By David Bacon
The Progressive, December 4, 2019
This story was originally published by the Pacific News Service as “Seattle – Something Greater Yet to Come” on December 1, 1999.
Those who marched or stood or sat in the streets of Seattle this week made history, and they knew it. And like the great marches against the Vietnam war, or the first sit-ins in the South in the late 50s, it was not always easy to see just what history was being made, especially for those closest to the events of the time.
Tear gas, rubber bullets and police sweeps, the object of incessant media coverage, are the outward signs of impending change — that the guardians of the social order have grown afraid. And there’s always a little history in that.
Poeina, a young woman sitting in the intersection at the corner of Seventh and Stewart, waiting nervously for the cops to cuff her and take her away in her first arrest, knew the basic achievement she and her friends had already won: “I know we got people to listen, and that we changed their minds.” It was a statement of hope, like the chant that rose Tuesday from streets filled with thousands of demonstrators as the police moved in — “The whole world is watching!”
The Seattle protests put trade on the roadmap of public debate, making WTO a universally recognized set of initials in a matter of hours — what it took a year of debate over NAFTA to accomplish.
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