Welcome home FTAA protestors

I (Russell McOrmond) would like to welcome home the people who took part in the events in Quebec City. There was a wide variety of people there employing a wide variety of tactics, and while we will now be evaluating our success, we need to realize that working together we did make a difference.

While the focus of the visibility on the anti-FTAA forces (by all of independent, public and corporate media) was on those few who fell emotional to the police intimidation, we were also able to give voice to the wide variety of reasons why we oppose these forms of agreements.

While some believe that those who threw rocks and molotov-cocktails distracted from our messages, there is also criticism of those who followed the police-promoted parade route away from the fence: the physical symbol of how individual citizens are being ignored in these international negotiations.

I was able to take part in a fairly small march here in Ottawa yesterday, which gave me an opportunity to hear some first-hand reports from people who had been in Quebec the day before.

I would like to see as reply to this article thoughts from people who were there, and further congratulations from those of us who were not able to be there. Commentary about what tactics you believe worked and those that did not would also be appreciated.


Comments

    My short Quebec City Report [59]
    by Ian Clysdale on Monday, April 23 @12:34PM
    Here's the short mail that I sent to one of the mailing lists that I'm on about my experiences in QC.

    ian.

    -----

    I'll write more later - I only just actually got home, and I need to do some more prayers, pet my cat, and study for my exam tomorrow morning. However, I wanted to just share some brief impressions of the event.
    I was awed and overwhelmed, frightened and inspired, driven to frustration and to joy. I was *amazed* by the site of incredibly brave creative people in this city. The streets of downtown were just full of laughter, dancing, drumming, street theatre, and people trying to outline a culture of joy. The various estimates that I've seen run from 35,000 to 60,000 - I tend to suspect that it's probably closer to the higher end of that.
    Closer to the fence, things began to get uglier, but even there I was just overwhelmed by most of the people. The news has focused on the more violent aspects, just as they did in Seattle, but reading the reports confirms my impression - the violent acts were rare exceptions. Far more the norm was the unprovoked continued rounds of tear gas and pepper spray being constantly used on protesters gathered at the edge of the fence.
    And what *truly* inspired me is that when we finally pulled back from the fence, half-blinded and having trouble breathing, there were hundreds, maybe thousands of people lining up behind us ready to go back up to the fence, to send a message that these measures are just plain wrong. Sure there were a few Black Bloc types. But there were much more of many other kinds - the Raging Grannies; the PERC people with their catapult throwing stuffed animals over the fence; the CUPE union people we were with who left the main labour march and went to the fence in solidarity with all the other groups there; ordinary people doing extraordinary things in an insane world.
    I'm not particularly thrilled with my government right now, but I'm incredibly proud of my country.

    Peace and Freedom,
    ian.



    My co-worker Paul's comment on the Saturday d [60]
    by John Hollingsworth on Monday, April 23 @04:05PM
    Hi, when I get a chance, I'll try and post my own comments on my experience in Akwesasne/Cornwall and Quebec City. In solidarity, John.

    * * *

    Hi,

    Here is my story about the Quebec City summit protest:

    The Student/Education Sector march left Laval University at 12 noon on Saturday, April 21, 2001. Two kilometres from the fence the march split in two. One group went south to listen to speeches. The other group headed to the fence. I and the three others I traveled with to Quebec City decided to go with this second group.

    We walked slowly up Boulevard Rene Levesque. At first everything seemed normal, but as we moved east we could see puffs of white smoke up ahead and hear the distant sound of some kind of weapon being fired.

    We continued to move forward, past rows and rows of boarded up storefronts. Soon we came upon a near equal number of people walking slowly back towards us. I stopped at this moment to rest and to try and figure out what was going on. People continued to flow towards the fence, others came back from it. Finally our little group moved forward again and we encountered tear gas.

    This was something new to me.

    At low concentrations it stings your eyes. As it gets denser, but still invisible, it begins to rip at your nose and throat. When you are in the smoke it is absolutely, horrifically, overwhelming. Eyes instantly burn shut, lungs wrench closed. It is terrifying. There is no question of toughing it out. Unless you have a gas mask, there is no choice but to leave the poisoned area.

    After being gassed the first time, we walked back slowly from the fence, gasping for air, tears streaming from our eyes. We waited, rested, and then headed back to the fence, a process of advance and fall back that we repeated all afternoon. It was this phenomena, groups of demonstrators moving to the fence and then being gassed back, that we encountered when we first approached the summit area.

    The thud of tear gas guns was continuous. The canisters would fly in a high arc, maybe 100m up and then crash down to the ground. We would try and chart the parabola and avoid being hit.

    When the canisters smashed into the ground they would bounce and spin, spewing out poison. Then, something amazing would happen. A black clad figure with a gas mask would appear from nowhere and hurl the bomb back over the fence at the police. Every time one was lobbed back, a huge cheer went up from the crowd.

    I guess these “bomb disposal teams” were the anarchists, CLAC, the Black Bloc. Usually they were like ghosts, invisible and then suddenly appearing to deal with the tear gas. Other times they would snake in a line through the protest, heading towards the fence. The crowd would part and let them through. As the afternoon continued, admiration for them steadily grew.

    Our small group, like most people in the crowd, I suppose, was there as individuals to bear witness at the fence and to try and let the politicians hear our views. We had no desire to engage in direct confrontation or to be arrested, but we felt it was important to be at the fence. For our peaceful efforts, we were gassed and attacked by the police as far back as a kilometre from the fence. In this environment it was apparent that the distinction between violent and non-violent protestors mouthed by so many (including people on “our side”) was a false one. Folks such as the Black Bloc had the courage and organization to be right at the fence. This created a shield for the rest of us to do our thing. Instead of categories of protestor, there was rather a single mass at the fence, using a variety of tactics on the confrontation/non-confrontation continuum. Everyone’s contribution was valuable.

    Well, almost everyone’s. As the crowd grew at the fence through the afternoon, a question was repeated again and again: “Where are the unions?” The answer, sadly, was that the labour march was kilometres from the fence and headed in the wrong direction. We learned that the unions had routed their march away from the summit and planned to conclude their event, not with protest, but with 22 speeches.

    22 Speeches?

    Jean Chretien, in a rare moment of articulateness, nailed it exactly with his “blah, blah, blah” reference to the speechifying element of the trade protest movement. Labour’s strategy of conducting speeches, both in terms of its impact on politicians, and its contribution to the summit protest, was absolutely pointless.

    Actually, it was worse than pointless.

    By mid-afternoon there were probably 5,000 people at the fence. The conservative media estimate of the total number of protestors was 25,000. That leaves at least 20,000 people wandering aimlessly through the suburbs of Quebec City, five or ten kilometres from the fence and even farther from the summit site. If labour had brought even half that number to the fence in a timely fashion on Saturday afternoon, the fence would have come completely down. We then would have had the choice of proceeding forward.

    Instead, we were left in a stalemate at the fence, pounded by tear gas and increasingly violent police, with leadership provided by a bunch of extraordinary kids dressed in black.

    Where was labour? That is an angry question that I cannot answer. The process of expedience and concession that came up with the plan to avoid the fence is beyond my understanding. It is as if the second world war generals who were preparing to lead the attack on Europe to drive the Nazis out, turned around and launched an invasion in the direction of Baffin Island. The presence of individual workers at the fence on Saturday was no compensation for the mistaken union decision to avoid meaningful protest in the first place.

    I am angry, but this piece should not end on a bitter note. The demonstration at the fence was still awe-inspiring. My heart goes out to all my friends who I know wanted to be there but could not make it to Quebec City. My condolences also to those who were (mis)led on the march to nowhere by the unions.

    Memories are already starting to sort out in my mind. The smell of apple cider vinegar (used to soak our scarves and ward off tear gas). The sound of tear gas guns and our own drums. The sight of gas canisters ripping through the sky. And memories of all the people - too numerous to all do justice to - except I have to mention:

    Coming across some of the national leadership of the student organizations, red-faced and exhausted, resting on the sidewalk just back from the fence - talking tactics and strategy - and preparing to move forward again.

    And most especially (and fondly in retrospect), grasping for the hands of my own “affinity group” - the fearful foursome - and being lead blinded out of the tear gas. Thanks for everything, comrades! For those of us who were at the fence, or who wanted to be there, the struggle continues. For others, it has to start.

    That’s my story.

    Individual protestor from the education sector, shop steward at my local (OPEIU L 225)

    Paul Jones
    Ottawa, ON

      Where were the unions? [61]
      by Ian Clysdale on Monday, April 23 @04:17PM
      The unions were at the fence, they just weren't visible. Although I'm not a CUPE member, I have good friends who are, and my affinity group ended up attaching to CUPE as medics.
      <p >
      As with the student march, the labour march also split, with significant contingents going to the fence, while the rest went to hear speeches. Significant contingents from CUPE - and other unions - went up to the fence in solidarity with all of the other groups who felt that direct protest was necessary.
      <p >
      However, the FTQ march marshals for the labour march asked the labour groups to leave their union banners behind, to avoid a media conflation of the labour groups with the violent protesters. I've heard - from others - that some of the marshals discouraged union people from splitting off from the march, but when we told them that we were going up they simply asked us not to take the banners.
      <p >
      I have mixed feelings about this, but I can certainly understand the concerns that motivated it. I do, however, want to emphasize that the unions were not absent from the struggle at the fence.
      <p >
      However, I'd also like to say that while the demonstration at the fence was certainly awe-inspiring, so was the demonstration in the streets. Descending from the hell of that fence after an hour as a medic, I entered into people who were drumming, dancing, singing, doing street theatre, even as the smell of tear gas descended from the top. For me, that's what this is really all about - pointing out an alternative and better way of living.
      <p >
      Confusion not confrontation, <br>
      ian.

      Where were the unions? [61]
      by Ian Clysdale on Monday, April 23 @04:17PM
      The unions were at the fence, they just weren't visible. Although I'm not a CUPE member, I have good friends who are, and my affinity group ended up attaching to CUPE as medics.
      <p >
      As with the student march, the labour march also split, with significant contingents going to the fence, while the rest went to hear speeches. Significant contingents from CUPE - and other unions - went up to the fence in solidarity with all of the other groups who felt that direct protest was necessary.
      <p >
      However, the FTQ march marshals for the labour march asked the labour groups to leave their union banners behind, to avoid a media conflation of the labour groups with the violent protesters. I've heard - from others - that some of the marshals discouraged union people from splitting off from the march, but when we told them that we were going up they simply asked us not to take the banners.
      <p >
      I have mixed feelings about this, but I can certainly understand the concerns that motivated it. I do, however, want to emphasize that the unions were not absent from the struggle at the fence.
      <p >
      However, I'd also like to say that while the demonstration at the fence was certainly awe-inspiring, so was the demonstration in the streets. Descending from the hell of that fence after an hour as a medic, I entered into people who were drumming, dancing, singing, doing street theatre, even as the smell of tear gas descended from the top. For me, that's what this is really all about - pointing out an alternative and better way of living.
      <p >
      Confusion not confrontation, <br>
      ian.

    Quebec City 2001 [62]
    by Derek Reid on Wednesday, April 25 @05:24PM
    <b>A Report from Quebec City</b>
    <p >
    We arrived Saturday afternoon, just in time to catch the end of the organized march of about 40,000 people, representing many different groups. It was very colorful, more like a parade, with huge props and colorful costumes and themes.
    We followed the march for several blocks until the split.
    <p >
    Hanging from the traffic light, there was an anarchist, pointing to the direction of the upper city that was fenced, meanwhile, the march was heading the other direction, out to the industrial parks of Quebec City. We chose to go
    towards the fence.
    <p >
    Walking up the hill, we saw magnificent views of thousands of people. There was political graffiti and art on boarded up shops and available
    wall space. The streets were packed with young peaceful protesters. The ongoing sounds of the day included lots of music and drumming, and police helicopters hanging in the sky.
    <p >
    But before even getting a glimpse of the fence, we were greeted with clouds of tear gas, a terrible smell, causing burning of the eyes. We came prepared with water, and rinsed our eyes out, and decided to go another direction.
    <p >
    Down at the end of one street, we witnessed a constant smoke stack of tear gas lasting the whole day. We later found out it was from a snow-blowing machine used to pump out tear gas.
    <p >
    Winding through the narrow streets, filled with protesters, we tried to find a way to the fence, but every street we walked up, there were protesters coming down, warning us of gas.
    <p >
    We finally made it to the west side of the fence, where thousands of protesters had gathered, and got our first glimpse of the fence. We barely had time to take a picture before people started running away from the fence, as the police
    dispersed the crowd into the surrounding residential neighbourhoods.
    <p >
    As the day went on, this continued. We wondered around, looking for where the protesters had gathered, and once we found a group, it was a matter of minutes until the helicopters would come right above us (a bad sign), and the riot
    police would advance with loud flashing explosives and tear gas, and clear the
    area.
    <p >
    My conclusion was that the police did not want any gathering of peaceful protest. Their day consisted of finding where protesters were gathering (with their eyes in the sky), then dispersing them with explosives, tear gas, water
    cannons and rubber bullets.
    <p >
    By night fall we had joined what could be considered a rave in a park of the lower city, far away from the fence. But once again, it was only minutes before the choppers came, followed by riot police and tear gas. We moved even farther
    away, and found a huge party under an expressway, with thousands of people dancing around a huge bonfire, to the beat of hundreds of drummers. In the middle of it all there was a free buffet, provided by a group called "Food not Bombs".
    <p >
    We hung out in view of this massive party for a while, around a small campfire which had been abandoned. I then noticed an army of police vans occupying the expressway overhead, and we decided to split. The area was then cleared. It was
    quite clear at this point that there was no designated area for peaceful protest. Protest had been outlawed.
    <p >
    The disbursement of gatherings continued throughout the night and into the early hours of the morning. The sound of overhead helicopters, and the flashing of the spot lights was constant, as well as the stench of tear gas. And there was no safe haven for the protesters. Anywhere they decided to congregate, the police would move in and disperse them.
    <p >
    All the protesters I saw were peaceful. The anarchists were our heroes, as they were gutsy enough to return the tear gas to the police (some were using hockey sitcks to do this), and they resisted the disbursements as long as possible. Some would say that if it weren't for the
    anarchists keeping the police busy, the police would have moved in on the peaceful protesters much sooner, and made many more arrests.
    <p >
    Also, although parts of the fence had been taken down by protesters, I do not think this constituted a security threat. Who would want to cross it to be alone with 6,000 riot police? Definitely not 99.99% of the people there, who were there to be peaceful.
    <p >
    The property damage was extremely minimal. There was a Royal Bank window which had been smashed (yay!). Other than that, there was just wood to be gathered for the many bonfires around the city, which were useful for keeping warm. The wood
    came from commercial billboards, and wood that was used to board up windows (and a wooden fence which I saw in the news coverage). Oh ya, and a traffic light was melted from one of the bonfires. At no point did I witness any rioting or
    violence on the side of the protesters. You will notice that there has been no dollar amounts given on the damage, since it was probably so small, it would be embarrassing. Nothing compared to the half-a-million dollar damage that
    St-Jean-Baptist Day riots have caused, and even less than nothing compared to the 0-million security tab for the summit. I guess the police were the real winners at the end of the day. There was an average of one tear gas canister
    fired per minute.
    <p >
    The news has reported a very small number of injuries caused by police (around 50), but the actual number is much higher. Many people were hit with tear gas canisters and rubber bullets. The actual number that the street medics reported
    was well above 2,000. Many of these injuries were quite serious (Like a rubber bullet in the throat).
    <p >
    By about 3am, police had pushed protesters so far back, that they were reaching where we had parked -- next to a church where meditation was taking place for the entire weekend. As we dispersed up the narrow street to the church, anarchists were collecting portable metal fences to create a barricade to prevent the riot police from advancing. Tear gas was flying everywhere, it was
    truly a scene from a Terminator/Armageddon movie.
    <p >
    We decided to split for the night.
    <p >
    I was very disappointed by the violence and provocation from police. I went to Quebec city to share a common view with fellow citizens, but spent most of the day running from police. I was about ready to become an anarchist myself.
    <p >
    However, I was very thrilled by the extremely good energy of the protesters themselves. Everybody was very cooperative and looking out for each other. I was also very impressed by the thousands of young protesters who were politically
    aware, and engaged. Youth have been known to be politically apathetic, but this gives me much new hope.
    <p >
    The media coverage has been pathetic. I heard CBC say that the weekend hurt the movement more then helping it, when anyone who was there will say the exact opposite. There was an amazing energy between protesters, and a definite opening
    (and burning) of the eyes to police oppression.
    <p >
    The tear gas was so dense and the smell lingered everywhere. All the residents and shopkeepers got it. But on the bright side, everyone inside the fence got it too. I'd like to see Chretien's eyes burning up.
    <p >
    They said the summit (inside the fence) was a success. But it did shut down early. The delegates were afraid to leave there hotels due to the abundance of tear gas on the streets. I don't think they accomplished much. However, I would say that the summit was a huge success for everybody on the outside of the fence.
    <p >
    Definitely an unforgettable experience.
    <p >
    Here are some images from Quebec City.
    <p >
    Most are from the Internet, however there are a few I took myself.
    <p >
    Enjoy....
    <p >
    <a href="http://www.redbeaver.ca/democracy/ftaa/">Images from Quebec City</a>
    <p >
    Derek

    A Canadian Love Poem [63]
    by Darryl Wright on Friday, April 27 @11:34AM
    I was talking to someone last night who asked me to post this on the web site. The following poem was written as an expression of the rage I was feeling when I arrived home from Quebec. I will be slamming it at The Step-up! poetry slam on Saturday, April 28th at the Aloha room on Bank St., Ottawa (under Berrymores) at about 9:00pm. Hope to see you there! http://www.stepupslam.com --- World Summit, Quebec, 2001 I went to bed reeling and I woke up angry only 24 hours since my government betrayed me. The dynamics of good and evil, reversed the police become predators and the media, worse. 30,000 people crying involuntary tears then Chretien’s smiling face, on my TV, appears dismissing us all with a “Blah, blah, blah…”, hell “All things considered, I think it went fairly well.” Heir Prime Minister, I wonder, did you consider that these 30,000 people might be a little bitter? ...that the little you accomplished in the safety of your halls really could have been done in a couple of phone calls and THAT'S assuming it reflects the will on the street out there with the people who GAVE you that seat! And I’ve got at least 20,000, “Gen-X”ers back here, And I DARE you to tell them that they don’t really care That’s 20,000 furrowed brows, angry faces from hundreds of societies directly affected places and maybe we’re not as intimidating as we could be our most well known supporter was on “Road to Avonlea” but start telling this crew that their problem’s 'apathy' and I give you 6 nano-seconds before your face hits the street! And your news anchor people, dumb as posts, JC cause I promise you this crew ain’t here for no party. Flash your single policeman with a busted face mask but don’t show 1200 doubled over, choking on gas sounds hard to believe if you take things for granted but truth slides away if you let the media slant it like, “a duty to protect the worlds economic elite” but at the expense of the rights of those people on the street They show you “anarchist groups” tossing concrete chunks why they look, to me, more like highschool punks and to illustrate their irrelevance, let me compare as their small stones rebound from plexi-glass glare to about a hundred tear gas canisters instead, hitting one of these “punks” in the back of his head. Hey - let’s talk about bullets, the harmless rubber ones collapsing one lady’s windpipe, air locked in her lungs they carried that lady away on a stretcher no doubt when she recovers, someone will arrest her. Yeah, sixty armored cops, and six teens in street-wear "Those poor policemen, it seems so unfair?!" I swore in that moment if I’d a can of tear gas I’d find our Prime Minister, jam it right up his ass. But then we’d be descending into violence and hate something normally reserved for the United States. … and then it occurred to me, maybe that’s the intention behind his temporary police state and civil rights suspension. President Bush, with his sub-atomic IQ Pulling Chretien’s puppet strings, and telling nations what to do and that man we elected, walks in the corporate parade carelessly tossing environmental advancements we’ve made The diabolic duo, in political cahoots With Chretien shining Bush’s oil-black boots. A la belle ville du Quebec, our Prime Minister decorates with marching storm troopers, iron bars and disgrace. Thousands of people, brave it, with peaceful intent, amass at the fence to show their dissent and as Chretien’s canisters fly through the air we will never be the same, I know, I was there. And there’s still some question: failure or success? And for that I turn to you, because YOU are the test… If any of you understand, recognize what I’m saying Then, cheers! We’ve succeeded the CEO’s can start pray’n! Darryl G. Wright, 2001, Ottawa

    A Canadian Love Poem [64]
    by Darryl Wright on Friday, April 27 @11:34AM
    I was talking to someone last night who asked me to post this on the web site. The following poem was written as an expression of the rage I was feeling when I arrived home from Quebec. I will be slamming it at The Step-up! poetry slam on Saturday, April 28th at the Aloha room on Bank St., Ottawa (under Berrymores) at about 9:00pm. Hope to see you there! http://www.stepupslam.com

    ---
    World Summit, Quebec, 2001

    I went to bed reeling and I woke up angry
    only 24 hours since my government betrayed me.
    The dynamics of good and evil, reversed
    the police become predators and the media, worse.

    30,000 people crying involuntary tears
    then Chretien’s smiling face, on my TV, appears
    dismissing us all with a “Blah, blah, blah…”, hell
    “All things considered, I think it went fairly well.”

    Heir Prime Minister, I wonder, did you consider
    that these 30,000 people might be a little bitter?
    ...that the little you accomplished in the safety of your halls
    really could have been done in a couple of phone calls

    and THAT'S assuming it reflects the will on the street
    out there with the people who GAVE you that seat!
    And I’ve got at least 20,000, “Gen-X”ers back here,
    And I DARE you to tell them that they don’t really care

    That’s 20,000 furrowed brows, angry faces
    from hundreds of societies directly affected places
    and maybe we’re not as intimidating as we could be
    our most well known supporter was on “Road to Avonlea”

    but start telling this crew that their problem’s 'apathy'
    and I give you 6 nano-seconds before your face hits the street!
    And your news anchor people, dumb as posts, JC
    cause I promise you this crew ain’t here for no party.

    Flash your single policeman with a busted face mask
    but don’t show 1200 doubled over, choking on gas
    sounds hard to believe if you take things for granted
    but truth slides away if you let the media slant it

    like, “a duty to protect the worlds economic elite”
    but at the expense of the rights of those people on the street
    They show you “anarchist groups” tossing concrete chunks
    why they look, to me, more like highschool punks

    and to illustrate their irrelevance, let me compare
    as their small stones rebound from plexi-glass glare
    to about a hundred tear gas canisters instead,
    hitting one of these “punks” in the back of his head.

    Hey - let’s talk about bullets, the harmless rubber ones
    collapsing one lady’s windpipe, air locked in her lungs
    they carried that lady away on a stretcher
    no doubt when she recovers, someone will arrest her.

    Yeah, sixty armored cops, and six teens in street-wear
    "Those poor policemen, it seems so unfair?!"
    I swore in that moment if I’d a can of tear gas
    I’d find our Prime Minister, jam it right up his ass.

    But then we’d be descending into violence and hate
    something normally reserved for the United States.
    … and then it occurred to me, maybe that’s the intention
    behind his temporary police state and civil rights suspension.

    President Bush, with his sub-atomic IQ
    Pulling Chretien’s puppet strings, and telling nations what to do
    and that man we elected, walks in the corporate parade
    carelessly tossing environmental advancements we’ve made

    The diabolic duo, in political cahoots
    With Chretien shining Bush’s oil-black boots.
    A la belle ville du Quebec, our Prime Minister decorates
    with marching storm troopers, iron bars and disgrace.

    Thousands of people, brave it, with peaceful intent,
    amass at the fence to show their dissent
    and as Chretien’s canisters fly through the air
    we will never be the same, I know, I was there.

    And there’s still some question: failure or success?
    And for that I turn to you, because YOU are the test…
    If any of you understand, recognize what I’m saying
    Then, cheers! We’ve succeeded the CEO’s can start pray’n!

    Darryl G. Wright, 2001, Ottawa

    quebec city protest diary [65]
    by Daniel Jackson on Friday, April 27 @02:28PM
    i first got the idea to go to quebec to protest the ftaa a long time ago. probably when i was 14 years old -- and that's awhile ago, considering i'm 31. i think i was fortunate in that my parents encouraged me to follow the innate beliefs of young people -- who, i'm convinced, are universally imbued with a sense of social justice. and as the years progressed i did a little here and there to help others and to stay aware of our society's most pressing needs. but i found that life's challenges and experiences started to weigh me down, leaving me with a profound sense of inertia, and cynicism. the 14 year-old me was still there all the while, and he was languishing in a prison of ideas and coping strategies.

    and so it was just last week that i awoke into a beautiful reality. so different it was than the one i had been wallowing in. and it was so in tune with my oldest frequencies, and so i knew it was right.

    the melody began when i brought my son to the stop-the-ftaa gathering on the wednesday before quebec. there, i felt a common purpose, and was inspired by the people -- by their courage, intelligence and determination in the face of apathy and the vested powers. i resolved to go.

    curiously, i was chosen to be a bus captain -- having only just re-begun my journey towards activism and civic responsibility. i wouldn't normally have accepted such a position because i can be quite coy in such roles, but i accepted it for the cause. and as i fulfilled my duties the fear subsided, and the wonder grew.

    my erstwhile companions were friendly, intelligent, funny and passionate. but they were by no means easily defined. they all came for their own purposes, and yet were subjugate to the balance and jubilee of the journey. as we grew to understand each other -- on the long bus ride to and from quebec, and also at the protest itself -- we grew to love each other as fellow citizens. and we absorbed energy from the other which can never be fully spent nor repaid.

    our first encounter was just over the quebec border near rigaud. it was near 3am. police cruisers from the surete de quebec pulled us over and checked our driver's papers. they stopped short of searching the bus. it was disconcerting to say the least. it is surprising how fast the state can mobilize its forces. stopping buses? i thought, am i still in canada??? after some time we were allowed to continue on to exercise our democratic rights. as she left, the once stern police officer changed her countenance and broke into a smile, wishing us good luck. how complex these affairs can be!

    we arrived in quebec city near the old port and stepped out into the brilliant sunshine. didn't they predict a cool rainy day? this beneficience was delightful. a few of us formed an affinity group -- even though we never called it that -- and walked through lower town to limouliou and the welcome centre. there were milling crowds there, but not enough information to hold us there. so we headed off, back to where we came, and up and up to the perimeter...

    i had been to quebec before and so knew the area when it was open and unrestricted. the members of my group had not been there before. nonetheless we moved through the narrow streets and arrived finally at the fence. if a simple fence could be an objet d'art this was it. but it was also as ordinary as can be. there were people already gathered at that corner and so we stayed awhile to take it in. over my left shoulder were two union members with a guitar singing an anti-oppression song. further up the hill, a young man had fallen asleep against the fence, his face awash in bright sunshine. i thought he had the right idea... but all of a sudden through the diamond shaped holes of the ordinary fence we caught a glimpse of the riot police. we all shuddered at their impassiveness and calm yet violent focus. i couldn't help but wonder at all the implications of such an military presence at such an event. what i saw was that our rights to peaceful assembly and dissent were being pre-emptively trumped and held at armslength by these men and women. it saddened us that it had to come to this. some saw it as a provocation. i was just saddened at the reality i hadn't wanted to engage, until now. you see, reality is not something we should only muse upon in the safety of our cafes, living room or taverns. reality is each citizen in interactivity. we on the outside, and the riot police on the inside seemed locked in a dialectic not of our own choosing; we become icons to the other to revile and objectify, all the while losing the humanity that we all share. they has got to be a better way. a flower is more lovely than a tear gas canister, is it not?

    we kept moving along the perimeter and as we rounded the corner we were met by a wave of discomfort. i slowly realized i was having my first ever encounter with tear gas. it was disgusting. i pulled my vinegar soaked bandanna over my face and moved through clusters of kerchief-covered visages. the people we passed by all had the same look in their eyes: a quiet fortitude. throughout the day these eyes and their associated energy nourished me to such an extent that i am forever changed by their solidarity. we humans have been divided by place, technology, idealogy, history but even so, when gathered thusly, we hum harmonically at perfect intervals.

    a couple members of our groups expressed their art in collecting various found objects -- a burnt brazziere, spider-looking tear gas canisters, spent smoke bombs. they were looking for the evidence of our suppression, as if the energy of malaise invested in each of these objects could act as a signpost to our understanding. soon, an incident occurred which did not surprise me, but which scared me. four people were sitting in an upscale car a couple of blocks from the perimeter fence. the car had ohio plates. suddenly a police van swooped down and many cops surrounded the vehicle, subjecting all to a search. perhaps they found something because the young occupants of the car were cuffed and led away. i will never forget the look in their eyes -- a vacant look beyond disbelief, they moved in poetic slowmotion as if they were already spirits free from the mundane yoke of gravity. my friend rushed over to the scene and furiously began snapping photographs. he followed one arrestee down a street who said to him desperately: don't leave me, keep taking pictures! my friend returned to us with tears in his eyes, as quiet as a mouse.

    our affinity group had grown and shrunk as the morning wore on -- it was a splendid exercise in democracy -- we came and left as we pleased. perhaps this was because all of the protestors created a bubble that needed no osmosis for inter-relationship. after the arrest scene, those of us left gathered for the descent down to the old port where a large march was to begin at noon. we made it down and sat awhile in the range of a bullhorn which spoke from the point of view of an american union. it was speaking words i liked to understand. somebody was handing out cuban flags. then a member of our group arrived to tell us of a most wondrous drumming and dancing taking place underneath an iron sculpture not far off. boy was i glad to know that. we moved over to it, and i had the best time of my whole day there for the next hour or so...

    i heard the beats, which were organically synthesized through the masses of bodies moving to their rhythm, well before i saw the drummers. the weather, as i've said, was remarkable and so every vantage was crystal clear, in manifest ektachrome. i immediately jumped into the dance area and danced, and danced, and danced... i felt so giddy, enraptured, blessed to be where i was. time was standing still. it was the epicentre of loveliness. we clapped, juggled, blew bubbles, felt the subtle nuances of rhythm, communed with each other as i'm sure we never had before. i was so high, i was in the stratosphere! i turned to my friend and said that this is what drugs or other forms of thought seek, but fall short of. this is true community! a woman who had spoken to us in ottawa a few days before had said: we all know what we are fighting against, but we must go to quebec knowing what we are fighting for! and dancing there, feeling totally me, i knew that this was what i was fighting for. this was. i was so tired of being ashamed of my optimism, so tired of embracing the hipness of my discontent, and here was a tangible feeling of togetherness and hope. and i was so glad to be learning that lesson, right there, beneath the mantle of the universe. the scene did not erase the complexity of the world and its many challenges, but it gave equitable balance to the benighted forces of the power paradigm up there near the citadel, near the seat of ancient prestige...

    we could only take so much light, and plus the union parade was about to begin. only in retrospect did we learn that other parades were making their way across the city. but this was to be the largest, and we all decided we wanted to be in the march. at the outset we were in the vanguard of the march -- its banners flowing in the breeze. we walked ahead for awhile and suddenly came face to face with the anarchists march. iconically dark and netherworldly, but ideologically quite otherwise, these protestors with their hidden faces arrived in vector opposite to the union masses. due to sheer numbers they gave way for the time being, but they would turn up later, in other places...

    we decided to continue on in the body of the march. what happened next was certainly a lesson that i will always remember. its intensity was that more keenly felt because of its juxtaposition with the beauty of our dance. we still had our bandannas around our necks as that was a convenient place to keep them, and we marched oblivious to their significance. we were simply caught up in a naivete that our experiences up till then had engendered. of a sudden, 3 or 4 union marshals, wearing their orange pinneys, violently grabbed two members of our group and tossed them aside. the rest of us were also escorted away. this was very violent action, i must say. my friends were vocally upset as it all went down. they mistook us for anarchists it would seem in the same way that we mistook the people's march for an exercise in ultimate solidarity. i shouted at one of them that what they were doing was tantamount to those riot cops in upper town, but i doubt they would want to see the connection. our innocence of these large events had created the chaos, and yet that innocence was based on true sisterhood and brotherhood. it was not that it shocked us intellectually: we were gravely hurt emotionally. one of us was extremely angry and collected a rock to throw. i calmed everyone down enough, but then was left the delicate task of not letting this disturbing instance to ruin everything up until then. i explained to them the complexity of these things, and how we shouldn't stoop to their level etc. after a while our minds accepted it. our hearts moved slower. we cut off the main parade path and eventually made it to l'ile fleury where there were hippies serving free food to a dixieland ghettoblaster tape. we sat down there with heavy hearts to regroup...

    i have to admit i was deflated. however i was unbowed, and continued to "check the weather" of my companions. we all seemed to feel a complex mix of emotions that could not be distilled into any expression, other than our faces' blank inscrutability. i think we felt some anger mixed with a lot of confusion, and underlaid with sadness. i knew myself well enough to know that it would pass eventually, and wanted to glean the lessons from its passing. some of the others now wanted to go up to the fence immediately to engage the authority, and they proceeded to do so. we found out later on the bus that they did in fact achieve this. they told us their bodies were tear gassed into submission again and again. perhaps they needed to feel first-hand the tools of our oppression so as to know all the better what we fighting for. as for me and one other pal, we decided to chill for the time being, regroup and move on.

    while waiting, a few people heard our story and listened sympathetically. they asked us if we would join them. they were just heading up to tear down the fence, as they had the day before. to them, the fence was all about corporate fascism, and we did consider going. i have subsequently come to agree with their assessment of the fence. my outrage is growing daily of how dissent has been persecuted in our country, and how the fence symbolized that. we decided not to go. our hearts were too full at that moment. plus, i hadn't thought out enough the merits of the differences between benign protest by numbers, civil disobedience and symbolic violence.

    we left l'ile fleury and walked up 10 flights of stairs up from the underpasses and up towards the fence again. as we walked two helicopters flew a few storeys up scanning the placid events below. again, is this what democracy looks like? can we not express our disagreement with our 'elected' governments? i wanted to move towards the general direction of our bus's pick up area and grab a beer and reflect on what was going on. as we walked we saw people running down the street clutching their faces, and behind them, tear gas chasing. my face and eyes started burning. my friend wanted to go and see the shit to take pictures, i declined and sat down clutching my face one street down. he went up there and got some great shots of the lines of riot police and the spraying water cannon. he came down soaking wet having been sprayed by the cannon, and his camera too. he had brought a change of clothes and changed and hoped his film was ok. (it was...).

    we moved west and passed by another demonstration going down to lower town. these were from the education sector. i thought, how diverse were these groups. and how glad i was that all these groups dedicated to social justice were being united because of this larger goal of defeating the increasing corporate power. unfortunately, we need a uniting force. and, i think, the ftaa is that. perhaps there is some positives in all this negativity. we were now far from the perimeter, but still waves of stinging wind came to our faces. i learned later that it was level 3 tear gas - they had only used level 1 in prague. holy cow! this was ridiculous, but obviously calculated. we made our way to a bistro where several interesting conversations transpired.

    just outside its walls, thousands of people were still milling. just up the hill the perimeter was being engaged. the air outside was becoming toxic as the thousands of teargas canister contents flowed down to us. but inside was a different story. by chance we had arrived at a bistro which was the cuba-quebec friendship association. pictures of fidel and che lined the walls. but the clientele there was a distinct mix of native quebecois and quebecoise, and protestors of various ilks ducking in for a pint. there were two screens showing the live footage from just up the hill, and the audio was pumped. it was a feed from rdi, the french 24 hr cbc channel. it was surreal sitting down having a beer whilst looking up at the footage of billowing teargas clouds and riot police and masses of protestors -- and realizing it was just up the street! and in canada!

    as we started debriefing ourselves i struck up a conversation with a couple of the natives. they were, of course, very interested in what was happening to their city. one man told me that he didn't mind if people tore down the perimeter fence, but did mind if people broke store windows. i couldn't help agreeing with him. what his comments told me was that there is a certain tolerance for protest, even vigorous non-violence or fence pulling, but none for wanton acts of riot. good to know. then i struck up a conversation with a group of americans from ann arbor, michigan who were nonplussed by the violence. i suggested to them that these gatherings always have that element within them, but that we should not let it solely inform us. what we should carry away from all this is the frequency of solidarity that permeated everyone, that made us feel human. that we should carry all the love and concern we all had expressed into our everyday lives and carry on the struggle. they seemed to listen intently. as they left i asked them if they knew the significance of the quebec flags they carried. they didn't. and i explained that they meant quite a lot in that town, and to be anglophone and american and carrying them showing a certain naivete - the same sort that we had shown earlier walking in the union parade with our anarchist bandannas... we also spoke with a group from toronto who also felt deeply moved by the day's events, and expressed similar confusion by the acts of violence. i offered that we should look on all this complexity, but with no less love. you see, the diversity of our expression made the unity of our protest all the more incredible. we need to stimulate dialogue between all parties, and not give in to the false dichotomies which can divide us.

    the two of us finally made it back to the bus, exhausted, changed. how wonderful the bus ride back was because it gave us a chance to exchange stories and heal any wounds, and gather our strength again. some of us spoke as this being a beginning to their activism, and not as an event which was situated as an island in the stream of time. i must say again that i was continuously inspired by the intelligence, courage, passion and love by all on that bus, and others i had met during that day. i will never feel i toil alone again. our kindred souls are just separated by space or situation. but our energies meet on some different plane, immune to interdiction. the bus rumbled off into the night and eventually we came to ottawa and parted from where we had left. my duties as bus captain were discharged, but my civic duties are just beginning. i take very seriously the responsibility i believe was bestowed on all of us by being present at these protests. we must take the energy and give it as gifts to all we meet, forever. gifts of love and courage...

