Report: An Independent Review of the World Trade Organization Conference Disruptions in Seattle, Washington, November 29-December 3, 1999

Who wrote it: R.M. McCarthy & Associates,


Report on the reports

Our capsule look and reaction to the other WTO reviews.

Report: An Independent Review of the World Trade Organization Conference Disruptions in Seattle, Washington, November 29-December 3, 1999

Who wrote it: R.M. McCarthy & Associates, for the mayor's office

Report says: City clearly underestimated threat to public safety and went out of its way to coddle activists; Chief Norm Stamper lacked leadership, Mayor Paul Schell made comments demoralizing police rank and file; City Council failed oversight role; city law hampered police intelligence gathering even though intelligence was substantial (say what?); much of media coverage was inflammatory and at times irresponsible.

Good guys: King County Sheriff Dave Reichert, for his support and preparations, and the rank and file—they were worried, and they were right.

Best observation: Inviting WTO to town during holidays wasn't a real bright idea.

Our take: All in all, we'd rather live in a city run by Pinko Paul Schell than the police state envisioned by McCarthy & Associates.

Report: After-Action Report

Who wrote it: Seattle Police Department

Report says: Not enough time to plan; inadequate funding for mutual aid assistance; intelligence assessments not usefully incorporated into preparations; no workable contingency plans for supplies and resource backup; flying squad and jail booking plans flopped; communications breakdown widespread; more field commanders should have been delegated authority.

Good guys: Front-line officers and commanders, who for the most part acted responsibly despite demonstrator assaults, exhausting shifts, and lack of food and rest.

Best observation: Absence of funding and lack of contractual commitments led to last minute decision-making and informal agreements, almost guaranteeing failure.

Our take: SPD's intelligence section was beseeching SPD commanders to expect major disruptions. Hmmm. You want more surveillance powers but don't heed the intelligence you gather?

Report: Draft Report on the Level of Paramilitary Response and Loss of Democratic Rights During the Seattle Round of the World Trade Organization Ministerial

Who wrote it: National Lawyer's Guild, Seattle Chapter

Report says: WTO was brought to Seattle without knowledge of most citizens and without consent of most elected city officials; police in some cases indiscriminately attacked some nonprotesters, such as those dining or shopping; guild claims that "at least one person seems to have died" as a result of the use of gas and suggested that people with medical risks can no longer participate in the political process.

Good guys: Vast majority of demonstrators, well informed and lawful.

Best observation: "What was the chain of command that was in place for law enforcement personnel during the WTO Ministerial? Were there any members of the military involved, especially on a command decision level as implied by reports from Seattle Weekly and CNN? . . . City of Seattle should explore as far as possible the role of all federal law enforcement and military agencies."

Our take: Right on. The Deltas likely weren't writing parking tickets.

Report: After-Action Report

Who wrote it: Washington State Patrol

Report says: Mayor and police chief wrongly maintained from start that WTO wouldn't affect business activity and traffic; SPD should have listened to its own intelligence officers warning of a worst-case scenario; mayor's office suggestions that there would be no disruption to everyday life in Seattle were strategically flawed with no factual basis.

Good guys: WSP commanders who were able to command their troops independently despite SPD communications breakdown.

Best observation: SPD needed to keep the "mayor and his politics" out of the command decision-making.

Our take: City cops privately complained about WSP's lack of training; still, WSP criticism hits the target: Whoever heard of a politically correct tactical plan?

Report: Out of Control, Seattle's Flawed Response to Protests Against the World Trade Organization

Who wrote it: ACLU, Seattle

Report says: Police made hundreds of improper arrests; brutality was not the norm but there were widespread reports of police using excessive force; protests did not constitute a riot but police used massive amounts of tear gas against crowds; gas used even when unnecessary to protect public safety or safety of the officers; planners had ample reasons to expect large-scale protests.

Good guys: Any well-meaning public official who ultimately acknowledges the city's substantial violations of civil liberties and prepares to never repeat them.

Best observation: For several days, the city established and enforced a zone in which our guaranteed right to expression was outlawed—a blatant violation of constitutional rights.

Our take: The best review of rights violations so far, but the city should still conduct its own review: What else will truly instill in officials the lesson that such massive rights violations must never happen again in our city?

More on WTO:

• Answering WTO's big questions

• The WTO is dead in the water, but don't count it out just yet.

• The legacy of Seattle's WTO protest leaders.

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