Edward S. Herman
Obama vs. Romney
Pennies For Your Thoughts
Psychologists Subvert Democracy
Bruce E. Levine
Citizens United and Walker
Cocaine, Power, and Gaza
Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder
No Such Thing As Rape
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Seattle 1999 Revisited
You don’t often get a chance to be at the epicenter of an event that makes history. It started for my partner, Charles Gray, and me in the quietest way. Both of us were longtime nonviolent activists. Early in 1999, we were invited to join a newly-formed “simplicity circle.” We were the oldest in this group in
Nine or ten of us met weekly to talk about adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. Voluntary simplicity meant valuing time more than money. Driving less, using less water, and doing our best to not create or take in toxic substances. We gloated about finding attractive clothes and furniture at Goodwill or St. Vinnie’s. Soon we learned that a different kind of adventure was brewing.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) was slated to meet in our
By September most of us had decided to participate. Soon we started meeting with like-minded folks in
Mary Ellen and I collected slogans for bumper stickers. Soon many cars in
The WTO is a Hazardous Waste
Fair Trade Not Free Trade
We the People Not We the Corporation
Participate in Democracy
- Stop WTO
Late in October, we went to non-violence training where we formally agreed to the guidelines of the Direct Action Network: no violence, physical or verbal, toward any person; no weapons; no destruction of property.
Each day, daring and talented climbers dressed the city up for the coming event. Two young women scaled a retaining wall near Interstate 5 to hang a SHUT DOWN THE WTO banner. Men from the Rainforest Action Network hung giant arrows from a 170-foot-high crane near
We met regularly with our affinity group, hearing reports from Win, our spokesperson. Each day he attended meetings with the Direct Action Network housed in a converted warehouse. Signs and giant puppets were being made there and closely guarded preparations also were underway.
As the big day approached, we learned that our goal was to nonviolently block access of WTO delegates to their ministerial. The Direct Action Network had envisioned a circle around the convention center and cut it into 13 “pie slices,” each to be held and blocked off by a cluster of affinity groups—but we didn’t know where we would be posted.
Charles and I, elders that we were, were not slated to be in lockdown, directly blocking access. We took on other assignments. Charles was an old hand at dealing with media so he was press officer for our affinity group. I was picked to obtain legal help for team members who needed it. Since they weren’t supposed to give their real names if arrested—this was part of “jail solidarity,” another mode of resistance—they each chose a nickname. I memorized these from notes, then destroyed the notes.
Before dawn on November 30, Charles and I set out to join our group. The city had authorized marches into the center of
Tripods are often used by activists to block logging roads into old growth forests. One protestor sits on top while others are locked to its base. People I could barely see in the fog hauled a couple off and were prowling suspiciously around our equipment when one of our campus members started shouting, “We know about the law against prior restraint.” Instantly, she gathered a little circle of women around her and three of us chanted with her, “We know about the law against prior restraint. We know about the law against prior restraint.” I hadn’t a clue what I was chanting about, but the cops backed off. Apparently, it was illegal for them to confiscate something just because they thought it might later be used for illegal purposes.
Well before 7:00 AM, our affinity group started up the line of march. Thousands of others were parading with us, many with signs and banners, but we found ourselves burdened—we were carrying the long float the cops had been snooping around before we started yelling.
At the far side of the intersection of Sixth and Pike, police stood facing us in full battle gear. Instantly, people who knew more than I did about the overall plan sprang into action. They formed a human barrier between us and the uniformed figures so the cops couldn’t see what was going on. In moments the octopus float became a raised platform. A couple of dozen activists locked themselves to a framework of pipes hidden underneath. Meanwhile, a cluster from
Now the major intersection—one that authorities probably had expected to keep clear for delegates to use—was blocked. The convention center was two blocks northeast. Three blocks west was the hotel where the U.S. Secretary of State was staying.
Clouds of teargas started sweeping up
As the morning wore on, word spread that federal officials had deemed the streets too dangerous for Madeleine Albright and her trade representative to the opening ceremonies. By 10:00 AM the morning session had been cancelled. Now, though the battle to block the meetings was still raging, it was easier to enjoy the carnival that was rollicking through the streets.
Stiltwalkers and giant cartoonish puppets loomed overhead. Teams of folks marched dressed as Santa Clauses or sea turtles. Lots of people threaded through the crowds, photographing or filming the action. But none of them got to record the huge scope of it. Access was banned to all the tall buildings from which they might have filmed the multitudes.
It was 11:00 AM before I saw violence from anyone other than the police. Four booted figures dressed in black, with black balaclavas covering everything but their eyes, slipped past me into a side street lined with stylish shops still open on either side of Nordstrom’s. Nervous salespeople hovered near their stores. In 30 tightly choreographed seconds, the figures in black grabbed grates and tossed them in the gutter, then formed waste containers into an instant barricade and moved up the street.
The carnival went on. More tear gas and wafts of pepper spray and who knows what else the cops were using. (Later, they would use concussion grenades.) I noticed a new set of black clad figures squirming up the side of a nearby building. They were Black Bloc, anarchists from
I hadn’t noticed before the sign over a store at the corner: Niketown. Nike was widely despised for using
Rumor had it that the WTO had canceled its afternoon session, but many members of our affinity group remained in lockdown. As members of the media, foreign and domestic, pressed through the teeming streets trying to figure out what was happening, I watched my partner many yards away holding his ground and briefing them.
After a while, things quieted down a bit. I chatted with Brookrod who’d organized our simplicity circle. Brookrod and I strolled across town to join the labor demonstration. As we lined up to get into the stadium, I met other people at the corner of Sixth and Pike. Then a woman I’d never met before struck up a conversation with me.
“Never thought I’d be with you folks today,” she said. “I was supposed to be at the WTO meetings.”
“You were,” I eyed her suspiciously.
“Don’t worry,” she smiled. “I’m with an NGO. I was supposed to be an observer.” She wouldn’t tell me what organization she was with, but she had inside information and she seemed to want to share it.
“They’re meeting,” she said, “at other places in town. But maybe it doesn’t matter. These disruptions—this enormous show—it’s changed things.”
“What has it changed?”
“It’s changed a lot of minds.”
“Whose minds?” I asked.
She smiled faintly. “Oh, not the G-7. The little guys. The representatives from the poor countries, the ‘unimportant’ countries, delegates that thought they had to take orders from the countries that run things.... But now that’s all changed. These demonstrations—they’ve given them backbone. They’re refusing to agree.”
It turned out that what she said was right. I could write lots of things, but they wouldn’t matter as much as what that woman I met on the union march told me. That day in Seattle, representatives from those countries whose opinions weren’t supposed to count heard rumblings in the belly of the great and powerful
Time and again since then, the World Trade Organization has tried to push the Doha Round. Supposedly, it’s designed to help developing nations, but it’s far more likely to help giant food exporters from rich countries like the United States flood their markets with cheap, genetically modified grain. At stake is the welfare of small subsistence farmers. In most of the
Sylvia Hart Wright is a nonviolent activist and professor emeritus at the City College of New York.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.