There were legitimate causes at play in the streets of Capitol Hill Friday night. But there was also a man in a rubber superhero outfit giving a press conference after the big show. We’re OK with that. The real deal when tension becomes aggression is a violent, scary and dangerous experience. Here are two new views of what the protest in the streets looked like during the 1999 WTO riots on Capitol Hill.
First, David Hanagan posted this reality TV version of footage he shot during one night of the protest late last year to YouTube. It’s the first time we’ve seen this particular piece. Action appears to be taking place on Pine.
Much of the historical attention lavished on the events of WTO Week in Seattle during the past decade has been focused on the turmoil downtown. But for many of us who lived in Seattle at the time, the Seattle Police Department’s paramilitary invasion of Capitol Hill on the date in focus here still stands out as vividly as the previous day’s downtown melée.
The SPD’s November 30 tear-gas free-for-all and December 1 mass arrests were already appalling enough as the 7 p.m.-to-dawn curfew imposed downtown began that evening. But when the SPD began following a large group of protesters out of the so-called “no-protest zone” and up Denny Way towards the Hill, it would soon lead to a new outrage: the spectacle of riot-clad police and camo-clad National Guardsmen, brandishing tear gas, flash bombs, and rubber bullets, running amok in the heart of the most densely populated West Coast urban neighborhood north of San Francisco.
For more on what happened on the Hill in 1991, see our WTO 10 years later series: