Hi all--below is my report from yesterday in Miami and some breaking news from today, and below that, our appeal for help and solidarity. Please pass it along--right this moment our friends are in jail, facing brutality and torture, and we need your help! Thanks, Starhawk
Miami 11/21/03 Bitter Beauty
A strange and hard day. We are all in a bit of shock after yesterday. The Pagan cluster meets for an emotional debrief, very stressed because time is short and we are committed to taking part in the Really, Really Free Market action at noon. We have so much to say and so much emotion to share, grief and rage and shock, but yesterdayıs police attacks. Many people in the cluster are new and have not ever experienced anything like it. Some of us have, and each new incident stirs up an old well of grief and anger.
We rush off to the Really, Really Free Marketthe action to show the alternatives. The delegates have ended their meetings a day early, signed a surface agreement that means little and gone home, so there is no need for confrontation. Nevertheless police have been following us all day, picking people off, arresting people peacefully walking on sidewalks. They grab a couple of kids coming out of the convergence center and crush their bicycles. They harrass a vanful of radical cheerleaders coming to the Really, Really Free Market.
The Really, Really Free Market is a beautiful oasis in the midst of a brutal police state. We negotiate with a group of homeless women who hang out in the park we have a permit for, and set up our boothsıblankets on the ground. There is a Free Massage booth, free food from Food Not Bombs, free Medical care from our medics. The Pagans set up our Living River to decorate the fences. We set up a healing tent for free trauma counseling, and another healing circle inside swathıs of magically dyed blue cloth. We pull out the masks for the Witchesı and Anarchistsı Ball that we never got to hold because of yesterdayıs police riots, and the paper fish and turtle hats that never quite got to the march. We give away fairy money, little slips of decorated paper you give to your friends for things you value, like a smile, or a hug, or for courage under fire. On the back you write what you gave it for, so that as each bill flows around it accumulates a story. Soon the market has all the lively feel of a true village market, but with a sweetness that comes from constant little gifts we are making to each other, all the more poignant because of the constant reports of arrests that keep coming in. The street people join in the funI look over and see the four women who live here each wearing a fish hat, and the baby in her stroller laughing in delight.
We end with a spiral dance, people holding the blue cloth over their heads and twining in and out as we sing and chant "We are sweet water, we are the seed, we are the storm wind to blow away greed. We are the new world we bring to birth, the river rising to reclaim the earth." And "Fortress walls, crumbling down, Witches healing dancing, spiralling around." And finally, "Brothers and sisters, go in peace, charges dropped, all released." We are laughing and joyful, but as we are singing, over at the jail vigil a few blocks away the police declaire an illegal assembly. They tell people to get on the sidewalk and theyıll be safe. Then they surround the group on the sidewalk, beat people to the ground, kneel on their spines and arrest them.
Sobered, we go back to the convergence center to secure it, and pull together a debrief meeting. Itıs hard to debrief at this moment, when shit is still happening, I say, but itıs a part of our resistance, a way of saying that our movement is strong and will continue and will grow.
In the middle of the debrief, a friend comes up and tells me that Abby and her friends have been badly beaten up, jumped by cops on their way home to their hotel, her sweet, lovely face pushed into the pavement.. "We could kill you here," the cops tell them.
I am really shaken. During the break I go off into the field and lay my head in Rubyıs lap and just sob. She asks me what I am seeing and I really canıt even sayI feel like Iım staring hard into the dark heart of cruelty and seeing more bad things headed our way. Two other dear young women, friends of mine, have been arrested and they are immigrants and Iım afraid of what will happen to them. And I really, really hate this. I hate beautiful young girls getting beaten up by the cops. I hate fearing for the lives and freedom of amazing women just because they happened to be born across a border. I hate the sneering, sly media lies and I hate the constant constant barrage of one awful thing after another directed against these exuberant, loving young warriors. I canıt cry enough, I canıt yell or scream or wail enough or beat enough barrels or smash enough furniture to release either the pain or the rage.
But I pull myself together and go back in to the meeting, where we decide on our strategy of political pressure and organize our jail support. At the end of the night, a young blond woman and a long-haired man are having a sword fight with leftover cardboard tubes. They are whacking each other and playing and laughing. Others join in, whirling with their swords and feinting at each other. The harder they hit, the more they laugh. Another cadre dashes in from outside, swords drawn, yelling a battle cry, and a mock war breaks out. Itıs play therapy, I think, re-enacting the beatings weıve suffered, transforming them into play and laughter and joy. And that is the strength of the movement, a power ultimately stronger, I believe, than anything they can do to us.
11/22 The School of the Americas
I wake up early, catch a plane to Georgia, get driven to the School of the Americas protest to shut down the institute that trains torturers and murderers for Latin America. I have promised to speak, and I speak about the connectionsthat the SOA trains torturers to enforce the global economic system we are fighting at the FTAA, which can only be sustained by police and military power, as weıve seen in Miami. Today is the rally, very calm and peaceful except for the military music blasted from the base to try and drown out the rally.
The news from Miami comes in through the day, bad and worse. Our friends are being tortured in jail. We hear about a young Latino man, taken out and brutally beaten, pepper sprayed and not allowed to wash. They are being kept in cages with no toilets, forced to pee and shit on the floor, then hosed down under the pretence of cleaning the cages. The young anarchists of color are being especially targeted. I am sick with worry for a few friends in particular, and for any immigrants that might be among the group, subject to deportation or disappearance. We hear rumors of sexual assault.
Lisa tells me we need money, cash on the ground in Miami, for bail and for all the expenses of the defense. The SOA organizers let me go back up onstage to make another announcement. I ask the crowd for help. I am asking you, readers, for help, too. All the relevant information is below. This week we have seen a blatant and ugly form of repression reveal itself. We have been targeted and attacked, not for anything weıve done but for who we are and what we stand for. Yet I hear no one suggesting we stop, or give uponly thoughtful consideration of how we support each other and move forward, for we all know that if we donıt, we will live with the boot in the face and the nightstick at the skull in unrelieved, grim, despair. But if we only stand together, in solidarity and love, we can withstand anything they throw at us. We are one movement, a movement of life, putting down roots and unfurling leaves, and we can and must continue to grow. This week we have seen the possibility of love unfolding in hostile soil. Help us nurture that love and keep it alive.
Daily updates are posted at www.starhawk.org and www.utne.com.
Starhawk is an activist, organizer, and author of Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising and eight other books on feminism, politics and earth-based spirituality. She teaches Earth Activist Trainings that combine permaculture design and activist skills, and works with the RANT trainerıs collective, www.rantcollective.org that offers training and support for mobilizations around global justice and peace issues. To get her periodic posts of her writings, email Starhawkemail@example.com and put subscribeı in the subject heading. If youıre on that list and donıt want any more of these writings, email Starhawkfirstname.lastname@example.org and put unsubscribeı in the subject heading.
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Please Post Widely
Urgent Call to Action: FTAA Protesters Brutalized in Miami!
This week thousands of protestors came to Miami to oppose the FTAA. The Free Trade Agreement of the Americas is an international trade agreement that aims to extend corporate control throughout the Western Hemisphere.
Prior to the mass action there was a calculated campaign on the part of the police to intimidate and harass protestors. One officer characterized this campaign by saying "You can beat the rap, but not the ride".
As we feared, our protests were met by a massive show of state repression, backed by $8.5 million in US Government funding. Miami Police Commissioner John Timoney oversaw a massive, paramilitary assault on our constitutional and human rights
Protestors were attacked by police wielding batons, tear gas, pepper spray, rubber, wooden, and plastic bullets and other chemical agents. Over 100 protestors were treated for injuries; 12 were hospitalized. Police dispersed large groups of peaceful protestors with tear gas, pepper spray and open fire. Small groups leaving the protests were harassed, arrested and beaten. This campaign of fear and intimidation culminated in the closure and militarization of downtown Miami. There were confirmed reports of military tanks patrolling the streets after dark on Thursday night.
Our legal team estimates more than 250 arrests. People have become political prisoners and are being held in jail. More than 50 of them were arrested while holding a peaceful vigil outside the jail in solidarity with those inside. They were surrounded by riot police and ordered to disperse. As they did, police opened fire and blocked the streets preventing many from leaving.
We are now receiving reports from people being released or calling from jail that there is excessive brutality, sexual assault and torture going on inside. People of color, Queer and transgender prisoners are particularly being targeted. There is a confirmed report of one Latino man arrested along with 62 others outside Miami-Dade County Jail Friday, who is currently hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit for an injury he received after being beaten in the head with night stick by an arresting officer.
People have also been denied access to attorneys, visitation rights, vegetarian or vegan food, and access to essential medication and medical attention.
We call on people from around the globe to take action immediately to support our sisters and brothers who are being unfairly arrested and brutalized. We are calling for three immediate actions:
1) Call, fax, email elected officials with the demands listed below. Contact information below.
2) Money is urgently needed to get people out of jail. They are making everyone post between $100 - $5000 I in bail. We are working with bail bondsmen, but this is not enough. Send money to cover legal and jail-support expenses including: bail, getting people rides back home and other legal costs. Please send money to: United for Peace and Justice. Online donations are possible at www.unitedforpeace.org/ftaadonate You can also mail a check or money order to: United for Peace and Justice/FTAA Fund P.O. Box 607, Times Square Station, New York, NY 10108. Please specify Legal Fund in the memo field:
3) Global Day of Action on Monday at any time and any appropriate location. This could be US Embassies, Departments of Justice or FBI offices
THESE ARE OUR DEMANDS:
Drop all charges.
Release all political prisoners.
Meet basic human needs: no more brutality, provide appropriate food, access to medicine and medical attention, warm clothing.
Provide access to attorneys and visitation rights.
Provide equitable treatment to all prisoners.
Do not share information collected with the INS.
Fire Chief Timoney
Many thanks for your support. It is urgently needed.
Direct Action Contingency, Miami
To send a free fax:
PLEASE CALL AND WRITE:
MANUEL A. DIAZ, Mayor, City of Miami
email@example.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org
ALEX PENELAS, Mayor, Miami-Dade County
Chief of Staff: Francois Illas Fillas@ci.miami.fl.us
KATHERINE FERNANDEZ RUNDLE
Chief of Police
Local media has been grossly biased in their coverage. While this is
somewhat to be expected, the following are numbers that people can call
to voice frustration.
CBS4: 305-639-4551, 305-639-4601, 305-639-4426
WPLG channel 10: 305-576-6397
WSUN Fox: 954-524-0388 (Rosh Lowe)
Miami Jail Information: To track people in the system try:
Miami-Dade Jail (felonies)
Facility Supervisor: Captain E. Cambridge
Address: 1320 NW 13 Street Miami, FL. 33125
Facility Phone: (786) 263-4100
Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center (misdemeanors)
Facility Supervisor: Captain M. Fernandez
Address: 7000 NW 41 Street Miami, Fl. 33166
Facility Phone:(305) 470-7600
Director of Metropolitan Sheriff Department
Miami-Dade Police Department
9105 Northwest 25th Street
Miami, FL 33172-1500 USA
OTHER CONTACT NUMBERS OF CITY OFFICIALS
JOHNNY WINTON, Miami City Commissioner
Commissioner Johnny L. Winton
KATY SORENSON, Miami Dade County Commissioner
Commissioner Angel Gonzalez
Commissioner Joe M. Sanchez
Commissioner Tomas P. Regalado
Commissioner Arthur Teele, Jr.
City Manager Joe Arriola E-mail: email@example.com
City Attorney Alejandro Vilarello
City Attorney's Office
444 SW 2nd Avenue, Suite 945
Miami, Florida 33130
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