Hello everyone, (Feel free to share this
with other people.)
While I write this message, helicopters fly overhead with search
lights, as Starhawk explains the strengthens of the movement for
justice in a debrief in the background behind me at the convergence
center (A fortified warehouse North of Miami's downtown area).
We are under medium risk for arrest. Today, the folks who were doing
jail support became the targets of a police action. (Star just said
that yesterday's action helped her lose 5 lbs. and we laughed) :)
So far, over 130 activists have been arrested including some
internationals and juveniles.
Yesterday was one of the most outrageous displays of police brutality
that I have ever seen. Many, including Starhawk commented on the
severity of aggression and the "deadness" of area around
action. The action started out as a typical march with the black
in front and various groups from the eco bloc to Root Cause walking
peacefully behind them toward the hotels.
Some overexcited black bloc folks tried to pull down the fence and
was on with the police from that point. The riot police line had
pushed us toward the Bay Front area of Miami and were beginning
surround us. One friend called me from Phoenix to say he saw us
live. The front line folks were being pepper-sprayed and sound bombed
as the whole country watched.
Unlike the rest of the country, Miami was treated to this TV coverage
for most of the day. Like one long car chase, the press commented
police tactics and protester responses. What is very ironic was
there was a break for a permitted protest from the morning's action.
So, police watched as thousands of AFL-CIO and other labor
organizations paraded into an ampitheater for a rally and march.
Everyone was searched on their way into the ampitheater.
The cluster took advantage of the break and started a street dance
eventually became the Living River that joined the labor march in
midstream. At about 4:30 PM the non-stop coverage began of the next
action. This time the black bloc received a real dose of brutal
tactics. Rubber bullets were fired and tazors were used on even
injured. 10 people were hospitalized and 140 injured.
The police action escalated as the black bloc retreated putting
baracades of their own and setting fire to a dumpster in the middle
The FTAA talks ended a day early with Friday becoming a day of
connection and reconstitution for the movement. One action included
Really Really Really Free Trade Zone where everything was free.
locals loved the Food Not Bombs food and the various offerings from
allied groups. The Rainbow Gathering folks have really made their
on the counter culture. Permaculture living is just one of the many
alternatives to unsustainable mainstream consumption that I saw
Well, I'm off to the SOA tomorrow morning. Hope the weather is nice
In peace and light,
Date: Sat, 22 Nov 2003 18:42:38 -0700
From: Kyrsten Sinema
Subject: More about Miami
It wasn't just the Black Bloc that "received
a real dose of brutal
police tactics." Members of our own Phoenix affinity group
sprayed directly in the face with pepper spray; we were shoved,
intimidated, shot with rubber bullets, and hit with tear gas canisters.
Contrary to mainstream media portrayals, those of us at both the
morning and afternoon protests on Thursday witnessed widespread
brutality that dehumanized protesters. Peaceful protesters, legal
observers, journalists, and reporters were all subjected to the
totally indiscriminate brutality. The black bloc DID NOT start fights
with the police -- the police were the aggressors from the beginning,
shoving protesters with batons, then beating protesters, then taser
gunning people in the crowd and launching rubber bullets, pepper
and tear gas into the crowds, hitting ALL sorts of people.
The brutality didn't begin with black bloc
attempting to pull down the
fence. It started several days before, when the puppet makers'
workshop was raided and puppets and innocent people's personal
belongings were destroyed, when pagans (and others) on the ground
week early who had not committed any crimes were "picked off"
in the middle of the street, and when police literally covered the
streets of downtown Miami in "ninja" riot gear for days,
all who walked by. There was a clear plan from the beginning to
down" on protesters, and boy, did they ever.
On Thursday morning, the brutality began
not via protesters' actions,
but when the police decided to spray the crowd with pepper spray
launch sound bombs that sounded like gunfire. As my "protest
and I were singing and spiraling in the pagan's circle only 5 rows
from the police line (which was over 25 rows thick), we noticed
police were putting on additional gear beneath their plastic face
shields. We noticed one officer with a megaphone talking to his
"troops," presumably preparing them for what came about
later -- the launching of the first round of pepper spray. This
not in response to violent behavior from protesters, as we were
there near the front of the protesting crowd. This was in response
orders to fire. From there on out for the rest of our stay, we
experienced, witnessed, and heard about continuing police repression
If you saw mainstream media coverage that
was anything like Miami's
local coverage, you got gipped. That coverage completely
misrepresented what really happened.
It was brutal.
