Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Journal Entries: Washington DC IMF Protests 4/14/00-4/16/00

We left Calvin at 5, Amber and TJ saw us off. ( Bytwerk, Sean , Thomas , Vito , Micah, Lindsey, Evita, and Ruthee). We went to Meijers first, where Sean and Bytie ran into Kim who helped them shop. Vito rode w/ the girls. The rest of us joked around and listened to music.

We stopped along the way at an impulse of the girls. They saw a bridge they liked, so we just pulled the car over, got out and explored underneath it. When we got back in the car, Bytie started going forward before Sean was completely inside (Sean was getting in the trunk, Bytie didn’t realize it). Sean just called Bytie a bitch and we pulled off. I sat shot gun and kept Bytie awake for along time until I myself fell asleep. I eventually went to sleep in the back (Evita rode with us from the girls side when Micah went over to drive Lindsey’s car.

When I woke up I was slightly fearing for my life, as there was a great commotion up front b/c of Bytie’s driving. When we finally arrived in downtown DC-we split up. The girls went to Ruthee’s grandmothers house (in DC, where they were staying) to get some sleep, us guys wandered around. We tried to get in by the IMF building to scout out the protest but police had it blocked off. We saw the capitol building, but when we walked toward it somehow we lost track of it. We went to breakfast and I talked briefly to a friendly cop. He noticed we were there for the protest, said for the last 8 days he had been working 12 hour days to get ready, and that he hoped their was no trouble. I replied that I hoped there was no trouble as well. We went to visit one of Sean’s friends who lived in DC, everyone except Sean and Vito slept in the car while they went out to check out the small protests that were occuring on Saturday.

We met up w/ the girls and went looking for the protests. We went to this church were we saw all the protestors, but they asked us to leave b/c it was attracting attention. We went to another church where protesters were gathered and wandered around there. Some how we were seperated from Sean, Bytie, and Thomas. I went back to look for them. On my way back, I had an interesting conversation w/ 3 street kids, who wanted to know what everyone was here for and I explained the IMF to them. I met up w/ Micah and Ruthee. Ruthee had a lot of questions about the IMF, and I explained it to her. (The girls had come b/c of us. The other guys told me that they had only come b/c of the road trip idea. Lindsey explained to me later in the car that she had come b/c she felt God was calling her to go. She had done some research b/f hand, and even b/f she found out about it knew God wanted her to be socially involved. Evita’s bravery in the streets the next day would convince me she felt passionately about the subject, even if she may have been uninformed).

(Another random point-Ruthee told me several times on the trips that she appreciated my calmness. This caused me to have a slight crush on her, but nothing big (at different points in the weekend I had different small crushes on all 3 of the girls).)

We eventually went back and found Sean, Bytie and Thomas. By this point Evita, Vito, and Lindsey were in some sort of training workshop, so we went without them. A bunch of people went to the car, and I stayed w/ Sean and Micah by the church. (The protesters headquarters had been taken over by the police earlier that day. We kept hearing reports of the puppets that were confiscated and stuff. Appearently 3 people were arrested in the morning, one of whom was someone I knew because a girl had complimented me on my wolf shirt, and he had come up and started talking to her while she was talking to me. There was also a message that we got messages of Solidarity all over the world, so they declared it a moral victory.

Anyway, we heard of a protest at the justice department protesting the Military Industrial Complex. We tried to get down there amidst some confusion, and when we finally made it down there, there was nothing happening. (We found out later that 300 peaceful protestors had been arrested there, which was why the protest was over by the time we got there.) Ruthee compared our actions to trying to find the party on Saturday night, only we were trying to find the protest.

We went all the way back, and became involved with the housing protest, protesting evictions we marched peacefully up and down the streets of poor minorities who those Capitalistic bastards were evicting because of urban renewal. At two different places the tenents came out and talked to us. Unlike media reports, this group at least was very diverse-probably only 50% white. When the march ended we ran into Lindsey and Evita, who told us they didn’t know where Vito was. As part of the protest against evictions, a group of people had gone into a evicted house and where planning to stay the night. Vito had gone in, they had left the area because they didn’t want to get arrested. We drove down to the house, the cop there told us everyone had been cleared out, no one was arrested (although Sean later heard that everyone in that house had been arrested). We went for supper instead of looking for Vito. We joked about what lousy friends we were (in fact we laughed about the fact that Vito was missing the rest of the weekend, it seemed to increase in funnyness the longer he was gone). However there was little we could do. We were so unorganized that Vito did not have any number where he could contact us, so we had no way of finding eachother. We called all sorts of places to see if he had been arrested, but no one was any help and Vito had left all his ID and everything behind so he could do Jail Solidarity if arrested (not coorperate w/ cops at all-not give name). We were also somewhat upset at Vito since our plan was specifically not to get arrested if possible.

At the resturant we talked to other protester (Seattle veterans I think), who told our unorganized group about the march at 5 AM. Our imaginations were excited, we quickly ditched plans of legal protest.

The boys and girls split up. Sean was driving to friends of his parent’s outside of DC. Sean and I were the only ones awake in the car, and both of us had a hard time understanding the directions. Sean was getting frustrated and my directional skills were not helping, but we eventually found it. (After first stopping at the wrong house and frightening some old lady, hopefully not too bad).

Woke up at 3:45, eventually left shortly after 4:15. (I took responsibility for getting everyone up, joking , "Alright everyone, up and at them, that Bank’s not going to close itself).

We got to the park shortly after 5 AM, waited a while for the girls who didn’t show up until 5:30. The organizers kept encouraging us to go, so not too many protesters were at the park. Eventually when the girls got there, we joined the march.

There was a meeting at the park. Some B group or something was meeting. Even though we were not part of it, we just joined up. (Again, we were very unorganized, and if we had been arrested we would have been screwed b/c we were not signed up with their legal consul). A cop car and small bus (probably for holding arrestees), went by the park and protesters flooded into the street to block its path. Our leaders shouted at us not to go help, because they already had enough people to take care of it, and we needed to stay together.

We marched past police barricades, giving them the peace sign. We marched through into an illegal area, chanting slogans. (Slogans we changed: "The people, United, can never be divided; This is what democracy looks like, this is what hypocrisy looks like; Hey hey, ho ho, the IMF has got to go; no justice, no peace: etc, etc, etc). We later heard that those who straggled behind the group were arrested.

We arrived at police barricades where we stopped. The police put on gas masks, and we started preparing to get tear gassed, but it turns out it was only a scare tactic. We stayed there, and chilled. Dances began and stuff, and I regretted not being where the action was (little did I know). People wrote stuff on the street w/ chalk such as "Our streets" and "Imperialist Mother Fuckers".

Thomas and Micah walked by. They had not marched down w/us b/c they did not want to get arrested, and it was funny first of all b/c they were walking around an illegal area not in the safety of a big group but only by themselves, and second b/c they were so calm about it, not understanding what we were excited about.

They would later end up over by the Anarchists when the Anarchists got Tear gassed, and would walk forward not understanding what was going on, and get some of the gas (according to their story at least).

Anyway, a long time of sitting there and dancing. There were group spokespeople meetings, and we designated Bytie as our spokesperson (which turned out to be somewhat humerous b/c he was constantly in meetings, and we would always laugh whenever another meeting was called, and he would make a face and have to go back in.) We decided not to let any cars through our barricade. The fact that riot police were parked on the corner a block away led people to believe that they were going to try something.

Our first test came when the police tried to lead a bus through the our intersection. They approached with a Police escort, we quickly formed up. Although we did not intend to be in the front lines, there was a gap by the corner and the organizers told people to fill it and we ended up being right in front. The Police moved forward and started grabbing and dragging people away, (approaching with the bus in the front and from behind as well) but when they grabbed a protestor, other people held on to that protestor. Things began to get chaotic so we started chanting: "Peaceful Protest". The bus kept moving forward, and a cop told Evita that if she didn’t move her leg it would be run over. She replied: "I shouldn’t have to move my leg! They shouldn’t even be here!" The cop replied: "I’m just doing my job ma’am".

The protestors refused to give up, one was shoved right by where I was sitting, "Stay there you Fuck" the police man said. Eventually the police gave up and the bus backed away. We were jubilant, standing up and yelling: "The people United, shall never be divided." (Random addendum: for some reason, probably b/c it was an illegal protest area, TV cameras were not allowed).

The next confrontation came when the police tried to move a car from their barricades out into the street. We were caught a little off guard but quickly rushed in to block it. The cops used their clubs to push people away. Evita got pushed down several times by the cops, but always rushed back in front of the car. I sat down in front of the car a couple times, but it just went around me. The cops sprayed pepper spray. I covered my face in a crouched position like the other protesters, but was not hit. Ruthie and Evita both got some spray in their hair, neither one of them affected seriously. One protester was knocked down by the police as he ran towards the car. The car got away, and several people yelled at the police as they walked back-Evita especially was really getting in their face.

