This is What Democracy Looks Like. The WTO Shutdown 21 Years Later.

photo: Stephanie Greenwood

cross-posted from G&R

In 2020, as crises around COVID-19, a crashing economy, climate change and a racist police state crash into one another, and mass uprisings in the U.S. fight back against the crisis and the power elite behind them, I look back both at movement moments of the past and the current wave of global uprisings we’ve seen in the last year in places like Chile, Paris, Hong Kong, Beirut and elsewhere for how to move forward in these dangerous times.

This day in history, 21 years ago today, masses of people organizing under the umbrella of the Direct Action Network (DAN) blockaded and shutdown the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the streets of Seattle.

Tens of thousands of people joined the nonviolent direct action blockade which encircled the WTO conference site, completely preventing conference meetings from dawn till dusk. Direct action-istas with DAN held  blockades in the face of an army of federal, state, and local police making extensive use of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber, plastic and wooden bullets, concussion grenades, and armored vehicles.

After five days of protests and resistance, the talks at the WTO conference collapsed in failure.

Writer and political analyst Paul de Armond gives a great analysis of the organizing and direct action strategy that shut down the talks.

The WTO shutdown in Seattle was a watershed moment in movement history that launched the anti-corporate global justice movement in North America. It had already emerged in other parts of the world, but soon after mass uprisings inspired by events in Seattle followed in Washington D.C., at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, Quebec City, Cancun, Miami and elsewhere.

If you want to more about the WTO shutdown at: https://www.shutdownwto20.org/shutdownwto20

The Spirit of Seattle Lives!
Another World is Possible!

Author: Sparki

Scott Parkin is a Senior Campaigner with Rainforest Action Network and organizes with Rising Tide North America. He has worked on a variety of campaigns around climate change, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, mountaintop removal, labor issues and anti-corporate globalization. Originally from Texas, he now lives in San Francisco.

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