In many ways, the modern American protest movement — one that is Internet-savvy, diverse, and inclusive — was born on November 30, 1999 — exactly 12 years ago today. On that day, thousands of Americans and foreign activists who visited to take part effectively shut down the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Seattle, angry at what they viewed as the organization’s disregard for labor and environmental rights.
Using widespread civil disobedience, protesters were able to keep international delegates from getting to the trade meeting. Police wildly overreacted, and engaged in brutality that often injured innocent bystanders. Future trade meetings met in remote locations like Cancun, Mexico just to avoid similar demonstrations. IMC and Big Noise Films made a short documentary about the protests. Watch it:
Interestingly, former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper — who was in charge of the police force during the protests — has become an advocate for reforming policing in the United States. He recently condemned the militarization of the police and use of heavy-handed tactics against 99 Percenters.