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Fw: Import. free speech case in Seattle - 7 years after WTO protests! - pass on

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  • greg buck
    ... From: Ruth Weill Forwarded by Ruth Weill- WI Hello! I m trying to get information out broadly about a class action lawsuit from the
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 30, 2006
      --------- Forwarded message ----------
      From: Ruth Weill <moondog@...>
      Forwarded by Ruth Weill- WI

      Hello!

      I'm trying to get information out broadly about a class action lawsuit
      from the 1999 WTO protest arrests that affects us all. PLEASE HELP
      SPREAD THE WORD!

      Please forward this to anyone concerned about free speech issues ---but
      particularly those might have been in Seattle in 1999 at the WTO
      protests.

      We also need people who can attend the court case in early January 2007
      in Seattle. If you know folks in the Seattle area, please let them know
      about this case! If you are nearby, please attend yourself.

      Hello fellow WTO '99 arrestees and those concerned about free speech in
      the US,

      Yes, 7 years after being arrested during the WTO protests in Seattle,
      we're getting our day in court. This is a crucial court case for us all!
      (And...this is the real thing; this is not a movie!)

      Of all the legal actions taken by protesters after the 1999 WTO protests,
      one final class action case is left to resolve. It is also among the
      most likely to affect us today. This is the largest of the class action
      cases emerging from those protests and specifically involves those people
      arrested on Dec 1, 1999 at Westlake. (Brief background below)

      The case is stronger if the jury knows how important our 1st & 4th
      amendment rights are to us and that we haven't forgotten how the City of
      Seattle & the police tromped on protesters' rights in 1999. Email me
      (can@... <mailto:can@...>) if you want to be sure to get
      updated details about what's happening with the case, including
      scheduling updates and such .

      We'd like to be able to fill the courtroom but many people who care about
      this case or where involved do not live near Seattle. If you are
      interested in coming to Seattle for this, that's great, but we mostly
      hope you can send others who live in the area.

      The case is due to begin Jan 8, 2007 (see below) and may last two plus
      weeks.

      This case is important to everyone who was on the streets in 1999 to be
      sure, but, it is particularly important to those of us speaking out
      today! All of us. Whether your key issues include globalization, human
      rights, the environment, the war(s) or other more specific peace and
      justice issues, the results of this case will affect your work.

      Just as the people of Seattle took on their responsibility to be on the
      streets in 1999 speaking against the WTO's policies, I 'd suggest that
      people near Seattle have a responsibility to be in this courtroom as
      witness for the jury to see. In 1999, we represented the millions around
      the world negatively affected by WTO; in 2007, let's represent the
      millions around the US whose rights have been eroding since the WTO
      protests happened here.

      Please read the message below from the attorney for an update (some good
      news about the case!) and what to expect in court. Obviously his
      comments about the "formality" of the proceedings are important and are
      intended to help us win the case. If there's interest in doing other
      types of things in conjunction with the trial, I suggest we do it away
      from the courthouse setting. Wearing buttons and carrying signs are
      going to affect the general public more favorably than the jury anyway,
      right?

      Oh yeah, and what about the news that the judge ruled that we were
      wrongfully arrested!!!!!!!!! (A no-brainer to me and vital to the case,
      as Tyler notes below. He says it is not a complete victory but sounds
      pretty darned good to me.)

      I asked when it's most critical to have a full courtroom to buoy the
      success of the case. What I heard is that we should definitely be jammed
      on the first two days (Jan 8-9) but also need to keep a consistent
      presence throughout the trial. Plan accordingly. Stop by when you can.
      Send friends. Let's keep those seats filled throughout. FYI, it seems
      likely some of the more interesting testimony will happen in the 2nd
      week.

      Brief Background on the court case(s):
      On Dec 1, 2000, close to 600 people were arrested during the WTO
      protests in Seattle at several different times and different locations.
      Originally we tried to construct class action lawsuits for everyone
      negatively affected by police action during that time but that was too
      broad. Next we put all arrestees together in a lawsuit and stuck with
      that for a while. Ultimately, however, several sort of separate suits
      emerged. This one is the last unresolved case (that I know about.)

      This case is for all those arrested in the morning at Westlake Park.