    A few tears shed for a suspended democracy [66]
    by William Blackler on Sunday, April 29 @10:48PM
    My friend and i drove down to Quebec City, a pair of informed seventeen year olds. Since I had attended the World Bank meeting protest in Montreal this spring I have turned the anti-globalization movement into one of my passion. I had been preparing myself for 6 months to go there and practice my democratic right to protest. But it appears that that seems to have been suspended there. I was at the fence the whole time, amongst the tear gas, in the unity of the crowd, in the intensity. We marched, we chanted, we exchanged ideas and had a great time. Then the police declared war upon us. Volley after volley of tear gas canisters were launched directly into the mass of the crowd, even those who sat and arms stretched out in peace signs. Canisters, which say on them, “do not fire directly at people for it may cause severe injury or death!” Why you might ask? They simply don't want our voices to be heard. I was dancing in front of the fence when a local drunk through a rock at the police, a tear gas can landed right beside me as i dance, with all my protective equipment off (a simple vinegar soaked bandana and taped up ski goggles). As i was being treated another canister landed beside me and medics from Missouri lead me blinded to safety as the fence was pulled down with ropes attached to the top, it took 20 minutes of rinsing to get it all out of my eyes. I was dancing and was repaid with burning, I cried to get the tear gas out, but there were plenty of tears for my rights being suspended when I was truly testing it. Peace is my true passion and violent idiots and even stupider cops ruined my democratic rights.
    I spent my time pleading to the police’s conscience trying to explain to them no paycheck and overcome their morals. The fence coming down was beautiful through the tears, but it was in vain due to the disorder of it. When the fence comes down it should happen in many places, for if everyone had rushed in at the same time, we may have actually accomplished a greater deed of actually getting to the meeting building. And no one would have been arrested. A chant comes to mind when I write this "the people united will never be defeated." For in unity and organisation so much more can be accomplished. I figure head must emerge to lead the people in effective protesting; India had Gandhi, Africa had nelson Mandela, racial rights had so many, but predominantly Dr. Martin Luther King jr. So who is going to represent the world against the shadow tyranny of the corporate take over? Who will represent the World? The media portrayed as the black block and I cried because of that too. The fact that less than 1% of the people their got 99% of the coverage and the message that we were trying to express to the people was tainted and nearly lost by violence and hate.

    This was an atrocity for democracy and i don't trust my own system anymore, to imagine that so many soldiers died defending it in ww2 for it to come to this, if things don't change a new subtle type of fascism will emerge under the mask of the dollar sign, one that will put aside people, the planet and our way of life to make was for more and more zeros behind in the net profit.

    Without organization and unity nothing will ever change, i hope it's not too late before that truly emerges.

    Every one there were freedom fighters for democracy, for people and our ecosystem. I constantly pray that one day soon, we'll be able to spread our word to the people and make them understand that full wallets isn't worth everything we have.

    I applaud everyone we is involved in the anti-globalization movement and plead for them to speak out, spread the word as it's obvious that the media will always taint the issues at hand with trivial things.

    This movement is like a snow ball rolling down the hill, when all the snow turns into a avalanche no corporation nation will ever be able to stop it. Only a true leader, who has killed his fear, will be able to rally the people, were close, so close.

    a few tears shed for the cause and democracy [67]
    by William Blackler on Sunday, April 29 @11:02PM
    My friend and i drove down to Quebec City, a pair of informed seventeen year olds. Since I had attended the World Bank meeting protest in Montreal this spring I have turned the anti-globalization movement into one of my passion. I had been preparing myself for 6 months to go there and practice my democratic right to protest. But it appears that that seems to have been suspended there. I was at the fence the whole time, amongst the tear gas, in the unity of the crowd, in the intensity. We marched, we chanted, we exchanged ideas and had a great time. Then the police declared war upon us. Volley after volley of tear gas canisters were launched directly into the mass of the crowd, even those who sat and arms stretched out in peace signs. Canisters, which say on them, “do not fire directly at people for it may cause severe injury or death!” Why you might ask? They simply don't want our voices to be heard. I was dancing in front of the fence when a local drunk through a rock at the police, a tear gas can landed right beside me as i dance, with all my protective equipment off (a simple vinegar soaked bandana and taped up ski goggles). As i was being treated another canister landed beside me and medics from Missouri lead me blinded to safety as the fence was pulled down with ropes attached to the top, it took 20 minutes of rinsing to get it all out of my eyes. I was dancing and was repaid with burning, I cried to get the tear gas out, but there were plenty of tears for my rights being suspended when I was truly testing it. Peace is my true passion and violent idiots and even stupider cops ruined my democratic rights.
    I spent my time pleading to the police’s conscience trying to explain to them no paycheck and overcome their morals. The fence coming down was beautiful through the tears, but it was in vain due to the disorder of it. When the fence comes down it should happen in many places, for if everyone had rushed in at the same time, we may have actually accomplished a greater deed of actually getting to the meeting building. And no one would have been arrested. A chant comes to mind when I write this "the people united will never be defeated." For in unity and organisation so much more can be accomplished. I figure head must emerge to lead the people in effective protesting; India had Gandhi, Africa had nelson Mandela, racial rights had so many, but predominantly Dr. Martin Luther King jr. So who is going to represent the world against the shadow tyranny of the corporate take over? Who will represent the World? The media portrayed as the black block and I cried because of that too. The fact that less than 1% of the people their got 99% of the coverage and the message that we were trying to express to the people was tainted and nearly lost by violence and hate.

    This was an atrocity for democracy and i don't trust my own system anymore, to imagine that so many soldiers died defending it in ww2 for it to come to this, if things don't change a new subtle type of fascism will emerge under the mask of the dollar sign, one that will put aside people, the planet and our way of life to make was for more and more zeros behind in the net profit.

    Without organization and unity nothing will ever change, i hope it's not too late before that truly emerges.

    Every one there were freedom fighters for democracy, for people and our ecosystem. I constantly pray that one day soon, we'll be able to spread our word to the people and make them understand that full wallets isn't worth everything we have.

    I applaud everyone we is involved in the anti-globalization movement and plead for them to speak out, spread the word as it's obvious that the media will always taint the issues at hand with trivial things.

    This movement is like a snow ball rolling down the hill, when all the snow turns into a avalanche no corporation nation will ever be able to stop it. Only a true leader, who has killed his fear, will be able to rally the people, were close, so close.

    No Subject Given [69]
    by Liv Smithies on Monday, May 14 @12:46PM
    I think the crazy vibe, dancing and music was the best tactic. It showed we wern't beat. I think the whole think really energized alot of people, and made them realise that we have the numbers and can make a difference. It also showed the world that if the government had to spend so much to defend it's self than perhaps there is reason to be suspicous.

    ~!~peaceinpoeaceoutpeaceisnotatrend~!

    ~~LIV~~

    story re: FTAA Protest in Quebec City [73]
    by Zak Lamont on Thursday, September 06 @01:21AM
    HOW I LOST MY TEAR GAS VIRGINITY IN QUEBEC CITY
    by Zak Lamont


    I lost my tear gas virginity in Quebec City. The canisters were flying one after the other. Kaboum, kaboum, like small canon fire. But I wasn't at the front line.
    No, I was down from the hill marching peacefully, along with street theatre actors, trade unionists, parading mothers and their kiddies, and other Canadian complainants of treatment of ordinary citizens by the (FTAA) Free Trade Area of the Americas organization. A querying voice in my head was returning, nevertheless, with surprising regularity. Would the police seize me by a resistant arm and march me to a waiting bullet-proof van?

    Yes, the gas came down upon us. Early that day I'd stumbled upon a group of youngsters in their twenties at a center town café. I, an old overweight veteran, salt and pepper haired, chatted up Geoff, Mark, Lisette and Wendy. I even passed them some money for lunch. They, thin, fresh, angry and not averse to a little adventure, were set to be counted.
    With a radiant smile, the kind Cambodian café owner filled our water jugs to the brim. It was time to show our faces, to stand up, to cry out.

    Oh yes, the march....the tear gas. All of a sudden, I smelled something rancid in the air followed by a punch in the face, in a manner of speaking, as eyes, nose and throat alighted, in a fierce burning. The pain was so acute I ran for cover, while more experienced and younger protesters lifted vinegar-soaked kerchiefs over mouth and nose.

    Much much earlier that day the streets were bare; a lonely bus loaded up with Canadian troopers languished by the train station. The air of desolation triggered a story told to me by a Parisian lady from Ottawa who`d headed a local multinational language school there. One day, someone from Toronto showed up to inform her of her lay-off. She was asked to empty her desk of her belongings; marched to the front door; thanked for her services and bid farewell. In the hallway she checked her watch. Thirty minutes was all it took to end a career that had spanned over a quarter of a century of dedicated service.

    At 7:00 a.m, I stumbled into a roadside coffee shop where a group of kids, barely out of their teens were sprawled at a table. A blonde girl said they`d come for the protest, all the way from Nova Scotia. Pack sacks were strewn about the floor around chairs. That day, packsackers were everywhere to be seen. We were an army of packsackers , converging on Quebec`s capital city; converging on the wall of shame, a wall to keep us out, to inform us of our insignificance in the scheme of things, and of things to come.

    Making a phone call, having lunch, emptying my bladder, getting a drink - no matter how long I was away from the never-ending stream of marchers, upon my return to that massive procession, that ceaseless line continued its snaking through the narrow streets, making its face known, a powerful, stirring proclamation and affirmation for "Mr. and Mrs. No-One Special". Tiny Cuban flags everywhere; placards everywhere. One of them summed it all up, "I didn`t vote for Ronald McDonald". In a turn in the road, a small crowd was seen to be huddled around a radio. The radio announcer brought news that at one end the barricade surrounding the FTAA conference centre was successfully stormed, although later we learned that the kerchiefed street attackers were repulsed. We cheered out of admiration for their courage. But we'd all seen them in our cortege, black -garbed, silent, their cold, creepy, mechanical gesticulating choreography of hands, like the relentless movement of automatic gear boxes, sending an icy chill. Again on the radio, the announcer was chatting with a caller, broken-hearted , a Quebec resident of an apartment building at the feet of the Fence where sci-fi police were joined to tear gas muskets. Half angrily, half despairingly, in broken bursts, he related how his pet bird, a Guatamalan tucan, had suffocated to death when the gas had so deceptively seeped underneath his front door. Again my imagination ran wild, what if the police suddenly appeared and at close range burst tear gas canisters at our feet...would we crush each other in flight...would we choke?

