men in black in seattle

Michael Pugliese debsian at
Thu Dec 2 08:55:53 MST 1999

 Bands of Masked Hoodlums Did Much of Damage

Robert Collier, Chronicle Staff Writer  Thursday, December 2, 1999

Who were those masked men in black who trashed downtown Seattle?
The police would like to know. So would many thousands of people whose
peaceful protest against the World Trade Organization was marred Tuesday
when small numbers of hooligans smashed windows, looted stores and generally
ruined the party.
Their work made nationwide television, as millions of Americans gaped at the
senseless destruction.
When street protests reached critical mass on Tuesday and were repeated on a
much smaller level yesterday, the police sent clouds of tear gas and volleys
of plastic pellets at protesters who would not allow delegates into the
trade group's opening session.
Down the block, away from the front lines, young people in black masks found
deliverance in the chaos. They sprayed the symbol for anarchy -- a circled
A -- on store walls, a move that quickly expanded to random window-breaking
and some looting.
Few of the self-proclaimed anarchists were arrested. Although many seemed to
delight in throwing bottles and firecrackers at police to try to provoke
them, few participated in the street-corner sit-ins where police made most
of their arrests.
Peaceful activists said the hoodlums' groups went by names such as Seattle
Anarchist Response, Reclaim and Black-Clad Messengers. In the days leading
up to Tuesday's demonstration, these and other groups broke away from the
main activist organization, Direct Action Network, over the network's
demands that protesters accept three main rules: no violence, no drugs or
alcohol, and respect for property.
Little love was lost between the factions.
As the sound of breaking windows grew on Tuesday afternoon, many protesters
tried to stop the anarchists. Arguments ensued, many of them heated and
filled with invective.
``No violence!'' and ``Shame!'' were the cries at a Starbucks where two
young toughs -- who appeared to be in their late teens -- had just smashed
the windows, entered and opened the door.
A few burly protesters shoved aside the anarchists, who seemed to be
considering fisticuffs but, after looking their adversaries over, thought
better of it.
So what to do? Flip the bird. ``F-- collaborators!'' they shouted petulantly
at the protesters, their middle fingers extended to the world. ``We'll do
whatever we want!''
After a while, they slinked away.
Another protester approached a reporter and said in disgust, ``Don't think
all of us are that stupid. That's got nothing to do with why we're here.''
Of course, the network's own lawbreaking tactics -- which its leaders defend
as ethical, civil disobedience -- caused some discomfort for the AFL-CIO,
which organized the great majority of Tuesday's demonstrators but kept its
members on a parade route largely separate from the activists' sit-ins. But
labor leaders drew a clear line between their allies among the
civil-disobedience crowd and the hoodlums.
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Are the demonstrations justified? Discuss.


What is the WTO?


Seattle police botch crowd control. (12/02)
Clinton urges fairer trade; WTO should listen to demonstrators. (12/02)
Nations react to Seattle images with shock, sympathy. (12/02)
Bands of masked hoodlums did much of damage. (12/02)
Turmoil in Seattle streets. (12/01)
City struggles to regain control of downtown streets. (12/01)
Local longshoremen protest with work stoppage. (11/30)
Pepper gas fired on demonstrators in Seattle. (11/30)
WTO, foes find little common ground in Seattle. (11/30)
Thousands of demonstrators march against WTO. (11/30)


Forestry: Old trees may be endanger by wood, paper trade pact. (11/26)
China: High-tech firms welcome new accord. (11/25)
Food: Fears surface over genetic alterations. (11/25)
AIDS: Activist, industry split over drugs. (11/24)


A better economy the world over. (11/29)
Improved quality of living. (11/29)
Reasons to protest WTO's harmful effects. (11/29)
Uneven distribution of wealth. (11/29)


WTO: The official site
Globalize This!: Anti-WTO site.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce: WTO topics and official U.S. position.
AFL-CIO: Labor organization's stance aganst WTO.


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