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Strings Attached to WTO Rally Permit

Cathy Duchamp
11/30/2001

A federal judge has ordered the city of Seattle to issue a permit to activists who plan to stage a rally at Westlake Park today (FRI) to mark the second anniversary of the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. But there are strings attached. KUOW’s Cathy Duchamp reports.

THE CITY HAD TRIED TO BLOCK ANTI-WTO PROTESTERS FROM MARCHING TO WESTLAKE, CLAIMING THE DOWNTOWN SEATTLE ASSOCIATION ALREADY HAD A PERMIT TO USE THE PARK. AND BECAUSE OFFICIALS FEARED HAVING TOO MANY PROTESTERS THERE COULD JEOPARDIZE PUBLIC SAFETY. US DISTRICT JUDGE MARSHA PECHMAN RULED LAST NIGHT [THURS] THAT THE RALLY CAN GO ON, UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS. THE EVENT MUST BE CONTAINED WITHIN THE SOUTH END OF THE PARK-AWAY FROM THE HOLIDAY CAROUSEL. IF THE CROWD EXCEEDS 200 PEOPLE, CITY OFFICIALS CAN ASSESS WHETHER THE DEMONSTRATION CAN BE SAFELY CONTAINED. IF THEY DETERMINE IT CAN’T BE, POLICE CAN ISSUE AN ORDER TO DISPERSE THE CROWD. AND, RALLY SPONSORS MUST SUPPORT THAT ORDER. DESPITE THE RESTRICTIONS, ORGANIZERS, INCLUDING VANESSA LEE, CALL THE RULING A VICTORY. The city lied. We told the truth. The city discriminated against us based on the content of our message. Paul Schell made it very clear or so he thought that no one would be permitted to gather at Westlake. It turns out he’s wrong and we’ll have a safe, peaceful event and we’re thrilled. LAST YEAR’S WTO ANNIVERSARY DEMONSTRATION WAS LARGELY PEACEFUL, BUT ENDED WITH 150 ARRESTS. POLICE CLAIM THE PEOPLE TAKEN INTO CUSTODY DISREGARDED ORDERS TO DISPERSE. BUT ORGANIZER JIM GOETTLER SAYS TODAY’S DEMONSTRATION WILL BE DIFFERENT: This year we have a permit we have a sound system and have a stage which means we have the ability to have a program a beginning middle and end which we haven’t had before we have a permitted legal rally at Westlake which is what we came here to get. CITY ATTORNEYS WHO ASKED THAT THE CASE BE MOVED FROM STATE TO FEDERAL COURT SAY THEY HAVE NO ISSUES WITH THE RULING, AND EXPECT ORGANIZERS TO COMPLY WITH THE CONDITIONS. W-T-O PROTESTERS WILL MEET AT SEATTLE CENTERAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE AT 1-PM, THEN MARCH DOWN TO WESTLAKE. THE RALLY THERE IS SCHEDULED TO RUN FROM 2 PM UNTIL ABOUT 3:30. I’M CATHY DUCHAMP. KUOW 94.9 PUBLIC RADIO.
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