Police across the US have been criticised for their actions in clashes with Occupy Wall Street protesters. The man who led the police response to the Battle in Seattle protests at the 1999 WTO meeting blames the post-9/11 militarisation of American policing.
“Law enforcement across the country is pursuing the same tactics that failed so miserably in Seattle,” Norm Stamper tells BBC World Service’s Witness programme.
“There’s a lack of patience, there’s a lack of imagination and there are clear over-reactions to the challenges the police perceive. It is all so disheartening.”
In November 1999, Chief Stamper was one of the main officials charged with managing the huge numbers of demonstrators who brought the city to a standstill in protests against the launch of a new round of global trade talks.
An estimated 50,000 activists from around the world flooded Seattle and occupied strategic crossroads, blocking delegates’ access to the convention centre where the talks were to be held.
The demonstrations seriously disrupted the trade talks. The opening ceremony had to be cancelled because most delegates were unable to get to the meetings, and even US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was stuck in her hotel room unable to give the speech she had prepared.
The police responded by spraying the crowd with tear gas, That, says Chief Stamper, set the tone for the next three days — via redwolf.newsvine.com