    When the tear gas poured down my throat and into my eyes and nose , harsh chemicals shoving into my membranes, ramming down my throat, proving their unquestionable dominion, towering over me, watching me cringe in fear, in panic;
    watching a 3 yr. old in her mother`s arms, the girl wailing, "it burns...it burns", instinctively then I sensed control was leaving me; so when I, Tulip Festival-like, made way for the mother and her little girl to escape into the pharmacy-haven doorway before I myself dashed in, I knew that I`d lost my tear gas virginity in Quebec City, but what I had embarked on at the start of this expedition, I did not lose.... the backbone and the determination to reclaim what was being taken away from me..






    .


    My short Quebec City Report [59]
    by Ian Clysdale on Monday, April 23 @12:34PM
    Here's the short mail that I sent to one of the mailing lists that I'm on about my experiences in QC.

    ian.

    -----

    I'll write more later - I only just actually got home, and I need to do some more prayers, pet my cat, and study for my exam tomorrow morning. However, I wanted to just share some brief impressions of the event.
    I was awed and overwhelmed, frightened and inspired, driven to frustration and to joy. I was *amazed* by the site of incredibly brave creative people in this city. The streets of downtown were just full of laughter, dancing, drumming, street theatre, and people trying to outline a culture of joy. The various estimates that I've seen run from 35,000 to 60,000 - I tend to suspect that it's probably closer to the higher end of that.
    Closer to the fence, things began to get uglier, but even there I was just overwhelmed by most of the people. The news has focused on the more violent aspects, just as they did in Seattle, but reading the reports confirms my impression - the violent acts were rare exceptions. Far more the norm was the unprovoked continued rounds of tear gas and pepper spray being constantly used on protesters gathered at the edge of the fence.
    And what *truly* inspired me is that when we finally pulled back from the fence, half-blinded and having trouble breathing, there were hundreds, maybe thousands of people lining up behind us ready to go back up to the fence, to send a message that these measures are just plain wrong. Sure there were a few Black Bloc types. But there were much more of many other kinds - the Raging Grannies; the PERC people with their catapult throwing stuffed animals over the fence; the CUPE union people we were with who left the main labour march and went to the fence in solidarity with all the other groups there; ordinary people doing extraordinary things in an insane world.
    I'm not particularly thrilled with my government right now, but I'm incredibly proud of my country.

    Peace and Freedom,
    ian.



    My co-worker Paul's comment on the Saturday d [60]
    by John Hollingsworth on Monday, April 23 @04:05PM
    Hi, when I get a chance, I'll try and post my own comments on my experience in Akwesasne/Cornwall and Quebec City. In solidarity, John.

    * * *

    Hi,

    Here is my story about the Quebec City summit protest:

    The Student/Education Sector march left Laval University at 12 noon on Saturday, April 21, 2001. Two kilometres from the fence the march split in two. One group went south to listen to speeches. The other group headed to the fence. I and the three others I traveled with to Quebec City decided to go with this second group.

    We walked slowly up Boulevard Rene Levesque. At first everything seemed normal, but as we moved east we could see puffs of white smoke up ahead and hear the distant sound of some kind of weapon being fired.

    We continued to move forward, past rows and rows of boarded up storefronts. Soon we came upon a near equal number of people walking slowly back towards us. I stopped at this moment to rest and to try and figure out what was going on. People continued to flow towards the fence, others came back from it. Finally our little group moved forward again and we encountered tear gas.

    This was something new to me.

    At low concentrations it stings your eyes. As it gets denser, but still invisible, it begins to rip at your nose and throat. When you are in the smoke it is absolutely, horrifically, overwhelming. Eyes instantly burn shut, lungs wrench closed. It is terrifying. There is no question of toughing it out. Unless you have a gas mask, there is no choice but to leave the poisoned area.

    After being gassed the first time, we walked back slowly from the fence, gasping for air, tears streaming from our eyes. We waited, rested, and then headed back to the fence, a process of advance and fall back that we repeated all afternoon. It was this phenomena, groups of demonstrators moving to the fence and then being gassed back, that we encountered when we first approached the summit area.

    The thud of tear gas guns was continuous. The canisters would fly in a high arc, maybe 100m up and then crash down to the ground. We would try and chart the parabola and avoid being hit.

    When the canisters smashed into the ground they would bounce and spin, spewing out poison. Then, something amazing would happen. A black clad figure with a gas mask would appear from nowhere and hurl the bomb back over the fence at the police. Every time one was lobbed back, a huge cheer went up from the crowd.

    I guess these “bomb disposal teams” were the anarchists, CLAC, the Black Bloc. Usually they were like ghosts, invisible and then suddenly appearing to deal with the tear gas. Other times they would snake in a line through the protest, heading towards the fence. The crowd would part and let them through. As the afternoon continued, admiration for them steadily grew.

    Our small group, like most people in the crowd, I suppose, was there as individuals to bear witness at the fence and to try and let the politicians hear our views. We had no desire to engage in direct confrontation or to be arrested, but we felt it was important to be at the fence. For our peaceful efforts, we were gassed and attacked by the police as far back as a kilometre from the fence. In this environment it was apparent that the distinction between violent and non-violent protestors mouthed by so many (including people on “our side”) was a false one. Folks such as the Black Bloc had the courage and organization to be right at the fence. This created a shield for the rest of us to do our thing. Instead of categories of protestor, there was rather a single mass at the fence, using a variety of tactics on the confrontation/non-confrontation continuum. Everyone’s contribution was valuable.

    Well, almost everyone’s. As the crowd grew at the fence through the afternoon, a question was repeated again and again: “Where are the unions?” The answer, sadly, was that the labour march was kilometres from the fence and headed in the wrong direction. We learned that the unions had routed their march away from the summit and planned to conclude their event, not with protest, but with 22 speeches.

    22 Speeches?

    Jean Chretien, in a rare moment of articulateness, nailed it exactly with his “blah, blah, blah” reference to the speechifying element of the trade protest movement. Labour’s strategy of conducting speeches, both in terms of its impact on politicians, and its contribution to the summit protest, was absolutely pointless.

    Actually, it was worse than pointless.

    By mid-afternoon there were probably 5,000 people at the fence. The conservative media estimate of the total number of protestors was 25,000. That leaves at least 20,000 people wandering aimlessly through the suburbs of Quebec City, five or ten kilometres from the fence and even farther from the summit site. If labour had brought even half that number to the fence in a timely fashion on Saturday afternoon, the fence would have come completely down. We then would have had the choice of proceeding forward.

    Instead, we were left in a stalemate at the fence, pounded by tear gas and increasingly violent police, with leadership provided by a bunch of extraordinary kids dressed in black.

    Where was labour? That is an angry question that I cannot answer. The process of expedience and concession that came up with the plan to avoid the fence is beyond my understanding. It is as if the second world war generals who were preparing to lead the attack on Europe to drive the Nazis out, turned around and launched an invasion in the direction of Baffin Island. The presence of individual workers at the fence on Saturday was no compensation for the mistaken union decision to avoid meaningful protest in the first place.

    I am angry, but this piece should not end on a bitter note. The demonstration at the fence was still awe-inspiring. My heart goes out to all my friends who I know wanted to be there but could not make it to Quebec City. My condolences also to those who were (mis)led on the march to nowhere by the unions.

    Memories are already starting to sort out in my mind. The smell of apple cider vinegar (used to soak our scarves and ward off tear gas). The sound of tear gas guns and our own drums. The sight of gas canisters ripping through the sky. And memories of all the people - too numerous to all do justice to - except I have to mention:

    Coming across some of the national leadership of the student organizations, red-faced and exhausted, resting on the sidewalk just back from the fence - talking tactics and strategy - and preparing to move forward again.

    And most especially (and fondly in retrospect), grasping for the hands of my own “affinity group” - the fearful foursome - and being lead blinded out of the tear gas. Thanks for everything, comrades! For those of us who were at the fence, or who wanted to be there, the struggle continues. For others, it has to start.

    That’s my story.

    Individual protestor from the education sector, shop steward at my local (OPEIU L 225)

    Paul Jones
    Ottawa, ON

      Where were the unions? [61]
      by Ian Clysdale on Monday, April 23 @04:17PM
      The unions were at the fence, they just weren't visible. Although I'm not a CUPE member, I have good friends who are, and my affinity group ended up attaching to CUPE as medics.
      <p >
      As with the student march, the labour march also split, with significant contingents going to the fence, while the rest went to hear speeches. Significant contingents from CUPE - and other unions - went up to the fence in solidarity with all of the other groups who felt that direct protest was necessary.
      <p >
      However, the FTQ march marshals for the labour march asked the labour groups to leave their union banners behind, to avoid a media conflation of the labour groups with the violent protesters. I've heard - from others - that some of the marshals discouraged union people from splitting off from the march, but when we told them that we were going up they simply asked us not to take the banners.
      <p >
      I have mixed feelings about this, but I can certainly understand the concerns that motivated it. I do, however, want to emphasize that the unions were not absent from the struggle at the fence.
      <p >
      However, I'd also like to say that while the demonstration at the fence was certainly awe-inspiring, so was the demonstration in the streets. Descending from the hell of that fence after an hour as a medic, I entered into people who were drumming, dancing, singing, doing street theatre, even as the smell of tear gas descended from the top. For me, that's what this is really all about - pointing out an alternative and better way of living.
      <p >
      Confusion not confrontation, <br>
      ian.

      Where were the unions? [61]
      by Ian Clysdale on Monday, April 23 @04:17PM
      The unions were at the fence, they just weren't visible. Although I'm not a CUPE member, I have good friends who are, and my affinity group ended up attaching to CUPE as medics.
      <p >
      As with the student march, the labour march also split, with significant contingents going to the fence, while the rest went to hear speeches. Significant contingents from CUPE - and other unions - went up to the fence in solidarity with all of the other groups who felt that direct protest was necessary.
      <p >
      However, the FTQ march marshals for the labour march asked the labour groups to leave their union banners behind, to avoid a media conflation of the labour groups with the violent protesters. I've heard - from others - that some of the marshals discouraged union people from splitting off from the march, but when we told them that we were going up they simply asked us not to take the banners.
      <p >
      I have mixed feelings about this, but I can certainly understand the concerns that motivated it. I do, however, want to emphasize that the unions were not absent from the struggle at the fence.
      <p >
      However, I'd also like to say that while the demonstration at the fence was certainly awe-inspiring, so was the demonstration in the streets. Descending from the hell of that fence after an hour as a medic, I entered into people who were drumming, dancing, singing, doing street theatre, even as the smell of tear gas descended from the top. For me, that's what this is really all about - pointing out an alternative and better way of living.
      <p >
      Confusion not confrontation, <br>
      ian.

    Quebec City 2001 [62]
    by Derek Reid on Wednesday, April 25 @05:24PM
    <b>A Report from Quebec City</b>
    <p >
    We arrived Saturday afternoon, just in time to catch the end of the organized march of about 40,000 people, representing many different groups. It was very colorful, more like a parade, with huge props and colorful costumes and themes.
    We followed the march for several blocks until the split.
    <p >
    Hanging from the traffic light, there was an anarchist, pointing to the direction of the upper city that was fenced, meanwhile, the march was heading the other direction, out to the industrial parks of Quebec City. We chose to go
    towards the fence.
    <p >
    Walking up the hill, we saw magnificent views of thousands of people. There was political graffiti and art on boarded up shops and available
    wall space. The streets were packed with young peaceful protesters. The ongoing sounds of the day included lots of music and drumming, and police helicopters hanging in the sky.
    <p >
    But before even getting a glimpse of the fence, we were greeted with clouds of tear gas, a terrible smell, causing burning of the eyes. We came prepared with water, and rinsed our eyes out, and decided to go another direction.
    <p >
    Down at the end of one street, we witnessed a constant smoke stack of tear gas lasting the whole day. We later found out it was from a snow-blowing machine used to pump out tear gas.
    <p >
    Winding through the narrow streets, filled with protesters, we tried to find a way to the fence, but every street we walked up, there were protesters coming down, warning us of gas.
    <p >
    We finally made it to the west side of the fence, where thousands of protesters had gathered, and got our first glimpse of the fence. We barely had time to take a picture before people started running away from the fence, as the police
    dispersed the crowd into the surrounding residential neighbourhoods.
    <p >
    As the day went on, this continued. We wondered around, looking for where the protesters had gathered, and once we found a group, it was a matter of minutes until the helicopters would come right above us (a bad sign), and the riot
    police would advance with loud flashing explosives and tear gas, and clear the
    area.
    <p >
    My conclusion was that the police did not want any gathering of peaceful protest. Their day consisted of finding where protesters were gathering (with their eyes in the sky), then dispersing them with explosives, tear gas, water
    cannons and rubber bullets.
    <p >
    By night fall we had joined what could be considered a rave in a park of the lower city, far away from the fence. But once again, it was only minutes before the choppers came, followed by riot police and tear gas. We moved even farther
    away, and found a huge party under an expressway, with thousands of people dancing around a huge bonfire, to the beat of hundreds of drummers. In the middle of it all there was a free buffet, provided by a group called "Food not Bombs".
    <p >
    We hung out in view of this massive party for a while, around a small campfire which had been abandoned. I then noticed an army of police vans occupying the expressway overhead, and we decided to split. The area was then cleared. It was
    quite clear at this point that there was no designated area for peaceful protest. Protest had been outlawed.
    <p >
    The disbursement of gatherings continued throughout the night and into the early hours of the morning. The sound of overhead helicopters, and the flashing of the spot lights was constant, as well as the stench of tear gas. And there was no safe haven for the protesters. Anywhere they decided to congregate, the police would move in and disperse them.
    <p >
    All the protesters I saw were peaceful. The anarchists were our heroes, as they were gutsy enough to return the tear gas to the police (some were using hockey sitcks to do this), and they resisted the disbursements as long as possible. Some would say that if it weren't for the
    anarchists keeping the police busy, the police would have moved in on the peaceful protesters much sooner, and made many more arrests.
    <p >
    Also, although parts of the fence had been taken down by protesters, I do not think this constituted a security threat. Who would want to cross it to be alone with 6,000 riot police? Definitely not 99.99% of the people there, who were there to be peaceful.
    <p >
    The property damage was extremely minimal. There was a Royal Bank window which had been smashed (yay!). Other than that, there was just wood to be gathered for the many bonfires around the city, which were useful for keeping warm. The wood
    came from commercial billboards, and wood that was used to board up windows (and a wooden fence which I saw in the news coverage). Oh ya, and a traffic light was melted from one of the bonfires. At no point did I witness any rioting or
    violence on the side of the protesters. You will notice that there has been no dollar amounts given on the damage, since it was probably so small, it would be embarrassing. Nothing compared to the half-a-million dollar damage that
    St-Jean-Baptist Day riots have caused, and even less than nothing compared to the 0-million security tab for the summit. I guess the police were the real winners at the end of the day. There was an average of one tear gas canister
    fired per minute.
    <p >
    The news has reported a very small number of injuries caused by police (around 50), but the actual number is much higher. Many people were hit with tear gas canisters and rubber bullets. The actual number that the street medics reported
    was well above 2,000. Many of these injuries were quite serious (Like a rubber bullet in the throat).
    <p >
    By about 3am, police had pushed protesters so far back, that they were reaching where we had parked -- next to a church where meditation was taking place for the entire weekend. As we dispersed up the narrow street to the church, anarchists were collecting portable metal fences to create a barricade to prevent the riot police from advancing. Tear gas was flying everywhere, it was
    truly a scene from a Terminator/Armageddon movie.
    <p >
    We decided to split for the night.
    <p >
    I was very disappointed by the violence and provocation from police. I went to Quebec city to share a common view with fellow citizens, but spent most of the day running from police. I was about ready to become an anarchist myself.
    <p >
    However, I was very thrilled by the extremely good energy of the protesters themselves. Everybody was very cooperative and looking out for each other. I was also very impressed by the thousands of young protesters who were politically
    aware, and engaged. Youth have been known to be politically apathetic, but this gives me much new hope.
    <p >
    The media coverage has been pathetic. I heard CBC say that the weekend hurt the movement more then helping it, when anyone who was there will say the exact opposite. There was an amazing energy between protesters, and a definite opening
    (and burning) of the eyes to police oppression.
    <p >
    The tear gas was so dense and the smell lingered everywhere. All the residents and shopkeepers got it. But on the bright side, everyone inside the fence got it too. I'd like to see Chretien's eyes burning up.
    <p >
    They said the summit (inside the fence) was a success. But it did shut down early. The delegates were afraid to leave there hotels due to the abundance of tear gas on the streets. I don't think they accomplished much. However, I would say that the summit was a huge success for everybody on the outside of the fence.
    <p >
    Definitely an unforgettable experience.
    <p >
    Here are some images from Quebec City.
    <p >
    Most are from the Internet, however there are a few I took myself.
    <p >
    Enjoy....
    <p >
    <a href="http://www.redbeaver.ca/democracy/ftaa/">Images from Quebec City</a>
    <p >
    Derek

    A Canadian Love Poem [63]
    by Darryl Wright on Friday, April 27 @11:34AM
    I was talking to someone last night who asked me to post this on the web site. The following poem was written as an expression of the rage I was feeling when I arrived home from Quebec. I will be slamming it at The Step-up! poetry slam on Saturday, April 28th at the Aloha room on Bank St., Ottawa (under Berrymores) at about 9:00pm. Hope to see you there! http://www.stepupslam.com --- World Summit, Quebec, 2001 I went to bed reeling and I woke up angry only 24 hours since my government betrayed me. The dynamics of good and evil, reversed the police become predators and the media, worse. 30,000 people crying involuntary tears then Chretien’s smiling face, on my TV, appears dismissing us all with a “Blah, blah, blah…”, hell “All things considered, I think it went fairly well.” Heir Prime Minister, I wonder, did you consider that these 30,000 people might be a little bitter? ...that the little you accomplished in the safety of your halls really could have been done in a couple of phone calls and THAT'S assuming it reflects the will on the street out there with the people who GAVE you that seat! And I’ve got at least 20,000, “Gen-X”ers back here, And I DARE you to tell them that they don’t really care That’s 20,000 furrowed brows, angry faces from hundreds of societies directly affected places and maybe we’re not as intimidating as we could be our most well known supporter was on “Road to Avonlea” but start telling this crew that their problem’s 'apathy' and I give you 6 nano-seconds before your face hits the street! And your news anchor people, dumb as posts, JC cause I promise you this crew ain’t here for no party. Flash your single policeman with a busted face mask but don’t show 1200 doubled over, choking on gas sounds hard to believe if you take things for granted but truth slides away if you let the media slant it like, “a duty to protect the worlds economic elite” but at the expense of the rights of those people on the street They show you “anarchist groups” tossing concrete chunks why they look, to me, more like highschool punks and to illustrate their irrelevance, let me compare as their small stones rebound from plexi-glass glare to about a hundred tear gas canisters instead, hitting one of these “punks” in the back of his head. Hey - let’s talk about bullets, the harmless rubber ones collapsing one lady’s windpipe, air locked in her lungs they carried that lady away on a stretcher no doubt when she recovers, someone will arrest her. Yeah, sixty armored cops, and six teens in street-wear "Those poor policemen, it seems so unfair?!" I swore in that moment if I’d a can of tear gas I’d find our Prime Minister, jam it right up his ass. But then we’d be descending into violence and hate something normally reserved for the United States. … and then it occurred to me, maybe that’s the intention behind his temporary police state and civil rights suspension. President Bush, with his sub-atomic IQ Pulling Chretien’s puppet strings, and telling nations what to do and that man we elected, walks in the corporate parade carelessly tossing environmental advancements we’ve made The diabolic duo, in political cahoots With Chretien shining Bush’s oil-black boots. A la belle ville du Quebec, our Prime Minister decorates with marching storm troopers, iron bars and disgrace. Thousands of people, brave it, with peaceful intent, amass at the fence to show their dissent and as Chretien’s canisters fly through the air we will never be the same, I know, I was there. And there’s still some question: failure or success? And for that I turn to you, because YOU are the test… If any of you understand, recognize what I’m saying Then, cheers! We’ve succeeded the CEO’s can start pray’n! Darryl G. Wright, 2001, Ottawa

    A Canadian Love Poem [64]
    by Darryl Wright on Friday, April 27 @11:34AM
    I was talking to someone last night who asked me to post this on the web site. The following poem was written as an expression of the rage I was feeling when I arrived home from Quebec. I will be slamming it at The Step-up! poetry slam on Saturday, April 28th at the Aloha room on Bank St., Ottawa (under Berrymores) at about 9:00pm. Hope to see you there! http://www.stepupslam.com

    ---
    World Summit, Quebec, 2001

    I went to bed reeling and I woke up angry
    only 24 hours since my government betrayed me.
    The dynamics of good and evil, reversed
    the police become predators and the media, worse.

    30,000 people crying involuntary tears
    then Chretien’s smiling face, on my TV, appears
    dismissing us all with a “Blah, blah, blah…”, hell
    “All things considered, I think it went fairly well.”

    Heir Prime Minister, I wonder, did you consider
    that these 30,000 people might be a little bitter?
    ...that the little you accomplished in the safety of your halls
    really could have been done in a couple of phone calls

    and THAT'S assuming it reflects the will on the street
    out there with the people who GAVE you that seat!
    And I’ve got at least 20,000, “Gen-X”ers back here,
    And I DARE you to tell them that they don’t really care

    That’s 20,000 furrowed brows, angry faces
    from hundreds of societies directly affected places
    and maybe we’re not as intimidating as we could be
    our most well known supporter was on “Road to Avonlea”

    but start telling this crew that their problem’s 'apathy'
    and I give you 6 nano-seconds before your face hits the street!
    And your news anchor people, dumb as posts, JC
    cause I promise you this crew ain’t here for no party.

    Flash your single policeman with a busted face mask
    but don’t show 1200 doubled over, choking on gas
    sounds hard to believe if you take things for granted
    but truth slides away if you let the media slant it

    like, “a duty to protect the worlds economic elite”
    but at the expense of the rights of those people on the street
    They show you “anarchist groups” tossing concrete chunks
    why they look, to me, more like highschool punks

    and to illustrate their irrelevance, let me compare
    as their small stones rebound from plexi-glass glare
    to about a hundred tear gas canisters instead,
    hitting one of these “punks” in the back of his head.

    Hey - let’s talk about bullets, the harmless rubber ones
    collapsing one lady’s windpipe, air locked in her lungs
    they carried that lady away on a stretcher
    no doubt when she recovers, someone will arrest her.

    Yeah, sixty armored cops, and six teens in street-wear
    "Those poor policemen, it seems so unfair?!"
    I swore in that moment if I’d a can of tear gas
    I’d find our Prime Minister, jam it right up his ass.

    But then we’d be descending into violence and hate
    something normally reserved for the United States.
    … and then it occurred to me, maybe that’s the intention
    behind his temporary police state and civil rights suspension.

    President Bush, with his sub-atomic IQ
    Pulling Chretien’s puppet strings, and telling nations what to do
    and that man we elected, walks in the corporate parade
    carelessly tossing environmental advancements we’ve made

    The diabolic duo, in political cahoots
    With Chretien shining Bush’s oil-black boots.
    A la belle ville du Quebec, our Prime Minister decorates
    with marching storm troopers, iron bars and disgrace.

    Thousands of people, brave it, with peaceful intent,
    amass at the fence to show their dissent
    and as Chretien’s canisters fly through the air
    we will never be the same, I know, I was there.

    And there’s still some question: failure or success?
    And for that I turn to you, because YOU are the test…
    If any of you understand, recognize what I’m saying
    Then, cheers! We’ve succeeded the CEO’s can start pray’n!

