N30 + 10 years – Remembering and celebrating “The day the political landscape changed forever”

As we still fight WTO in Geneva today, as we prepare for COP15 in Copenhagen

“The day the political landscape changed forever“, was how Fritjof Capra referred to events of N30, Tuesday 30th of November 1999, in his book The Hidden Connections. He was referring to the day when 1000´s of global justice activists came together and succeeded in shutting down the first WTO (World Trade Organisation) talks in the US using (mostly) non violent direct actions (NVDA) in the north western US city of Seattle. This was the event which brought the “globalisation” debate to the mainstream. It has been misleadingly described as anti-globalisation, what it should be accurately described as is anti corporate globalisation.

10 years on and again there is rubber bullets, tear gas and flames in the streets. This time in Geneva, as people from all over the world converge in the lead up to COP15, the climate change talks in Copenhagen… amongst others, the Social and Climate justice caravan.

A thing born once in Seattle amidst tear gas and protest > happy birthday indymedia

10 years later – attempts to shut down the WTO in Geneva

From rubber bullets, tear gas and flames in the streets of Seattle to the streets of Geneva today

This Is What Democracy Looks Like – the story of the battle of Seattle

Anti-WTO demonstration in Geneva (euronews- no comment)

(this article first appeared on Indymedia Ireland | more info here N30 )

10 years ago today, The Battle in Seattle: yeah, didn’t we – shut it down – didn’t we

As a lookback to some of the events of those days, some of the things that grew out of that space, here’s a few reminders. From what was then a radio streaming network on Pacifica radio, Democracy Now, was there on the streets reporting:

The Battle in Seattle: WTO Talks Inaugurated, As Thousands of Activists Demand Human Rights (N29)


Listen to the days audio show: http://www.archive.org/download/dn1999-1129/dn1999-1129…b.mp3

Today we are broadcasting from Seattle, Washington, where delegations from 130 countries are meeting this week for a historic round of trade talks at the World Trade Organization. Tens of thousands of activists from all over the world–from labor groups, to environmental activists, to farmers, to women’s groups, to many others representing a wide range of civil society–have also converged on Seattle for what the Wall Street Journal has said will be “the mother of all protests.”

The Battle in Seattle: French Farmer Jose Bove Leads Protest at Mcdonalds (N30)


“Shut McDonalds Mcglobalization” of agriculture around the world—a phenomenon they said has been brought about by the decisions and policies of the World Trade Organization.

Unions Take to the Streets in Seattle: A Conversation with United Steelworkers of America (N30)


Thousands of steelworkers marched yesterday in Seattle to protest the World Trade Organization’s trade policies. The steelworkers have been some of the most militant and vocal of all the unions that have converged on Seattle.

The Battle in Seattle – follow on audio stories from Democracy Now:

Wednesday, December 01, 1999 – The Battle in Seattle—Tens of Thousands of Protesters Shut Down the Inaugural Sessions of the World Trade Organization


audio – http://www.archive.org/download/dn1999-1201/dn1999-1201…b.mp3

Thursday, December 02, 1999 – The Battle in Seattle: Hundreds Arrested and a Look at the WTO and the Environment


audio – http://www.archive.org/download/dn1999-1202/dn1999-1202…b.mp3

Friday, December 03, 1999 – The Battle in Seattle: Demonstrators Block Jail Entrance, Demanding the Release of Hundreds of Protesters



Monday, December 06, 1999 – Battle in Seattle: Ralph Nader and Vandana Shiva Face Off with the Clinton Administration and Procter and Gamble



Jim Page – Didn’t We (music song about the day, lyrics at end of article)



A thing born once in Seattle amidst tear gas and protest… Indymedia

Many things grew out of those days in Seattle, one of them has grown from strength to strength and is perhaps the best metaphor like tool we can use to understand the new ways of doing things: Networking, building up and using efficient, open and honest tools of communication: Indymedia. (infos at http://www.indymedia.org/en/static/about.shtml )

The bi lingual film “i“ or ”Eye of the storm”, made by IMC-Argentina, is a beautiful film which shows the birth and growth and magic of “a global network” . It focuses on the rise of Indymedia and how participative media grew during the economic and social crisis in Argentina. (watch trailer at http://ithefilm.com/ )

Independent media films about Seattle N30:

