From an email I dispatched on the morning of December 2, 1999:
“Demonstrations yesterday, last night and today appear to me to be spontaneous expressions of resistance to the abrogation of our constitutional rights – for example, by mayoral decree, only the police or military can posess a gas mask within city limits. The decree does not appear to be within the powers granted the Mayor by the city charter.
The disturbances in my neighborhood (Capitol Hill) last night were provoked by the police, who, in attempting to prevent some vandalism aggressively gassed and charged a crowd of very largely calm and peaceful protestors who, in accordance with the rules of the emergency, had left the downtown area after 7pm.
The protestors were on a very busy commercial street, Broadway, that was crowded with many happy and excited people, mostly white professionals and children, who were packing bars and restaurants. So the police use of force necessarily also fell upon people who were simply out, rather than necessarily protesting.
This drew many more people out and the evening ended, several hours later with the police working to keep a crowd of a couple thousand away from the precinct station. The police gassed and used rubber bullets several times. At least five city and county elected officials were present, concerned, attempting to get people to go home.
I was standing in a small group of people on the sidewalk, in compliance with the police instructions, listening to King County Councilmember Brian Derdowski (was clearly very unhappy with the situation); the crowd was singing sitcom theme songs (Gilligan’s Island and the Brady Bunch). Then the crowd sang “Silent Night”.
A few minutes later an explosive device fired by the police landed about six inches in front of me, directly between me and Councilmember Derdowski, and the explosion and gas temporarily blinded and deafened me. Everyone ran; I was struck in the legs several times with rubber bullets.
So last night I was very very unhappy with the police response.”
I don’t recall who the other elected officials were, or what my source was. Additionally, I’ve since been educated that the rubber bullets that tore up my ass and legs were in fact pellets, probably from another grenade thrown by the defenders of the peace. I can’t say that the distinction was central or palliative.
You’ll all be happy to hear I’ve decided not to post the gory pix of the bloody welts.
My companion at the start of this venture into my friendly local riot zone?
None other than Mr. Ken Goldstein.