Someone else (journalist) later interviewed Evita, and she told how she was repeatedly knocked down by the cops and I vouched that this was true.

The cops asked for a liason from the group, and after a spokesperson meeting we were informed by Bytie that the cops considered this intersection too important, and were intending to move us out. Our leaders told the cops we weren’t leaving. We sat down and locked arms. I was locked w/ Ruthie and a canadian (who, like most of these protesters wouldn’t give out his real name.)

The Canadian had the idea of locking legs too, but we eventually gave up on b/c it was too uncomfortable. A messanger biker came in from one of the other intersections saying a medic was needed b/c a police Van had just run protestors over. I still do not know if this report was true or not, but it scared me at the time.

Since the police had already proven they were not gentle people, I was nervous but we sat down and chanted (Over and over again-great stress reliever. Most popular one was "This is what Democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like"). Eventually one of the leaders told us to save our breath, we were going to need it. We were joined by many other protesters from other interesections. Eventually someone shouted out (while a leader was speaking) that the cops were leaving, and we cheered again.

Another car tried to get by our intersection, again catching us by surprise. The police ran out and clubbed someone on the head who was blocking the intersection, others were forcibly moved back. While the police were struggling, the rest of us formed a barricade in front of the car. People asked who the driver of the car was, and the police responded, "it ain’t got shit to do with you, let him through." Eventually it turned out he had a union card. There was some debate about to let him through or not. (Why would a union guy try and run our barricades?) But at least one protestor was vocal that we let him through. We did not move and just let him drive around us, as protestors yelled at him, "It doesn’t matter what Union your from, you don’t run your own people over."

A legal observer came up and asked me if I had seen what happened, and I told him, and then pointed out the cop that had clubbed the guy on top of the head. The legal observer talked to the cop, and I don’t know if he ever got a hold of the person who was clubbed or not.

Cars repeatedly came up after that, but when we formed our barricades they gave up quickly. There was talk of victory being declared, and leaving, while others said that we really needed people. I fought a losing battle among my group to stay. At one point I checked out another intersection. The cops were all in gas masks, and appearently had just issued a warning that they were about to shoot off tear gas. It was close to the legal rally (which I was just coming back from visiting), so people surged over there, and the cops eventually took off their masks.

Another time new cops assembled behind the police barricade, and so we thought they were going to clear us out, so we stood up and chanted and one of the leaders asked the cops to consider what they were about to do to us, and the protestors even offered them water (which they refused) and gave messages of love to the cops. Nothing ever came of this though, I think the extra cops were just there because of the legal march coming through.

Once a legal march came through, we eventually left (no one had gotten a lot of sleep all weekend, the girls especially were really tired).

(The girls were also interviewed –Evita in the one mentioned above and then all 3 of them video taped by some group doing a documentary. I thought it was kind of ironic that they got so much attention since they were the ones pressing to leave, but they definitely looked attractive and photogenic, they had flowers in their hair, and the 3 of them comprised 3 ethnic groups.

Thomas and Micah had rejoined us, and everyone decided to go. I was initially left behind because I was still watching the march, but Ruthee noticed I was gone and they came back and got me. (Good thing, after Vito got left behind I wouldn’t want to get left behind also).

To my great frustration, we went to a pizza place in DC. (I left the biggest protest of my life to get Pizza. Oh well, it was either that or be an asshole against the group). After that we got in our cars and headed home.

Initially I was in a car w/ Sean, Bytie, Ruthee and Evita. Ruthee was really nervous when driving, but I sat shotgun and coxed her. Sean wanted to trick Bytie into being forcibly exposed to Dave Matthews. (It’s all Evita listens too, but Bytie hates it.) So I went and sat in other car. Lindsey was the only one awake. Although I hadn't talked to her before, I had a really nice 9 hour or so conversation w/ Lindsey. (The last hour of the trip I started seeing things, and Lindsey said it was okay if I went to sleep).

Lindsey (at first especially) did most of the talking. Among other things she mentioned during the protest a media figure was going to take her picture, and another protester told her to take off her bandana, and then she didn’t look mean anymore so the guy didn’t take her picture.
We arrived back at Calvin at around 5 in the morning. I went to bed.

Addendum: This video contains some footage from the intersection we were at. You can see some of us briefly near the end of Part 2 -at about 26 minutes into it.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Journal Entries: Windsor FTAA Protest 6/3/00-6/6/00

Windsor protest: A few starting comments first of all. Certianly an event like this deserves to be covered thoroughly, although it is always impossible to write everything down. Windsor was supposed to be the next in the chain of protests: Seattle, DC, Windsor. Unfortunately the numbers were not what people were looking for, and the media called the protest a failure. The reasons for this can be debated, and I won’t get into it here. Suffice to say it won’t be remembered like Seattle or DC, rather as a footnote to Seattle and DC. However it will be remembered nonetheless, and a footnote is important. What makes me excited about Windsor is after Sunday almost all of the protestors left, and by Tuesday our numbers were pitifully low, but the media and police were still in full force. Therefore I feel as if I had a direct role in shaping this footnote of history b/c I was one of a few, not one lost in a crowd. A few who were received a huge amount of police and media attention.

Also, since by Monday and Tuesday we were only a few, most of the people mentioned in this journal entry are people I got to know a little bit well, even though in most cases I can not remember their names. It was a vibrant group that I felt bad about leaving on Tuesday (even though I didn’t have any terribly good friends, I had gotten used to a lot of famaliar faces).
It also helped me realize I was now part of an international student movement.

Woke up. Met Mark for first time at his house (David had hooked us up for this), and drove out to Canada w/ him. We stopped at the Detroit protest convergence center first to get information. We asked about getting across the boarder, and they told us it was almost impossible, but we decided to try anyway. We had coordinated our look so we looked as much like preps as possible. I had cleansed the car of anything left leaning b/f the trip, but Mark wanted to take along literature from the Detriot center, and I allowed it in the end (I figured after talking to people in Detroit we would probably either get waved on through or turned right back, I didn’t think we would get searched).

I wanted to say we were going to Windsor bars (Mark only 20, so it was perfect), but Mark said going to Stratford to see plays is better excuse. We went w/ that, and were asked to have car searched. As the boarder patrol went through everything in the car, they got closer and closer to the literature, and I got more and more nervous, and Mark and I struggled to keep calm, but our nervousness I’m sure was appearent (It was also cold out, which helped us shake). We had hid the literature in bottom of food bag, but they found it anyway. Police officer kept asking us questions, acting like he was just making conversation by mixing in serious questions w/ friendly ones "You guys ever been to a protest before? Are either of you a vegetarian?"

Finally he said, "we’re pretty sure you guys our here for our OAS protest." Mark tried to keep up fa├žade (which I thought was pointless after they found our literature), so I interjected that we had lied b/c we were told in Detroit, "They probably won’t let you through, especially if they know why you are coming."

Mark and I were seperated, and eventually brought to different detention cells. I was nervous b/c I didn’t know what the penalty was for lying to boarder guards. A whole series of questions followed. Most humerous was the cops fascination with Butterball, b/c of a note Kathryn had written the night before which they found searching the car: "Butterball’s cell phone number [followed by the number] ,activities begin to night at 6". They also asked me about DC, and I answered a lot of questions about that (including giving out the names of the people I went w/, which I didn’t really think about at the time but later regretted). They were trying to coordinate my stories with Mark who was in another detention cell. This was again humerous b/c Mark had no idea who Butterball was.

They confiscated Mark’s bandana, a hose and bungy cords (my dads I assume, left in the car when I borrowed it) and an "empty" (cops said it was, I could still get some out) bottle of clearsil.

Anyway, long story short-we got out in 3 hours or so . Final guy was sympathetic, said he would be protesting himself but they just didn’t want violence there. As we left another humerous moment as Mark reached for his crackers to discover they had all been crushed by boarder patrol.

Went to welcome center. Went to non-violence training, at the end of which formed an affinity group w/ the people there who didn’t have a group. I would stick w/ this group most of Saturday (what was left of it) and Sunday. The person leading the training b/c the spokesman for our group. It was cool b/c appearently he (Matthew) was a real experienced activist, although I never really talked to him all that much.

I locked keys in car. We got to talk to some real cool old retired teacher while we waited for locksmith. Teacher overjoyed us Americans had come up to try and help Canada fight oppression, tried to get locksmith to give us discount, but locksmith anti-protestor (and rather rude to us).

