21st Century Police State?

A new wave of protests incites extreme measures

| November/December 2000


Riot control strategies at this summer's political conventions outraged civil libertarians, but they were only part of a frightening trend among police to pull out all the stops in stifling citizen dissent.

Seattle
November 30-December 3, 1999
World Trade Organization meeting
o City creates 25-block no-protest zone. o Police rip up signs and confiscate copies of U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. o Protesters forced to remove stickers and buttons from their clothing. o WTO critic Victor Menotti arrested after attempting to speak to protesters in no-protest zone. o Hundreds arrested after police riot, shooting rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray. o Police strap nonviolent protesters into restraint chairs as punishment for asking to see their lawyers.

Washington, D.C.
April 16-17
International Monetary Fund--World Bank meeting
o Police conduct surveillance on activists and infiltrate meetings disguised as participants. o Police shut down organizing headquarters under pretext of fire hazard. o Police confiscate literature from protesters. o Police conduct mass arrests of more than 1,000 nonviolent marchers and bystanders.

Windsor, Ontario
June 4-6
Organization of American States meeting
o City council passes temporary ordinance prohibiting people from wearing gas masks or hoods. o Nearly 600 suspected activists prevented from crossing the border into Canada. o Protesters pepper-sprayed after hanging a banner on a fence. o More than 2,300 police mobilized at a cost of $3.34 million. o Seventy-eight arrested.

Washington, D.C.
June 28
U.S. Supreme Court
The high court upholds a Colorado law that makes it illegal to come within eight feet of another person on public property for the purpose of passing a leaflet or handbill, or displaying a sign, or 'engaging in oral protest, education, or counseling' without that person's permission.



Minneapolis
July 22-26
International Society of Animal Genetics conference
o Police barricade no-protest zone around Hyatt Regency, site of ISAG meeting. o Police set up surveillance of local activists prior to conference, sending out letters warning them that they're being watched. o City council considers passing ordinance prohibiting people from wearing gas masks; it is voted down. o Police conduct random searches of citizens walking through protest area. o Police use tear gas and pepper spray on protesters after forcing confrontation at a dead-end street near Loring Park. Eighty are arrested. o Police raid the home of a local community activist under the pretext of a drug search. Resident beaten and arrested for resisting arrest.

Philadelphia
July 31-August 3
Republican National Convention
o City passes ordinance prohibiting people from wearing masks. o Entire city blocks made off-limits to protesters. o Police spy on and take photographs at meeting sites around the city.o Police barricade a warehouse rented by protesters to build puppets. o Court sets bail at $1 million for Ruckus Society leader John Sellers.



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