WTO - Building bridges in Seattle: Activists & Reformers Must

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 30 Nov 1999 23:06:31 -0800 (PST)

Subject: Building bridges in Seattle: Activists and Reformers
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 1999 21:21:03 -0800

FWD  From the  Independent Media Center Nov. 30

Montreal activist Philippe Duhamel warns that direct action activists and
broader-based reform groups must find common ground in orde to build an
effective long term movement. Duhamel trained activists in civil
disobedience before anti-MAI protests led to the blockade of a Montreal
hotel and the defeat of the Multilateral Agreement on Investments.

Philippe Duhamel, of the Montreal-based group Sal-AMI, says that Seattle's
protesters divide themselves between a "civil disobedience subculture" and
labor, faith or environmental reform advocates. The two camps are separated
not  so much by politics as by strategy: policy reform groups may stay out
of the  streets, leaving young, committed crowds to encounter police and
violence alone.

"We need a continuum of actions, each one reinforcing the other," he  said.
"We need people inside feeding information to people on the streets, so
they can be more effective" in their actions.

In Montreal, Duhamel put  activists through a five-hour training on legal
issues, months before  representatives of 29 countries met to plan
ratification of the MAI. He notes  that Seattle's anti-WTO organizing has
been done on a shorter-term basis. "You  have to prepare people for the
worst and hope for the best," he says. "That's  the only way."

After the protests, Duhamel's group built bridges to the  labor movement,
recruiting union locals to endorse direct action tactics. He  says that
Montreal's civil disobedience had participation from people of all  ages
and backgrounds. In Seattle, "it's obvious to me that we need more
mainstreaming of direct action."

Direct action, Duhamel says, is any form  of "taking action yourself
instead of asking corporations to do it. It could be  as simple as feeding
the poor. But it tries to go at the root of  things."

"Civil disobedience is in its infancy,"says Duhamel. "We are  still
experimenting with it."

Duhamel commented just before a nonviolent  environmental protest devolved
[sic] into destruction of property at a  McDonald's storefront on Third
Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle. -  Adam Holdorf

[One main organizer of the MacDonalds protest was quoted on NPR regarding
the  MacDonalds action: "A little glass came down". BrightSpirit is in
Seattle and  says there has been very little violence among the 100,000 or
so  demonstrators. The only violence she saw was by the police (who beat
folks  with clubs, sprayed them with pepper spray and tear gas and fired
rubber bullets  at their backs as they dispersed all because some cars
couldn't drive through  downtown Seattle for a while). Some of us in the
non-violent civil disobediance  movement don't consider destruction of
property violence, by the way. But  globalloney kills. Chrys]

From: Chrysalis Farm at Tolstoy
Growers  of Organic Produce Practicing Sustainable Agriculture
Chrysalis and  BrightSpirit, Partners
33495 Mill Canyon Rd.
Davenport, WA 99122
(509)  725-0610
Our  Website: Look for it soon at:
"History  might have been very
different if Karl Marx had been
able to send  e-mails". (BBC)


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