      Several other cases have been settled: the ACLU got a pretty good
      outcome and people arrested later in the day at First & Broad settled as
      well. The city paid protesters significant damages! Some arrestees (the
      largest group being arrested first thing in the am at 8th & Lenora, soon
      after departing from Denny Park) ultimately didn't fall into any of the
      lawsuits, even though I think their rights were tromped as well. !Arrest
      is NOT an acceptable crowd control method, right!?!

      Because of the legal requirements for class action lawsuits, there
      was no lawsuit of that type (class action) for the many other rights
      violations experienced during the protests. One year after the protests
      however, nearly 200 individuals filed their own claims against the city
      of Seattle enmass. Some of the bigger cases pushed on and, as far as I
      know, all are resolved. The city settled with protesters in a number of
      these cases but, after 7 years, I've lost track of the specifics.

      Since the Seattle protests, other cities in the US adopted
      increasingly aggressive tactics to interfere with protesters. Each
      claimed to have learned lessons from the mistakes made by police and the
      city here. (Of course, we know that the lessons they learned were the
      wrong, anti-free speech lessons, but learn they did.) Pre-emptive arrest
      became prevalent as did other even more violent police strategies. DC,
      Miami, NYC, and many more cities routinely use tactics that ignore free
      speech rights. Protesters in a number of those cities have filed
      important class action lawsuits as well. I've lost track of most of
      these as well but would love updates on some of them if you've kept
      track.

      Hoping to see you or your friends in January!
      Solidarity,
      Erica K
      206-568-7110
      can@... <mailto:can@...>


      ----- Original Message sent to People arrested at Westlake on December
      1, 1999 from our Attorney: -----
      Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2006 1:38 PM
      Subject: [jwto] Update regarding WTO litigation (Note: highlights &
      bolding are mine (erica))

      This is a message from one of the attorneys representing the class of
      individuals arrested at Westlake Park on December 1, 1999. I've got an
      update and an announcement.

      First, I am pleased to report that late yesterday, Judge Pechman ruled
      that everyone arrested at Westlake Park was arrested without probable
      cause. While this is not a complete victory, it is an important one. It
      seriously damages the City's case and means that all of you were
      wrongfully arrested. Period. It may also mean that we can proceed to
      the damages phase of this case without a liability trial.

      Second, although the judge has raised questions about whether a trial on
      liability is necessary, trial is still scheduled in this case for January
      8, 2007, at the United States Federal Courthouse in Seattle, at Seventh &
      Stewart, in Judge Marsha Pechman's courtroom on the 12th floor. I expect
      it will last 2 weeks, possibly spilling into a third.

      You are all welcome to attend all or part of the trial, and we hope that
      many of you will attend to show that there is still strong interest in
      the outcome of this case and what happened here 7 years ago (yes, it
      really has been that long). However, if you attend the trial, please
      keep in mind that this is a formal proceeding, before a jury, in federal
      court. What that means is that it is very important to be respectful and
      professional at all times, with no outbursts or yelling if you don't like
      something, and not drawing unnecessary attention to yourself in the
      courtroom, elsewhere in the building, or even out in the courtyard in
      front of the building. Judge Pechman in particular would likely be upset
      by any demonstrations outside the building, or signs or buttons in the
      courtroom about the WTO, and our relationship with her is very important.
      We also do not want to unnecessarily awaken any slumbering prejudice
      that the jury might have after having been told by the media for years
      that you were a bunch of rioters. That said, we do want people to attend
      and we hope there will be a significant showing.

      If you do attend but you have never been to a federal courthouse before,
      be prepared for security along the lines of what you see at the airport,
      only more intimidating. You will be required to show ID and won't be
      allowed in without it. You will have to have your bags scanned, and you
      will also have to walk through a magnetometer. So, no pocketknives or
      anything else that could be considered a weapon of any sort.

      Looking forward to seeing you on January 8. If for this trial date is
      vacated for any reason, I will let you know via another update.

      Tyler Weaver
      Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro

      " One person can make a difference, and every person must try."

      John F. Kennedy

      " Be the change you want to see in the world."

      Mohandas Gandhi

      "If I can't dance, I do not want to be a part of your revolution."

      Emma Goldman

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