At the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, an estimated 100,000 protesters showed up with a force the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the 1960’s. When a pocket of protesters turned violent, free trade trumped free speech, as police cracked down mightily, arresting and tear-gassing even non-violent passersby. Where are we today when it comes to humanitarian concerns, labor rights, poverty, and providing economic access to every nation that makes up the world in which we trade? And where is protest today? Would workers, students, yuppies, and anarchists come together again as they did in ’99 – for any cause – or have restrictive law enforcement and homeland security squashed the opposition impulse?
Norm Stamper was the former Chief of the Seattle Police Department and authorBreaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Expose of the Dark Side of American Policing. A 34 year veteran police officer, he also led San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson’s Crime Control Commission and serves as a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a 10,000 member organization representing cops, judges, prosecutors, FBI/DEA agents, prison wardens, and others.
Robert Lawrence is the Albert L. Williams Professor of International Trade and Investment at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and author, Crimes and Punishment: Retaliation under the WTO and Globalphobia. He has also served as a member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, the Congressional Budget Office, and the Presidential Commission on United States-Pacific Trade and Investment Policy.
Dennis Brutus was a South African poet and political activist imprisoned with Nelson Mandela. He was banned, censored, and even shot in his lifelong commitment to social and racial justice and equality in protest of the apartheid South African regime. Officially banned for 30 years from writing, speaking, or teaching in his home, Brutus’ first collection of poetry was published in Nigeria while still confined in prison. He would go on to publish 14 books. Once released from the infamous Robben Island prison, in the cell next to Nelson Mandela, Brutus eventually secured asylum in the United States and taught at Northwestern University and the University of Pittsburgh, always tirelessly vocal about the injustices in South Africa and the global response. “Unbanned” in 1990, he eventually returned to South Africa. Respected as a fearless campaigner for justice, he was one of Africa’s most influential, and most read, modern poets. Dennis Brutus passed away on 26 December 2009, at his home in Cape Town, South Africa.
This Is What Democracy Looks Like
This relevant documentary was aired on RIPBS as part of Action Speaks’ programming during the Fall 2005 recording season.