[ Hundreds of feet in the air, four climbers from Rainforest Action Network and the Ruckus Society hang a giant banner off of a construction crane on the eve of the mass street protests against the WTO, Seattle, 1999. Photo by Dang Ngo / Rainforest Action Network. ]
November 30, 1999 represented a triumphal moment for worldwide civil resistance against a global economic system that gives private corporations more power than governments. In the morning hours of N30, 1999, tens of thousands of activists from across the globe converged in the streets of downtown Seattle, to shut down meetings of the World Trade Organization, the undemocratic, international governing forum of neoliberal globalization.
The conflict became infamous around the world, partially because of the violent police response to the largely peaceful demonstrations. In years since, N30 has been remembered in the streets of Seattle and around the globe, with marches, rallies and celebrations of resistance. Dialogues about the effectiveness of the movement have multiplied in number, both within and beyond activist circles. The date is also remembered as the birth of the Independent Media Center, Indymedia.org.
A Look Back to the Historic Anti-WTO Protests of Five Years Ago
The audio collage you’re about to hear is a compilation of voices recorded both in the streets of Seattle, and from phone calls into the studio of Free Radio Santa Cruz.
This collage was produced by Vinny Lombardo aka V-Man, and features contributions from Freak Radio programmers past and present. Thanks to Aeon Blues, Old Lady Scar Arms, Mistress Violet, Phil Free and Fellow Worker Will, and of course, V-Man. Without them this program would not have been possible.
We first hear from an organizer at the Convergence Space; ground zero for activists gathering in Seattle to organize anti-WTO protests.
This Is What Democracy Looks Like
At the WTO protests in Seattle, we had a collective vision. We saw beyond the borders that divide us. We saw people come together across every kind of political and cultural difference and stand up in a way that we had not seen in this country for decades. We saw peaceful protests shut down one of the most powerful institutions in the world and we saw a system dazed and frightened by the sound of our voices.
People left Seattle energized, believing that they had taken part in the birth of a new movement.
The Independent Media Center is a network of collectively run media outlets for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of the truth. We work out of a love and inspiration for people who continue to work for a better world, despite corporate media’s distortions and unwillingness to cover the efforts to free humanity.
The Independent Media Center (www.indymedia.org), was established by various independent and alternative media organizations and activists in 1999 for the purpose of providing grassroots coverage of the World Trade Organization (WTO) protests in Seattle. The center acted as a clearinghouse of information for journalists, and provided up-to-the-minute reports, photos, audio and video footage through its website. Using the collected footage, the Seattle Independent Media Center produced a series of five documentaries, uplinked every day to satellite and distributed throughout the United States to public access stations.
The center also produced its own newspaper, distributed throughout Seattle and to other cities via the internet, as well as hundreds of audio segments, transmitted through the web and Studio X, a 24-hour micro and internet radio station based in Seattle. The site, which uses a democratic open-publishing system, logged more than 2 million hits, and was featured on America Online, Yahoo, CNN, BBC Online, and numerous other sites. Through a decentralized and autonomous network, hundreds of media activists setup independent media centers in London, Canada, Mexico City, Prague, Belgium, France, and Italy over the next year. IMCs have since been established on every continent, with more to come.