Last week, two people were arrested during protests against the Asian Pacific Cities Summit at downtown's Westin Hotel on Sixth Avenue and Virginia Street. The summit, depending on whom you ask, was a gathering of mayors and trade reps from Pacific Rim cities for a "cultural exchange" (say city officials) or a meeting to facilitate a WTO-style trade agreement with officials from the World Bank (say anti-globalization groups). The meeting turned out around 100 protesters on Tuesday morning, May 8, at the Westin.
One of the protesters was Curtis, a 31-year-old pierced, gangly guy, whose gentle demeanor can give way to deceptively low-volume rants. He is a member of Seattle's anarchists, the Black Bloc ["Road Bloc," Grant Cogswell, May 3].
Curtis' Black Bloc was determined to march outside of planned routes and make a lot of noise. "We brought about 50 paint cans to drum on so they'd hear us inside the meeting," he says. "I'm told we succeeded." Curtis says he expected the police to force people into the street in order to arrest them for obstructing traffic, but was surprised when police started crashing their bikes into marchers and shoving them instead (events this reporter witnessed). The cops, armed with pepper spray, eventually sent one protester--a 15-year-old who was later arrested--over a wall into a six-foot drop onto concrete. Along with the boy, the cops arrested another man for "obstructing delegates." (Neither were members of the Black Bloc.)
The arrests made the news. However, what happened next did not. Curtis' self-titled Berserk Bucket Brigade led the march to Westlake Center with vigorous drumming stops in front of Starbucks and Nordstrom, where security guards locked the doors. (Perhaps they heard about a May Day event in Portland, where 100 drummers marched through a Banana Republic store.) Later that evening in Capitol Hill, the Bucket Brigade met up with some 20 people at Seattle Central Community College and marched, drumming, through the Gap at Broadway Market and into the Starbucks across the street, where, according to Curtis, an assistant manager hit a female protester in the group with "a big box of liquid caramel." Starbucks regional marketing manager Audrey Lincoff says Starbucks employees did not hit any protesters; the workers on duty simply called the police, and the protesters left. Six squad cars and 20 vans of police caught up with the marchers around the Bank of America at East Thomas Street and Broadway, pursuing them through the adjoining residential blocks on foot, arresting two. The press made no mention of the evening.
Curtis believes the media's limited attention span--ignoring the anti-corporate parade route--is par for the course. Curtis says local news is intent on making Bloc members look like aimless hell-raisers without any concern for specific issues. "The corporate media hyped the lies that this wasn't about trade," he says, "and accepted the cops' explanations of police assaults." (Not to mention ignoring the evening protest altogether.)
The SPD would not comment on the over-eager cops whom witnesses say were taunting protesters. A police spokesman told The Stranger simply that the folks arrested were released without charges. Meanwhile, hoping to expose what they believe is police aggression, the Bloc turned over video footage (its DIY news coverage of the arrests) to the National Lawyers Guild.