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Pedal Power solutions to petroleum dependence and polluting vehicles: Arcata Library Bikes, Pedal Power Produce, and more!

CAOE - Committee Against Oil Exploration - stop offshore oil drilling to protect sensitive habitats and cut petroleum dependence.

Culture Change through music! The Depavers eco-rock!

Take our Pledge for Climate Protection and learn about the Global Warming Crisis Council.

SEI hometown action!
Arcata city council's proclamation against war on Iraq and Kyoto Protocol proclamation.

Overpopulation has become a reality.  Overpopulation Resources and News Tidbits

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Battling the System or Waiting for Collapse
A staff report from the WTO protest in Seattle

"Freedom says we love you from now on

Freedom says we take the police state on

Freedom says we can't consume on and on..."
      -- The Depavers, from 'Have a Global Warming Day'

Your Auto-Free Times editors were well represented at the historic WTO protest November 30, 1999 in Seattle. Some activist-minded folk did not attend because they failed to see the relevance: the corporate economy is teetering enough already, and Y2K could clobber the beast anyway. Those who did not hit the streets in Seattle missed out, but don't worry, there's more chances ahead! At this writing in early January, a Y2K freak can say "Oops, the system's still plugging along! I coulda, shoulda done more to shut down the WTO meeting! But now I'll get active, by goddess!" Meanwhile, the basic contradictions of an ecos-destroying system undermining its true foundation-the Earth-guarantee failure of the WTO and its whole culture, including the false American Dream. The viciousness of the oppressive profit system of individualistic greed, making a mockery of family values and such watchwords as the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments, requires the strongest response in history to demand a better way. Now, happily, labor-rights activists, environmentalists and others have joined together in conscious awareness and action.

This article describes what we the people experienced in downtown Seattle when we shut down the huge WTO meeting. The mainstream, corporate media and their friends, the government spokespeople, gave false impressions of the event to news audiences through their acts of omission and commission. Tens of thousands of people from all walks of life approached the Seattle Convention Center area on foot early Tuesday morning, November the 30th. Collectively, we were able to take over entire streets and many intersections. This was anarchy enough, and it was good. The Humboldt County, California contingent met beforehand at a specified intersection outside the protest zone at 7am. The whole downtown area had been divided on paper by protest organizers into slices of a pie. The Humboldt folk, including many Earth First!ers, took the responsibility of blocking WTO delegates' access to their ill-conceived festivities at one of many key intersections. At 6th and University, Humboldt's direct action squad joined hands within lock-boxes, laying their bodies down on the pavement to stop the progress of cars on the roadway. Humboldt's support group was joined slowly but surely by a multitude of other protesters. A similar process took place at other key points downtown, and soon, up to 40,000 people were enjoying a huge parade and demonstration, peacefully. WTO delegates and those wearing corporate style outfits were blocked by locked arms and love.

Police of various stripes were on hand and grew in number as the day wore on. They were completely ineffectual in turning away crowds or in restoring vehicular traffic. One officer posted at 6th and University was asked at one point who of their squad was in charge, to which the cop responded "I think it's clear to all of us here that no one is in charge." Although this demonstration was not an example of a classic Reclaim the Streets exercise, it was a joyous affirmation of our individual rights to be in charge of ourselves, and to make choices which challenge the system which simply rolls blindly ahead. Eventually the police began their seemingly programmed aggression. Intersections were seized by the riot squads in Darth Vader get-ups, and violence by the police ensued. But chemical agents and official intimidation were not successful in breaking up the lockdowns. People who fled from the gas bombs were soon to reappear. Some protesters got physical with civil disobedience, and some property damage occurred-suspiciously convenient for anti-protest propaganda. This seemed to happen in response to the hostility of the police. It was abhorrent to the people, feeling within their rights to peacefully assemble, to witness the bias of the police to reflect on who they really represent: big business. The city crack-down resulted in an active police state for the duration of the conference. Concussion bombs and tear gas were common features on the streets, the threat of which, along with arrest kept people away only to some extent. One of the Depavers climbed on an armored police assault vehicle, a la Boris Yeltsin, and was violently removed before he escaped.

Another Depaver, Tofu, later played a show with eco troubadour Casey Neil in the University district. They summed up the spirit of the protest as they sang "Dancing on the Ruins of Multinational Corporations."