Mayor Paul Schell (1937-2014) had issued an emergency order prohibiting the possession of gas masks in Seattle except by military and police on December 1, 1999. Later that day, journalists were allowed to possess gas masks, but the ban did not extend to firefighters.
Justin Reed of Seattle was arrested at City Hall on the day the ban was signed when he attempted to attend a City Council hearing called to discuss and ratify the mayor's order. The judge ruled that prosecutors did not prove that Reed knew of the ban when he was arrested. The charges were dismissed "with prejudice" meaning that Reed could not be charged again with the same crime.
As of February 17, 2000, only 24 persons out of more than 600 arrested during WTO protests were still charged with crimes, including four accused of violating the gas mask ban.