    Darryl G. Wright, 2001, Ottawa

    quebec city protest diary [65]
    by Daniel Jackson on Friday, April 27 @02:28PM
    i first got the idea to go to quebec to protest the ftaa a long time ago. probably when i was 14 years old -- and that's awhile ago, considering i'm 31. i think i was fortunate in that my parents encouraged me to follow the innate beliefs of young people -- who, i'm convinced, are universally imbued with a sense of social justice. and as the years progressed i did a little here and there to help others and to stay aware of our society's most pressing needs. but i found that life's challenges and experiences started to weigh me down, leaving me with a profound sense of inertia, and cynicism. the 14 year-old me was still there all the while, and he was languishing in a prison of ideas and coping strategies.

    and so it was just last week that i awoke into a beautiful reality. so different it was than the one i had been wallowing in. and it was so in tune with my oldest frequencies, and so i knew it was right.

    the melody began when i brought my son to the stop-the-ftaa gathering on the wednesday before quebec. there, i felt a common purpose, and was inspired by the people -- by their courage, intelligence and determination in the face of apathy and the vested powers. i resolved to go.

    curiously, i was chosen to be a bus captain -- having only just re-begun my journey towards activism and civic responsibility. i wouldn't normally have accepted such a position because i can be quite coy in such roles, but i accepted it for the cause. and as i fulfilled my duties the fear subsided, and the wonder grew.

    my erstwhile companions were friendly, intelligent, funny and passionate. but they were by no means easily defined. they all came for their own purposes, and yet were subjugate to the balance and jubilee of the journey. as we grew to understand each other -- on the long bus ride to and from quebec, and also at the protest itself -- we grew to love each other as fellow citizens. and we absorbed energy from the other which can never be fully spent nor repaid.

    our first encounter was just over the quebec border near rigaud. it was near 3am. police cruisers from the surete de quebec pulled us over and checked our driver's papers. they stopped short of searching the bus. it was disconcerting to say the least. it is surprising how fast the state can mobilize its forces. stopping buses? i thought, am i still in canada??? after some time we were allowed to continue on to exercise our democratic rights. as she left, the once stern police officer changed her countenance and broke into a smile, wishing us good luck. how complex these affairs can be!

    we arrived in quebec city near the old port and stepped out into the brilliant sunshine. didn't they predict a cool rainy day? this beneficience was delightful. a few of us formed an affinity group -- even though we never called it that -- and walked through lower town to limouliou and the welcome centre. there were milling crowds there, but not enough information to hold us there. so we headed off, back to where we came, and up and up to the perimeter...

    i had been to quebec before and so knew the area when it was open and unrestricted. the members of my group had not been there before. nonetheless we moved through the narrow streets and arrived finally at the fence. if a simple fence could be an objet d'art this was it. but it was also as ordinary as can be. there were people already gathered at that corner and so we stayed awhile to take it in. over my left shoulder were two union members with a guitar singing an anti-oppression song. further up the hill, a young man had fallen asleep against the fence, his face awash in bright sunshine. i thought he had the right idea... but all of a sudden through the diamond shaped holes of the ordinary fence we caught a glimpse of the riot police. we all shuddered at their impassiveness and calm yet violent focus. i couldn't help but wonder at all the implications of such an military presence at such an event. what i saw was that our rights to peaceful assembly and dissent were being pre-emptively trumped and held at armslength by these men and women. it saddened us that it had to come to this. some saw it as a provocation. i was just saddened at the reality i hadn't wanted to engage, until now. you see, reality is not something we should only muse upon in the safety of our cafes, living room or taverns. reality is each citizen in interactivity. we on the outside, and the riot police on the inside seemed locked in a dialectic not of our own choosing; we become icons to the other to revile and objectify, all the while losing the humanity that we all share. they has got to be a better way. a flower is more lovely than a tear gas canister, is it not?

    we kept moving along the perimeter and as we rounded the corner we were met by a wave of discomfort. i slowly realized i was having my first ever encounter with tear gas. it was disgusting. i pulled my vinegar soaked bandanna over my face and moved through clusters of kerchief-covered visages. the people we passed by all had the same look in their eyes: a quiet fortitude. throughout the day these eyes and their associated energy nourished me to such an extent that i am forever changed by their solidarity. we humans have been divided by place, technology, idealogy, history but even so, when gathered thusly, we hum harmonically at perfect intervals.

    a couple members of our groups expressed their art in collecting various found objects -- a burnt brazziere, spider-looking tear gas canisters, spent smoke bombs. they were looking for the evidence of our suppression, as if the energy of malaise invested in each of these objects could act as a signpost to our understanding. soon, an incident occurred which did not surprise me, but which scared me. four people were sitting in an upscale car a couple of blocks from the perimeter fence. the car had ohio plates. suddenly a police van swooped down and many cops surrounded the vehicle, subjecting all to a search. perhaps they found something because the young occupants of the car were cuffed and led away. i will never forget the look in their eyes -- a vacant look beyond disbelief, they moved in poetic slowmotion as if they were already spirits free from the mundane yoke of gravity. my friend rushed over to the scene and furiously began snapping photographs. he followed one arrestee down a street who said to him desperately: don't leave me, keep taking pictures! my friend returned to us with tears in his eyes, as quiet as a mouse.

    our affinity group had grown and shrunk as the morning wore on -- it was a splendid exercise in democracy -- we came and left as we pleased. perhaps this was because all of the protestors created a bubble that needed no osmosis for inter-relationship. after the arrest scene, those of us left gathered for the descent down to the old port where a large march was to begin at noon. we made it down and sat awhile in the range of a bullhorn which spoke from the point of view of an american union. it was speaking words i liked to understand. somebody was handing out cuban flags. then a member of our group arrived to tell us of a most wondrous drumming and dancing taking place underneath an iron sculpture not far off. boy was i glad to know that. we moved over to it, and i had the best time of my whole day there for the next hour or so...

    i heard the beats, which were organically synthesized through the masses of bodies moving to their rhythm, well before i saw the drummers. the weather, as i've said, was remarkable and so every vantage was crystal clear, in manifest ektachrome. i immediately jumped into the dance area and danced, and danced, and danced... i felt so giddy, enraptured, blessed to be where i was. time was standing still. it was the epicentre of loveliness. we clapped, juggled, blew bubbles, felt the subtle nuances of rhythm, communed with each other as i'm sure we never had before. i was so high, i was in the stratosphere! i turned to my friend and said that this is what drugs or other forms of thought seek, but fall short of. this is true community! a woman who had spoken to us in ottawa a few days before had said: we all know what we are fighting against, but we must go to quebec knowing what we are fighting for! and dancing there, feeling totally me, i knew that this was what i was fighting for. this was. i was so tired of being ashamed of my optimism, so tired of embracing the hipness of my discontent, and here was a tangible feeling of togetherness and hope. and i was so glad to be learning that lesson, right there, beneath the mantle of the universe. the scene did not erase the complexity of the world and its many challenges, but it gave equitable balance to the benighted forces of the power paradigm up there near the citadel, near the seat of ancient prestige...

    we could only take so much light, and plus the union parade was about to begin. only in retrospect did we learn that other parades were making their way across the city. but this was to be the largest, and we all decided we wanted to be in the march. at the outset we were in the vanguard of the march -- its banners flowing in the breeze. we walked ahead for awhile and suddenly came face to face with the anarchists march. iconically dark and netherworldly, but ideologically quite otherwise, these protestors with their hidden faces arrived in vector opposite to the union masses. due to sheer numbers they gave way for the time being, but they would turn up later, in other places...

    we decided to continue on in the body of the march. what happened next was certainly a lesson that i will always remember. its intensity was that more keenly felt because of its juxtaposition with the beauty of our dance. we still had our bandannas around our necks as that was a convenient place to keep them, and we marched oblivious to their significance. we were simply caught up in a naivete that our experiences up till then had engendered. of a sudden, 3 or 4 union marshals, wearing their orange pinneys, violently grabbed two members of our group and tossed them aside. the rest of us were also escorted away. this was very violent action, i must say. my friends were vocally upset as it all went down. they mistook us for anarchists it would seem in the same way that we mistook the people's march for an exercise in ultimate solidarity. i shouted at one of them that what they were doing was tantamount to those riot cops in upper town, but i doubt they would want to see the connection. our innocence of these large events had created the chaos, and yet that innocence was based on true sisterhood and brotherhood. it was not that it shocked us intellectually: we were gravely hurt emotionally. one of us was extremely angry and collected a rock to throw. i calmed everyone down enough, but then was left the delicate task of not letting this disturbing instance to ruin everything up until then. i explained to them the complexity of these things, and how we shouldn't stoop to their level etc. after a while our minds accepted it. our hearts moved slower. we cut off the main parade path and eventually made it to l'ile fleury where there were hippies serving free food to a dixieland ghettoblaster tape. we sat down there with heavy hearts to regroup...

    i have to admit i was deflated. however i was unbowed, and continued to "check the weather" of my companions. we all seemed to feel a complex mix of emotions that could not be distilled into any expression, other than our faces' blank inscrutability. i think we felt some anger mixed with a lot of confusion, and underlaid with sadness. i knew myself well enough to know that it would pass eventually, and wanted to glean the lessons from its passing. some of the others now wanted to go up to the fence immediately to engage the authority, and they proceeded to do so. we found out later on the bus that they did in fact achieve this. they told us their bodies were tear gassed into submission again and again. perhaps they needed to feel first-hand the tools of our oppression so as to know all the better what we fighting for. as for me and one other pal, we decided to chill for the time being, regroup and move on.

    while waiting, a few people heard our story and listened sympathetically. they asked us if we would join them. they were just heading up to tear down the fence, as they had the day before. to them, the fence was all about corporate fascism, and we did consider going. i have subsequently come to agree with their assessment of the fence. my outrage is growing daily of how dissent has been persecuted in our country, and how the fence symbolized that. we decided not to go. our hearts were too full at that moment. plus, i hadn't thought out enough the merits of the differences between benign protest by numbers, civil disobedience and symbolic violence.

    we left l'ile fleury and walked up 10 flights of stairs up from the underpasses and up towards the fence again. as we walked two helicopters flew a few storeys up scanning the placid events below. again, is this what democracy looks like? can we not express our disagreement with our 'elected' governments? i wanted to move towards the general direction of our bus's pick up area and grab a beer and reflect on what was going on. as we walked we saw people running down the street clutching their faces, and behind them, tear gas chasing. my face and eyes started burning. my friend wanted to go and see the shit to take pictures, i declined and sat down clutching my face one street down. he went up there and got some great shots of the lines of riot police and the spraying water cannon. he came down soaking wet having been sprayed by the cannon, and his camera too. he had brought a change of clothes and changed and hoped his film was ok. (it was...).

    we moved west and passed by another demonstration going down to lower town. these were from the education sector. i thought, how diverse were these groups. and how glad i was that all these groups dedicated to social justice were being united because of this larger goal of defeating the increasing corporate power. unfortunately, we need a uniting force. and, i think, the ftaa is that. perhaps there is some positives in all this negativity. we were now far from the perimeter, but still waves of stinging wind came to our faces. i learned later that it was level 3 tear gas - they had only used level 1 in prague. holy cow! this was ridiculous, but obviously calculated. we made our way to a bistro where several interesting conversations transpired.

    just outside its walls, thousands of people were still milling. just up the hill the perimeter was being engaged. the air outside was becoming toxic as the thousands of teargas canister contents flowed down to us. but inside was a different story. by chance we had arrived at a bistro which was the cuba-quebec friendship association. pictures of fidel and che lined the walls. but the clientele there was a distinct mix of native quebecois and quebecoise, and protestors of various ilks ducking in for a pint. there were two screens showing the live footage from just up the hill, and the audio was pumped. it was a feed from rdi, the french 24 hr cbc channel. it was surreal sitting down having a beer whilst looking up at the footage of billowing teargas clouds and riot police and masses of protestors -- and realizing it was just up the street! and in canada!

    as we started debriefing ourselves i struck up a conversation with a couple of the natives. they were, of course, very interested in what was happening to their city. one man told me that he didn't mind if people tore down the perimeter fence, but did mind if people broke store windows. i couldn't help agreeing with him. what his comments told me was that there is a certain tolerance for protest, even vigorous non-violence or fence pulling, but none for wanton acts of riot. good to know. then i struck up a conversation with a group of americans from ann arbor, michigan who were nonplussed by the violence. i suggested to them that these gatherings always have that element within them, but that we should not let it solely inform us. what we should carry away from all this is the frequency of solidarity that permeated everyone, that made us feel human. that we should carry all the love and concern we all had expressed into our everyday lives and carry on the struggle. they seemed to listen intently. as they left i asked them if they knew the significance of the quebec flags they carried. they didn't. and i explained that they meant quite a lot in that town, and to be anglophone and american and carrying them showing a certain naivete - the same sort that we had shown earlier walking in the union parade with our anarchist bandannas... we also spoke with a group from toronto who also felt deeply moved by the day's events, and expressed similar confusion by the acts of violence. i offered that we should look on all this complexity, but with no less love. you see, the diversity of our expression made the unity of our protest all the more incredible. we need to stimulate dialogue between all parties, and not give in to the false dichotomies which can divide us.

    the two of us finally made it back to the bus, exhausted, changed. how wonderful the bus ride back was because it gave us a chance to exchange stories and heal any wounds, and gather our strength again. some of us spoke as this being a beginning to their activism, and not as an event which was situated as an island in the stream of time. i must say again that i was continuously inspired by the intelligence, courage, passion and love by all on that bus, and others i had met during that day. i will never feel i toil alone again. our kindred souls are just separated by space or situation. but our energies meet on some different plane, immune to interdiction. the bus rumbled off into the night and eventually we came to ottawa and parted from where we had left. my duties as bus captain were discharged, but my civic duties are just beginning. i take very seriously the responsibility i believe was bestowed on all of us by being present at these protests. we must take the energy and give it as gifts to all we meet, forever. gifts of love and courage...