We caught the tail end of a couple of teach ins, and met our affinity group again. There was a spokes council meeting, which Mark and I originally attended but when space b/c a consideration we left and hung outside. The police were everywhere and had been harrasing protestors all day (we heard horror stories about people getting arrested for practically nothing). Since I was an American, I didn’t want to deal w/ deportation courts, and was really nervous about it. Liz (in our affinity group) was also very suspicious of the cops and stirred up my paranoia. Her fiance Dan was in the spokesmeeting, and came out once to deliver a message to us. The cops strolled in and arrested one kid (Kyle) right out of the crowd of protestors (Kyle had been violating his parole by being there, but it was also an intimidation tactic for the rest of us to take note of). Liz, Rame and I went across the corner to stay away from the police a little bit (but also at the same time removed ourselves from the group). Mark had gone back to the car at this point. (It was really freaky, their were cops and undercover cops everywhere, looking at us from far away buildings w/ binoculars and everything.

Also in our group was Rame (SP?) a 17 year old activist, who took down my story about the boarder patrol for independent media. While I was talking to him, two cops came up. They asked him about his Chevron "Oil and blood" armband, and he explained it to them, and one of them asked if Chevron was an American company, and he said it was multinational, and then they asked him if he was an American. I was just waiting for the harassment to turn to me. I suspect, at the risk of sounding paranoid, that from afar our conversation had been listened in on (parabolic microphones-etc, I know they have the tech., I know they spared no expense for Windsor), and that the cops had just picked the wrong guy by accident to intimidate. At any rate, at this point the cop looks past us and says, "Is there a problem?" and I turn around and the whole crowed of protestors has come from around the corner. The same guy who was vocal when Kyle got arrested ("judge for yourselves weather the OPP is doing what is right") asked why we were being harrased, and the cop said they were just being friendly and talking to us. The guy then reminded the protestors of their right not to talk to cops, and then made a speech about George Dudley. "And that’s why me and others like me don’t really like to talk to the OPP, b/c we know what they’re all about." The cops just left. Liz talked about how she had freaked when she saw the cops talking to us. Rame believes the cops were really just trying to be friendly (and who knows, maybe they were).

Dan came out from meeting w/ Gary (legal advisor for our affinity) and announced that the whole plan was scrapped. We had to move spokespersons meeting to the riverfront, where we were much more open to infiltration. Spokescouncil decided b/c our numbers were down not to block the meeting after all, but march w/ labor. They decided things by consensus process though, which frustrated Mark who was sick of listening to them debate.

Eventually, once we found out what plan for the next day was, we left (Mark was really pushing to leave). We had found a place to stay from the welcome center in Windsor, but the map we got was bogus. After asking for directions from a man and his annoyed wife (it was late, but their light was on), we gave up and went to sleep in the car.

Went to capitol theatre (where Noam Chomsky was speaking. It was sold out but Mark was still interested.) We went to a city hall park with a large group, met up w/ people from our affinity group. We marched w/ labor, and ended up at the river front. Then, in civil disobedience, we marched around the perimeter of the police barricades. I stayed close to Dan and Liz (who advised me to stick close to them if I didn’t want to get arrested). Some of the protestors were tear gassed for putting banners up on the barricades. We got all the way around to the other side of the barricades, and blocked a bus. (I was in the back hanging w/ Dan and Liz, and we would alternately go foreword and back, staying out of trouble. I didn’t want to get arrested in Canada). Rame was arrested for kneeling in front of the bus (I would find that out later), and Mark said that night he couldn’t sleep b/c he couldn’t get out of his head the images of police beating protestors, but I was far enough back where I couldn’t see any of that. At one point we thought we had been tear gassed, and Dan Liz and I all retreated a few steps w/ a bunch of other protesters. Only later did I find out that it was actually a cloud of pepper gas from the front that was carried back to us by the wind. The bus was eventually muscled through.
There was reports of people needing help elsewhere, and so Dan and Liz and I went, only to encounter phalenxes of police, so we just waited until the rest of our group showed up. Liz and Sue (also in our affinity-older woman) ridiculed an overweight cop, which I thought was inappropriate. We also chanted "Who killed George Dudley? They did, they did".
We eventually ended up at the river front. I felt a little bad b/c I left Dan and Liz (who I had marched w/ all day) w/o saying good-bye. We went to riverfront. I actually fell asleep, and when I woke up the spokes council meeting was happening right around me. Mark and I went back to the same church parking lot to sleep in the car.

We met at the park and marched around a little bit, met up w/ some of the high schoolers who had walked out. Mark got bored and left to get a bus ticket to go home, thinking things were essentially over. We marched down to the court house and surrounded it and chanted about the injustice for a while. The cops surrounded one of the older woman and had their clubs out and we panicked, but despite their intimidation they only wanted to tell her to stay on the street or we would be arrested.

Then, we marched over to the schools, where we yelled "Walk out" and encouraged students to walk out and join us. We did this at two different high schools, and only got a minimum of students to join (at one, the principle was standing in front of the exit. Many high schoolers had walked out earlier in the day and were with us now though.

We found a park where the delegates were eating lunch, and marched around there. At one point, we formed a barricade at the entrance when the cops wanted to get through. I allowed myself to get pushed back by the cops (again, not wanting to get arrested) and the small group sitting in front of the entrance were foricibly removed.

On the way back we passed the tunnel, and pretended to be meeting and planning something just to test the cops reaction time. With in two minutes they came rushing out in full force, with more bussed over shortly. We were split into two groups (on either side of the tunnel entrance). The cops told us to move, and I had had enough trouble by the boarder all ready, so I was the first one from my group to leave (yeah, one of the wussy things I did that weekend as an American in Canada).

We met at the feminist theatre, and then I stayed up late w/ a bunch of Canadians making banners for the next day. It was super cool-really nice feeling. Tons of cops outside and stuff (we think the delegates might have been eating at a resturant, but they were also keeping a close eye on us). At one point it was just ridiculous how many cops were outside, so we all just moved to the middle of the room for a while and sat down (working on the banners) so they couldn’t see us so well. There were only 10 of us at the most there, most of the night it was even less then that.

They harrassed a couple of people from the intersection (probably unrelated to the protest at all-but we were hyper sensitive about it and so made it very obvious we were watching them. I encouraged one girl to take her camera and make it look like she was taking pictures. "Call for back up" another guy yelled out the window ) The cops looked up at us occasionally.
A guy and girl also danced from the window for the cops at one point, but someone else told them they would get us all arrested and so they stopped.

We left in a big group so we would not be harrassed, and there was concern when I split off from the group to find my car, (they said if I wasn’t there the next day they would send for help). Slept in car for third night.

We met at 8 in the morning again. We marched through the streets and blocked traffic, chanting various anti-police type stuff. (I got disgusted w/ it quick. I don’t like cops, but it makes us look ugly that we are harrasing the cops well they are blocking traffic for us. They say "We all live in a big police state" (Yellow Submarine) which got changed to "Pig Police state". Our numbers were really low by this point.

At the river front, someone throw a piece of chalk at the police (behind their barricade). I must have glared at the kid w/o meaning to, b/c he said something like "oops" to me. Minutes later I noticed cops were congregating around him, and I guessed what was about to happen. He pointed to me and asked to use my piece of chalk, and I nervously brought it over to this soon to be arrested kid. He used it, tossed it back, and then the police nabbed him. As far as I know, I’m the only one who had seen him throw the chalk, so the others thought he had been picked out randomnly as an intimidation tactic. They were furious and tried to block his being taken away. The cops got him behind a human barricade of theirs and whisked him away as the protestors tried to break through and help him, then they linked arms and sang pig police state, and some french chant about how the police are fascists. (I didn’t participate-usual reasons plus I didn’t have a ton of sympathy for the kid anyway-dumb thing he did and I thought he was kind of annoying in general.

As we marched away, someone realized that we were supposed to be at the high schools then to encourage a walk out. I was recruited b/c I had a car and got 3 (all 19 I think) high school girls who volunteered to go w/ me. (Nice ratio, but I was just beginning to talk to this girl I had been interested in all weekend when I got pulled away).

They were all from the area, but none of them went to this high school, so although they thought they knew were they were going, we took a couple of wrong turns. By the time we got to the high school, the walk out had already happened, and 5 of our people had been arrested their by the police (who had arrived b/f I did). The high schoolers were marching w/o clear direction (or so we thought at time-I think now they were pretty organized), so we found them and I dropped the two annoying girls off. Picked up one of the high school "leaders" (technically everything is democratic, but certainly she was one of the more visible personalities), Sarah who needed to go to her house to get food and bandanas. Tricia also stayed in the car.

I dropped Sarah and Tricia off at waterfront, but wasn’t allowed to park car there so I had to park car out a ways. I then ran into the High schoolers, who were at city hall, and I told them the rest of the group was at water front. Marched down w/ them chanting "2468 Windsors a Police state" and "Political views are not a crime". I also warned those in the front about the cops near the river front, but when we got to the river front, after the high schoolers were jubilantly welcomed, everyone just marched back to city hall again.

We congregated on the steps and had a teach in, and then we marched. The cops arrested 3 people who had strayed from group, so we were all encouraged to buddy up. I buddied up w/ this girl who ended up taking off her shirt b/c it was hot (she still had a bra on, but I was kind of embarresed-didn’t stick to closely to her).

The cops surrounded us at one point. They outnumbered us so greatly now it wasn’t even funny (maybe 50 of us all together-including high schoolers). We were intimidated enough to quickly decide to retreat to the side walk and go back to the park.

At the park we lounged and sang songs, despite the fact that our small number was ridiculously surrounded by cops, plainclothes and undercover cops, and even a helicopter above. At one point some of the plainclothes cops were looking at pictures of us they had, obviously an intimidation tactic (we panicked as we asked if anyone had ever been arrested or was wanted). Our legal advisor confronted them, and we surrounded them and gave them a rough time but they didn’t give us an inch.

We eventually went back to feminist theatre. We found out that the 9 of our number arrested that day were not allowed to see their lawyer, and was being shipped out to different prisons, allegations of abuse, and other stuff. Since these 9 were all vibrant personalities to me (many I had stayed up late w/ making the banners-and our numbers were so small I knew everyone now), I felt kind of bad for not going, but I arranged w/ Mike (another American) to go over the boarder together w/ him, and he had a plane to catch, so after helping making banners, we just saw everyone off (according to papers 14 arrested that night). Mike and I went to observe Press conference (just 3 other people there and CBC.)

We went across. Our car was searched immediately after they found out where we had been, but after that they just let us through and were pretty cool about it.

Addendums: disrespect for the corporate media that was really quite funny. Like speaking in French and pretending not to know English, or refusing to talk to different reporters, to hanging up on reporters. Also, talking into a walkie-talkie while being interviewed.

While we were marching-someone yelled out, "Why don’t you get a job you bunch of idiots." I just smiled and waved, but another girl yelled out, "We have jobs. Do something useful with your time."

In park, someone took of his shirt and pretended to give orders to the cops, and then he ran like he expected them to follow, while being filmed the whole time. Appearently same person did a strip dance in front of stone faced cops on Sunday.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Journal Entries: 2000 Republican Convention Protest 7/28/00-8/3/00

Commentary: Another Journal entry I found when going through old discs. Stylistically it may be a bit rough to read obviously, because the sole purpose was for my personal use to remember things.

I've written about many of these events on the blog when I was bored at work. I did this from Japan without the benefit of this journal in front of me, so the two versions may contradict each other at certain points. That can be chalked up to the way memory fades after 5 years I suppose. Anyone who is interested in comparison's sake can read this account of the Anarchists debating about the nature of democracy, this account of my interaction with the Sparticist member, this account of the under-cover police infiltration, and this continuation of the day following the under-cover police bust.

We (Amber and I) left on Thursday night on the greyhound bus, and didn’t get to Philadelphia until Friday afternoon. Along the way we encountered a couple other interesting characters. There was a Christian Music distributor. Nice guy even though he loved the sound of his own voice a little too much. He rode with us the whole way from Grand Rapids to Philly. The final stretch from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia we met two other protesters-who were about our age. They were engaged to eachother, and were very friendly and talkative to us, although I would later joke that they were not entirely in touch with reality. (They seemed a little scatterbrained in their thinking. They tried to tell me that Marlboro cigarettes was affiliated with the KKK because their were hidden Ks on the box. When I asked the guy why he was going to the protest, he responded, "Well I was at this Pink Floyd laser light show…" The story eventually came out that he was shrooming at this show, and on the way out he passed a tree, and somehow he knew then that he was supposed to fight for justice everywhere.)

At any rate, it was an interesting conversation with all of us, and a guy in back of us who was from the Navy joined in as well. There were also a bunch of cute kids running around, and a girl about 14 or so who was watching over them and at times involved in the conversation.

When we got to Philly, I had internet directions to the protest convergence center. (I was also easily able to spot several cops who were waiting to see who got off the buses.) I suggested the other two protesters come with us to the center, but they said they would find it later. (I would later briefly run into them a couple more times during the week).

We went to the convergence center, where Nicole (who I had e-mailed) was there. We were welcomed and given a newsletter, and then told that we could find out about tent city later in the day. We went to the West side of the city where training was going on, and attended an action training. (People we would later see during that week were at this training, including the 3 Union/ undercover cop guys-and one of the trainers was a man identified as MAC-the same guy who was the legal adviser at Windsor who confronted the plainclothes cops in the park.)

After the training ended, Amber and I tried to find out about tent city, and ended up just going back to the convergence center. We were told Tent city was not going on, but that we could stay at the YWCA. We weren’t given very good directions-and it took us a while to find the right bus, then we took this bus headed the wrong way. Eventually we got on the right bus headed the right way but we got off at the wrong stop. We had to walk 48 blocks through questionable neighborhoods. (Scared the pants off of my suburban ass, but I tried to act confident to keep Amber happy. It looked much worse in the dark then I think it really was, but at times I thought we were in the worst slums ever. Amber remarked more then once that it was the stupidest thing we had ever done. When we finally got to the YWCA, we were both exhausted, I had blistered on my feet, and I had soaked my only shirt for the week in sweat.-I had packed all my stuff in my school book bag-so I only took one t-shirt).

We spent some time talking to the other kids there. I would get to know them better as the week went on. (More on this later), and then went to bed.

SaturdayWe went to the park for a legal health care march. We listened to speeches for a long time before we marched. Amber and I were both interviewed by a lady from World Socialist, who was very friendly to us, and whom we would see a couple other times throughout the week. At the end of the march, we arrived at LOVE park, where we heard several speakers—including Ralph Nader.
And to my great surprise-when we got to the park we saw the David, Mark, Paul, and their mother. Mark and I had talked to a lot about going to philly, and Mark said Paul was interested in coming. However Mark had eventually told me he wasn’t coming b/c he couldn’t afford it.

What happened was Mark and Paul had decided to hitch hike to philly, got caught by the Police in Toledo, and their Mother and David had come to pick them up and bring them to Toledo. We spent the afternoon with them at the Park, walking back to their car with them. (From where we saw the abstinence march-put on by some religious group). Paul had had a terrible enough time on the trip over that he decided not to stay in Philly, so Mark was left with us. We had their mother drop us off at the convergence center. I inquired about tent city, but I was told I could stay at the YWCA the whole week if I wanted to, and that seemed much superior.

The three of us went to the West side in search of getting some free food, and eventually found it although we had to do some walking. It was at this open field in this pretty run down neighborhood that the activists were trying to turn into a garden for the community. After the food, I felt like helping a little bit, but Amber wanted to leave, so we did. We waited a long time for the bus, during which we talked to some local skateboarders about the protest. (They told us about some punk film festival).

We eventually made our way back.

The three of us left for Unity 2000. We were picked up by a couple other activists from New York who were also staying at the Y and gave us a ride down to the march. Mark left once we got there to find out about Tent city (where he wanted to stay). I would run into him a couple more times that day, and then eventually see him that night. Monday morning would be the last time that week I would see him. (I assume he just found alternate housing, and David said Mark left Tuesday-which explains why I didn’t see him again.)

At Unity 2000, I saw my friends from YWCA. Although by this point there were a lot of different people staying at the Y, the same group was always hanging out in the lobby who I hung out w/ briefly each night. This group was dressed in "blackface" (black cloth covering up every part of their face except their eyes) and handing out literature that said "We are anarchists" and then going on to explain what anarchism was about. I was impressed when I saw them arguing with some old guy. "We’re not all bloodsucking capitalists," the old guy (middle aged actually) said. Later the old guy said, "you have to recognize that the majority of people don’t want anarchism."

"Why can’t we live in our anarchist commune?" one of them asked.

"Well you can, but you have to realize this is a democracy and—" They jumped all over him for that one.

"This is a plutocracy," one said. Another mentioned ancient Greece.

"Oh don’t bring me back to Ancient Greece" the old guy said. Finally, exasperated by being outnumbered, the old guy said, "Listen, just behave yourself like adults out there."

"He means go home," one of them said to another.

"No that’s not what I mean," the old guy yelled.

I was very impressed with these Anarchists. There was an older guy who hung out with these kids-how in the world he hooked up with them I’m not sure. He looked like he could pass for 40 (or maybe 50), but then again maybe he just looked a lot older then he was. I had fun at night being crowded around a TV set at night with these anarchists-watching the news-and listening to them make fun of it. Also humorous, that night when I mentioned to the anarchist I had seen them earlier, one of them was like "actually, no you didn’t". Reminding me of course that they had been in disguise technically. I apologized, but I thought it was humorous.

Anyway, we marched in the Unity 2000. All sorts of groups on the left were marching, and at one point I was pretty sure I was marching close to my role model-David McReynolds. Since I had on a Nader button though, I was embarrassed to identify myself as a YPSL member.
Speaking of which, one of the many groups there was someone from the sparticist (roughly my age). He was hawking an issue of Workers Vanguard, and I told him politely that I had more then enough free literature from this week without having to start buying it. He then asked me what I thought about the ISO’s endorsement of Nader. (He was the second person from the Sparticist to ask me this). I replied I didn’t agree with Nader on everything, but we must make use of the momentum his campaign has generated. He disagreed with me on this. At one point I reminded him that part of Marxist doctrine was that at times it is good to make a strategic alliance with the bourgeoisie. Someone from the International Socialist Organization was listening in, and said this was a very good point. The ISO guy was from Australia, and had a noticeable accent, and before long it was just the two of these guys going back and forth with eachother and Amber and I just being observers. Eventually the ISO guy left, and the Sparticist guy gave me a free copy of Workers Vanguard.

Amber was tired from the hot sun, and so she sat in the shade while I went and observed the rally. There was a march against Police Brutality which I went along with, since by this time in the afternoon I was looking for something to do. It was not a legal march, although I saw on the news that night that since it was an announced march the police chose to allow it. I did not know this at the time though, and was therefore worried about the large police escort. Some in the march seemed to be courting conflict with the police-and I was worried about what Amber would do if I was arrested, yet I didn’t dare leave the large group for fear of getting picked off. Eventually, when I saw others were getting away with leaving, I decided to sneak off.

Side note-there were fundamentalist street preachers who followed our protest where ever it went. However, on this march we passed a group of pro-life protesters lined up on the streets. Abortion has absolutely nothing to do with police brutality, and surely nothing is more pointless then two groups of protesters yelling at each other. Nevertheless, some of the more militant pro-choice women got the megaphone and made anti-prolife chants. One woman marched giving the middle finger to all the pro-life people. Both groups glared at eachother, and I was embarrassed to be in this march.

I ended up back at the Unity rally and remet up with Amber. It was a hot day, so lot of people were in the fountain. We went to get something to eat on the West Side, where we met up with Mark. Eventually we ended up at the Y again.

MondayWe arrived in to town a couple hours early because we had gotten kicked out of the Y. We stumbled upon a demonstration against the SOA. We watched from the opposite street corner as they decried the SOAs principles. Mark got bored and left, missing the most exciting part. The SOA people re-enacted a massacre, and put the dead actors in the middle of the intersection. A massive amount of police were there for only about 6 protesters. The police arrested the 6 people in the street eventually, after redirecting traffic for quiet some time. My favorite part was an elderly gentleman in an American flag shirt was so outraged that the protesters were getting away with their actions (it took the police a while to arrest them). "How come they get to block traffic? Arrest them. So I can just block traffic anytime I want?" He preceded to lay down right infront of a cab in the same intersection, causing the cab to slam on it’s brakes and a gasp came from the sidewalk. The cops were like, "sir, we’ll worry about them. Use your head sir."

We marched for economic rights that afternoon. Again, it was not a legal march, but the police ended up deciding to allow it (there were really too many of us for them to do much else.) There was an old guy marching close to us who had a sign "Revolution is inevitable-why not know. " He got quite a lot of attention. We did a long hot march all the way to the convention center (well, as close as we could get to it). It was so hot all the convenience stores on the way back were closed up.

It was Ambers birthday, so we stopped at a bar and she got something to drink. Afterwards, we went to the big group meeting. (We had been at this meeting yesterday too, but left when they broke into groups. I said we could join an affinity group tonight if necessary).

Unfortunately, that proved a little harder. We volunteered to join tactical 5 and 7, but with in that group there were a lot of little groups, and we were unaffiliated with them.

After the meeting I tried to talk to one of the organizers about finding out what I could do. I told him all I really wanted to know was where to show up and when, but he told me I really should be in a group. He asked me if I was planning on getting arrested, and I said I wasn’t a hard arrestible, and he told me not to join "the kid with the short red hair’s group." In the end though, I imagine just because he couldn’t think of any other easy place to put me, I was refered to this kid. The red haired kid referred me to a meeting at the Puppetista center the next day.

TuesdayAfter hearing warnings not to go into the city without a group, I was nervous to begin with. We were in the downtown area only long enough to switch to the subway and go to the Westside. We found the puppet place, but the first meeting was for spokespeople only, so we killed time until 10.

The place was very romantic in the rundown sense of the word. It was an old abandoned falling apart building with trash all over the place—the perfect place to plan a revolution. They were very careful about the undercover cops. Amber and I were quizzed at the door to find out why we were there and then when we met up with the group they were cautious about us—until the guy with the short red hair, "Sully", vouched for us. It was ironic because it later turned out 3 guys who were in the group long before us, the union guys, were undercover cops.

They were 3 big beefy white guys with big guts and short red hair. From the moment I saw them on Friday they looked like cops. Yet everyone else was so trusting of these guys I didn’t question it. They talked about past protests they had been in, and they were constantly joking and laughing. Plus they looked like union guys as well as cops. Because the 3 of them looked practically identical (one being taller then the other 2) and because they were so scared of the cops (the tall one, Harry, mentioned to us to watch him closely because he thought the cops would target him) I found them very amusing. Why would guys their size be afraid of anything? Also, their constant joking made me smile several times. They were well-liked.

We met outside in a small courtyard—which also had trash all over it. Sully had two maps, and was using them to demonstrate our plan. There were 3 levels of risk we could take. Highest was lockdown, then sit in, then support. Amber and I volunteered for sit in. After Sully explained with the maps, we practiced a couple times in the courtyard. The lockdown people would leave in a van. The sit in and support people would gradually congregate in the greyhound station. Then, at a certain time they would leave to go on a march. Both groups would be in communication via cell-phone. They would use these cell phones to ensure they both got to the intersection at the same time. The sit in people would block traffic at the intersection. The van would pretend to be stopped just like all the other cars while the police were focused on those blocking traffic. Then, the people would pile out of the van, the sit in people would form a soft barricade around them, and the van people would lock themselves down.

Also, while there we heard numerous reports of people who looked like protesters being stopped for absolutely no reason by the police. Since Amber and I certainly looked like protesters, I was nervous. Amber wanted to get something to eat, so we stopped at a restaurant. There was a cop there, which made me very nervous. I told Amber not to make any comments about protesting for the rest of the day, since you never knew who was a cop, but she made several small comments, much to my annoyance.

We went to a protest center, and left just as they were closing it up. While there, we heard reports of the puppet place getting raided. If we had left perhaps a half hour later, we would have been arrested in the raid.

We made our way to the bus station. As suggested by one of the organizers, Amber and I played up the boyfriend-girlfriend thing, b/c apparently that throws off the cops. We weren’t making out or anything, just teasing each other. Gradually, in what seemed like a spy movie, we noticed our fellow protesters accumulating. Eventually people started to gather together, and Amber and I went over.

We were informed that it was all over. The cops had made a pre-emptive strike-pulling over the van and arresting it’s occupants. One of the undercover cops-"Harry" (the tall one) had actually been driving the van. He had volunteered for it somewhat reluctantly when they needed a driver. The other two union/cop guys were distraught by this. "Ah fuck, that means Harry’s probably in jail. What are we going to do now?"

We would later find out it happened like this. The cops pulled the van over. They were going to try and pass it off like it was no bid deal, and Harry just gave the cops his license. The cops told Harry to just go, and then they proceeded to arrest the people in the back. The cops had forgotten about Harry, who preceded to sit down in front of the van. When the cops realized where he was, they slammed him down and arrested him. Until I found out Harry was undercover, I had great respect for his bravery.

There was some confusion about what to do next. A group talked about going to an intersection to aid in whatever was going on over there. Amber and I ended up falling in with this group. There were a line of people (one person thick) covering one side of the intersection. One of the fundamentalist preachers was there with his sign. A line of cops were behind the protesters. I was torn between my desire to be a part of the action and my desire not to get arrested. Those sitting in the street called for more people to come and sit behind them. At different times both Amber and I were in the intersection, but once I realized how few people were coming to form a second line (at times it was jut me) I retreated to the sidewalk. I tried to do support (offering those sitting some of my water) but they really had more then enough people doing that, so eventually I just held a sign from the safety of the curb. Those sitting in the street chanted and sang as more cops lined up behind them. Eventually, one of the cops came up behind them and told them they had one chance to get up and leave before they were all arrested. They all got up and left.

After that, Amber and I wandered around for a while, trying to figure out where we should go next. We wandered into another intersection blockade. The exact same people were blocking a second intersection. This time the cops had them surrounded, saving me from making the choice of joining them or not (there was no way to get to them) although once again I held my sign from the curb. (It was a sign someone else had made and I just picked up. It said "Educate, not incarcerate, homes not prisons, houses not jails"). Eventually, these people left voluntarily too. The cops cleared everyone from the sidewalk, and Amber and I left slowly when we were told to do so.

One of the republican delegates struck up a conversation with me. He indicated my sign. "You know, Habitat for humanity does a lot of work with that."

"I know, I volunteer for them," I answered. He abruptly changed the subject.

"You know, it’s not the anti-death penalty people object to so much as Mumia being a poster child for it." We got into a debate about Mumia’s guilt or innocence. (Amber and I maintained that he maybe guilty, but deserves a new trial).

While talking to this guy, a girl pulled me aside. It was a convenient way for Amber and I to exit the conversation. The girl asked me if we knew what was going on. I said no, and she told me to come to a certain intersection at a certain time. Since it was almost that time anyway, Amber and I just headed over to that intersection, where protesters were beginning to congregate.
We got attention there from some of the delegates, one of whom (a girl probably about my age) took a picture of me with my sign. "Look scary" someone suggested. Then, to our not so great surprise, the same people who had blocked the previous two intersections appeared. They crossed the street when the walk signal flashed, and then all sat down in the intersection. I again lentsupport from the curb. One enraged citizen ran up and tried to bread the protesters apart himself. We all made the "Ohm" noise and pointed our fingers at him. He reacted in confusion to all the attention, and eventually left.

Those blocking the intersection decided on the daring move of changing their position to block the middle of the intersection. They stood up and ran, the cops tried to stop them and were somewhat successful. They didn’t get the diagonal line stopping the whole intersection like they wanted, but did get to sit down in the middle and were somewhat of a nuisance. Eventually the same thing happened, the cops gave them the option and they chose to leave rather then be arrested. However, they left to the other side of the intersection, and a bunch of us on the curb were separated for them.

We gathered at our end of the curb and tried to see if anyone knew what to do next. No one did, but someone pointed out that the cops at the nearby building were watching us. We looked over, and the cops were watching us from behind a glass window. One of the cops even waved at us. We decided to relocate ourselves. We walked down the street not really knowing where we were going. For a brief period people were following me, under the mistaken impression I knew what was going on. I quickly cleared that up.

Then, after a day of disappointing direct action, I saw my wet dream. A huge march was happening ahead. I excitedly pointed it out, and we quickly moved down to join it. I’m bad with estimating numbers, but it was a huge number of people swarming over the streets. As we got closer, most of them were anarchists in black face. As we approached, they were pillaging the nearby construction site. About 5 of them were relocating a fence into the middle of the street. Another group moved a street sign into the middle of the street, and then knocked it over. The older anarchist was yelling at some kid who had taken his picture, and even tried to grab the kid. Trash cans were knocked down all over the street. "Hey you kids," Yelled one enraged citizen. "You knocked that trash over, now you pick it up!" The anarchists kept on marching. He moved like he was going to hit somebody, but his buddy held him back.

We turned the corner. The police were there, but really powerless to do something with all these numbers we had. A kid in blackface raised his fist in salute as we swarmed past. The republican delegate amber and I had talked to before was on the sidewalk, and very disappointed to see us. "Hey you, guy with the white shirt. Girl with the green back pack. I know you. Why are you doing this?" We ignored him and kept on marching.

As we turned the next corner, things got really beautiful. The march headed towards center city. There was traffic in the street, but the marchers, swarmed around the traffic, forcing all the cars to stop while the helpless occupants looked out. The police went into the street, but the march simply swarmed by them. With all this going on, and those red and black flags waving, it would have made a great picture if I hadn’t have run out of film just at that minute (esp. with center city in the background). A limousine was caught up in the middle of the march, and subjected to some abuse. They jumped on it, throw paint bombs on it, and flicked off however was inside it (tinted windows made it hard to see).

A concrete block was lifted into the street. I thought this was just to block the street, and then "Sam" one of the anarchists we knew from the YWCA-picked it up and threw it through the back window of the cop truck right in front of us. Like the whole thing happened maybe 5 feet away from us or so. (Sam was perhaps the anarchist I remember best. He reminded me a little bit of my best friend.
The female officer in the truck stayed put, and we walked around the car.

We ended up back by the legal rally, where some of the people from our action group were. Mark and white beard asked us what was going one, and I excitedly told them about how this group had taken control of the streets. Adding the part about the smashed cop window, I said that their tactics were questionable, but they definitely had control of the street.

In later retellings of this story, I have implied or said that once I joined this march I couldn’t leave. In fact I had several opportunities to leave, the intersection with the legal rally being the most obvious. But we bypassed it, and kept marching. I stayed with the March because I wanted to be part of the action, even though it almost got me arrested.

The anarchist pulled down an American flag type decoration (although not an actual flag) and asked around who had a lighter, and eventually began burning it (although I don’t think it burned quite as nicely as they would have liked). We kept going. Their was a heavy cop presence watching the march, and there were continued calls to stick together so the cops couldn’t break us apart. Nevertheless, the march was disorganized enough that their were several weak points, and the cops on horseback were able to break the march into two at one point.

There was panic in the march for some reason I don’t even know why. We heard reports of people near the edges being yanked out and arrested, which I don’t know if it was true but don’t doubt it. I at the time also thought part of the crowd was tear-gassed. Since I didn’t see anything about that in the papers the next day, I don’t know if that was true. However there was a great since of panic. I grabbed Amber by the hand. We both had our signs at this point (she had picked up a sign along the way too), but I told her to just drop it and run. I told her to stay with the crowd to avoid being arrested.

The chronology of the rest of the march escapes me. I remember running at various points. I remember more the once seeing the cops surround the march, and telling Amber it was all over and we were all going to get arrested, only to see the cops back off and let the march through. I remember at one point when the cops had us surrounded we went over a guard rail into a parking lot to try and escape them. I was hesitant, wanting to stay with the crowd and going into the parking lot at first and then back into the street when it seemed the majority of people were staying there. One of the protesters yelled out, "Hey, this is a hospital, you fucking sheep." And we chanted, "this is a hospital," to let those people know who were running into the parking lot. They eventually rejoined the group (finding other avenues cut off by the police) and the police allowed us to continue down the road.

I also remember a lot of destruction. Abandoned cop cars in the march’s path were paint bombed, jumped on, and in a couple cases had their windshields broken by skateboards. Kids in black face opened up the backs of buses and were doing something to them, I have no idea what. A dumpster was dragged into the street at one point. A fox news van was rocked back and forth, with the intent of turning it over, but when they could not get it over fast enough, they left it and ran on. At another point they tried to burn an american flag again, but another protester talked them out of it because of a car with an open hood nearby. And graffiti was everywhere. Especially those little circled As.

Amber was more appalled then I was. She would yell at the anarchists at times to stop it, and once told me that we had seen enough already she disagreed with, but I told her we needed to stay with the group or we would be arrested.

Eventually, we ended up again at the legal rally. This time everyone went marching up and dispersed themselves into the crowd. There were those who wanted to keep marching, but the cops flanked us on most sides, and left us little choice.

As always, helicopters were watching us from above. Many of the Anarchists had brought change of clothes with them, which they switched into once under the cover of the crowd. I took off my bandanna, but that’s really all I could do. At one point we saw some of our anarchist friends meeting, planning their escape. (I overheard something about a certain cop looking for them). They eventually managed to disappear, I’m not sure how. (the cops had the legal rally surrounded, it was impossible to just leave.) A group of anarchists, I’m not sure if it was our anarchists or not (they were in blackface), ran through the police barricade. The cops chased them into the street a little bit and then let them go.

Not long after we got there, a group surged into the street chanting about Mumia. I hesitated before joining them (I felt like I had just escaped danger, and wasn’t ready to plunge myself back into it), and then the cops relieved me of my choice by barricading the legal rally in. We on the outside though chanted "the whole world is watching." The cops cleared the intersection out eventually, and then the next intersection was blocked. This was a little farther away, but I could see the cops charge in on horseback swinging their batons, and at one point there was a lot of smoke over there, which I thought was tear gas at the time, but the papers said was a smoke bomb released by the protesters.

The legal rally still proceeded. One black activist gave a searing indictment of the black cops. Eventually the protest organizers negotiated with the police to let us cross the street, and we were able to disperse from there.

Amber and I went back to the YWCA, where we were pleased to see most of our anarchist friends had made it back okay. (a girl with a broken arm, short hair in back and two long strands in front, one blue one purple was not there. I didn’t even notice at the time, but saw plenty of pictures on line later of her arrest). We watched independent TV with the anarchists before going to bed.

WednesdayWe left the YWCA. For some reason we were not allowed to stay there another night, but were given directions to tent city b/f we left. We talked to Cliff and Jon (two people in our direct action group) on the bus. We went to a anti-citi bank rally. Then we went to march for women’s rights (I was interviewed by the press there. Since Amber and I were interviewed several times by several people, I didn’t expect to see myself in print, but Rachel e-mailed me when we got back about my quotes. It should be noted the reporter made me sound a lot better then I deserved to).

We left there to go to a jail solidarity meeting. I talked to an Australian activist on the way over. We arrived at the park across the jail, and the police presence there was just incredible, considering the activist weren’t doing anything more harmful then a puppet show (Goat with a vote). Eventually the police let us stay at the park. We chanted about freeing the political prisoners inside. (Especially the "puppetistas" who were arrested just for being in that warehouse where we had planned our direct action).

I ran into an activist from Windsor. "You were in Windsor, weren’t you?" I said. "I knew you were going to say that," he answered. "I was goody there, now I’m Wishbone." Since "Wishbone" was one of the people who had been arrested Tuesday (the day I left Windsor) I asked him how things went, and he said he had gotten out by Friday. (He was one of the people arrested at the school). I was surprised to learn he was an American. He was so well liked by the Canadians I just assumed he had known them before the protest.

The protest negotiators negotiated with the police, and they allowed us to camp in the park. Amber was worried about it, but we decided to do it b/c we didn’t really know where ten t city was. (The police presence was still pretty big, and we expected to get raided that night, but it never happened). Amber and I went into our tent as soon as it started raining. The rain cleared up. We got free food leftover from the shadow convention. It was weird camping in a the middle of the city. Cars would pass and people would either yell their support or "Protesters go home/. Get a job."
Eventually we went to sleep.

Amber and I were put in charge of watching on part of the park for a while by an organizer who seemed to me to be a little paranoid. He pointed out all the people he was certain were undercover cops (and he was probably right, but it’s a public park. What are you going to do?). We were approached by to very weird old guys. One of whom wanted to video tape us, but then kept telling his own opinions and not even pointing the camera at us most of the time. The other one was his brother, who had fought in Korea, joined the Communist party, and organized the folk festival of 1962 in which only he knew that the money raised was being funneled to the communist party. He then joined the SWP, the Minute men, and then the KKK. (Rather abrupt shift there).

We planned a rally, and the press showed up in droves. People talked about their jail experiences. Chris Rock showed up to lend his support, and although he was immediately swarmed by the media, I got a glimpse of him. Rev. Al Sharpton also showed up and delivered a speech.

We marched around the jail several times, chanting and antagonizing the cops. People eventually started returning to the park (it was a hot day, and I had to carry my back pack with me everywhere), so after a few times around I two came back.

A girl showed up who was very emotional. She was from the media department of the organization, and they had called a press conference to make people aware of police brutality. We had never gotten the message though, and held the rally instead. In fact, some people had been pretty rude, telling the press not to video tape them and not answering their questions. (Which I guess was fine for a private rally, but not for a press conference). She wanted to discuss things and called a spokes meeting. She did so, and told the mass media not to tape them. Most of them did anyway.

A bunch of bizarre incidents happened. The people not in affinity groups were told to pick an affinity group and chose a spokes. One of the girls nominated herself as spokes, but nobody chose her. She claimed it was because she was female and when the facilitator (also a female) questioned her right to speak, she became very emotional and called the facilitator a dictator. She raised such a fuss that the facilitator let her stay "fine, you represent two people." Later the facilitator made mention of that argument, and the girl became so enraged at being singled out she left after a lot of crying and yelling. She later believed she would be singled out by the police for arrest because of the outburst, and blamed the facilitator. (BTW, the facilitator was chosen b/c the media girl wanted someone she knew facilitating).

We discussed the police brutality. Someone talked about his experience in jail, but when he showed his wounds, the media girl started crying, and said she had been hearing this all day, and couldn’t handle anymore.

The fundamentalists were there as well. I still think it is best to ignore these guys, but I understand it is hard. A bunch of people surrounded them and started imitating the sins they said were damnable (IE-two guys made out when they talked about homosexuality. They worshiped the puppets when they talked about idolatry. Vermin Supreme, a very funny man running for president, led them on with his own bullhorn, and was hilarious, but ultimately I disagree with his tactics.) We heard rumors that Rev. Jim Phelps, anti-gay king, was at another intersection protesting gays, and a bunch of people left to protest him.

Wishbone/ Goody announced that he had found an undercover cop. A black man with an independent media pass. Others vouched that they had seen him as a cop before, and he was eventually asked to leave (he had pushed another protester against the wall, which is how Wishbone found him out). Wishbone also said he had found the undercover cops who had given away our warehouse-the 3 union guys. Wishbone said he had seen them in their uniform. They had chosen to blow their cover b/c they "wanted to be their when our heads got cracked." I talked about this with some people from our action group, and we agreed it seemed very reasonable. (harry had apparently gotten out of jail the same afternoon he was arrested. No way would the driver be able to cite out, when the owner of the van was found and arrested).
A cop wandered around our meeting taking pictures. They had been taking pictures of us all week, but this was pushing it when we were having a peaceful meeting and he was blatantly taking pictures of everyone. Someone tried to block his view, but he was told by another police officer he had better not touch the policeman.

Eventually amber and I left to catch our bus. We said good-bye to those in our action group, maybe we’ll see them at another protest (I was still hoping to be in LA at this point, before reality set it). The anarchists, the other people I wanted to say good-bye to, I didn’t see. They had been there the night before, although didn’t want to stay in a place where the cops knew where they were. However they were there that afternoon. I don’t know where they were when we were leaving, but I trust they all made it back safely.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Journal Entry: Inaugural Protest, Jan. 9, 2001

Jan 19, 2001
I arrived at U of M early (wanting to allow extra time so I did not miss the bus, and hung out at the student union for a couple hours before everyone showed up for the bus). I didn’t know anyone, but planned to make friends on the bus. I sat by myself in the first open seat, hoping someone would sit next to me, but no one did (which later turned out to be quite nice b/c I could sleep easier). The girl who had organized the trip, Julie, introduced herself and told us to make friends on the bus.
I made friends with the people sitting around next to me. They turned out to be MSU graduate students in philosophy, 4 guys and one girl, all on a doctorate track, and all fitting the stereo-type of a bohemian philosophy student, from their dress to their appearance to their talk of coffee shops. Very friendly people though. I got to know some of the other bus people at various stops.

At one McDonalds stop I ran into the Anarchists from Philadelphia, who we had stayed with at the YWCA. There were 3 of them I recognized, and they recognized me as well, although I ran into them just as my bus was leaving so I didn’t have time to talk long to them. They told me that their group had all made it back safely, although they had known several of the people arrested in the puppet house raid.

We arrived in DC early Saturday morning. We parked out in the suburbs, and the plan was to ride the Subway into downtown. Even the subway was really crowded, with protestors and republicans all trying to get on, and although Julie had wanted everyone to stay together as a bus, we soon got split up. I was able to stay with my MSU friends, and we made it into downtown successfully.

I was dressed, by the way, like a non-protestor after the experience in philadelphia with cops harrassing protesters. I had on a collard shirt, a sweater, and a tie, and was complemented by several people on how much I looked like a Republican.

I followed the MSU students to the place where the legal protest was to take place. We arrived and found the area blocked off by police barricades. A couple people were addressing the crowd on megaphones, telling us how the police where denying our rights to get to our permitted protest. Then, after a while, appearently the police started letting people through, but so slowly I couldn’t even tell the crowd was moving at all until I would go back up the hill and see that indeed people were getting through on the other side of the fence.

There was a large anarchist contegent, dressed up in full gear with flags and everything, that ended up getting bored and leaving. I wondered frequently where they had gone, and what had happened to them, until messengers came in on bikes to tell tales of the Black Bloc being in trouble. According to the messengers, the police had surrounded the anarchists and were preparing to make arrests, and had beaten a couple kids.

One of the guys from MSU and I went to check things out, with the others staying behind. Once we got to the intersection (a few blocks away) most of the excitement was over. The police were clearing out the last bit of the street, and the MSU guy was worried and told me that we should go, but I pretended not to hear him and pretty soon we both realized that as long as we stayed on the side walk the police didn’t care. A few Anarchists walked up to the police with an upside down american flag which they proceeded to burn.

I would later learn that the anarchists had been marching in the streets w/o a permit, and also, as in Philly, dragging anything into the street that they could so as to further obstruct traffic. The police had forcefully cleared the street, but a march by NOW had coincidentally intersected the police/anarchist battle, and the anarchists had appealed to NOW to stay. The police had formed human barricade separating NOW from the anarchists and keeping the rest of us from on the sidewalks and off of the streets.

The rest of the MSU students showed up. We explained to them what was happening. One anarchist ascended the traffic light (which was actually on the sidewalk), and waved an anarchist flag around. Then someone handed him an American flag, and he burned that from up top of the street light. Then someone else handed him a sign, I forget what the sign said but something political, which he displayed from the street sign to the cheers of the crowd. Then, when he attempted to come back down, the police moved in to grab him.

