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After WTO Riots, Former Seattle Police Chief Finds Power In Apologies

Steve Kaiser
Pepper spray is applied to the crowd at the WTO protests in Seattle on November 30, 1999.

  Sometimes it can take a long time to come around to an apology or to even realize you did something wrong in the first place. In this next story, it took years.

It began on one fateful night in Seattle in the fall of 1999. As protesters squared off against the police during the controversial WTO conference, law enforcement chose to deploy tear gas and aggressive policing tactics.

Norm Stamper, Seattle police chief at the time of the WTO riots, initially defended his policing decisions. Even after he resigned in 2000, Stamper felt he made the right choice in a chaotic environment. 

Over the years, however, he began to see a new light. He began to understand the side of the peaceful protesters who felt they had been unfairly treated. Knkx’s Erin Hennessey talks with Stamper about this change of heart and how he went on to make amends with the city of Seattle.
This segment originally aired September 3, 2016

Before accepting the position of News Director in 1996, she spent five years as knkx's All Things Considered Host and filed news stories for knkx and NPR. Erin is a native of Spokane and a graduate of the University of Washington and London's City University - Center for Journalism Studies. Erin worked in the film industry and as a print journalist in London and New York before returning to Seattle to work in broadcast news.