JSalloum on Mon, 1 Dec 1997 01:20:07 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> vancouver notes [on APEC protest]

thought this might be of interest to the list-js
Forwarded message:
From:	marlowe@iplus.net (mary holmes)
To:	JSalloum@AOL.COM
Date: 97-11-29 17:04:36 EST

It's thirty years since the revolution, thirty years since students
demonstrated in Paris, Prague, Seoul and Washington. And while some may say
demonstration is fashionable sign of youth asserting itself, I think it
means that youth today do give a damn. This week, 4,000 UBC students banded
together to protest APEC. Footage from National newscasts didn't cover much
behind those being pepper sprayed by RCMP. Therefore, I thought you might
want to know what I saw from inside the demonstration.

Apec Alert, the organisation comprised of agitating, but informed students
against murderous dictators who regularily violate human rights, did a
brilliant job orchestrating this demonstration. 

>From clever chants to street theatre protests and guerrilla tactics, the
Apec alert bunch were good-to-go. Around noon, Students marched from the
SUB, out to B lot, and then down the main mall. As the drummers and placard
carrying protesters passed, building alarum bells went off and faculty and
students emptied onto the sidewalks. 

The crowd congregated infront of the new Koerner Library. Organizers climbed
up onto the building, dressed in costumes parodying corporate bagmen and
RCMP.  They carefully prepared the crowd for the next stage. A human chain
was formed, dividing those who wanted to risk arrest from those who didn't.
Those that wanted to risk arrest went ahead and the remaining crowd
controlled and policed itself as it marched to the end of Main Mall. As they
rushed the APEC Zone, in front of the flag pole and rose garden, 125 RCMP
guards moved into line across the fenced perimeter. Blasts of pepper spray,
police dogs and sharp shooters on the roof of the Chan Center added to the
scene on campus.  

As the afternoon progressed, a steady succession of young liberal arts
students (including the a few graying professors) moved up to the line of
police and were sprayed and arrested.  Those arrested were dragged to the
ground behind the police line and cuffed with plastic strips. Their eyes
were eventually doused with chemicals to remove the sting, but often they
were disabled in rough and deadly fashion. Individual lines of protestors
sat waiting for their turn to meet the Man. If kids were frightened and
wanted to move back from the police, they couldn't because the media's
cameras were pointed in their backs, forcing them to continue and confront
the men wearing huge canisters of mace. 

I circulated around the perimeter and across the green. I tried to make eye
contact with the RCMP but their spirits had vacated their bodies.  I heard a
Chilean women blasting the RCMP, "Shame on you, Police. Canadians are paying
your salaries to protect men who are killing the people in my country!"  The
crowd knew. It was a reckoning day for fellow students slaughtered in Tiamen
Square, tortured women and children in East Timor, and abused Nike workers
in Vietnam. It may have been a tiny token in the face of million dollar
agreements and trade liberalization, but the students were alive. Apathy was
dead. And so I hunkered down and prayed that the power of this civil
disobedience would affect the pathology of these APEC leaders. That the
power of these actions would magnify and no one could ever use the economic
excuse to trade with killers and abusers. 

After the second or third hour on the soggy grass, I had to sing. I jumped
up and grabbed the megaphone and started to lead 3,000 echo boomers in the
song " We shall overcome....". The crowd was silent. One girl knew the
lyrics and we sang together. Luckily, two students from Seattle,
representing Americans against Clinton, joined in for the third and fourth
round. The words to this song, sung thirty years ago, at demonstrations lead
by the last generation, were unfamiliar to this one.  This song of freedom,
they never knew, but they knew others.  The twenty-something anti-APEC
cheerleaders had written their own chants: "Behind the uniform, behind the
gun, the police are naked like everyone!   
Mary Holmes alias Marlowe DeSilva

"Orthodoxy cannot afford to put out the fires of hell."
                                [Robert G. Ingersoll]

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