FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WTO Protesters to Donate Class Action Settlement Funds through ‘Money to Movements’
Landmark Seattle Court Ruling Fuels Global Justice Mission
SEATTLE, WA - May 20 - Members of A class-action lawsuit have joined forces to DONATE a portion of settlement funds to fund organizations carrying on the work of the global justice movement through the Money to Movements Project. In a landmark decision for First Amendment rights, a Seattle civil jury has found that police acted unconstitutionally in arresting more than 175 peaceful protesters as part of the World Trade Organization protests in 1999.
The plaintiffs involved in the case were arrested in downtown Seattle’s Westlake Park, part of a "no protest zone" hastily designated by city officials as the WTO meetings convened in November of 1999. The suit was brought by Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (TLPJ), a Washington, D.C.-based public interest law firm, who charged that the plaintiffs were arrested without probable cause while engaging in a constitutionally-protected act of free speech.
The WTO conference drew about 50,000 protestors to Seattle in 1999. Groups such as farm-workers unions, environmental activists, indigenous rights advocates, and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) gathered to protest the policies of the World Trade Organization, triggering what observers characterized as an UNCONSTITUIONAL reaction by police, national guard and government officials. Crowd-control tactics such as tear-gas, pepper spray, percussion grenades and rubber bullets were employed. A state of emergency was declared and over 600 mostly peaceful protesters were arrested and detained. Nearly all charges were later dropped.
The Money to Movements project was created by a group of plaintiffs involved in the Westlake Park case in order to help channel funds obtained through the court settlement back into the global justice (formerly known as anti-globalization) movement. “We brought this suit for everyone who faced inappropriate police behavior at the protests,” said Erica Kay, of Seattle’s Community Action Network. “We want to see this money put to good purpose.”
David Solnit, A CO-founder of the Direct Action Network and an organizer of the nonviolent direct action shutdown of the WTO’s opening day said, “These funds were won from a struggle for global justice. We wanted to make sure that a portion of those funds were put back into those struggles.
So far, 15 of the plaintiffs involved in the Westlake case have donated to the Money to Movements project, totaling $15,000. The ultimate goal of the project is to raise $40,000 through donations and matching grants, a figure equivalent to 10% of the settlement after legal fees.
Groups selected for funding include: Domestic Workers United (New York, NY), Critical Resistance (national), Community Coalition for Environmental Justice (Seattle, WA), The Jena 6 Legal Defense Fund (national), Bus Riders Union (national), Mothers for Police Accountability (Seattle, WA), RiseUp.net (international), Seattle WTO ’99 People’s History Project (national), Southwest Workers Union (San Antonio, TX), Democracy Now! (national), Community Alliance for Global Justice (international), Earth First! Journal (national), Grassroots Global Justice (national), Destiny Arts Center (Oakland, CA), Pan Left Productions (national), The Catalyst Project (San Francisco, CA), and Legacy of Equality, Leadership and Organizing (Seattle, WA),
Groups were selected for their commitment to global justice, including environmental, racial and economic justice, worker’s rights, police accountability and justice system reform, independent media, and activist/youth nonviolent action training. They were chosen by those plaintiffs participating in the Money to Movements project.
Money to Movements has timed the announcement of groups benefiting to coincide with the screening of the new movie The Battle in Seattle by director Stuart Townsend at the Seattle Film Festival, a fictional drama set during the WTO protests.
“The mission of the global justice movement is to keep transnational corporations from profiting at the expense of people and the planet,” said Holly Roach, Money to Movements co-founder and Westlake Class member. “Our intention with Money to Movements is to direct funds to those groups that are currently driving the global justice movement, and to help inspire a new generation of activists.”
“The WTO protests are an incredible model of ‘people power’ standing up the global elites,” said Solnit. “We hope these funds will help to bring attention to the current strength of the global justice movement, and to help to fuel the work.”
Money to Movements is currently seeking matching grants and individual donations to reach the projected total of $40,000. All donations are tax-deductible through Money to Movements fiscal sponsor, the Agape Foundation.
More information at www.realbattleinseattle.org