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[Nettime-bold] prague-update #001

IMF/World Bank Meeting
22-29 september @ prague/cz

[1] next coordination meeting
[2] accomodation: camping at a stadium
[3] ministry of interiour gives advice to czech people
[4] legal information on demonstrations in cze
[5] 11.000 cops at prague
[6] Pre-Convention Coverage Whitewashes Police Violence,
    Distorts Activists' Agendas

---------- [1]

The next international coordinating meeting for the September actions in
Prague will be held from the 18th to the 20th of August in Prague.

This meeting will serve as an information exchange as well as a forum for
strategic coordination of all aspects of the September actions.  In
addition to working group breakout sessions, other agenda items will be
determined via e-mail suggestions.  We invite anyone interested to
contribute to the agenda formulation; please send ideas to or

In order to maintain some continuity and regional representation, we would
like to invite groups that took part in the last international meeting in
June.  However, if you could not make the last international meeting and
you would like to get involved, please let us know.  Since time will be
limited, all groups and mobilising collectives are encourage to have
meetings before coming to Prague to develop clear ideas about what should
be discusses as well as relevant questions.


Please be prepared to arrive ready to start for the morning of the 18th.

---------- [2]

     (Radio Prague  26.07.00)   Protesters to camp at Strahov stadium

Prague City Hall has agreed to  rent the country's largest athletic stadium,
Strahov, to serve as  accommodation for anti-globalisation activists who are
expected to arrive in  Prague in September to protest against the IMF/World
Bank annual meeting. The  Ministry of Interior will rent the stadium for one
month and will hire a  private company to set up a camp there for protesters.
Prague Mayor Jan Kasl  said that the decision did not mean the City Council
approved of the planned  protests, explaining that the solution was the best
in terms of public  safety. The stadium can accommodate up to 15,000 people.
The government  commissioner for the IMF/World Bank session, Zdenek Hruby,
described the  decision as reasonable and said it could significantly reduce
the risk of  conflict.

---------- [3]

Ministry gives advice how to behave during IMF/WB session

The Czech  Ministry of Interior has urged Prague citizens to pay increased
attention to  personal security during the IMF/World Bank session that is to
take place in  the city in September. The ministry advises people to avoid
suspicious  situations that could attract attention of the police and to
quickly leave  venues of suspicious gatherings. Also, the ministry suggests
that people do  not get involved in opinion exchange with protesters.
Ministry officials urge  the public to respect all police directions even if
these may limit personal  freedoms. The interior ministry also warns against
watching dramatic  developments from close distance, because the police will
not be able  discriminate when suppressing violence and riots.

---------- [4]

Following INPEGs legal victory,  the CZ authorities have been forced to
legalise some of the planned demonstrations.    This means that we have
the right to peaceful assembly in various places around the city, at various
times of the week.   Providing that we do not smash anything,  confront
the police or shout racist/fastest/communist slogans,  then in theory we
are completely within the law, and therefore the police would have no right
to attempt to disperse us.
We also have the right to gather spontaneously,  and CZ law is very vague
when it tries to define where people can and cant gather.   Theoretically,
  we can hold demos etc whenever,  where ever,  even on private land providing
it is not fenced off.    The same rights for spontaneous peaceful assembly
apply as those to the organized demos.   The police have little powers to
disperse anything peaceful,  and if they do,  we have the right to re assemble
in another location,  time and time again,  each assembly (provided it
the order etc) must be treated individually by the police.
There is no distinct definition of the term ëpeaceful protestí in the CZ
law,  but essentially it has been interpreted to mean not damaging property
or people,  and not disturbing or restricting other peoples freedom.
The lawyer holding the legal workshop ion Prague was convinced that peaceful
protest is our strongest weapon,  as the CZ law is not geared toward it,
  and therefore there are no legal precedents as to how to handle these

During the weeks of 20-28,  INPEG will organize a legal support group. which
will be staffed by students of law etc and a few human rights lawyers.
This support group will also be producing ëbust cardsí.  The first will
be to give to the police upon arrest,  telling them that you know your rights
and that you want a lawyer etc,  the second will be in English,   telling
you your rights and the numbers  for the support center.
However---[ in czech law it is prohibited to advertise as a lawyer!!  So
memorise the
lawyers phone number or write them down somewhere. Because if it was printed
large scale it could be seen as an advertising for a lawyer which is strictly
prohibited.  This would mean all supporting lawyers being arrested as well!!

---------- [5]

The Austrian newspaper reports that 11.000 czech
policemen should guarantee law and order during the imf/wb meeting in
september at prague. This number seems pretty high considering that around
20.000 to 30.000 protestors are expected. Not included in that number are
adivsers from FBI and the czech army. Furthermore--according to
derstandard--the czech police is *not really famos in their ability to
de-escalate*. Last month a group of environmetal activists, who tried to
prevent the nuclear plant at temelin from running were treated with

An even greater problem for the protestors might be the question of how to
travel to Prague. According to newspaper reports in the Austrian press,
there are nato-plans to station troops between the czech border and Prague
in order to prevent activists from passing through.

---------- [6]

Pre-Convention Coverage Whitewashes Police Violence, Distorts Activists'

July 25, 2000

Early coverage of the upcoming protests at the Republican and Democratic
national conventions has followed a familiar pattern: Mainstream media are
stoking fears about the potential for violence in Philadelphia and Los
Angeles by rewriting the actual history of police brutality at last year's
anti-WTO demonstrations in Seattle. In its place, media are developing a
mythology of dangerous protesters who, for unspecified reasons, violently
overpowered police.

"It is widely agreed that the Seattle police got out-foxed by better
organized protestors trying to shut down the World Trade Organization
meeting last year," reported NBC's Fred Francis in a story about the
conventions (Nightly News, 7/14/00). Francis went on to describe activists
who attended the "violent" Seattle demonstrations as a "battle-tested" force
"better trained than the LAPD for street violence."

Widely agreed? Francis must have either missed or discounted the American
Civil Liberties Union's recent report on the Seattle protests.
"Demonstrators [in Seattle] were overwhelmingly peaceful," wrote the ACLU.
"Not so the police."

According to the ACLU's 87-page report, "Out of Control: Seattle's Flawed
Response to Protests Against the World Trade Organization," the City of
Seattle's response to the WTO protests was characterized by "unwarranted
restrictions and outright assaults on citizens and on their basic American
rights." The "draconian" violations of civil liberties committed by Seattle
police and officials included widespread use of "chemical weapons, rubber
bullets and clubs against peaceful protesters and bystanders alike";
numerous "individual acts of [police] brutality"; the suppression of free
speech rights; hundreds of improper arrests; and intimidation and "brutal"
abuse of arrestees. (See .)

NBC, ABC and CBS all ignored the release of the ACLU report, as did CNN. The
Seattle Times is the only major American newspaper to have covered the
ACLU's findings (7/5/00).

Yet the media haven't forgotten Seattle-- mainstream reports on the upcoming
convention protests consistently refer to them as follow-ups to Seattle, and
frequently ask whether authorities in Philadelphia and Los Angeles will be
able to avoid a similar scenario. But which scenario?

One ABC World News Tonight report (7/23/00) asked what lessons Philadelphia
police have learned from Seattle, and how they will be applied to the
convention. According to reporter Jim Sciutto, Philadelphia police observers
in Seattle saw protesters "at times playing to the television cameras" by
feigning injury. Sciutto's report features, without rebuttal, a Philadelphia
police lieutenant claiming that at the sight of a camera, activists are
trained to "fall down and start screaming and yelling whether you hit them
or not." ABC's report made no mention of any substantive allegations of
police brutality in Seattle.

When riots erupted in Los Angeles on June 19 after the Lakers won the NBA
Finals, several news outlets discussed the random acts of vandalism as
though they were comparable to the protests planned for the Democratic
convention. "Los Angeles officials hope that the convention crowd will
exercise more self-restraint than the Lakers crowd," reported the NBC
Nightly News (6/20/00). The CBS Evening News (6/20/00) made the same
comparison, reporting that officials promised "much less access for
potential troublemakers" at the convention than there had been at the Lakers
game. CBS voiced skepticism however, adding, "but that's what they said in
Seattle....  And some of those [protest] groups have already announced
they're coming here."

What emerges from this coverage is an image of activists as a paramilitary
mob preparing to take to the streets to frustrate and discredit the police.
This distorted view has been helped along by the three major networks'
failure to discuss in any depth protesters' critiques of the conventions.
CBS mentioned that Los Angeles anarchists would protest in order to "shine
the spotlight on economic injustice" (7/10/00); NBC (7/20/00) noted that the
protesters' message is "simply that the political parties have been taken
over by big money interests." Neither network featured any further
examination of the activists' political positions.

Demonizing activists and ignoring police brutality may imbue police
departments with a sense that they can operate with impunity-- or at least
without fear of serious scrutiny from the press. This media whitewashing may
heighten the risk that citizens assembling to speak out at the conventions
will face police violence.

ACTION: Please contact the media and urge them to provide more balanced
coverage of the protests at the Republican and Democratic conventions than
they did of last year's protests in Seattle. Acknowledging the ACLU's
findings about the growing problem of anti-protest police brutality would be
one way to improve coverage. Taking activists' politics seriously would be

For more information on the protests planned for the Republican Convention
(7/31/00-8/4/00), visit . For info on actions at the
Democratic Convention (8/14-17/00), visit .

NBC Nightly News
Phone: 212-664-4971 or 202-885-4259
Fax: 202-362-2009

ABC World News Tonight
Phone: (212) 456-4040
Fax: (212) 456-4297

CBS Evening News
Phone: (212) 975-3691, (202) 457-4385
Fax: (212) 975-1893

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