    A few tears shed for a suspended democracy [66]
    by William Blackler on Sunday, April 29 @10:48PM
    My friend and i drove down to Quebec City, a pair of informed seventeen year olds. Since I had attended the World Bank meeting protest in Montreal this spring I have turned the anti-globalization movement into one of my passion. I had been preparing myself for 6 months to go there and practice my democratic right to protest. But it appears that that seems to have been suspended there. I was at the fence the whole time, amongst the tear gas, in the unity of the crowd, in the intensity. We marched, we chanted, we exchanged ideas and had a great time. Then the police declared war upon us. Volley after volley of tear gas canisters were launched directly into the mass of the crowd, even those who sat and arms stretched out in peace signs. Canisters, which say on them, “do not fire directly at people for it may cause severe injury or death!” Why you might ask? They simply don't want our voices to be heard. I was dancing in front of the fence when a local drunk through a rock at the police, a tear gas can landed right beside me as i dance, with all my protective equipment off (a simple vinegar soaked bandana and taped up ski goggles). As i was being treated another canister landed beside me and medics from Missouri lead me blinded to safety as the fence was pulled down with ropes attached to the top, it took 20 minutes of rinsing to get it all out of my eyes. I was dancing and was repaid with burning, I cried to get the tear gas out, but there were plenty of tears for my rights being suspended when I was truly testing it. Peace is my true passion and violent idiots and even stupider cops ruined my democratic rights.
    I spent my time pleading to the police’s conscience trying to explain to them no paycheck and overcome their morals. The fence coming down was beautiful through the tears, but it was in vain due to the disorder of it. When the fence comes down it should happen in many places, for if everyone had rushed in at the same time, we may have actually accomplished a greater deed of actually getting to the meeting building. And no one would have been arrested. A chant comes to mind when I write this "the people united will never be defeated." For in unity and organisation so much more can be accomplished. I figure head must emerge to lead the people in effective protesting; India had Gandhi, Africa had nelson Mandela, racial rights had so many, but predominantly Dr. Martin Luther King jr. So who is going to represent the world against the shadow tyranny of the corporate take over? Who will represent the World? The media portrayed as the black block and I cried because of that too. The fact that less than 1% of the people their got 99% of the coverage and the message that we were trying to express to the people was tainted and nearly lost by violence and hate.

    This was an atrocity for democracy and i don't trust my own system anymore, to imagine that so many soldiers died defending it in ww2 for it to come to this, if things don't change a new subtle type of fascism will emerge under the mask of the dollar sign, one that will put aside people, the planet and our way of life to make was for more and more zeros behind in the net profit.

    Without organization and unity nothing will ever change, i hope it's not too late before that truly emerges.

    Every one there were freedom fighters for democracy, for people and our ecosystem. I constantly pray that one day soon, we'll be able to spread our word to the people and make them understand that full wallets isn't worth everything we have.

    I applaud everyone we is involved in the anti-globalization movement and plead for them to speak out, spread the word as it's obvious that the media will always taint the issues at hand with trivial things.

    This movement is like a snow ball rolling down the hill, when all the snow turns into a avalanche no corporation nation will ever be able to stop it. Only a true leader, who has killed his fear, will be able to rally the people, were close, so close.

    a few tears shed for the cause and democracy [67]
    by William Blackler on Sunday, April 29 @11:02PM
    My friend and i drove down to Quebec City, a pair of informed seventeen year olds. Since I had attended the World Bank meeting protest in Montreal this spring I have turned the anti-globalization movement into one of my passion. I had been preparing myself for 6 months to go there and practice my democratic right to protest. But it appears that that seems to have been suspended there. I was at the fence the whole time, amongst the tear gas, in the unity of the crowd, in the intensity. We marched, we chanted, we exchanged ideas and had a great time. Then the police declared war upon us. Volley after volley of tear gas canisters were launched directly into the mass of the crowd, even those who sat and arms stretched out in peace signs. Canisters, which say on them, “do not fire directly at people for it may cause severe injury or death!” Why you might ask? They simply don't want our voices to be heard. I was dancing in front of the fence when a local drunk through a rock at the police, a tear gas can landed right beside me as i dance, with all my protective equipment off (a simple vinegar soaked bandana and taped up ski goggles). As i was being treated another canister landed beside me and medics from Missouri lead me blinded to safety as the fence was pulled down with ropes attached to the top, it took 20 minutes of rinsing to get it all out of my eyes. I was dancing and was repaid with burning, I cried to get the tear gas out, but there were plenty of tears for my rights being suspended when I was truly testing it. Peace is my true passion and violent idiots and even stupider cops ruined my democratic rights.
    I spent my time pleading to the police’s conscience trying to explain to them no paycheck and overcome their morals. The fence coming down was beautiful through the tears, but it was in vain due to the disorder of it. When the fence comes down it should happen in many places, for if everyone had rushed in at the same time, we may have actually accomplished a greater deed of actually getting to the meeting building. And no one would have been arrested. A chant comes to mind when I write this "the people united will never be defeated." For in unity and organisation so much more can be accomplished. I figure head must emerge to lead the people in effective protesting; India had Gandhi, Africa had nelson Mandela, racial rights had so many, but predominantly Dr. Martin Luther King jr. So who is going to represent the world against the shadow tyranny of the corporate take over? Who will represent the World? The media portrayed as the black block and I cried because of that too. The fact that less than 1% of the people their got 99% of the coverage and the message that we were trying to express to the people was tainted and nearly lost by violence and hate.

    This was an atrocity for democracy and i don't trust my own system anymore, to imagine that so many soldiers died defending it in ww2 for it to come to this, if things don't change a new subtle type of fascism will emerge under the mask of the dollar sign, one that will put aside people, the planet and our way of life to make was for more and more zeros behind in the net profit.

    Without organization and unity nothing will ever change, i hope it's not too late before that truly emerges.

    Every one there were freedom fighters for democracy, for people and our ecosystem. I constantly pray that one day soon, we'll be able to spread our word to the people and make them understand that full wallets isn't worth everything we have.

    I applaud everyone we is involved in the anti-globalization movement and plead for them to speak out, spread the word as it's obvious that the media will always taint the issues at hand with trivial things.

    This movement is like a snow ball rolling down the hill, when all the snow turns into a avalanche no corporation nation will ever be able to stop it. Only a true leader, who has killed his fear, will be able to rally the people, were close, so close.

    No Subject Given [69]
    by Liv Smithies on Monday, May 14 @12:46PM
    I think the crazy vibe, dancing and music was the best tactic. It showed we wern't beat. I think the whole think really energized alot of people, and made them realise that we have the numbers and can make a difference. It also showed the world that if the government had to spend so much to defend it's self than perhaps there is reason to be suspicous.

    ~!~peaceinpoeaceoutpeaceisnotatrend~!

    ~~LIV~~

    story re: FTAA Protest in Quebec City [73]
    by Zak Lamont on Thursday, September 06 @01:21AM
    HOW I LOST MY TEAR GAS VIRGINITY IN QUEBEC CITY
    by Zak Lamont


    I lost my tear gas virginity in Quebec City. The canisters were flying one after the other. Kaboum, kaboum, like small canon fire. But I wasn't at the front line.
    No, I was down from the hill marching peacefully, along with street theatre actors, trade unionists, parading mothers and their kiddies, and other Canadian complainants of treatment of ordinary citizens by the (FTAA) Free Trade Area of the Americas organization. A querying voice in my head was returning, nevertheless, with surprising regularity. Would the police seize me by a resistant arm and march me to a waiting bullet-proof van?

    Yes, the gas came down upon us. Early that day I'd stumbled upon a group of youngsters in their twenties at a center town café. I, an old overweight veteran, salt and pepper haired, chatted up Geoff, Mark, Lisette and Wendy. I even passed them some money for lunch. They, thin, fresh, angry and not averse to a little adventure, were set to be counted.
    With a radiant smile, the kind Cambodian café owner filled our water jugs to the brim. It was time to show our faces, to stand up, to cry out.

    Oh yes, the march....the tear gas. All of a sudden, I smelled something rancid in the air followed by a punch in the face, in a manner of speaking, as eyes, nose and throat alighted, in a fierce burning. The pain was so acute I ran for cover, while more experienced and younger protesters lifted vinegar-soaked kerchiefs over mouth and nose.

    Much much earlier that day the streets were bare; a lonely bus loaded up with Canadian troopers languished by the train station. The air of desolation triggered a story told to me by a Parisian lady from Ottawa who`d headed a local multinational language school there. One day, someone from Toronto showed up to inform her of her lay-off. She was asked to empty her desk of her belongings; marched to the front door; thanked for her services and bid farewell. In the hallway she checked her watch. Thirty minutes was all it took to end a career that had spanned over a quarter of a century of dedicated service.

    At 7:00 a.m, I stumbled into a roadside coffee shop where a group of kids, barely out of their teens were sprawled at a table. A blonde girl said they`d come for the protest, all the way from Nova Scotia. Pack sacks were strewn about the floor around chairs. That day, packsackers were everywhere to be seen. We were an army of packsackers , converging on Quebec`s capital city; converging on the wall of shame, a wall to keep us out, to inform us of our insignificance in the scheme of things, and of things to come.

    Making a phone call, having lunch, emptying my bladder, getting a drink - no matter how long I was away from the never-ending stream of marchers, upon my return to that massive procession, that ceaseless line continued its snaking through the narrow streets, making its face known, a powerful, stirring proclamation and affirmation for "Mr. and Mrs. No-One Special". Tiny Cuban flags everywhere; placards everywhere. One of them summed it all up, "I didn`t vote for Ronald McDonald". In a turn in the road, a small crowd was seen to be huddled around a radio. The radio announcer brought news that at one end the barricade surrounding the FTAA conference centre was successfully stormed, although later we learned that the kerchiefed street attackers were repulsed. We cheered out of admiration for their courage. But we'd all seen them in our cortege, black -garbed, silent, their cold, creepy, mechanical gesticulating choreography of hands, like the relentless movement of automatic gear boxes, sending an icy chill. Again on the radio, the announcer was chatting with a caller, broken-hearted , a Quebec resident of an apartment building at the feet of the Fence where sci-fi police were joined to tear gas muskets. Half angrily, half despairingly, in broken bursts, he related how his pet bird, a Guatamalan tucan, had suffocated to death when the gas had so deceptively seeped underneath his front door. Again my imagination ran wild, what if the police suddenly appeared and at close range burst tear gas canisters at our feet...would we crush each other in flight...would we choke?

    When the tear gas poured down my throat and into my eyes and nose , harsh chemicals shoving into my membranes, ramming down my throat, proving their unquestionable dominion, towering over me, watching me cringe in fear, in panic;
    watching a 3 yr. old in her mother`s arms, the girl wailing, "it burns...it burns", instinctively then I sensed control was leaving me; so when I, Tulip Festival-like, made way for the mother and her little girl to escape into the pharmacy-haven doorway before I myself dashed in, I knew that I`d lost my tear gas virginity in Quebec City, but what I had embarked on at the start of this expedition, I did not lose.... the backbone and the determination to reclaim what was being taken away from me..






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