My song “Ballad of N30 (Battle in Seattle)” documents a historic moment in the history of the world. Two decades ago mass protests were staged in Seattle on Nov. 30th–December versus the World Trade Organization and against crass neoliberal corporate globalization schemes that included efforts to privatize public services and weaken environmental and labor laws.
“Conservatives” and “liberals” claimed the trade agreements violated our national sovereignty by forcing the USA to follow trade rules that were developed by an undemocratic process backed by huge corporations and international bankers.
Steelworkers and Teamsters marched with environmental activists and religious groups for the first time. All were determined to prevail against these powerful international forces.
Police used tear gas, batons, and concussion grenades on people practicing nonviolent civil disobedience inspired by the teachings of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Henry David Thoreau.
In the end, over 600 people were arrested but the WTO Ministerial Conference was disrupted and ended in failure. The people had spoken.
Later that year, I infiltrated a $150-a-plate dinner conference that included Port Commissioner Pat Davis and representatives of the WTO who told lies about the protesters, scapegoating them all as “violent anarchists.” When I spoke up to refute those claims I was ejected from the meeting. It was one of the proudest days of my young life as a journalist.
I recommend watching the documentary of these events produced by a group of media activists, including our friend Jill Freidberg, called This Is What Democracy Looks Like.
There is also a Hollywood-style version of the events starring Woody Harrelson, Charlize Theron, Andre 3000 from Outkast, Michelle Rodriguez, and Ray Liotta. I got to meet the cast and party with them at the premiére in Seattle during the Seattle Independent Film Festival. I was also an extra in the film.
Someday I will tell the crazy story about what happened during that night, but for now, let’s just say that things got a little out of control in a good way. . . .
Until then, please enjoy my song documenting the protests, which changed history and inspired all of us to stand up for democracy and challenge the status quo whenever the powers that be overstep their authority and abuse the rights of the people.
After all, that is what democracy looks like!
Here’s My Music Video: