A welcome to demonstrators in Seattle.

Tony Tracy tony at SPAMtao.ca
Thu Dec 2 02:50:36 MST 1999

Gary MacLennan wrote:

>Were there any attempts to link up the Hoffa led demonstration with
>those protesting outside the WTO Centre? That is the combination
>that would have shaken the world not just Seattle.

there were certainly attempts that took place to link the large
labour demo (with tens of thousands of participants) with those
protesting closer to the convention centre at which the WTO delegates
were meeting, however, these attempts were quite unsuccessful.

we reached a point on 3rd street during the march at which the hoffa
/ afl-cio leadership of the march had determined that we would be
making a sharp left turn and then march back towards the stadium.

members of the machinists union (in distinctive red machinists caps),
who were designated marshals for the afl/cio-sponsored march, were
directed to link arms and prevent marchers from continuing another
block or two down 3rd towards the convention centre... instead, they
diverted marchers down pine street rather than allowing the march to
continue along 3rd street following the former pre-designated route.

many of us on the march had discussions and arguments with the
machinists who were marshalling at that corner -- explaining that the
*safest* thing for all concerned would be a show of solidarity by the
50,000 marchers with the several thousand folks who were attempting
to physically close off access to the convention centre, and that we
should have the march continue down 3rd at least another block
towards the convention centre.

that sort of *mass* "direct action" by tens of thousands of
labour-led demonstrators encircling the convention centre & allowing
no access inside or out would indeed have shaken the world and not
just seattle. unfortunately it was not to be... for a couple of
reasons. the afl-cio leadership choose to distance themselves from
the more "radical" community-based protesters (especially those in
the "direct action network"), and had brokered a deal with the cops
to ensure that the march route would be diverted from going too close
to the convention centre.

so, while we argued with the machinists who were holding the line and
diverting the march away, they maintained discipline in regards to
the instructions that they were given -- turn the march to the left
(physically, not ideologically).

the frustration that many of us had felt at the lack of political
will on the part of the leadership of the afl-cio bureaucrats was
shared amongst a large part of the crowd. however, the
machinist-union marshals were instructed to tell anyone "if you're
with labour, you'll turn here. anyone that continues down this street
is against the labour movement".

the longshoremen (ILWU), by the way, didn't buy this argument and
went through towards the convention centre, where they engaged in
their own "mass direct action" in a very militant fashion (this comes
after they closed the ports throughout the west coast in protest of
the wto... the ILWU never ceases to surprise me with their
willingness to put their muscle behind social political causes).



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