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 13:52:30 -0500 (EST)
Jeremy and i are in Ohio now, trying to sort
out the events of the week. We
have this strong sense of having traveled between and through very
worlds - from airplanes to the streets to the upscale apartment
we slept in
to a community garden back to the airplane and into the family's
thanksgiving weekend. We've also traveled other kinds of worlds,
anxiety to anger to sadness to joy and much more.
It is difficult to explain what i experienced,
so i will just try to put
down a few thoughts...
Tuesday night we arrived in Miami and went
straight to the convergence
center. It was a dizzying array of people and information, an opposite
environment from the airport we had just left. There were all kinds
different people - young, old, anarchists, union-organizers, greens,
and so much more. Over a hundred people were sitting in a circle,
important decisions, using consensus. It was hot and smelly and
incredibly well. i was thinking that in my imagination, cooperation
totally smooth and easy since we all came for this one purpose (stop
FTAA from happening) and from all the things i had heard about this
movement. It was not streamlined, however, and at times it was frustrating,
but then i realized that this is so much better, this was real,
comes not from a single note, but the interplay of multiple notes,
together to make a powerful symphony.
And a powerful symphony we were in the streets
- we danced and sang and
gardened and prepared food and gave away our possessions and talked
laughed and cried. And for our honesty, our dedication, even our
shit, we met with incredible resistance. The police, armed with
war dollars, blocked, brutalized, detained and dehumanized us. This
part, though, i think was their goal, but not their success.
Just as their first tear gas shots missed
their mark as the wind blew the
smoke back into their faces, their efforts to humiliate and dehumanize
flew back with the wind. Thousands of troops, with covered faces
bodies, with matching weapons and postures, the police in Miami
self-determination, individuality and beauty. These things were
weapons we possessed and if we could have shared them, we would
Whatever you may have heard in the media
or elsewhere, we never resorted to
using their dehumanizing methods. Some, in the midst of anger, yelled
cursed the police. Despite attempts to provoke violence by undercover
police, what happened in those streets was thousands stood, danced,
chanted in the streets with puppets, drums and joy on their faces.
we received pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets (some as big
apples) and tasers. I've heard of all of these weapons before, but
misnamed, they are not "non-lethal" crowd control tools,
they are "less
lethal", they are brutal. i personally witnessed blood streaming
young woman's head, the traumatic anguish on a young guy's face
as we showed
us his chest with no less than 4 wounds from rubber bullets, a timid
had trouble walking because his hip was injured by rubber bullets,
tear-filled eyes and bright-red burning skin on the faces of so
hacking and coughing into the night after so many lungs took in
toxic gases, and one of my best friends wore what looked like a
hickey on his neck from a rubber bullet.
This were not a response to the violence
of anarchists, this was purely
brutal preemptive striking on human beings trying to express their
for a just, compassionate and beautiful world, a world that would
"why did you provoke the police?" any more than it would
ask "why did you
provoke your husband to beat you?"
Even as my heart is aching as i think about
those of us in jail right now,
those young, scared (especially those of color and transgendered)
were beaten up by police (i should add that they also arrested some
folks who never saw it coming and had an agreement with police to
a situation), i feel strongly that my energy should not all be spent
spread the terrible news of police actions. Though the police and
ability to use chemical weapons on us is very important, it is critical
share the pieces i found throughout Miami which are the world i
want to live
There was the man who took his son to the
Community Garden and pointed out
many of us after chatting with us about why were there and telling
"See, these people are not the bad people they say they are
There was the absolute joy on the streets.
For me, it was especially
poignant as we spiral danced, singing "We are the rising of
the moon, we are
the shifting of the ground, we are the seed that takes root as we
Meeting up unexpectedly with old friends
and finding new ones.
The Really, Really, Really Free Market that
we held on Friday in the park.
We gave away and traded all sorts of things. Many exchanged "Fairy
hand-made cash which you fill in with something to give it value,
learning something new or singing a song or finding hope. From the
gave the socks off his feet to free hugs and smiles to skill-swapping,
music-making to the "Give a Shit for the Revolution" mobile
toilet, i was overwhelmed by joy like none i'd felt before.
What if the world was all one Really, Really,
Really Free Market? It is sad
that this thought may never cross so many minds. At the same time,
still trying just to wrap my mind around new ways of thinking, living,
being. i have an enormous amount of hope. i have to believe we can
a world where no one is exploited, left wanting while others live
where chemical weapons and torture are an option for any reason
at any time.
Such a world would never negotiate a Free Trade Area of the Americas.
agreement as currently articulated would not even be an option.
