It is sometimes easy to forget, in the midst of a furious
crowd, that all our liberties were acquired not through polite representation,
but by means of insurrection and protest. - George Monbiot
While George Bush was telling us Brits how his country values its
civil rights and freedom people demonstrating
against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) meeting in Miami
were experiencing something a little different.
Thousands of militarised police, in full riot gear, armed with
everything from tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bags, electrified
shields, tanks, water cannons, automatic and semi-automatic weapons,
were busy violently arresting peaceful demonstrators, in some cases
with tazers, in others at gun point. Busses filled with union members
were prevented from joining permitted marches; human rights activists
had guns pointed at their heads at military-style checkpoints. Embedded
journalists similar to those used in Iraq meant any independent
ones were attacked, arrested and had cameras stolen.
Over 270 were nicked - 50 of them while holding a peaceful vigil
outside the jail in solidarity with those inside! Those in prison
reported sexual assaults and beatings with two men locked in small,
dog-kennel size cages and sprayed with freezing water and pepper
125 were injured, and a Centre looking after those injured was
itself attacked by the robocops. One doctor remarked, Ive
worked in emergency rooms, but this is really some of the worst
onslaught of injuries I have ever seen.
For months beforehand, Police Chief John Timoney had portrayed
protestors as terrorists and the gathering in Miami as a siege of
the city. To cope with these terrorists the Miami police
had managed to get $8.5 million earmarked for Iraq, to spend on
non-lethal weapons. New laws meant that groups of seven
or more people were forbidden to stop on the pavement for longer
than 29 minutes without a permit. The City Council decided not to
criminalize puppets but did ban materials such as stilts more
than three quarters inch in its thickest dimension and containers
of any kind. All coconuts were removed from palm trees in
case they were used as weapons!
Ed Hale, resident and singer for the rock group Transcendence complained
that Downtown Miami seemed like a third world dictatorship.
What we saw tells us a lot about the system that brings together
corporations and governments in an Enron-esque marriage of corruption.
A virtual army of 2,500 police used every brutal and sneaky tactic
in the book to defend the corporate profit interests that are at
stake in the FTAA against diverse demonstrators whose only crime
was telling the truth about the global corporate takeover.
Miami Mayor Manny Diaz however disagreed describing the police
presence as a model for homeland defense. But then Miami,
in the state of Florida, is the home of Georges brother Jeb
Bush who so helpfully fiddled the election result to make his brother
president in the first place.
BISH-BASH BUSH BOSHING
While Bush has waxed lyrical that the FTAA is a free-trade
system that links all of the Americas and the brilliant
new dawn of a splendid new world others have called it NAFTA
on steroids. NAFTA - the North American Free Trade Agreement
(see SchNEWS 200) signed between Mexico, Canada and the States was
another one of those free trade deals that we were told would benefit
everyone. Except that the only people it has benefited has been
surprise, surprise multinational corporations. Just check out Chapter
11 of NAFTA which allows corporations to sue if they think certain
environmental laws are stopping them making a profit!
So why do people let them get away with this? As Kevin Danaher
from Global Exchange put it If youre going to only have
the elite, the billionaires, making the policy, how are you going
to keep everyone else away from that table? Shoot em.
The U.S. is the mother country of protectionism. (It) wouldnt
have a computer industry or an airline industry or a railroad industry
or an auto industry if it wasnt for (this protectionism).
The free market ideology is this bullshit that they put out there
to pry open Third World countries and to keep people here stupid
and think, Oh, get the government out of the way. Let capital
decide how the world will be run. Well, duh. If you let capital
decide how the world is going to run, theyll cut down every
tree, theyll kill every fish, theyll push our wages
down to zero, theyll pollute the shit out of everything, because
all they care about is making money.
In the end the business community didnt get their way and
FTAA finished a day early with the Washington Post reporting that
corporate lobbyists... fumed at the outcome. Not surprising
really when all theyd agreed to was to continue talks in the
As one of those journalists who refused to be embedded
Jeremy Scahill from Democracy
Now! said In the times in which we live, this is what
democracy looks like. Thousands of soldiers, calling themselves
police, deployed in US cities to protect the power brokers from
the masses. But with several cities sending law enforcement
observers to the protests to study what some are now referring to
as the Miami Model anyone who tries to exercise their
civil rights and freedom in the Land of
the Free better be ready to be beaten to a pulp.
* For more on the protests www.ftaaimc.org
* Read Shafted: Free Trade and Americas Working Poor
where farmers, fishermen, garment workers etc. describe the ruin
that free trade agreements have unleashed on them. To order copies
* The FBI has been busy collecting information on anti war demonstrations
and has asked agencies for any suspicious activity to be reported
to its counterterrorism squads. Its obvious that there
are individuals capable of violence at these events. one F.B.I.
official said. Yep, just take a look at the Miami stormtroppers.
