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

WTO Photos: Faces of Resistance

  Ruhama Pemberton of Mount Vernon, Washington fills out a complaint form against the Seattle Police Department. A self-described "country-hippie girl" who works as an herbalist at the Skagit Valley Food Co-op, she came to Seattle for the WTO protests. She was sitting in a tavern having a beer with a friend when the police stormed through the Capitol Hill neighborhood on the night of November 30. Tear gas soon permeated the tavern and the bartender tossed rags to people as they began crying and choking.

Five days later, Pemberton was still suffering headaches and blurry vision. Her lungs still felt heavy and she was prone to flinching all the time. And, she said, hardly an hour passed without her crying. She was using milk thistle to detoxify her liver.

"The city used chemical warfare against peaceful demonstrators," she said. "There's no other way to describe it."

Still, she had no regrets about coming to Seattle.

"I'm glad I put my body on the line," she said. "If I had to do it all over again, I would. 90% of my crying is for sheer joy at the beauty of all this, at what we've accomplished and to see so many people dancing and drumming."

Sandy Cilk of Whidbey Island, Washington waits outside the King County Jail for her daughter, Lotus, to be released.

Brian Derdowski, an outgoing member of the King County Commission, calls for an investigation into widespread reports of police brutality against anti-WTO protesters. Hundreds of complaints were filed by the end of the vigil, and both the Washington State chapter of the ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild were looking into filing class action lawsuits against the City of Seattle and King County.