They kept asking me to apologize and I thought, Apologize for what? That the anarchists came up and tried to wreck the demonstrations? To apologize for the police? They were doing their jobs, and I think with a few exceptions they did an excellent job of protecting safety and standing their ground.
I kept waiting for somebody to suggest, What could we have done differently? Would it have been better to set up the so-called “no-protest zone”—the security zone—ahead of time, over a wider area? Perhaps, but would the 50,000 people have gone away? I don’t think so. They would have known they were losing their right to express themselves, so it could have possibly been worse.
This will be an important event historically. It was an introduction to the twenty-first century, and all the challenges it would present.
In 2001 Schell lost office in the primary. Greg Nickels won the general election.
When Paul says in the end he feels okay about what happened, I think it’s because so many of us were really clear that something really bad might have happened and it didn’t. It took a lot of effort.
Brown is now deputy director of King County’s transportation department.
We were hoping for a “Seattle Round” of trade talks. That didn’t happen, but I don’t think it affected our trade at all. There were much worse protests worldwide.
But it’s much harder to explain to people how important trade is. There’s much more polarization. We still need a WTO, no matter what its problems are.
Davis is completing her final term on the Seattle Port Commission.
On Radio New Zealand
The demonstrations did force governments to actually get out and try to explain things. That in a way was healthy. There’s a myth that the protest stopped the meeting. Well it’s not actually true…. What caused the meeting to collapse in a spectacular way was we couldn’t get people to agree. The old European subsidy issues were still there.
Moore now teaches and writes on globalization issues.
I believe the demonstrations had a long-term effect, and played a significant role in the failure of that round of talks. Members of the Third World delegations who felt they were being pressured into adopting the document coming out of the Seattle tribunal said the demonstrations gave them the encouragement and courage to say no.
Our local press covered this as a two-bit local riot, but the way the press around the world covered it was very different. You had Americans saying “No way” to this WTO, which many in the world believe is American dominated.
It brought labor and social groups together. That alliance is alive and well. It’s led to some of the grassroots efforts that are transforming our politics.
Derdowski left King County Council in 2000 after losing the Republican primary. He now consults on policy at publicinterest associates.org