the context of capitalism and its effects, and cited the growing nature of international solidarity and protest. One of the final speakers called on people to 'Reclaim Mayday' in the year 2000 as part of a global day of action.

As advertised the speeches ended at 7pm to resounding cheers with a final speaker congratulating everyone on a successful day and a remarkable gathering of issues.


At around the same time as the first reports of police violence in Seattle arrived to London, part of the crowd that had been previously attending the rally at Euston station made an attempt to break away towards one of the main traffic arteries in the capital. Although the whole area was surrounded by police, protesters were directly met by a small number of police officers and a confrontation erupted. Police were initially driven back but a line of officers in riot gear rapidly formed and a series of charges and skirmishes on both directions ensued. There were diverse opinions among the protesters about the right course to follow, many openly calling to pro-activelly confront the authorities while others opted for passive resistance and some for withdrawal.

A small group of protesters switched their attention to an unmarked police van and proceeded to turn it over, to a mixture of booing and cheering from fellow protesters. In the following half hour there were several attempts to set the van on fire which on some occasions were thwarted by other demonstrators. Finally, the van caught fire and was surrounded by around 30 photographers, at which moment police decided to clear the station parade, advancing in perfectly structured lines. The van had been left isolated and unattended near the crowd for several hours, with 12ft metal poles attached to its top, in a remarkable flaw of police organisation.

Most of the protestors left the area by 8pm while around 500 people, now roughly divided into three groups, continued to clash with police. The first group was driven towards King's Cross, with several unsuccessful attempts to blockade the road by sitting down. They were finally dispersed after 9pm. A second, smaller, group stayed dancing in front of police lines in Eversholt street and gradually dispersed. The third group was less fortunate and, after some heated physical confrontation, was completely surrounded by a triple line of riot police who identified and photographed all of them before their release. The area was completely clear between 12 and 1am.

The latest reports speak of 38 arrests, 4 of them in connection with the carnival in the City of London on J18, and 7 casualties with different injuries (including a policeman with spinal injuries) none of them life-threatening. Road traffic and public transport were severely disrupted by the events.


Interference FM, the pirate radio collective that broadcast across London on J18, repeated their feat in protest at the commoditisation of the airwaves. They transmitted on the frequency used by Millennium FM 106.9. This commercial broadcaster prides itself in targeting an A1 audience, those with the highest purchasing power, and fuels values based on greed and profit. The pirates were taken off air at around 4pm in a large operation by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), responsible for enforcing the state control of radio and TV transmissions.

'Other' News Snippets:

- Throughout the night on N30 a live audio feed ran a scanned frequency of the Seattle Police Department radios over the Internet, allowing listeners to hear the latest developments in Seattle as the 'troops' moved in, and the curfew began.

- The official WTO website ( out of action at 2200hrs 30/11/99 it reappeared but some time later.

- The RTS UK site and the Electro Hippies 'Virtual Sit In' was temporarily off the air on N30. A message on the RTS site said:

''Sorry this site was down for some of November 30. Techhies turned off the webserver while they investigated a huge increase in traffic. Immediate suspicions of a Denial of Service attack by pro-WTO forces... or promised activity by the Metropolitan Police to thwart protest plans... but no! It turns out there were 100,000 hits on the electrohippies site, from people wanting to know more about their "virtual sit-in" - a Denial of Service protest against the WTO. So one could claim that virtually that many people joined the action on Tuesday.''
Electro Hippies site at

- Seattle Independant Media Centre went off the air 07.40hrs 01/12/99 - back up again by 1000hrs 01/12/99

- Police attack reporters as they try to enter the Seattle Independent Media Center. Report from
Pursuing protesters, a line of some 35 police in full riot gear stretched across the 3rd Ave. between Union and Pike some 10 feet North of the Independent Media Center (at 1415 3rd). Approximately 10 protesters sat across from them 30 feet to the South, with another 20 persons scattered around the block among the sitters. The seated protesters repeatedly asked the riot police what they wanted from the protesters, pointing out that when they had tried to leave, they were attacked. The riot police, wearing gas masks and full body armor, said nothing. After several minutes the line of protesters grew to about 15. Seconds later a concussion grenade landed and exploded among the seated protesters. Simultaneously, the riot cops charged, spraying pepper spray and tear gas at anyone they encountered including journalists filming outside the door of the IMC. The IMC filled with gas as people grabbed for masks and scarves. An ambulance was called for a bystander who was rushed into the IMC after being hit by what was believed to be a concussion grenade in the face. Over 100 journalists were held hostage by the police for approximately one hour until they were allowed to leave. Cartridges from concussion grenades and two different types of rubber bullets were found in the street and brought back to the IMC. A curfew has been declared for the downtown Seattle area after 7 pm. 30.11.99

- The possession, sale or wearing of gas masks made illegal in Seattle!! 2.12.99(?)

