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On one side, a loose network of protesters made arrangements for dramatizing their opposition to the WTO and international trade practices. At the same time, public safety officials from local, state, and federal agencies developed security plans for the public areas near the locus of the ministerial meetings. Their aim was to ensure that the talks proceeded smoothly while preserving the activists rights to peaceful protest. Throughout the planning process, local leaders operated on the assumption that the tolerant ethos of the Pacific Northwest would prevail. This assumption proved terribly wrong, however, when, on the opening day of the talks, law enforcement officials lost control of the crowds gathered outside the meeting venue. Readers are asked to consider what lessons can be drawn from this ultimately inadequate security planning process. How might security planners have thought differently about how to prepare for the conference? What should they have anticipated in advance? How could they have developed a better awareness of protesters' activities and plans?

Learning Objective:
This case examines the planning processes of two very different sets of actors in advance of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Ministerial Conference of 1999, which was scheduled to take place that year in Seattle, Washington.

Other Details

Teaching Plan:
Available with Educator Access
Case Author:
David Tannenwald
Faculty Lead:
Herman (Dutch) B. Leonard and Arnold Howitt
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
Taubman Center for State and Local Government