The right to peaceably assemble and protest has been a guarantee of this nation since its inception. However, the right is guarded by rules and regulations meant to protect not only the public but the protestors as well.
The city of Seattle was witness to one of the largest protests in the history of the nation. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference of 1999, which was to be the launch of a new millennial round of trade negotiations, occurred in Seattle on November 30, 1999. The conference was met by local, national, and international organizations. Among the most notable participants were national and international non-governmental organizations, or NGOs (especially those concerned with labor issues, the environment, and consumer protection), labor unions (including the AFL-CIO), student groups, and religiously-based groups (such as Jubilee 2000) numbering between 50 and 100,000 people.
While the majority of people were non-violent protestors, a small group started some violence and looting that led to the Seattle police and National Guard declaring a state of emergency. At one point, the Mayor of Seattle even declared the need for martial law. This led to the issuing of curfews, arrests, tear-gassing, pepper spraying and even shooting rubber bullets at innocent, non-violent protestors.
Your task is to create an informational project on the WTO protests in Seattle in the form of a video or slideshow presentation, research paper, podcast, or newspaper article that documents the following:
- The purpose of the WTO conference, and which organizations attended
- The groups that protested the conference, along with their individual stated missions (as found on their websites) and why they were protesting
- The protests in light of:
- The individual rights granted by the Bill of Rights
- Previous court cases which challenged these rights
- How the protests relate to the debate of the common good vs. individual rights
- Your opinions on the actions of both the protestors and police, and how their actions may or may not have been justified by the underlying philosophy of the Constitution
- Your opinion on whether or not the protests made a difference
Support your project with articles, specific wording from the Constitution and court cases, images, graphics, and/or video. Remember to always cite your sources.
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