As Wednesday ended and Thursday began, mobs of apparently deranged peace officers roamed Seattle. Law enforcement indiscriminately beat, clubbed, tear war gassed, sprayed, and arrested folks who themselves had nothing to do with the WTO protests. For the second night running, squads of uniformed armed men with badges from suburban towns and rural counties joined up with Seattle PD and King County’s finest in attacking the city.

Seattle was now ground zero for the largest chemical weapons attack in American history: and we Americans did it! To us. Hey – we’re always number one, right?

On Wednesday, the WTO delegates met successfully. Seattle’s feckless mayor imposed martial law over 25 square blocks of downtown. "Law enforcement" surrounded hundreds of people, and then ordered them to disperse before arresting them and hauling them away in buses. Many sat in the buses for up to ten hours.

Hundreds of demonstrators, hapless bystanders, and visitors swept up in police sweeps crowded Seattle’s jails. National Guard troops stood along the sidewalks, while hungry, angry, tired cops with fingers on the trigger shoved automatic weapons in frightened residents’ faces.

The WTO meeting was underway; dozens of blocks and thousands of residents and downtown workers had been poisoned with tear war gases; the Constitution was for all practical purposes irrelevant. The WTO protest looked like a massive failure.

Wednesday night, I’d failed to evade the 7 PM curfew. Hours before that, I’d caved in, stripping off the red tape crosses I’d proudly worn from my bag and jacket. You see, on Wednesday, running as a medic with "colors" became a non-verbal request to "shoot me, gas me, beat me".

After two days of walking, marching, and running, I was tired. My feet hurt. The quarts of water I’d carried along (for washing out chemical weapons victims’ eyes) left my back and nech aching. I coughed up crap. I couldn’t even figure out the goddamn map on the freakin’ bus stops. I felt like a failure myself.

And after hours of "hide and seek" when the other side was playing "find, beat, gas, and arrest", my adrenaline was wearing off. My Nextel worked, but I could no longer remember phone numbers, and I couldn’t recall, much less follow, sequential instructions in sequence.

The radio channels were far too busy for anyone to walk me through directions for every turn in real time – especially when I couldn’t figure out my location in the first place. After two days of running towards screams and detonations, for the first time I felt alone, vulnerable, and frail. I was afraid.

Ten years ago, our National Guard hadn’t yet been blown up, blown about, killed, or killing in Iraq or Afghan-nam. Even after my excruciatingly long and useless study of the transit map, when I finally walked towards the Guardsman drawing closest I expected to get accused of loitering and violating curfew, but I didn’t think he’d have a reason to shoot.

But hey, I was up from LA. I walked towards him in "meet cop after dark" stance: arms down and well away from waist, but loose; my hands open, palms towards person who carries gun at work.

His body tensed. He was afraid. I got more afraid. It was easy for me to be natural: scared dumb tourist.

Magically, that changed me from scary approaching figure in the dark to confused vulnerable visitor. The scary Guardsman transformed into a very helpful guide, and he pointed me to the road that would let me cross the freeway and go "home" to the convergence space. Go magic!

The DAN organizers rented their Denny Ave convergence space near Broadway in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. At the warehouse/nightclub complex there, amazing teams of activists supported the thousands of activists feeding and meeting and consensing there over the week. When I came "home" that night, a whole new group of folks were there: locals furious about the previous nights’ gassings and beatings. After that happy sight, the next thing I saw were piles of decidedly non-vegan / non-eco / highly processed food donations: the neighbors had adopted us.

They were very tolerant – and very pissed. But not at us. The night before, N30, the police riot pushed protesters out of downtown and into the area. The police riot followed, and stayed for some hours.

Astonishingly enough (hey, C-I-C – I’m talking to you!) after that the locals identified with the (locally-organized) protesters, and against the uniformed gangsters who’d gassed and shot up their neighborhood.

So hundreds of our neighbors and Seattlites stopped by December 1st. That day and evening, DAN’s health collective triaged and treated them and the "regular protesters"…as well as anyone else who came. When I returned to the space folks were waiting in line in the warehouse waiting to shower off pepper spray and tear war gases.

Amazing women organized DAN’s health collective and bottom-lined the convergence space clinic. And when I came into the clinic space they rightly chewed me out for wearing my gassy self in there. And for not eating. And not calling. *g*. So I went to bag up my gassy stuff and jacket for deconamination and came back to eat. As the gas wore off, my brain also came back well enough to come back and help out. Good thing, too. On Capitol Hill, that night’s police riot was worse than N30’s.

We had a whole lot more people showing brain problems from tear war gases. And people coughing up blood. And women with floods of menstrual bleeding…as well as women with profuse menses out of cycle.

And outside the convergence space, many more sirens and helicopters than the night before.

Inside, our non-violent security team secured the doors, and scouts reported from the street. In the excitement, I…er…I passed along to the med collective organizer I’d been told we had riot squad at the back door. She checked with comms, and gave me a kind but firm lecture on corroborating reports. Good advice still, yet still cringeworthy.

Outside, the squad cars and copters and vans finally moved off. The clinic finally wound down, and I headed off to sleep with a houseful of other activists staying at an organizers’ home.

Later that morning – after we woke up – the DAN collective was holding a press conference. They needed medical collective folks there.

After that we’d be marching downtown in defiance of martial law. Barbara Tuchman, eat your heart out: I’ll get to see the Children’s Crusade!

to be continued…

Kirk Murphy

Kirk Murphy

terrestrial obligate aerobe with endoskeleton (bony) and bilateral symmetry.

chordate, bipedal, warm-blooded, mammalian, placental (origin), opposable thumbs.

not (yet) extinct.

indigenous habitat: California Live Oak.

current habitat: Central California Coast (most northerly aspect).... 'northwest of the new world, east of the sea'

potential habitats: all potential habitats critically endangered (due to global climate change).

ailurophilic - hence allergic rhinitic.