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Back to Love and Rage in Seattle: The Day the WTO Stood Still

WTO Photos: Faces of Resistance

  Songs of Freedom: A musician plays in front of the King County Jail in downtown Seattle during a festive, three-day vigil that was held by the Direct Action Network (DAN) from December 3-5. There were drum circles, speeches and an interfaith healing ceremony. Teamsters Local 174 provided a steady stream of food. A friendly grocer donated day-old bread. And, a makeshift kitchen/wash station was set up to serve hot meals. It was, as one woman put it, "a party at the gates of hell."

Hundreds of people gathered in front of the jail as over 500 WTO political prisoners were slowly released from custody. As prisoners slowly trickled out of the jail so too did numerous accounts of human rights abuses inside the jail. Prisoners recounted stories of being beaten and gassed directly in the face, of being dragged by their hair and being deprived of their eyeglasses. One asthmatic reported having his inhalor confiscated. This was occurring while the WTO prisoners were being denied access to their lawyers during their first 36 hours in custody. The reason for all these police abuses: The WTO prisoners were exercising, en masse, their 5th Amendment right to remain silent, which includes the right not to give one's name.

Sharon Lucas of San Francisco, California walks out of the King County Jail. As of January 7, 2000, charges had been dropped against all but 35 of the original 570 WTO prisoners.