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Seattle's Mayor Nickels: Slithering Sidewinder

Boy, do we have some slick talkers in high places in Seattle's city government. I am stunned at how Seattle's Mayor and Police Chief avoid really important questions, smiling their toothy grins for the public. I called in to a show called "Ask The Mayor" last night...
Seattle's Mayor Nickels: Slithering Sidewinder
By Kirsten Anderberg

Boy, do we have some slick talkers in high places in Seattle's city government. I am stunned at how Seattle's Mayor and Police Chief avoid really important questions, smiling their toothy grins for the public. I happened upon a local television show last night (8/11/04) called, "Ask the Mayor." So I called the number, as I had some things to ask the mayor! When they said I was on the air, I began to ask my question. I first reminded the mayor that the 1999 WTO riots, where Seattle Police rioted on unarmed, nonviolent citizens breaking no laws, cost the city $1/4 million in damages to protesters this year. And that Seattle Police said after the WTO riots that they would write a public policy to be followed, on protest crowd control, which the SPD have avoided doing to date, even while under public and city council pressure to do so. I reminded the mayor that Seattle Police rioted on about 300-500 anti-war protesters on 1st Avenue, on March 22, 2003, in a permitted protest zone. I reminded the mayor that the protesters were unarmed, were nonviolent, and were breaking no laws. Yet, police in riot gear had a machine gun a foot from my kid's head. And then I also reminded him how police indiscriminately pepper sprayed and assaulted nonviolent, unarmed protesters breaking no laws in a permitted zone once again at the LEIU protests, on June 2, 2003. I asked him when the SPD were going to cough up this public policy for protest crowd control as promised years ago, so that the public can feel safer from the most dangerous element involved with utilizing free speech in America. Violent unaccountable cops are the #1 most dangerous element to you and your children's safety at most any public protest.

The mayor began talking as if he was a possessed puppet or some character out of Toy Story! He began rambling on about how Seattle Police will protect free speech and the right to protest. (Yeah, okay, how does that jive with my question, dude? Since that contradicts what I am saying completely!) Then he said, all calm, and believable, that the police will not tolerate violence or crime, such as Seattle saw at Mardi Gras riots a few years back. (Well, a nonviolent, unarmed, peace rally, with a city permit, during the day, is not a Mardi Gras celebration with alcohol and bars participating all over the area at night. And I *said* we were nonviolent and unarmed, breaking no laws, so how does this relate to my question?) In one fell swoop, he seemed to put protesters and Mardi Gras murderers in one category together. He acted like a bunch of nonviolent anti-war protesters who even got a permit for their protest, are equal to angry, drunken, violent mobs at Mardi Gras. Okay, then let's compare the crowds of people who swarm Seattle streets blocking traffic after a Mariners game in there with Mardi Gras revelers also, and the police can put on riot gear and aim machine guns at *their* children too, after a ball game. Why do unarmed, nonviolent, law abiding anti-war protesters, with a permit in hand, warrant swarms of excited riot police with machine guns and billy clubs anxiously pounding in their palms, while drunken and rowdy Mariners fans, heading to cars to drive drunk, blocking traffic on foot in all directions after a ball game, do not warrant anything but police smiles and willing traffic reroute assists?

Mayor Nickels, in his reply to me on TV, implied that the police protect protesters, which is not true. He said Seattle police protected free speech, when that is a lie, if you look at March 22 and June 2, 2003 or WTO 1999. Why were we *violently attacked* for free speech by riot police who covered their badges and nametags like little cowards? That is not protection. Cowardly Seattle Police routinely break Municipal Code 3.28, requiring their names to be visible at all times, when they are ready to riot, which is persuasive evidence that they have the intent to riot. Many SPD officers intentionally cover up their badges and names prior to rioting (we have overwhelming photographic evidence of this too), knowing they do not want to be identified, which is really disgusting. Many, many more name tags are missing when SPD are in riot gear, than on normal days on the street. Even though the law specifically says they must *always* wear a name tag on the outermost layer of clothing. That says a lot about their intentions to me.

I am sick of our police breaking the laws in front of us, on camera even, and I am disgusted that instead of the city acting responsibly, and cleaning up this mess when citizens point *reality* out to the mayor, the mayor just keeps giving us stupid sound bites of fiction. Mayor Nickels ended up his response to my question last night saying Seattle had this fabulous thing called the Office of Police Accountability and any citizen with a complaint about police brutality could go there for help. Smile, smile, camera out, show over. (For the record, I put in a written complaint about the police violence on March 22 and June 2, as did many other people, and nothing was done, rendering that office useless.) Hopefully, someone watching will notice I purposely said we were nonviolent, unarmed, and breaking no laws, and were rioted upon. And that the mayor *did not* answer my question *at all*. I asked when the police are going to make a public policy regarding crowd control at protests available as promised in 1999 and also 2003. The mayor said there was nothing wrong with the way police handled us on March 22 and June 2, 2003, since we are like Mardi Gras rioters, and that police protect free speech. None of those statements from the mayor are true.

Right after the March 22, 2003 riots by Seattle Police on nonviolent, unarmed, law abiding anti-war protesters, the Seattle Police Chief started grinning and saying things that did not jive too. I was amazed at how believable he looked on TV, when I knew he was not telling the truth. He wrote people who witnessed the riot firsthand, and complained, an email, telling us that "riot police" were not on the scene at those protests, but instead those police were dressed in some other name for their gear. Not "riot" gear though. (My computer crashed with that email, sorry, or I'd quote it). He tried to argue that some technical difference existed between the Robocop costumes we saw on March 22 and June 2 and his concept of what "riot police" are. But to the average person, if you looked at the mobs of cops in body armor, armed to the hilt with surreal weaponry, on the streets on those two days in 2003 in Seattle, the average person would call those Robocops "riot police." It pisses me off that the Police Chief wastes our time with all these semantical distractions when real work needs to be done, such as public policies on protest crowd control need to be written down and submitted to citizens for review, so we can have some form of public control over the SPD when they go ballistic for no reason again.

The interesting thing to me here is that both the mayor and police chief are basically saying to me, "None of this that you say you witnessed happened." But the fact is, it *did* happen. My kid saw it too, guys! And cameras caught it also! Mayor Nickels in his response to me on TV, basically said that the police are angels who protect the citizens' rights to protest and to free speech, and who also protect the public in dangerous situations such as the deadly Mardi Gras riots. He smiled and said nothing is wrong and nothing needs changing. He never addressed the missing policy on crowd control that police promise but never produce. He never addressed the violence on peaceful protesters. Mayor Nickels can deny reality all he wants, but I am here to say that Seattle Police DO NOT protect free speech rights for anti-war protesters when they assault them in riot gear for no reason, and they DO NOT endear themselves to citizens when they lie, play semantics and avoid doing things they promise, such as making a public protest crowd control policy. What I said *did* happen, Mayor Nickels. And your avoiding answering questions, and working towards solutions, implies *you* are part of the Seattle police problem also.
 
 


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