- Hundreds of arrested protestors have cut their plastic handcuffs with nail clippers, barricaded themselves in the buses used to take them to the nick and are refusing to even give their names. Many others continue civil disobediance after arrest - Seattle 2.12.99

Selected Global Reports:

Includes for theUK:

Cardiff, Wales: In Cardiff an anit-WTO procession marched through the centre of town.
Bangor, Wales: A coalition of groups held a nonviolent and colourful protest march in the high street in bangor, north wales. organised by gwynnedd and mon EF! the demo attracted a big range of allies including the Welsh political party Plaid Cymru whose leader Dafydd Wigely emailed a message of support. what was exciting was that this was a demo that had such a radical agenda and yet still attracted so much "straight" political support and public interest -we ran out of leaflets in about 10 minutes!!! (and got more...)
approx 40 people attended the demo (a lot for bangor as it goes so no bwhahhahas please...!)- a lot of new faces- and there was good press coverage and, on the streets, a lot of people who wanted to get info, talk over the issues etc.
so "just" as a public education exercise this was very positive as the seed for future coilitions it was also very positive- good connections made- the EF! group has got a lot more interest as a result which in turn has rekindled motivation. more actions to follow!!

Leeds, England:In Leeds city centre, around 50 protestors (and yet more SWP sads) were faced by over 300 cops. In the face of these daft odds, people wandered around, handed out leaflets outside scummy companies, and generally had a laugh.

Manchester, England: 12.30pm Lloyds Bank on Cross Street is occupied and shut down by 50 activists, who then proceed to block the street outside.

Totnes, England: A disused garage and an old Toll House, soon to be "luxury flats" have been squatted in Totnes, South Devon to draw local people’s attention to the WTO.

Below is from Wikipedia (so if you don't like it, you can edit it ;-)):

"On the morning of November 30, 1999, the Direct Action Network's plan was put into action. Several hundred activists arrived in the deserted streets near the convention center and began to take control of key intersections. Over the next few hours, a number of marchers began to converge on the area from different directions. These included a student march from the north and a march of citizens of the developing world who marched in from the south. Some demonstrators held rallies, others held teach-ins and at least one group staged an early-morning street party. Meanwhile, a number of protesters still controlled the intersections using lockdown formations.

The control of the intersections, plus the sheer numbers of protesters in the area, prevented delegates from getting from their hotels to the Convention Center. It also had the effect of cutting the police forces in two: the police who had formed a cordon around the convention center were cut off from the rest of the city. The police outside of the area eventually tried to break through the protesters' lines in the south.

That morning, the King County Sheriff's Office and Seattle Police Department fired pepper spray, tear gas canisters, stun grenades, and eventually rubber bullets at protesters at several intersections in an attempt to reopen the blocked streets and allow as many WTO delegates as possible through the blockade.[13] At 6th Avenue and Union Street, the crowd threw them back.

The situation was complicated around noon, when black-clad anarchists (in a formation known as a black bloc) began smashing windows and vandalizing storefronts, beginning with Fox's Gem Shop. This produced some of the most famous and controversial images of the protests. This set off a chain-reaction of sorts, with additional protesters pushing dumpsters into the middle of intersections and lighting them on fire, deflating the tires of police vehicles,[14] non-black bloc demonstrators joining in the property destruction, and a general disruption of all commercial activity in downtown Seattle.

Other protesters tried to physically block the activities of the black bloc. Seattle police, led by Chief Norm Stamper, did not react immediately, because they had been convinced by protest organizers during the protest-permit process that peaceful organizers would quell these kinds of activities.

The police were eventually overwhelmed by the mass of protesters downtown, including many who had chained themselves together and were blocking intersections. Meanwhile, the late-morning labor-organized rally and march drew tens of thousands; though the intended march route had them turning back before they reached the convention center, some ignored the marshals and joined what had become a street-carnival-like scene downtown.

The opening of the meetings was delayed, and it took police much of the afternoon and evening to clear the streets. Seattle mayor Paul Schell imposed a curfew and a 50-block "No-Protest Zone".

Over 600 people were arrested over the next few days. One particularly violent confrontation occurred the evening of November 30, when police pursued protesters fleeing from downtown into the bohemian neighborhood of Capitol Hill, using tear gas, pepper spray, and physical force.[15] A police order that day also banned the use or sale of gas masks downtown, provoking criticism.[16]"

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Hide the following 3 comments

seattle was a gas...

29.10.2009 18:20

wto protests n30
wto protests n30

tear gas recently sprayed into a revolving door section occupied by several activists as they blockaded a business climate summit in brussels... more to come in copenhagen?

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30 nearing

29.10.2009 23:43

Makes me feel old....10 years..... where did they go?


More on our history

31.10.2009 12:28

Also on N30 was a sucessful office action on the london office of the WTO. One activist ended up running into the indonesian office, and in one arguement with senior staff repeated lyrics from 'seize the day'. About 12 UN resolutions calling on indonesia to withdraw from east timor. To which the reply was "I only knew about 2"! A month later the next multi-billion dollar loan included conditions for a referendum on independance in East Timor, which happened, and they voted for independance.

ps. I dont think the green movement should take such a confrontational approach. But the anti-capitalist, anti-globalisation & anarchist movements should mark the occasion.