Paul on Sun, 16 Apr 2000 09:49:23 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> IMF/World Bank Protests in Washington D.C [weathereport (2)]

     [orig to lots of people]

Please forward to interested parties
Subject: IMF/World Bank Protests in Washington D.C

Weathereport (2)
April 15, 2000 (late forecast)
Drizzly, with the impending clash of protesters and
police on the horizon. Expected confrontations at
6:00AM with continuing actions of civil disobedience
throughout the day.

The streets of Washington D.C. are lined with pork
and lies. Reuters, AP, and other news wires are
reporting the massive arrests (an estimated 600 at 12
midnight) of protesters in areas around the organizing
centers. The convergence center has been transformed
over the wires from a welcoming center to a terrorist
boot camp, replete with discoveries of incendiary
materials and "literature on how to make Molotov
cocktails -- crude gasoline bombs which could be used
in a riot." (Rueters). The crackdown will most
certainly intensify. By the time you read this, the
first wave of affinity groups will have begun their
campaigns at 2:00AM to block support vehicles and
personnel from setting up safety routes to and from
the IMF building for attendees of the meeting. At
6:00AM, right about when you turn over in your sleep,
thousands upon thousands of protesters will descend
upon the IMF building and other strategic locations to
begin their actions of civil disobedience. Roughly an
hour later, more buses with more activists from around
the country are expected to drop off hundreds more
into D.C. When you wake up, we will either be on the
streets or in jail.
And when you see us, in AP photos or clips on
newscasts, remember that we are, first and foremost,
scared. There is an air of confrontation tonight, this
morning, and it is palpable, courtesy of a battalion
of thirty cops in riot gear roaming the streets on
sleek black motorbikes. But also remember that despite
the threat of another Seattle, despite the riot gear
and the tear gas, we'll be fine. Here's why.
This afternoon Dan and I attended a nonviolent civil
disobedience workshop. They have been running all
week, with up to three sessions a day in various
locations around D.C. We were turned away from an
earlier one because it was already filled to capacity.
When we returned to the First Soul Unitarian Church
the room was packed with 75 to 100 people, mostly
young, predominately white. The overcast day
illuminated the church in a soft gray hue, making
everyone look tired. Dan and I retire to the back of
the room as the workshop begins.
We start with an unnerving sensitivity exercise.
Everyone was supposed to choose a partner and face
each other sitting down. I partner with a woman who
earlier helped me with a folding chair. We sit and
listen as the workshop leader explains that one of the
partners will tell the other their fears about what
they think might happen at the protests tomorrow. And
after two minutes, the other person will sum up what
the person says. It is ostensibly an exercise in
listening and connecting with strangers, whether they
are fellow protesters or the police. When the workshop
leader gave the word, I started. I told this stranger
about my fear of dying. It's been on the back of my
mind ever since I heard the story of Key Martin, a
journalist who died two weeks after the Seattle
protests. He suffered from asthma, and the inhalation
of tear gas from Seattle caused irreparable damage to
lungs, which eventually killed him. I have asthma. I
hadn't told anyone about how afraid I truly was until
this exercise. She listened without judging. And when
she summarized it back for me she made my fear sound
as natural as rain. When it was her turn, she looked
me straight in the eye and told me she was not afraid.
Not anymore. She had gone through training like this
and has been in situations like this. And since she
had no fear, it was easy to summarize. I repeated the
phrase "I'm not afraid" over and over to her. It was
not only easy, but soothing. The workshop leader
called time. We shook hands and went on to different
Two exercises later, I feel a tap on my shoulder. It
was my first partner. She told me she was leaving the
workshop to meet with her affinity group. But she
wanted to tell me something that I have been thinking
about all night. She wanted me to know that if and
when the tear gas comes out, she was going to look for
me. She didn't know how she would find me but said
that she would. And when she does she was going to
help me get through it. I asked her name and I thought
she said, " You and me." She smiles and walks out of
the All Souls Unitarian Church.


"Be light as a bird, not as a feather." -- Valry

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