Reflective, but Defensive
As a protester before, during, and after the WTO, I read Nina Shapiro's article ["A Good Cop Wasted," June 1] and the excerpt from Norm Stamper's book ["Snookered in Seattle: The WTO Riots," June 1] with anticipation. I was even more excited as I saw the self-reflection and "touchy-feely" hermit in the woods allusions. I figured we would get a bit more perspective from the "other" side than we did in the end.
For a self-reflective person, Stamper is remarkably defensive on some important points. All these years later, he still trots out the line that the "protest leaders" failed to "play by the rules." I don't know who his commanders spent "months negotiating with," but they sure weren't leaders of any but a few of the thousands out there on the streets. Those folks were largely leaderless groups of like-minded people from all over the country and the world, who made no secret of their lack of affiliation with leaders and structure. In fact, they trumpeted their freewheeling, leaderless, anarchistic vision of protest to anyone who would listen. Unfortunately, Stamper, his commanders, and the city government didn't hear them.
Stamper talks of the variety of missiles being thrown at the police. What I saw were people marching, singing, shouting clever and stupid slogans, and sitting in the streets in nonviolent protest. I saw a lot of taunting of the police; I saw (during the worst of the police attacks) water bottles (plastic, thank you very much) being hurled at the police after being used to wash the eyes of protesters who were blinded by the gases and sprays used by the cops; but I did not see one dangerous missile thrown. That doesn't mean it didn't happen. But the language Stamper uses to describe this scene creates a vision of streets in flames and rioters roaming in mobs. This just wasn't the case.
I'm glad—no, ecstatic—to see a thoughtful, self-reflective police officer talking honestly about problems that exist. I just hoped for more. If I can admit to chanting inane slogans and feeling unreasonably self-important during the protests, perhaps old Norm could come along and confess to something more than operational failures.
So you got Norm Stamper admitting to the violent screwups by the Seattle Police Department and Mayor Paul Schell in 1999 at the WTO protests in Seattle ["A Good Cop Wasted" and "Snookered in Seattle: The WTO Riots," June 1]. Now can you please get current SPD Chief Gil Kerlikowske and Mayor Greg Nickels to explain their violent rioting upon innocent, unarmed, nonviolent antiwar protesters in a permitted protest zone on March 22, 2003? We also need a full investigation and explanation for Nickels' and Kerlikowske's police riot on unarmed, nonviolent Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit (LEIU) protesters, again in a permitted zone, on June 2, 2003. Seattle Weekly has tried repeatedly to perpetrate the myth that Seattle cops learned some type of morality lesson at WTO in 1999. But I have seen, with my own eyes, that the lesson SPD and Seattle mayors learned from the 1999 WTO police riots was, police can riot and get away with it. They are still doing it, long after WTO, with zero accountability.
Norm's Inner Pansy
Nine pages of nonsense by and about flower-power policeman Norm Stamper ("I thought protest leaders would play by the rules") demonstrate that he was the top cop sensitive Seattle and its mayor deserved ["A Good Cop Wasted" and "Snookered in Seattle: The WTO Riots," June 1].
New Age Norm used to enjoy choking out pukes and assholes until he got in touch with his inner pansy. His New Age boss, Paul Schell, wanted Seattle to be a welcoming, nurturing, happy place for WTO pukes and assholes. Both make me ache for the second coming of Ken Saucier, a no-nonsense street cop who maybe, just maybe, could have choked out the puke and asshole from Stamper and Schell, and who maybe could have nurtured them into men.
An Honest Cop
I'm a 22-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department and surprised that our former chief took all of the responsibility for WTO ["A Good Cop Wasted" and "Snookered in Seattle: The WTO Riots," June 1]. These articles brought back memories involving a man who had a great deal of passion for this city and was clearly ahead of his time. Many people were responsible for WTO, primarily the anarchists who disrupted a potentially productive event and a mayor who naively agreed to host it without realizing the real impact it would have on our city and its police. Stamper identified his shortcomings and ultimately takes the hit with brutal, self-deprecating honesty.
In 1998 Stamper publicly admitted to racial and homophobic actions as a young officer. Although I was first taken aback by his seemingly career-ending revelations, I recognized he was feeling tremendous guilt involving conduct that was wrong. His self-evaluation impressed me, especially in Seattle's political arena, where being too honest can be costly. Following his disclosure, I met with him days later to clear the air. I felt since he had the courage to reveal he was ashamed about being homophobic, I now had the courage to tell him I was gay. Although it seemed like a huge risk at the time, it was well worth the risk.
The most lasting memory I'll have of Norm was during the riots. In the midst of the tear gas, I turned and looked at the officer next to me wearing full riot regalia. He stared back through his grimy mask, and I saw it was Norm Stamper. His presence on the riot line was not as police chief seeking a photo op but, I believe, born of a desire to tame the monster he helped create. For the most part those wounds have healed, so let's have some compassion for a wounded city and former police chief and all be better for it by not allowing it to happen again.
Allen Is No Menace
I'm afraid that it is many decades past (like over 40 years ago and the opening of the Seattle World's Fair) when Seattle could slumber alone as a quaint, pastoral village on the shores of Puget Sound [Mossback, "Paul Allen's Kool-Aid," June 1]. The cat is out of the bag, and if Seattle didn't want to develop a high-rise downtown, then the city should have settled for a sustained system of growth like our neighbor to the south, Portland. But it didn't, and it was local boosters that pushed for the downtown you see today, not those spooky Californians who seem to send the locals to the barricades.
I don't see Paul Allen as some local menace trying any means to change the landscape for the worse. Look at all those empty lots and shabby buildings between the edge of downtown and the Mercer Mess. Perhaps Allen and Bill Gates might solve the Mercer Mess with some proper inducements—something the elected governments of Seattle (over the decades) have never been able to solve.
Fixing the Vote
In "Trial of the Century" [June 1], Geov Parrish correctly states that through the operation of the vote counting and recounting system in place, Christine Gregoire won the 2004 race for governor of Washington over Dino Rossi. He is also correct in writing that the Republican suit to overturn the election ought to have failed, whether by dismissal or by judicial decision.
What Parrish does not address is the fact that Republican complaints in and out of court have revealed a voting system that is deeply flawed, at least in King County. Whether a better system would have resulted in a Rossi victory or a wider Gregoire margin is not material. I would hope that Parrish would agree that if we can have a system more closely approximating the reality of the number of valid votes cast, then we ought to have it.
William H. Wilson
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