Wardsmith’s WTO Blanket Party
Presented as-is, promoted from his comment
Like almost all of you, I have mixed feelings about the police. As a law-abiding tax-paying citizen with property that needs protecting, I am in favor of a coercive force that keeps the “bad guys” in check. As a libertarian minded citizen, I am concerned always and everywhere with “coercive” forces. Long ago, Patrick had asked me to write about this, but the memories were a bit too painful at the time. They still are, but enough time has passed.
Back in 1999 I was in Seattle making presentations on a company I had co-founded to a few VC firms there. I had flown in for the day and intended to fly out that evening. What I had no concept in the world of (being head down focused on business issues and the presentations) was that there was this little thing called the WTO Meeting. This was Nov. 30th, 1999. After a flight that arrived early that morning and several stops at VC’s I was physically and emotionally drained. I was also completely unprepared for what greeted me when I stepped out of the building onto the downtown street around 5:00 P.M. Thousands of protesters, many wearing costumes were running around and there were perhaps hundreds of police chasing them. I stood on the street corner, (foolishly waiting for the light to turn green) gaping slack jawed at the scene in front of me. Up in the offices of the VC firm, haggling over financial projections and valuations, I had not one clue in the world that chaos was reigning right outside.
While I was standing there wearing my own costume, (that of a businessman trying to raise funds, suit, tie, polished shoes and a briefcase holding marketing collateral and my notebook computer), someone jabbed me HARD between my shoulder blades and yelled something unintelligible in the crowd noise. I thought it was a gun and I did what years of martial arts training taught my muscles to do without thought. I spun around and locked the guy’s arm while sending the “gun” (actually an L-shaped billy club) skittering to the ground. Then I realized he was a cop. I said, “What the hell did you do that for?” while bending down to pick up the club. Meanwhile, he was drawing his gun on me. Yet again, muscle memory and reflexes took over and I smacked the gun out of his hand with the club I had just picked up. Again I said (quite a bit louder this time, in case he was going deaf), “What the fuck are you doing? I’m not one of THEM!”, gesturing to the crowd on the street. Meanwhile, he was scampering for the weapon, so I put my foot on it and said, “No no no, not until you learn to behave”! Now of course, he’s on the radio screaming for assistance, assistance I am totally in favor of, since he needed a good talking to about common courtesy and proper appraisal of likely combatants. I am to this day 100% certain that not ONE protestor was dressed as I was at that moment.
Now the cop was very agitated and I knew when the other officers showed up, they would request i give him his weapon back, but I don’t want him accidentally on purpose putting bullets into me, so I demonstrate for him the proper technique of magazine strip, cartridge ejection and slide removal. Since I do competitive pistol shooting, I’m pretty adept at this, takes about 4 seconds. I hand him the base and the magazine but keep the slide assembly for good measure (I might want to inspect it later). The other officers show up (three of them) and quickly surround me. I politely let them know that the first officer had unnecessarily hit me with this baton (gesturing) and had also pulled his weapon and showed them the slide. At this point the one behind me smacked me HARD on the head with his baton. Again, reflexes before thinking and I’ve smacked him with the briefcase (which I’m holding in the same hand as the baton I took earlier) in the jaw. I don’t want to drop the briefcase (it has my computer in it!) but the two in front of me have decided to use my head for billy club target practice so I use the briefcase to fend off the blows. Now I’m not so sure about the notebook anymore so decide to play with the baton from earlier. Dropped the slide and briefcase and now use it to pretty good effect (they’re holding theirs backwards to me), I use the “L” part to hook their batons which they’re holding with the “L” part by their hands.
Now I’m no Jackie Chan and I was too old and out of shape for these games. The one behind me has decided to take a break and the two in front haven’t got their batons any more so I decide everyone is even and hold up my hands in the universal motion of surrender while dropping the baton. The first cop, who had started all this decided now was an excellent time to show me he was a star high school football player and piles into me, ruining a thousand dollar suit and $300 shoes as I slide along on my back and side on the concrete. The only thing left to do is roll into a ball while they play blanket party on me without the blanket. Very luckily for me, someone /else/ in a suit shows up, and even more fortuitously he is a detective. Never found out why he was there, I guess by now they have called out all the cops they can find. He does what none of them had done, asks me for ID, asks why I was there and then ignores their admonitions that I be charged with assaulting an officer and has a discussion with them about common courtesy and proper appraisal of likely combatants. He offers me a ride to the airport as long as I agree not to press charges. I readily agree happy to put as much distance between me and Seattle nutjobs as possible. On the flight home someone asked me what had happened and I said “the protests”. He said, “They must have thought you were with the WTO” and I said, “Yeah, right”.