Three Seattle Residents Accept Judgments in ACLU Lawsuit over WTO "No Protest Zone"

Affiliate: ACLU of Washington
August 11, 2000 12:00 am

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SEATTLE, WA — Three local residents have accepted offers of judgment in the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging the Seattle’s establishment of a “no protest zone” during the meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on December 1-3, 1999.

The three individuals will receive $5,000 each, plus attorney fees and costs. The ACLU said today that it is proceeding with the challenge to the “no protest zone” on behalf of four other plaintiffs.

“These judgments mean that the City committed serious violations of citizen rights,” said Kathleen Taylor, Executive Director of the ACLU of Washington. “The City essentially created a militarized zone in downtown Seattle and banned all protest within this zone. The ACLU is seeking a court ruling that the City’s actions were unconstitutional and cannot be repeated.”

The ACLU filed the case in U.S. District Court in March on behalf of seven citizens whose rights to freedom of speech were violated by the city’s imposition and enforcement of a “no protest zone” during last year’s WTO conference.

In enforcing the zone, police prevented anyone who sought peacefully to express anti-WTO views from entering or remaining in an area of two dozen square blocks in the core of downtown Seattle zone.

ACLU clients include individuals who were either silenced or forced out of the “no protest zone” solely because they had anti-WTO cartoons, buttons, stickers, or signs.

Those who accepted offers of judgment are:

* Lauren Holloway, Seattle – She was walking on Fourth Ave. on December 1 after leaving a teach-in at the First United Methodist Church. At the border of the “no protest zone” at 4th & Seneca, police officers grabbed her sign reading, “It’s Our Duty, It’s Our Right, To Fight the Power.” They also told her she would be arrested if she did not take off anti-WTO stickers from her clothing, including one with the message, “If it doesn’t work for families, it doesn’t work.” When an officer grabbed her arm, she told him that she would “do it herself.” She removed the WTO stickers from her clothing and walked away.

* Ronald Matyjas, Seattle – He was walking to work on Pine St. toward the Pike Place Market on December 1 while displaying a “No WTO” sign on his back. An officer confronted him, telling him he could not enter downtown wearing the sign. The officer tore off the sign. Afraid to complain, he continued to work without the sign.

* Andrew Russell, Seattle – After attending a Women’s Day program at a nearby church, he approached the border of the “no protest zone” at 4th & Seneca on December 1. A police officer told him he had to remove an anti-WTO button. Russell took off his button and was allowed to enter the “no protest zone.”

Cooperating attorney James Lobsenz of the firm Carney Badley Smith & Spellman and ACLU staff attorney Aaron Caplan are handling the case.

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