* Some 10,000 demonstrated last weekend outside Americas
very own terrorist training camp - the Western Hemisphere Institute
for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas,
where Latin American militias learn counterinsurgency
* Cops and welfare officers were out and about during
last Thursdays massive anti Bush rally in London hoping to catch
schoolkids having the cheek to go truant and protest. Todays
schoolkids tomorrows terrorists.
* Yesterdays Queens Speech included the Civil Contingency
Bill giving the police unprecedented powers in a state of
emergency. With the cops liberal use of the Terrorism Acts to stop
and search anyone they dont like the look of, this will no
doubt be another law protestors can look forward too finding out
about in more detail.
Crap Arrests Of The Week
For not Keeping off the Grass.
A man on the anti-Bush Critical Mass tried to get round a copper
blocking his way by stepping off the path onto the grass of St James
Park. For this heinous crime he was jumped on by two police, handcuffed
and carted away for causing a Breach of the Peace. This arrest was
apparently to protect the grass who felt intimidated by his actions
and had nothing to do with a US motorcade driving up the Mall that
the police were trying to prevent protestors seeing.
For interfering with the Queens Bush!
After the Bush demo two cheeky protesters decided to leave their
giant pretzel placard in a tree facing Buckingham Palace, for which
they were surrounded by a dozen police, held for ages searched and
threatened with arrest for climbing up one of the Queens trees!
Fantastic News! Simon Chapman and the rest of the Thessaloniki
7 were released on 26 Nov at 4pm Greek time. Their hunger strike
has ended after between 49 and 66 days. Given their extremely frail
health condition they will stay in hospital for at least another
5-7 days to recover. The 7 were released without bail and under
the following conditions: They are not to leave Greece before the
trial, and the 3 Greeks should present themselves to a police station
twice a month. The Council of Judges ruled for their release after
the District Attorney in Athens ordered doctors to force feed
the hunger strikers. That move turned turned public opinion
against the state. People were outraged at a decision that reeked
of totalitarianism. The media started putting pressure on the government,
and even members of the governing PASOK party came out to demand
the release of the 7. The solidarity movement in Greece also put
great pressure on the government, with lots of occupations, demonstrations,
actions and publicity. Also, once word got out that the prisoners
only had a week to live even the mainstream media began to take
an interest. The coverage of this issue compared to that of the
plane spotters (remember them?) was virtually non-existent
despite overwhelming evidence that they had been. The Greek authorities
and justice system have been made to look totally ridiculous, with
clear video and photographic evidence being widely circulated. 28
European parliament members called for the prisoners release
and Amnesty International have called for an independent inquiry.
Indymedia Athens stated: This is a victory of the struggle
for dignity and freedom by the 5 hunger strikers, of the other 2
prisoners, but as well the thousands of people that stood up for
them all over the world! It is an outright defeat for the Greek
state-repression complex, and for the global anti-terror
mechanisms. Our passion for freedom was stronger than their prisons.
So you thought we lived in a democracy, where local opinion and
due process count? Well, Deputy PM John Prescott has overruled a
public inquiry, which rejected the building of a primate brain vivisection
lab in Cambridge, and in his wisdom has given it the go-ahead. Of
course this has absolutely nothing to with the fact that the lab
was backed by biotech entrepreneur Lord Sainsbury who happens to
be the Science Minister and a multi-million pound donor to the Neo-Labour
The primate lab will supposedly investigate brain disorders in
humans, but the science is highly questionable and the practice
extremely cruel. Monkeys will be deliberately brain damaged for
use as models of human disease, but all this will tell
us is how brain damaged monkeys behave. There are other more direct
ways to study brain disease such as MRI scans, computerized modeling,
cellular research and clinical observation but these are short of
funds, while vivisection is given massive government funding. As
the inspector at the Public Enquiry said: It would be a stronger
argument to say that it is nationally important [for Cambridge University]
to catch up on alternative forms of research to that employing animals.
Stop Primate Experiments at Cambridge 0845 330 7985 www.primateprison.org
SchNEWS in Brief
- Tom Hurdnall, an International Solidarity Movement volunteer
was shot by the IOF leaving him brain dead and on a life support
machine. After waiting 5 months for some recompense from the Israeli
government for expenses incurred, Toms family finally received
a cheque. Thing was, the cheque bounced! If theyre that
skint maybe they should stop building that wall. Thatll
save them a few quid.
- Colombia Solidarity Campaign have organized a Conference next
Saturday (6th) Resist the Multinational Empire - The Coca
Cola Boycott. Its at SOAS, Russell Sq., London Tel:
07743 743O41 www.colombiasolidarity.org.uk
- Looking for a Christmas present for your nan? The 5th Manchester
Radical Bookfair is taking place 6th December, Bridge 5 Mill,
22a Beswick Street, Ancoats. www.radicalbookfair.org.uk/
- Are you an office temp fed up with being exploited by profit-making
agency scum? Then get along to a meeting to discuss establishing
a workers co-op for temps next Friday (5th) 7.30pm at the Autonomy
Club, Freedom Bookshop, 84B Whitechapel High Street, London E1
- The Fourth World War - the untold story of the current
global conflict across five continents is showing next
Wednesday 3rd 9pm at the Other Cinema, 11 Rupert Street, London
W1 £7/5 020 7437 0757 www.indymedia.org.uk
- Mark Curtis will be talking about his new book Web of
Deceit next Thursday 4th, 6pm at the Cowley Club, 12 London
Road, Brighton. The book tells how Blairs warmongering and
disregard for international law is nothing new - with chapters
on Britains wars in Malaya, Kenya, Iraq and elsewhere. Free.
