On November 30, 1999, I was a journalist attached to the newly formed Independent Media Center, which, following the week in Seattle, branched out into a global news gathering organization.
I spent the day on the line between protesters and police, and one of the things that struck me was the near-total lack of mainstream media in the center of the action. For the most part, the major TV, radio, and newspaper reporters situated themselves several blocks away from the police line, where they relied on second-hand reports from the authorities.
What they missed was a responsible, diverse resistance movement that for many hours kept the peace amidst a growing crowd, protecting downtown property in the process. It was only after the firing of tear gas by police into the crowds that peaceful protesters would fall back, allowing vandals to rush into the void and cause property damage. This pattern repeated itself over the course of the afternoon.
The sensationalistic media images of the moment missed the story that only came out later, through independent reporting and angry Capitol Hill residents. It was not the actions of uncontrolled anarchists, but rather the largely unprovoked use of force, tear gas, and pepper spray by police, that created an atmosphere of chaos and ultimately led to several successful lawsuits against the city.
posted 3 years, 5 months ago
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