The 1999 Seattle WTO protests, known as the Battle of Seattle, were a turning point in the history of globalization and global trade. The protests took place from November 30 to December 3, 1999, during the World Trade Organization’s (#WTO) Ministerial Conference, which aimed to launch a new round of trade negotiations. However, the negotiations were overshadowed by a massive demonstration that turned into a battle between protesters and law enforcement.
The protests drew tens of thousands of activists, including labour unions, environmentalists, anti-globalization campaigners, and anarchists from across the United States and the world. They came to express their opposition to the #WTO and its policies, which promoted corporate interests at the expense of workers, the environment, and humans. The protesters criticized the WTO for its lack of transparency, undemocratic decision-making processes, and the negative impact of globalization on economies, workers, and the environment.
The protesters organized a range of activities, including marches, rallies, teach-ins, and direct action. They blockaded streets, disrupted traffic, and shut down the #WTO’s meeting using various tactics, nonviolent civil disobedience, such as chaining themselves together, locking themselves to buildings and vehicles, and staging sit-ins. Some protesters engaged in violent confrontations with the police, breaking windows, looting stores, and setting fires.
The police response to the protests was controversial and criticized for its use of force and violation of protesters’ rights. The police used tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and flashbang grenades to on the protesters. They also arrested more than six hundred people, including peaceful demonstrators, journalists, and bystanders. The police’s tactics drew widespread condemnation from human rights groups, civil liberties advocates, and some progressive political leaders.
The Seattle protests had significant political and social implications, both in the United States and internationally. They exposed the growing divide between the proponents and opponents of neoliberal globalization and sparked a global movement against corporate-led globalization. The protests also marked the emergence of a new kind of activism that combined environmental, labor, human rights, and social justice concerns into a unified anti-corporate agenda. The Seattle protests were a part of similar protests around the world, including the Genoa G8 summit protests in 2001 and the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011.
In conclusion, the 1999 Seattle WTO protests were a strong moment in the history of globalization and global trade. The protests represented a clash between two world-views, #deathcult agenda that championed corporate-led globalization and the progressive’s that demanded a more equitable and sustainable economic system. The Seattle protests remain a powerful symbol of popular resistance to the last 40 years of dogmatic neoliberalism, unaccountable corporate power and a call to action for a more just and democratic world.