On December 8, 1999, the Seattle City Council opens hearings into failures by Seattle police and civilian officials in planning for and dealing with protests against the World Trade Organization (WTO) during the week of November 30, 1999. The meeting room at the Seattle Public Library, which accommodates 200 persons, is quickly filled for the 4:00 p.m. meeting. Speakers line up out the library doors and around the block in a pouring rain for a chance at three minutes to testify. Of 120 speakers, only three commend Seattle police for their efforts in controlling crowds and unrest. The meeting adjourns after eight hours of testimony.
After the hearing, Councilman Jim Compton, who was assigned to head an ad-hoc Council investigation of the WTO events, stated, "It galvanized my determination to get some answers for what the hell went wrong. There were some genuine horror stories I heard."
Mayor Paul Schell (1937-2014) had asked to attend the hearings, but Council President Sue Donaldson told him that the hearing was a "council event."
Because of the large interest in the hearings, Council President Donaldson scheduled a second hearing on December 14, 1999, at the Seattle Center.