I looked through my blog archives to see what all I’ve written about WTO and was surprised when I only turned up this relatively short piece.

I did a hard drive search and found the letter I sent to the city council which appears to have been based on the shorter version previously posted, but which also includes the original URL of a video I found showing some of the events I saw that December 2.

Here it is. This was originally composed and sent it on December 5, 1999:

I live and work in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

I left my house after dinner and followed the circling helicopter to see what was going on. Arriving at the south end of the Broadway playfield, there was lots of tear gas and smoke in the air. Moving into the gas, my eyes welled with tears and my mouth and nose nose strung sharply. However, was as able to continue forward through the gas, although visibility was very low due to the density of the gas and its’ effects on my eyes. I crossed Pine at eleventh, using the crosswalk, directly in front of a line of the black-suited regular riot squad police who were using the edge of the crosswalk itself as a kind of demarcation line. A police gas gunner was standing in the crosswalk in front of the line and as I approached, he began to set a firing stance.

Glancing to the left and to the right, he saw me approaching and paused. I motioned that I was going to pass behind him, he stepped forward, lowering his weapon, and I passed between him and the line of riot police. The interchange was curiously polite; only later did I realize how strange and dangerous it had been.

Bars and restaurants less than a half-block from the confrontation remained open and were jam packed with happy and excited people, all glued to live tv coverage of the event occurring literally outside the windows.

I had a beer at the Comet after checking my band’s musical equipment at a nearby rehearsal space, which was of course fine. Returning to the standoff, I spoke with some Teamsters representatives briefly, and then began to seek out media people to convey to them my impression that the crowd was very largely local-to-the-neighborhood, drawn in curiosity and anger at the police presence. There were two chants that went up repeatedly – “get off our hill, get off our hill”, and “you go home, we go home; you go home, we go home”. Other chants included “shame”, and “whose streets? our streets”

Moments before the last round of gas, the crowd began to sing songs. Such hits as “Theme from Gilligan’s Island”. “Theme from The Brady Bunch”, for an incredible finale with most successful participation, “Silent Night”, in a scene reminsicent of the film “All Quiet on the Western Front”. However, there was no reciprocal singing from the police line.

I was in a group of people talking to King County Councilman Brian Derdowski when the gas was released and grenades were fired at about 2 am. A grenade exploded directly between Mr. Derdowski and myself, blinding and deafening us momentarily (about like an m-80). Then everybody ran. I was hit several times on my left leg and have big bloody welts up and down it. Running away along 11th in the playfield area, I caught up with and asked Mr. Derdowski if he had been hit and was he alright, he said he was OK, but was going home to his wife so she would know he was OK. I concurred and did the same.

This knot of folks was one of the closest to the police line, and was clearly not within the main body of the crowd itself. This contributed to the number of times I was struck in the leg by the police fire.

I heard no warning of any kind immediately preceding the gas and bullets. However, the word within the crowd was that they police wanted people on the sidewalk not on the street. Upon reflection, I realize that I was probably standing on the sidewalk when the gas was launched.

I did not see any of the extremely aggressive police behaviors being reported as having happened on Broadway in the earlier confrontation at around 8:30 or 9. I also can clearly state my opinion that the the crowd that faced off with the police and guard troops on Capitol Hill was not violent or threatening.

A young man with a video camera was in the group of onlookers near Mr. Derdowski – he has allowed his footage to be digitized and posted to the web. He was hit in the head with a police grenade, and discusses this in the footage. I believe that the grenade that struck him is probably the grenade that exploded directly between Mr. Derdowski and myself.

I personally have concerns that the grenade might have been actually intended to strike Councilman Derdowski, as he was clearly recognizable to the officers in the area, do to his brave and frantic efforts to defuse the situation. His back and head may have been in clear view of the police line.


at the very end when the police fire the grenades and gas, I am standing two people away from the camera.

at 8.01.2 exactly on the video I may be visible in profile in the distance on the tape. I look much farther away then I recall being. There may be edits on the tape – I remember Mr. Derdowski offering to meet with the young woman he is talking to at an office downtown. Additionally, I was on the other side of Mr. Derdowski from the gentleman with the camera, and may not appear visually on the tape at all.

Precisely preceding the sound of the gas grenades being fired, you can hear my voice saying “Can I have your name, sir?” I was hit on the leg by what I take to be several rubber bullets and have big honkin’ bruises to show for it. The bruises bled the night that they were made.

In between us was King County Councilman Brian Derdowski. He’s the guy in the suit who reappears from time to time.

There was no warning before the gas that I heard. As far as I knew, the police had been asking people to stay on the sidewalk, which is where I happened to be standing when the gas happened.

interesting perceptually for me is that the warning of “immediate arrest” heard on the video early on the tape was not heard me me at all. I believe that it was before I was there – I left and returned a couple of times. For example, i did not see the earth spiral that was made that we see in the video.

I have been told that the immediate arrest warning heard on the tape was issued at around 2:30.