WTO Protests, Seattle, WA, December 1, 1999 (Photo: Holly Roach)
Below is a open letter from my dear friend, Holly Roach, along with a press release, describing a historic victory for free speech and the right to protest.
I was honored to stand with some 50,000 protestors for global justice in the streets of Seattle in 1999.
I felt sanctified going to jail alongside 600 courageous activists, undettered by the casual brutality of the state. Occasionally during the days in jail, while being transferred in handcuffs, chains and shackles, I would turn to one of the cops, and say, "We are being held illegally and unconstitutionally." The cops of course responded with a snicker, a smirk, or stony silence, but 9 years later a jury agreed.
The case of 175 protestors arrested at Westlake Park in downtown Seattle finally made it to court, and the jury found that the police and the city had violated the Constitution. The jury awarded us $1 million dollars.
Much more important than the money, is the message this verdict should send. Governmental and police officials must be accountable, and cannot be allowed to trample the Constitution and the rights (and bodies) of those working for peace, justice, democracy and the earth.
I felt lucky to be a Westlake Class member, and I was thrilled to channel every cent of my share of the settlement back into the global justice struggle, to support those working on the front lines of the movement, in the hearts of our communities.
Please consider supporting this vital work for global justice by contributing a matching donation to the MONEY to MOVEMENTS project.
From Holly Roach:
You may or may not be aware of the 5 days I spent in jail after expressing my objections to the World Trade Organization in Seattle in 1999. 9 years later and after a long legal battle, our arrest was ruled unlawful by a Seattle Court and 175 of us protesters were awarded a historic $1 million dollar settlement from the City of Seattle.
20 of us decided to give the money back to our global justice movements. We underwent a democratic process of nominating and selecting global justice groups that represent the current hard-working face of our movements. We ended up with 17 groups and we are very proud of the selection that this process determined. Between us we raised $17K dollars! But we don’t want to stop there. With war and globalization consistently raging around the globe, we’d like to ask you to join us in supporting these groups that are on the front lines offering solutions to the problems that globalization keeps generating.
In this economy not everyone is in a position to donate, I know. Either way, please take a glance at the press release that follows for a look at the inspiring process that unfolded when a few of us decided to make a stand to feed and nourish the tireless global justice work that we admire to no end. Thanks for reading and for your acts and prayers for a more just planet Earth!
There are two ways to donate. For a tax break you can send donations to the Agape Foundation who kindly take a 7% administrative fee:
1095 Market St. Suite 304
San Francisco, CA 94103
Put Money to Movements in the MEMO line
If you don’t need a tax break, the full amount can be received by Money to Movements:
c/o Holly Roach
Santa Fe, NM 87594
Money to Movements
Contact: Holly Roach
********************FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**************************
WTO Protesters to Donate Class Action Settlement Funds through
"Money to Movements"
Landmark Seattle Court Ruling Fuels Global Justice Mission
Members of a class-action lawsuit have joined forces to donate settlement funds to fund organizations carrying on the work of the global justice movement through the Money to Movements Project. In a landmark decision for First Amendment rights in January 2007, a Seattle civil jury found that police acted unconstitutionally in arresting more than 175 peaceful protesters as part of the World Trade Organization protests in 1999.
The plaintiffs involved in the case were arrested in downtown Seattle’s Westlake Park, part of a "no protest zone" hastily designated by city officials as the WTO meetings convened in November of 1999. The suit was brought by Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (TLPJ), a Washington, D.C.-based public interest law firm, who charged that the plaintiffs were arrested without probable cause while engaging in a constitutionally-protected act of free speech.
The WTO conference drew about 50,000 protestors to Seattle in 1999. Groups such as farm-workers unions, environmental activists, indigenous rights advocates, and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) gathered to protest the policies of the World Trade Organization, triggering what observers characterized as an unconstitutional reaction by police, national guard and government officials. Crowd-control tactics such as tear-gas, pepper spray, percussion grenades and rubber bullets were employed. A state of emergency was declared and over 600 mostly peaceful protesters were arrested and detained. Nearly all charges were later dropped.
So far, 20 of the plaintiffs involved in the Westlake case have donated to the Money to Movements project, totaling $15,000. The ultimate goal of the project is to raise $40,000 through donations and matching grants, a figure equivalent to 10% of the settlement after legal fees.
The plaintiffs selected the following global justice groups to receive the pooled Money to Movements Funds: Domestic Workers United (New York, NY), Critical Resistance (national), Community Coalition for Environmental Justice (Seattle, WA), The Jena 6 Legal Defense Fund (national), Bus Riders Union (national), Mothers for Police Accountability (Seattle, WA), RiseUp.net (international), Seattle WTO "99 People"s History Project (national), Southwest Workers Union (San Antonio, TX), Democracy Now! (national), Community Alliance for Global Justice (international), Earth First! Journal (national), Grassroots Global Justice (national), Destiny Arts Center (Oakland, CA), Pan Left Productions (national), The Catalyst Project (San Francisco, CA), and Legacy of Equality, Leadership and Organizing (Seattle, WA),
Groups were selected for their commitment to global justice, including environmental, racial and economic justice, worker’s rights, police accountability and justice system reform, independent media, and activist/youth nonviolent action training. They were chosen from 24 nominated groups by those plaintiffs participating in the Money to Movements project.
Money to Movements has timed the announcement of groups benefiting to coincide with the screening of the new movie The Battle in Seattle by director Stuart Townsend at the Seattle Film Festival, a fictional drama set during the WTO protests.
The WTO protests are an incredible model of "people power" standing up the global elites, said Solnit. We hope these funds will help to bring attention to the current strength of the global justice movement, and to help to fuel the work.
Money to Movements is currently seeking matching grants and individual donations to reach the projected total of $60,000. All donations are tax-deductible through Money to Movements fiscal sponsor, the Agape Foundation.
More information at www.realbattleinseattle.org/moneytomovements