Globalization would be a fair and just undertaking, one about exchanging
ideas and cooperating to accomplish the goals to strengthen our
not our pocketbooks. Farmers wouldn't starve or commit suicide.
action and debates would be a sign of the vitality of community,
threat to security. And so many other things that my single mind
imagine would be so. This is not idealism, this is necessary. We
stop quelching our dreams for the sake of perpetuating current reality.
In the spirit of a new and just world, these
words cannot be owned and are
free to be shared or used by any who feel moved to use them.
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 18:52:30 -0800 (PST)
From: Sue Hilderbrand
Subject: Update from Miami - This is not what democracy looks like.
As I write this my lungs remain heavy from breathing tear gas. As
this my mind still cannot grasp how one human being can throw pepper
directly into the face of a fellow human being. As I write this
understand how my government can justify going to war in Iraq using
argument that its dictator used chemical weapons against his own
that is exactly what the US government did this week in Miami, Florida.the
frustrating part is that, through my tax dollars, I paid for both
I am a bit overwhelmed and shaken by the
events that took place, and are
still taking place, in Miami as a result of the meetings to negotiate
Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Many experienced activists
have reported that they have never seen such police repression against
peaceful protesters. I think this indicates this agreement is rather
important to those folks that have the power and resources to ensure
the meetings are successful. The question the ask ourselves: Who
from these negotiations?
At this time I am still sifting through all
of the emotions churning in my
body so I will simply report the facts, as I see them. I will save
"lessons learned" for another time when I am able to more
them. Simply focusing on the first day of major direct action, Thursday,
hope to provide some facts that are not included in the reports
corporate media. Although many significant actions by the police
in the days, weeks, and months prior to the actual days of protest,
example the police removed the coconuts from all of the palm trees
could not be used as projectiles (is this "preemptive"
or just paranoia?), I
will try to report only on the days of direct action/civil disobedience.
Beginning on Thursday morning, the plan is
to meet at the Government Center
at exactly 7 am, organize or "plug-in", and march to the
protecting the trade ministers from the people. Now, believing that
protesters will arrive at exactly the appointed time is somewhat
but it more or less happened. The reason for the demand for punctuality
resulted from the fact that the police in riot gear (not to mention
cops, the beat cops, and the rent-a-cops) outnumbered the tens of
of protestors. The concern for the safety of a small number of people
the Miami environment dictated we all arrive together.
Unlike in Cancun, where we slowly arrived
throughout the day in to avoid
suspicion, the pagan cluster met early far from the meeting place
organize transportation, leave and arrive at Government Center at
time. Our safety depended on our numbers. At the first meeting place,
taro reading suggested success would not come easily or even be
identify, a driving route was planned, and cars were filled. Our
weaved through the streets of Miami, avoiding obvious check points
police were stopping cars and forcing drivers to show identification
declaring reasons for being in the area), responding to newly assembled
barricades, and making our way to the periphery of downtown. The
excitement allowed acute senses to notice everything while we reminded
other to remain calm and breathe deeply.
The caravan broke up in groups of threes
and fours in order to find parking.
Then, the groups of people would walk to the meeting spot. On our
were filmed by the police that literally lined every street within
blocks of Government Center. I focused on my breath and reminded
visions of another world, a world that does not require armies of
keep the people away from where decisions are made that directly
their lives. Some younger kids, many dressed all in black with bandanas
covering their faces, suggested I cover my face as well (I thought,
naively, that I do not need to cover my face as I do not plan to
that is not protected by the Constitution). I smiled at the police,
and hoped that they could see past their military-style training
and see to
As we arrived at the meeting point, we joined
the large crowd that had
already gathered and joined in the spiral dance. We sang.
We are sweet waters, we are the sea,
We are the storm winds that blow away greed,
We are the new world we bring to birth,
A river rising to reclaim the earth.
The gathering crowd included labor unions,
environmentalists, social justice
groups, Americans, international, artists, poor folks, middle-class
dark-skinned people, light-skinned people, etc. etc. etc. The crowd
included all who would be negatively effected by the FTAA. The crowd
also littered with giant puppets, including a composting toilet
a puppet (creative movement, or what?). The crowd was colorful and
and passionate. The chants of the Radical Cheerleaders were
thought-provoking and picked up by the crowd:
Disease and starvation, will not be solved
Get off it,
The enemy is profit.
The crowd of thousands began to move toward
the Intercontinental Hotel where
the meetings were taking place. I guess some could argue that a
thousands may be threatening. However, I would just remind us that
People have the right to assemble and speak our minds, as protected
Constitution. Also, some food for thought, if such a diverse group
the need to assemble and speak its collective mind in reaction to
negotiations, wouldn't that suggest the negotiations do not have
People's interests at heart?
