WTO Opens in Seattle Today

“The opening for the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in downtown Seattle is expected to draw up to 50,000 anti-WTO protestors beginning today. Tuesday is expected to be the big day for anti-WTO protests, including a large AFL/CIO march protesting labor conditions worldwide. Other activities will include the Sierra Club’s “Boston W Tea O” march, the Washington Association of Churches “Jubilee 2000 Procession and Non-Violent Human Chain,” as well as labor groups, and a Tibetan Rights Group.Over 5,000 international delegates, and up to 3,000 reporters and photographers are also expected to be in attendance during the meetings this week.With protests planned and security very high, street closures are set. Throughout the course of the WTO meetings, the following will be closed:- The Union Street off ramp from I-5 will be closed as of Sunday, November 28. Motorists will need to use other exits, but can expect heavier traffic than usual at these alternative exits.- Pike Street will be closed to all traffic except Metro buses between 7th Avenue and Boren Avenue. (Between 9th Avenue and Boren Avenue, Pike Street will be closed to all westbound traffic and open to eastbound traffic via 9th Avenue access or Express Lane ramp access.)- Convention Place under the Convention Center will be closed.- 8th Ave. between Seneca St. and Pine St. will be closed.- Pike Street will be closed between 6th and 7th avenues, except for local access to the parking garage.- 7th Avenue will be closed between Pine St. and Union St., except for local access to the parking garages between Pine and Pike.- The entrance to the One Union Square parking garage will only be from 6th and University.Also, throughout the week, some streets may be closed intermittently to allow motorcades of heads of state to pass.The City of Seattle has stated that they anticipate that President Clinton and Vice President Gore will attend some portion of the WTO, however at this time no heads-of-state have confirmed their attendanceRepresentatives from 134 nations will be attending the Seattle Ministerial of the WTO. The WTO meetings are not open to the public.”