In Second Lawsuit, ACLU Challenges Seattle's WTO 'No Protest' Zone on Behalf of Seven Local People
Victor Menotti, San Francisco — He came to Seattle to attend the WTO conference as a credentialed representative of a Non-Governmental Organization, the International Forum on Globalization. On December 1 he was speaking at 5th & Pike to a journalist and interested citizens about his concerns over WTO policies on wood products. With no audible warning, police officers charged across 5th Ave. toward the small crowd. Ignoring everyone else, police pursued Menotti and arrested him; no formal criminal charges were ever filed.
Doug Skove, Vashon — On December 2 he was carrying sign reading, “Is the WTO in Control of Seattle Also?” on one side, and “I Have a Right To Non-Violent Protest” on the other. While he was talking to a journalist on 6th Ave., a police officer came up from behind and snatched the sign. When Skove complained, the officer informed him that he was not supposed to protest in that area. Near 5th Ave. another police officer confiscated a second sign of his without explanation.
Todd Stedl, Seattle — A University of Washington student, he was handing out copies of the text of the First Amendment to other citizens near 4th & Seneca on December 1. A police officer confiscated his remaining copies and told him to leave the No Protest Zone. After Stedl said he thought he was outside the No Protest Zone and asked for a receipt for the seized materials, officers told him to get moving.
Lauren Holloway, Seattle — She was walking on Fourth Ave. on December 1 after leaving a teach-in at the First United Methodist Church. At the border of the No Protest Zone at 4th & Seneca, police officers grabbed her sign reading, “It’s Our Duty, It’s Our Right, To Fight the Power.” They also told her she would be arrested if she did not take off anti-WTO stickers from her clothing, including one with the message, “If it doesn’t work for families, it doesn’t work.” When an officer grabbed her arm, she told him that she would “do it herself.” She removed the WTO stickers from her clothing and walked away.
Ronald Matyjas, Seattle — He was walking to work on Pine St. toward the Pike Place Market on December 1 while displaying a “No WTO” sign on his back. An officer confronted him, telling him he could not enter downtown wearing the sign. The officer tore off the sign. Afraid to complain, he continued to work without the sign.
Thomas Sellman, Seattle — On December 1 he was handing out copies of a New York Times editorial cartoon, “The Voice of the Turtle,” critical of WTO actions to overturn policies beneficial to sea turtles. On 6th Ave. near Sheraton, a police officer told him to turn around. As he started to do so, he gave a copy of the cartoon to a man who had asked for one. He was tackled from behind and arrested by police officers. Sellman was jailed and charged with failure to disperse and pedestrian interference; the charges were later dismissed.
Andrew Russell, Seattle — After attending a Women’s Day program at a nearby church, he approached the border of the No Protest Zone at 4th & Seneca on December 1. A police officer told him he had to remove an anti-WTO button. Russell took off his button and was allowed to enter the No Protest Zone.
Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.
The latest in Free Speech
This Law Could Criminalize Everyday Conversations About Immigration
How Officials in Georgia are Suppressing Political Protest as ‘Domestic Terrorism’
Congressional Efforts to Ban TikTok in the U.S. Remain a Danger to Free Speech
An Idaho College Censored Their Reproductive Health Care Art, But These Artists Won’t be Silenced
The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.
Learn More About Free Speech
Protecting free speech means protecting a free press, the democratic process, diversity of thought, and so much more. The ACLU has worked since 1920 to ensure that freedom of speech is protected for everyone.