Policing Protest: Protecting Dissent and Preventing Violence through First and Fourth Amendment Law


In 1999, clashes between police and protesters at the World Trade Organization

(WTO) meetings in Seattle made national news with images of tear gas

and smashed windows. Seattle police tried to maintain order by establishing

no-protest zones, forcefully dispersing protesters, and conducting mass arrests.

These law enforcement tactics were reminiscent of notorious police excesses

against protesters during the 1960s, when dogs and fire hoses were turned on

civil rights demonstrators in the South, and of the Chicago police’s attack against

demonstrators and bystanders alike during the 1968 Democratic Convention.

The Seattle events marked the beginning of the newest chapter of increasingly

harsh police responses to protesters.

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