The system will point guns at people and say that it is in defense of the system. People can point guns at the system and it is seen as wrong, leading people to believe that when the system points guns at people it is in the right of defense but when folks point guns at the system it is in defense of nothing....
-- John Africa The Judge's Letter
According to published reports, the planned meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) was "marred by violence," wreaked by "thugs," "anarchists" and "hooligans." The danger of such mainstream media reports, however, is in the reliance upon police, and government, sources to prepare such material. In a mass action such as the Seattle anti-WTO marches, police are hardly neutral sources, for they are, in essence, combatants.
Isn't it simply fair to present both sides?
Jim Desyllas, a college student from Portland, reported via pay phone to Internet typists who sent his observations around the world. His eyewitness account is, to say the least, enlightening. The following are excerpts:
...[T]he government instigated a "riot" to discredit the movement
against the WTO because they couldn't dilute it. I am not guessing about
this. I was there. I saw it happening. And I will tell you I am frankly
shocked to see, close up, just how little our leaders care what happens to
ordinary people. Clinton can pose and speak a lot of flowery stuff but the
truth is we are nothing to them. I saw this with my own eyes....
Desyllas' report, dated late November and early December 1999,
recounts the "aggressive non-violence" of the anti-WTO marchers, and
compares the single breaking of a McDonald's storefront window favorably to
what occurs at a "typical rock concert." Police used that instance to
launch their attacks against the people:
A small group, maybe 100 people total, struck back. Then these cops
herded that group around the city, making sure there were plenty of photo
ops of "violent protesters." A number of times they had these 100 or so
protesters caught between buildings and walls of police. They could easily
have arrested and detained this small number of people and gotten it over
with. Instead they would gas them and let them go.... When you gas a
person, let me tell you, it gets them fighting mad. Tuesday night the
police gassed all of downtown. This was going on from 3 p.m. till 6 p.m.
Gas everywhere. The kids broke a few windows-McD's, Starbucks-small
stuff-burned a few garbage cans. The police were using these people as
extras. It was staged. I believe also the police had their own people in
there, encouraging people to break stuff. If people think I may be
exaggerating, I saw supposed protesters-they were screaming and so on-and
then later, when everything was over, the same people tackled other
protestors and put handcuffs on them.
I bet this report didn't get covered in the corporate media, huh?
Meanwhile, protestors, even those who were "aggressively nonviolent" were
violently gassed, kicked, beat and shot by "peace officers." Is a "rubber"
bullet a nonviolent bullet? People in Northern Ireland certainly don't
think so, for there, 14 people were killed-7 children-by "rubber" bullets.
In Seattle, Desyllas witnessed a cop shoot a man in the mouth, breaking out
his front teeth. Do you remember a headline, a TV story, or a radio report
calling these violent cops "thugs" or "hooligans"? I thought not. How then
can the corporate media be trusted? And who is truly "violent"-one who
attacks property, or those who hurt people?
Similarly, wire reports claimed a "minor explosion" in Zurich was
caused by a so-called Mumia Support Group there. Doesn't this sound
What's the point of this? It ain't in our interest, and sounds
suspiciously like state efforts to undermine a popular, nonviolent movement.
Moreover, bombs ain't our way, but it is the way of the state, as shown in
Iraq, in Sudan, in Afghanistan, and in Philadelphia in 1985. This system
viciously bombed babies on May 13, 1985 with utter impunity-not
buildings-but the bodies of babies, and calls us "violent"?
Kids in Seattle break half a dozen windows and the media labels all
protestors as "violent." Cops beat, gas, shoot and kick several hundred
people, and the media reports they "acted with restraint." Cops masquerade
as protestors, and the media is silent. This same media reports a group
most of us have never heard of detonated a "minor explosion" in Zurich.
Sounds like the latest incarnation of Cointelpro, doesn't it?
Our belief is not in bombs, but as you read these words bombs are
still being dropped by U.S. planes over Iraq, not on buildings, but on
people. To quote Dr. Martin Luther King, America is "the greatest purveyor
of violence in the world today."