As a Seattle native, I love my city, appreciate it for its diversity and know how lucky I am to be from such an unparalleled place. So I was pleasantly surprised to find my city in the spotlight recently. Seattle was featured in Stuart Townsend’s directorial debut, “Battle in Seattle.” Documenting the World Trade Organization protests on Nov. 30, 1999, the film is an intense narrative that combines many different vantage points to form a debatably cohesive, yet undeniably controversial, film about capitalistic greed, constitutional rights and how one city was changed forever.

When I first heard about this film, I was ecstatic that some national attention, and perhaps national praise, would finally be given to my hometown for its handling of the full-scale riots that ensued during the WTO protests. Much to my dismay, the film portrays Seattle, and specifically the Seattle government, as an oppressive hub. Rather than showing the blatant and disgusting disregard that some protesters had for public and civic decency, the film sympathizes with violent vigilantes and demonizes the police force for protecting people’s safety.

That’s not to say the city of Seattle was innocent. The executive and judicial powers took unconstitutional measures to quell what eventually became an irrepressible riot. Excessive and sometimes unnecessary use of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and physical force left many peaceful and well-intentioned protesters injured. In 2007, a federal jury concluded that, during the WTO protests, the city arrested protesters without evidence or probable cause, a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.

While the city grossly mishandled the backlash, accounts of the protests often neglect to show the unprovoked violence that the rioters unleashed on the city. I remember being 11 years old, watching the local news and seeing mailboxes thrown through the windows of businesses and stores. Dumpsters and cars were lit on fire, and almost every building wall was defaced by hateful and obscene graffiti. As the media demonized the police force, callous rebels tore the city apart.

Three days after the protests ended, I walked the streets downtown. The burning trash cans and tear gas were noticeably absent, but remnants of the destructive chaos remained. The city, once romantic and liberating, was ravaged into a skeleton of dejection and emptiness.

The most unfortunate thing is that there were protesters there who had something admirable to say. While some peacefully advocated for humane working conditions and corporate accountability, others created chaos for the sake of causing uproar. Messages of justice were drowned out by actions of anarchy.

Seattle eventually recovered from the devastation that the riots left in their wake. The streets were cleaned, the buildings renewed and the city was made whole again. Responding to public and governmental pressures, the Seattle police chief resigned, and the incumbent mayor lost his seat two years later. But now, just as Seattle citizens were beginning to forgive, “Battle in Seattle” is making sure that no one forgets. It is one of many arguably biased media releases that paint the violence as a necessary evil to preach a message of good. In the end, the film is a romanticized account of protesters’ attempts to overthrow government and police control in an effort to mass publicize their cause.

Having lived through it, though, I see things a little bit differently.

Emily Michels is an LSA sophomore and a Daily associate editorial page editor.

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