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

This film, shot by 100 amateur camera operators, tells the story of the enormous street protests in Seattle, Washington in November 1999, against the World Trade Organization summit being held there. Vowing to oppose, among other faults, the WTO’s power to arbitrally overrule nations’ environmental, social and labour policies in favour of unbridled corporate greed, protestors from all around came out in force to make their views known and stop the summit. Against them is a brutal police force and a hostile media as well as the stain of a minority of destructively overzealous comrades. Against all odds, the protesters bravely faced fierce opposition to take back the rightful democratic power that the political and corporate elite of the world is determined to deny the little people.

watch film at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-20072061863625…1122#

Showdown in Seattle

The Seattle IMC made their own film after N30 entitled Showdown in Seattle and they should be watched to get a fuller picture. The film has been broken into 5 parts

Pt 1 – Seattle Prelude

Pt 2 – People Unite Police Riot

Pt 3 – Occuppied Seattle

Pt 4 – Unwilling Cautives

Pt 5 – What Democracy Looks Like

Full video is stored on Archive.org – http://www.archive.org/details/ddtv_186_a_showdown_in_s…attle

The Battle of Seattle – from indy street reporting to Hollywood blockbuster

Democracy Now – Battle in Seattle: With A-List Cast, New Film Re-Creates Historic Protest Against WTO (September 18, 2008)


In November 1999, tens of thousands of global justice activists, environmentalists, union members and anti-capitalist activists helped shut down the World Trade Organization in Seattle. It was a watershed moment for the movement against corporate globalization. The story of the Seattle protests has now been turned into a fictionalized film featuring some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. We speak to the film’s writer and director, Stuart Townsend, as well as David Solnit, one of the key organizers of the WTO protests and co-founder of the Seattle WTO People’s History Project.

film website: http://www.battleinseattlemovie.com/

watch film online (via chinese type youtube) – http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNDUxMDg1MDg=.html

fuller report with links etc at – N30: The day the political landscape changed forever


From WTO in Geneva to COP 15 in Copenhagen…. the Social and Climate justice caravan and the battle to change the world.

Two important summits take place at the end of 2009 in Europe: the 7th conference of ministers of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva and the UN climate summit in Copenhagen (COP15). With a week between them, 60 activists from the global South will travel across Europe through Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France and Denmark. They will draw attention to the consequences neoliberal globalization and climate change have on their lives and show how to fight against them. Together with local activists, they look for alternatives to free trade and the privatisation of resources, and unite the North and South in their fights for another world.

So outlines the Social & Climate Justice Caravan, which is already busy in Geneva… http://www.climatecaravan.org/

From rubber bullets, tear gas and flames in the streets of Seattle to the streets of Geneva today.

Thousands protest WTO in Geneva – Property Damage and Tear Gas (2 days ago)


Up to 4-5000 people today marched in Geneva protesting ahead of the WTO meeting in an International Demonstration as part of a week of action and debate around the WTO Ministerial which runs from 30th November to 2nd December.

The mobilisation is seen very much in relation to the COP15 UN climate conference taking place in Copenhagen 7th – 18th December.

This afternoon clashes broke out as parts of the crowd attacked property smashing windows of banks and shops and setting a number of cars on fire. Police used tear gas, concussion greandes and water cannon. Further protests are scheduled with the WTO meeting starting on Monday 30th November, ten years exactly since the famous Seattle WTO protests.

Related links>

Euronews – They (Anti-capitalism protesters) accuse the WTO of not doing enough to tackle climate change, claiming it is a mouthpiece for the interests of multinational corporations.



Seattle Grows Up

In the lead up to the massive COP15 goings on in Denmark next month, a recent article “Seattle Grows Up” from Naomi Klein reported;

A decade ago, in a New York Times comment piece published after Seattle was shut down, I wrote that a new movement advocating a radically different form of globalisation “just had its coming-out party”. What will be the significance of Copenhagen? I put that question to John Jordan, whose prediction of what eventually happened in Seattle I quoted in my book No Logo. He replied: “If Seattle was the movement of movements’ coming-out party then maybe Copenhagen will be a celebration of our coming of age.”

He cautions, however, that growing up doesn’t mean playing it safe, eschewing civil disobedience in favour of staid meetings. “I hope we have grown up to become much more disobedient,” Jordan said, “because life on this world of ours may well be terminated because of too many acts of obedience.”

The Seattle activists’ coming of age in Copenhagen will be very disobedient (klein article – alternative title)

The climate conference will witness a new maturity for the movement that ignited a decade ago. But that does not mean playing it safe


Related video from Democracy now:

Naomi Klein on Climate Debt: Why Rich Countries Should Pay Reparations To Poor Countries For The Climate Crisis.


Well, the latest column I wrote for “The Nation,” is about this line that you can draw from Seattle to Copenhagen. I call the column “Seattle Grows Up,” because I think we’re also seeing an evolution of a movement that can to world attention on the streets of Seattle. I think there has been a profound deepening of the coalition between groups that are primarily focused on poverty, on development, on debt, and environmental groups that have traditionally been focused on environmental issues. We saw that in Seattle, the beginnings of that coalition, with the famous “Teamsters and Turtles” coalition. Now we are seeing something much deeper.

It is this idea of climate debt that is bringing together groups, like I was saying, Jubilee South, like Action Aid, groups that have been mostly focused on anti-poverty and development and are now are seeing climate change as the single greatest barrier to human development around the world, but also seen the call for climate reparation as an opportunity for, to quote Angelica Navarro, Bolivia’s ambassador to the climate negotiations, who I was talking about earlier, when she talks about the need for the developing world- developed world to pay our climate debt, she says if this happened and we would have a Marshall Plan for planet earth, which is a very exciting prospect because it means you have the opportunity to tackle simultaneously two of humanities most intransigent challenges, most intransigent problems, climate debt on the one hand, and inequality on the other. So, the bringing together of these two forces. That is what’s going to be really, really exciting in Copenhagen. And a lot of the people, a lot of networks that grew out of Seattle are going to be activated in Copenhagen and have only grown stronger in recent years.

Ok, so thats a quick trip down memory lane, happy birthday INDYMEDIA…

Back to Jim Page to finish the story which has only begun…

Didn’t We

November 30th, ’99

history walkin’ on a tightrope line

big money pullin’ on invisible strings

gettin’ into everything

so deep, it’s hard to believe

it’s in the food and the water and the air you breath

and the chemistry, the bio-tech

the banker with the bottomless check

the corporations and the CEO’s

and the bottom line is the profit grows

the money talks, you don’t talk back

they don’t like it when you act like that


but didn’t we

shut it down

didn’t we


November 30th, ’99

it was a Tuesday mornin’ when we drew the line

it was the WTO comin’ to town

and we swore we’re gonna shut it down

and they stood there with their big police

they had the National Guard out to keep the peace

with the guns and the clubs and the chemical gas

but still we would not let them pass

and they raged and roared and their tempers flared

and there were bombs bursting in the daylight air

and they’d run us off, do us in

but we came right back again


yeah, didn’t we

shut it down

didn’t we


November 30th, ’99

millennium passing as the numbers climb

and the people came from everywhere

there musta been 50 thousand out there

there were farmers, unions, rank and file

every grass roots has it’s own style

there were great big puppets two stories tall

there were drummers drummin’ in the shoppin’ mall

there were so many people that you couldn’t see

how that many people got into the city

and the WTO delegates too

but we were locked down, so they couldn’t get through


yeah, didn’t we

shut it down

didn’t we


November 30th, ’99

lockdown at the police line

and they’re hittin’ you with everything they got

but you ain’t movin’, like it or not

and they’re tyin’ your wrists with plastic cuffs

and they’re loadin’ you up on a great big bus

and they’re takin’ you down to the navy base

pepper sprayin’ you right in the face

try to break you down, try to get you to kneel

but you got the unity and this is for real

and they can’t break a spirit that’s comin’ alive

that’s the kind of spirit that’s bound survive


didn’t we

shut it down

didn’t we


the media loves on the glitter and flash

and the newspapers talkin’ out a whole lot of trash

about the violence of the people in black

and how the cops were so tired they just had to attack

and the secrets hidden in that deep dark hole

that they call City Hall may never be told

the mayor’s out doin’ the spin

the police chief quit so you can’t ask him

well they can swear to god and all human law

but I was there and I know what I saw

and the visible stains’ll wash away in the rains

but this old town’ll never be the same


’cause didn’t we

shut it down

didn’t we


it’s the greatest story ever told

David and Goliath, how you be so bold

standin’ up to the giant when the goin’ gets hot

and all you got is a slingshot

well they tell me that the world’s turned upside down

you gotta pick it up and shake it, gotta turn it around

you gotta take it apart to rearrange it

I don’t want to save the world I want to change it

don’t let ’em tell you that it can’t be done

’cause they’re gonna be the first ones to run

just take a little lesson from Seattle town

WTO and how we shut it down


yeah, didn’t we

shut it down

didn’t we


One Response to N30 + 10 years – Remembering and celebrating “The day the political landscape changed forever”

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