- A Glasgow Anarchist Dayschool is happening on 13th December
at Annexe, 9a Stewartville St, Partick. For more info www.nocog.org/~autonomy/dayschool.html
- Two peace protesters have been found guilty of helping to break
open the gates of RAF Fairford, the base US planes used to bomb
the people of Iraq. They were ordered to pay the MoD £500
compensation and were given a 2 year conditional discharge. www.bristol.indymedia.org
- Theres going to be another Aspire Squatted Social Space
happening from 5-14th December in Leeds. For location and events
nearer the time www.a-spire.org.uk
- London Rising Tide recently had a busy day haranguing BP bosses,
trashing the companys we care about the environment
greenwash. Outside the Royal Albert Hall a new think-tank,
the Foundation for the Advancement of Big Oil, told people attending
the conference: Who needs human rights - all we need is
rights to OIL! If you want to get involved in actions during
next months governmental Climate Change Conference in Milan call
Rising Tide on 01865 241 097 www.risingtide.org.uk/
- Actions continue against Bayer Crop Science who are desperate
for GM food to be grown in Britain. After a noise demo outside
their offices in Newbury a fortnight ago, last week 35 people
paid a visit to their HQ in Cambridge. To get involved - www.stopbayergm.org/
- London Earth First! is holding a meeting to discuss Bayer next
Monday 1st at the Autonomy
Club, Freedom Bookshop, 84B Whitechapel High Street, London E1
- Entwoods Forest protest camp was celebrating this week after
plans to destroy it so hotels could be built there were thrown
out by the Dutch high court. Activists intend to stay in the forest
for the moment as the company involved, Efteling, has not yet
decided what to do. www.groenfront.nl
The European Social Forum ended in Paris last Saturday. It was
a meeting point for thousands that had mobilised all over Europe
in the past year in anti-capitalist demos, anti-EU demos and the
worldwide anti-war demos.
There were talks on the struggles against privatisation, GATS,
and freedom of movement. The ESF also provided the platform to call
for Europe-wide anti-war demonstrations in March and demonstrations
in May against the new European constitution.
But the ESF was also rife with friction. Some were suspicious about
the organisers and felt that groups such as the CGT trade union
and communist parties wanted to use the anti-capitalist movement
for parliamentary power and reformism. These suspicions were compounded
by the fact the ESF received money from local councils and the state.
All the plenary meetings were mass meetings with experts
enlightening the crowd. The young anti-capitalist movement, inspired
by ideas of autonomy and non-heirarchical participation, saw the
arthritic hand of the old left trying to seize its momentum.
In response to the old lefts domination of the ESF alternative
spaces sprang up. The Libertarian Social Forum, organised by anarchist
groups and unions, ran parallel to the ESF and offered a range of
workshops. However, it was too isolated from the ESF, exclusive,
and there were rarely any translations! The most inspiring space
was GLAD, an autonomous space within the ESF. Self-determination
and participation were put into practice with workshops, collective
kitchens and direct action. This lifted GLAD above the rest of the
Disobedience even seeped into the demonstration on Saturday where
amidst the 80,000 protesters there was an unnerving presence of
flag-waving old left parties. The presence of the repressive Parti
Socialiste was too much for some, who showered them with plastic
bottles till they skulked off. The week culminated in fireworks
as 300 met on Saturday night in front of a prison united under the
joyous theme of Lets burn down all the prisons.
After a week of friction between mass meetings and self-organised
workshops, between elitist organisation and transparent self-management,
between talk and action, between State support and autonomy, GLAD
shows the radical possibilities of the ESF. See: www.fse-esf.org
*Guess what? The ESF comes to London next year and has been hijacked
by the Socialist Workers Party, Globalise Resistance and the
Mayor of London. Grassroots activists have formed a Democratise
the ESF group and are urging activists, community groups,
unions etc, to attend the ESF Process meetings in December. Contact:
Callers ringing up Miami cop shop to complain about police tactics
during the Trade Area of the Americas demonstrations were dealt
with in the sympathetic manner wed expect from a tin pot dictatorship.
One man was transferred four times before speaking to a cop who
was clearly annoyed with people calling in to complain. First
of all, where are you from? When the caller replied North
Carolina, the cop asked what North Carolina had to do with Miami.
When the caller said that he had participated in the demonstrations
and was calling to lodge a complaint he was then asked if he paid
Miami taxes. When the caller replied no, he was told Then
what makes you think anybody in Miami gives a flying fuck what you
have to say?! and cut off!
SchNEWS warns all readers were too bushed for any more
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