As the crowd moved, the streets became a
carnival of puppets and people and
colors. The marching band played, people danced in the streets.
crowd stopped only after a few blocks of walking. There was a sense
being directionless. The sunrise street party continued as affinity
and spokescouncils talked amongst themselves in order to make decisions.
I took this opportunity to meet the predominantly
dark skinned men that
stood on the front line, clad in riot gear, and carrying batons
the size of
baseball bats. They stood shoulder to shoulder protecting the very
institution that promoted darker skinned people doing the dirty
somewhere outside of my body, maybe from the gods or goddesses,
spoke through my heart and came out of my mouth. I walked the police
and spoke to these men that towered over me by at least a foot.
them in the eyes and explained that we are here to speak on behalf
environment, to demand fair trade as opposed to free trade, and
to shine a
light on the undemocratic nature of these talks.
I told these men that we are here for the
future generations, for their
health and safety of their children, and I invited them to join
us. I also
pointed out that human beings don't really want to beat each other
that they could see us as people and not the enemy. "The enemy
I finally pointed out, as many looked back into my eyes, that they
dark skin, not really a coincidence. As I turned to find my affinity
I realized I was surrounded by media cameras and a microphone was
face. [A friend later reported he saw me on a local news station
only saying "We love you" and suggested I sounded sarcastic.
I wonder why
my observations of the apparent dark-skin-only rule didn't get
reported.hmmmmm?] A reporter asked if I thought this would make
difference. I guess it won't make any noticeable difference today
may give those human being dressed in scary riot gear something
about. And besides, what are my
alternatives than to appeal directly to another's humanity?
Returning to my affinity group and cluster,
the spokes agreed to move closer
to the barricades. The police line had retreated somewhat and we
closer. The atmosphere was extremely tense for no apparent reason.
it was the stations of rifle-touting, darth vader-looking men in
pickers that surrounded us. Maybe it was the fear of the police
approached. Regardless, we decided a spiral dance would help shift
the energy of all present. Our peaceful singing and dancing invited
of people working the energy, to focus on non-violent resistance,
Knowing that many in my group were new to
major mobilizations, I felt
somewhat responsible for their safety. We reminded each other that
about 15 seconds once tear gas is shot into a crowd, we reminded
to walk and not run. We remind each other of our purpose.we are
winds that blow away greed.
The energy remained nervous despite our efforts
and word came through the
crowd that the police quietly announced we must disperse. For peacefully
protesting? Two loud bangs broke through our concentration. Concussion
grenades. Another blast and then smoke. Screams of "don't run"
people to stay calm as they pulled on their goggles and gas masks.
Michael and I grabbed hands and slowly moved away, along with the
As the smoke cleared, we regrouped. Water
and food was passed around the
crowd, which was smaller than it has previously been. Not only was
crowd smaller than before, but it was significantly smaller than
the army of
police. We were no threat to their safety or the safety of the meetings
taking place inside. Affinity groups checked for injuries that may
occurred. The crowd was unsure of what to do, especially since our
non-violent protests were being met with such violence. We simply
hold space until the labor march started in the area hours later.
wanted our grievances known to those within the talks and those
know nothing of these talks and how the talks would effect the lives
people throughout the western hemisphere (except Cuba.huh?).
As we stood peacefully and somewhat dazed,
the police line charged. The
marching band continued to play and the crowd attempted to hold
the space by
standing together. As the police pushed with their shields the small
attempted to stand together, though with no avail. Suddenly, I was
the face with a chemical that began to burn my skin. I was frightened.
was shocked. I realized I had been hit with pepper spray. I told
was in pain and he grabbed his water bottle to rinse my face. The
actually caused more burning and my right eye was filled with the
We moved back as the crowd became frazzled. I was in severe pain
street medic cleaned my eye with a solution of Maalox to neutralize
burning. I thanked the medic for his help, and his response came
you for doing the hard work".
I suddenly realized that my pain was minor
compared to Starhawk, Elizabeth,
Debra, and John who all received a direct dose in their eyes, nose,
and upper bodies. My confusion turned to utter rage. My government
chemical weapons on a peaceful crowd. The hypocrisy. The shameless
to suppress the voice of the people. The nerve of a "democratic"
use such weapons against people that are simply exercising all of
and guarantees indicative of a democracy.
We moved back further, changed clothes, washed
out each others eyes, ensured
all were accounted for, and discussed what to do next. As a cluster
in the shade and shared food. The group of 20-30 people decided
to support the labor march that was to take place in a couple of
knew that the Living River would arrive soon so we could be part
parade. In the meantime, we could relax, rehydrate, and focus.
