But amid the World Trade Organization talks in Seattle Wednesday, CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone reports, to challenge the police in any way was to risk arrest.
With uncompromising force, Seattle police sought to end any kind of protest in the city center. "We got arrested for trespassing on the public streets," one woman there claims.
Attorney Amy Kratz was pushed away when she tried to act as a legal observer at one mass arrest. She responds, "I'm not really familiar with cities being able to suspend the constitution."
For authorities, the justification for Wednesday's tough tactics was obvious as the mayhem that continued late into the previous night on Seattle's streets.
The hundreds of organized protest groups deny involvement, and they blame police for reacting in ways that brought more violence. Police Chief Norm Stamper admits, "I'm not going to attempt to put a positive spin on the damage that was done yesterday, the terror that was created."
Many of the protesters have been trained in non-violent resistance by a group called the Ruckus society. Randall Hayes worked with the group and says some of those here call themselves anarchists. "You hear the phrase anarchy groups, what does that mean?" he asks. "I'm sure there are thoughtful anarchists and really hooligan anarchists. So I don't know who did that."
With each side blaming the other for going too far Tuesday, the middle ground that many protest organizers had hoped could exist during the WTO talks has vanished from the streets of Seattle.
What was supposed to be a forum for reasoned deliberation will instead be remembered as place where extremism drowned out the debate.