By Rivera Sun for Campaign Nonviolence. On November 30th, 1999, the World Trade Organization was scheduled to conduct a summit in Seattle, WA. Due to the intervention of activists, the meetings took place amidst widespread resistance, protest, and disruption. Although the acts of property damage, violence, and the violent repression tactics of the police were widely publicized, a number of on-the-ground nonviolent activists urge us to question the narrative of violence, and dig deeper into the nonviolent side of the story. Organizer David Solnit wrote, "It was a moment when organized resistance became a genuine popular uprising, successfully shutting down the opening day of the WTO meeting, taking over the downtown core of a major American city, and contributing to the collapse of negotiations that would have increased poverty, destruction, and misery around the world."
Battle of Seattle
By George Lakey for Waging Nonviolence - When it comes to action, we are pulled by two tendencies that seem compatible but in practice are often in tension. We want our movements to be rational – that is, to strategize well, use resources efficiently, and stay nimble. Yet, on the other hand, we may also want the products of emotion: to experience solidarity, to let empathy connect us with those who haven’t joined us, and to tap the righteous anger that goes with caring about injustice. In my lifetime social movements have increasingly turned to trainers to increase their learning curve and make actions more effective. However, a movement’s wish to draw on the power of both rationality and emotion poses a challenge for trainers, who are influenced by middle-class bias and traditional education. Class and the academy push trainers to privilege rationality and ignore the wellspring of emotion. Fortunately, action reasserts the need for both, and training is learning to respond. The movement story in the United States shows the tension, and begins with the civil rights movement of the 1960s.