The Living River has been carried in many
parades, made of about 20 pairs of
people carrying long strips of blue and green transparent cloth
fish. The effect is that of a beautiful river flowing down the street.
purpose of the Living River is to highlight the Cochabamba Declaration
http://www.starhawk.org/activism/cochabamba-dec.html for more information).
Briefly, as a result of the water delivery services being privatized
Cochabamba, Bolivia, the price of water was so inflated that the
spending the bulk of their income on clean water. The people in
rebelled, took back the water and wrote the Declaration which states
to water is a basic human right.
The Living River is quite beautiful causing
onlookers to wave and take
photos. We carried the river and chanted:
F-T-A-A, we say No!
Don't privatize the water,
Let the river flow!
Even the riot cops smiled and waved as we
passed by. I wondered, but
doubted, if the riot cops realized that we were the very same people
they had just tear gassed and used pepper spray to disperse. I wondered
they could fathom that these beautiful women and men carrying the
River in a permitted labor march could also be capable of participating
acts of non-violent civil disobedience. The thought that we were
compartmentalized into "good" protester and "bad"
protester made me sad as
there really is no distinction.
As we neared the end of the march at about
3:30, the cluster decided to
lounge around in the grass and wait until the next gathering at
5 pm. The
Pagan & Anarchist Masquerade Ball would begin at the Torch of
just a few blocks away. The masquerade ball was planned as another
non-violent act of civil disobedience. We would gather in the streets
wearing masks decorated as various environmental elements, e.g.
idea is that the people in the meetings are parading around in masks
democracy, when in fact, they are just the disguised self-interests
However, the masquerade ball never took place.
Out of nowhere the police
announced that this was an illegal gathering (I remind you that
this was a
permitted march) but that we could stay as long it remained non-violent.
The marching band began to play and move toward one of the police
this line, they stopped and continued to play. The crowd, being
by this unplanned event, moved toward the band. Police back-up rushed
the line. Suddenly, they began to push. The crowd attempted to hold
space. Seth, Michael, Yarrow, Christian, and I moved toward the
at the front of the crowd.
A battle broke out, except only the police
were fighting. Tear gas was
shot, pepper spray was thrown. I was hit again but not as badly
The crowd retreated as it really had no plan. The police moved forward
pushing the crowd. Christian and Yarrow were both hit in the face
pepper spray. I guided Yarrow by the hand to find relief for the
Ruby appeared with a bottle of Maalox. Then, the rubber bullets
fly. People began to scream and run. Don't run, walk. Mayhem. Where
go? Where is my affinity group? Where are Kyrsten, Blue, Jeremy,
hope they are safe.
We found the cluster and the rest of our
affinity group. Disoriented. What
should we do? We must stay together and stay calm. Of course, we
Hold on, hold on,
Hold the vision that's being born.
Our singing calms the crowd and they begin
to sing too. Everyone is holding
hands and walking. The police continue to follow and push people
ground. One man is kicked by the police and his friends grab him
him to his feet. A woman walks by with a look of shock on her face.
is holding a bloody rag to her head. A rubber bullet shot off her
find out that Blue was hit with a tear gas canister and Kyrsten's
received a rubber bullet. Blue and Kyrsten were sitting on the grass
from the police line when they were hit. The police were embedded
crowd and were shooting at everyone regardless of their behavior.
We moved through the streets singing, and
trying to decide what to do. The
police followed and began blocking all artery streets. I expected
arrested. As long as we stay together we would be arrested together,
could use jail solidarity to get out. The police followed and the
helicopters appeared overhead. Nowhere to go. We continued to moved
the three parked cars nearby. We watched for the police and got
people into the vehicles as the other people would begin to walk.
was that the cars would return for the rest.
By the time my car arrived at the original
meeting place, all of the cluster
has gotten rides. As each person entered the house, their name was
off the list. No one in our cluster had been arrested during the
We watched the news and found that the story was not being reported
accurately. We were angry but not surprised. A report came that
convergence space would be raided. Several people left to negotiate
the police but found that the news station was reporting a rumor.
returned to the house.
A large dinner was prepared and we ate and
recounted the day. We knew we
had another big day coming as our cluster was responsible for the
Really Free Market and Roving Bizarre. We were collectively shocked
police violence and repression. We were angry and confused. The
correct, it was difficult to find our successes this day.
I apologize for the length of this description.
So many shocking events
took place on Thursday alone. I will save a description of Friday
Once again, the group from Phoenix that went
to Miami would like to
personally share its experiences. Please let any one of us know
if you are
interested in have us give a presentation.
In peace and solidarity,