Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011


Corporations have been spreading their wares (and dollars) globally for decades, but that hasn't stopped a dedicated group of protesters from railing against globalization. When the World Trade Organization (WTO) hosted its biannual meeting in Seattle on Nov. 30, 1999, demonstrators took to the streets just outside to protest the increasing unification of the world's economic order, which they claimed widened the gap between rich and poor worldwide. Though the WTO meeting was meant to launch a new round of trade negotiations, the action outside the Washington State Convention & Trade Center (where the meeting was held) far overshadowed what was going on inside the building. Police couldn't corral the crowd, which by even the lowest estimate totaled 40,000, and the opening ceremonies were postponed. As then Seattle mayor Paul Schell imposed a curfew and a state of emergency, riot police stepped in, unleashing tear gas on the demonstrators — many of whom had chained themselves together to block the roadways — and arrested some 600 people. In the end, in addition to disrupting the delegates' meeting, the protesters had managed to make another, albeit small, mark on global business by smashing windows of Starbucks and Nike stores throughout the city.