JIM GOETTLER and Bob Barnes want to help the police, but the city has rejected their offer. Admittedly, the offer was a little unusual coming from these veteran protest organizers. They point out that the cops have a challenge ahead of them: Nov. 30 has become a kind of protesters' memorial day commemorating the shutdown of the World Trade Organization's meetings in 1999. "Last year," Goettler says, "people on both sides [police and protesters] milled about, itching for a fight." The result? Nearly 6,000 hours of police overtime and numerous arrests, according to Goettler.
This year, Goettler wants to get a permit to hold "a safe, legal event" in Westlake Park. Protesters will gather at Westlake, permit or not, Goettler and Barnes argue. If there is a permitted protest with speakers, music, and the usual routine, people will gather, participate, and when the mikes are turned off, they will go home or to indoor WTO anniversary parties, the pair posit. Without a permit, the organizers continue, there will be another needless clash between police and protesters.
The hang-up is the Downtown Seattle Association's (DSA) holiday carousel. For five weeks starting on Nov. 23, the DSA sponsors a merry-go-round to raise money for children's charities. "We need to put the smiles back on people's faces," DSA's Sylvia McDaniel says passionately. "The holiday carousel is a warm and fuzzy event," she notes, while anti-globalization protests "tend to draw people who wear those little black scarves and cause problems." McDaniel says the DSA is liable for the carousel itself and feels responsible for the safety of "children and families" who show up. Goettler and Barnes "cannot guarantee people won't show up and cause problems," she adds.
Goettler and Barnes admit they can't guarantee the peace. They argue, however, that the city should take a chance on their plan because the alternative is a guarantee of trouble.
Last week, the city turned down Goettler and Barnes' request for a permit. The city's Virginia Swanson explains, "We don't usually issue two permits for groups [to share the same space] that are not clearly compatible."
George Howland Jr.