We were all in the park that was at the corner of the intersection, and we were upset that the police would move into the park, which we felt was our territory after being kicked off the street. The anarchist would move down, and the police would push people back away from the street sign so they could grab this kid when he came down, and the kid would go back up, and the anarchists would call out “Black bloc, black bloc,” to urge everyone to form together. Eventually the kid stage dived into the crowd, where we was quickly swallowed up. The police tried to muscle their way into the crowd, but everyone formed into a tight formation. (Including myself, for it was at this point that I ran over to lend my body to the crowd, actually placing myself quite close to the police, though as usual away from any real danger). The police gave up.

The NOW march had by this time gone away from the police barricade and was continuing down the street a couple blocks away. Someone called out that we should join them, because there were no cops over there, and pretty soon everyone had left the park and we were heading towards the march. The cops didn’t pursue us, and pretty soon we were all marching in the street again (although granted these streets were not busy, so there was no real threat to the police). There was some debate over which way the march should go. A couple people were quite vocal that we were going the wrong way, that we should turn right if we wanted to get to the inaugural parade. To which others replied that the plan was to go to the Supreme Court.

The march at one point was passing from a side street to a main street. Most of us took the sidewalk, and there was a bit of confusion when we crossed over another mainstreet. A couple people (including the girl from MSU) tried to temporarily block traffic so that the march could stay together, but the march was so disorganized and so spread out that this proved to be a difficult task. Then, when the anarchists came through, they marched right through the middle of the intersection anyway, staying on the main road. People began to yell, “Off the sidewalk, into the main streets.” The MSU gang and I were sort of cautious. The march was disorganized enough that there was no real hiding in the masses, and we stayed on the streets, but would retreat to the sidewalks at the first sign of police. The police, however, never really attempted to block the march, seeming to just let everything go.

One funny moment, a republican couple was unfortunate enough to intersect the march, and one of the marchers followed them, shouting about Gore getting more votes, and did this until they were obviously annoyed and despite their yelling at him to leave them alone.

As we approached the inaugural route, everything was blocked off by police barricades, however there was only one or two police men at each intersection. The Anarchists suddenly broke through one of the barricades and began pouring through. Initially, the MSU gang and I quickly backed away from the situation, certain that the police were not going to permit this and that heads were going to be cracked. However, seeing that the police were not doing anything, we joined the flood, and were able to get right up to the inaugural parade, or as close as anyone else was permitted to get at least (the actual parade was blocked off by a separate set of barracades and police.

Here we waited in the rain for a long time, periodically chanting different things. The anarchists soon got bored and left. We booed all the buses as they went by, full of people heading to the actual inauguration (an event one needed tickets for). When the parade eventually did come through, we booed and flicked everyone off, and chanted “Shame, shame, shame.” The parade would later go by the permitted protest, where they would receive more verbal abuse. It was quite satisfying, and we ruined the inauguration for the supporters.

After the parade, the protest was pretty much over. We went to the subway, but it was so crowded I told the Msu kids I would come back later. I went and checked out the permitted protest, which by this time had largely disappated as well. On the way back, I talked to a recent U of M kid (whom I recognized from the bus) who told me about the further adventures of the anarchists after they had left the parade. They had taken over a Navy park, replaced the american flags with anarchists flags, and when the cops had tried to arrest them they had stage dived into the crowd, whereupon the cops tried to muscle their way into the crowd again, and the anarchists chanted about non-violence and where able to shame the police into stopping.

Got on the bus, went back. We picked up some additional people on the way back, so I ended up sitting up front on the way home.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Journal Entries: Anti-FTAA Protest Quebec City 4/18/01-4/22/01

When going through my old disks, I found this journal entry I had written after the anti-FTAA protests in Quebec City.

It is of course always dangerous to post journal entries on the web. This was something I originally wrote just for my own benefit, so that I could remember the experiences I had in Quebec. It is obviously not a polished piece of writing, and it was not originally intended for a public audience.

I've decided to post this on the web because
1) I think it’s a pretty good story
2) It might be of interest to any one else who was at this protest, or is interested in protests
3) Although I mention several people by name and describe things that they did, I don’t think anyone will mind because it’s been 5 years, and this is ancient history now. (Although if you’re reading this, and you mind, just let me know).

But it should be read as a journal piece, and with a forgiving eye. It tends to be a bit Joel-centric, because I wanted to remember my experiences and contributions. Obviously in all the disagreements that arises, it takes my side. And of course, the prose needs to be forgiven as well.

Media Mouse has several pictures on their website from this protest, which can be viewed here. However, as this account mentions, I split off from the rest of the Media Mouse group on the main day of protesting, and so at a different part of the protest when most of those pictures were taken.

I did a lot of filming of the protest, and some of that footage was edited into the Media Mouse film. But not very much of it. Our original intention was to capture the feel of the streets, and show things that the mainstream media wouldn't show. However upon returning from the protest, we felt that the mainstream media had focused too much on the violence at the protest, and ignored the issues behind it. So we decided to focus our documentary on the issues behind the FTAA. This meant that most of the footage I had shot was now inapplicable. Some brief shots of police and tear gas that I filmed were incorporated into the film, but the majority of what I shot ended up not being usable.

Anyway, without further ado…

Pre trip:

We had been planning this with Media Mouse for quite some time. Although leading up to the trip the line-up of those going was constantly changing, we ended up going with myself, Jeff, Joe, Erica, Bob, Tom, Rob, and Nancy met us there.

There was also a group from Calvin College going, who were even less organized than we at Media Mouse were. Peter was initially the main person who seemed to organize everything. (Peter was also well known to most of the gang at Media Mouse because of his active community involvement.) Then one day Jordan showed up at the Calvin College Social Justice Coalition meeting and asked about a trip to Quebec, and he appeared to take charge of everything from that moment forth. I tried to coordinate things as much as possible between our two groups. I stayed in close contact with the Calvin students, attended their organizational meetings and kept them updated on what we at Media Mouse were planning to do. However, even up until the day Media Mouse left for Quebec, the Calvin group was still unsure of what they were doing. They hadn't even finalized who was going and who wasn't when Media Mouse left. I didn't know who from the Calvin group would be going to Quebec until I saw them there.

Before Jordan took over and organized Calvin’s expedition, Vito expressed interest in coming with a group to Quebec, and so I had brought him along to the Media Mouse meetings. It seemed like a good fit because Vito was known and liked by the Media Mouse crowd anyway. Erica knew Vito from the School of America’s protests, and Bob knew Vito from the anti-Kohl’s sweatshop protests. However upon arriving at the Media Mouse meeting, Vito embarrassed me and failed to impress Media Mouse with his over the top violent rhetoric, and he made no attempt to conceal the fact he planned to cause trouble at the protest. Fortunately in the end he decided that leaving early with Media Mouse would mean missing too many classes, so he opted to go with the Calvin group instead. This saved me the embarrassment of having to tell him that Media Mouse had unanimously voted he wasn't going with us.

Anthony wanted to come with Media Mouse, but couldn't because of his schoolwork, so he stayed behind and agreed to be our contact person.

The previous summer, I had gone to a protest in Windsor Canada, and had been held up and interrogated at the boarder for 3 hours, at which point my story fell completely apart and I had to admit I was crossing the boarder for the intent of attending a protest. The rough questioning and intimidation treatment I received convinced me that it would be almost impossible to keep a coherent story together if we were separated and questioned at the boarder. Therefore I advocated that we should simply be honest about our intentions, and hope for the best at the boarder. I thought we would have a much better chance of getting through this way than if we got caught in a lie.

There was not uniformity of agreement on this point. Some of the others believed we could make a fake story convincingly stick. I was the only one with experience of trying to cross the boarder at the time of a major protest, so to hammer home my point I told and re-told my story ad infinitum. I’m sure the others wanted to kill me after a while.

We at Media Mouse were going to go together as a Media group, until we heard that big groups traveling together didn't have much chance of getting across the boarder. We decided to split up into small cars and go with fake stories. I objected to this and tried to convince everyone we wouldn't be able to fool the boarder guards. In fact I made this point repeatedly (and so it was a little embarrassing when we got through so easily, after I had scared both Media Mouse and Calvin with my gloom and doom scenarios.)

The other issue was that I was worried that my name would still be in the computers after the experience that summer. Therefore I would be a liability to any group trying to pass off another fake story. Jeff and Joe both had convictions for civil disobedience, so they might have trouble getting across the boarder as well. Therefore Jeff and Joe and I all went in the same car. I was very pessimistic about our chances of getting across.

Jeff decided to still go as media, since he works for the community Media center he had official credentials. Joe and I went with him as interns.

4/18/01 Wednesday
I got to the Community Media Center, where I was supposed to meet Joe and Jeff. I was a little bit early, and Joe was about 45 minutes late, so I had to do a lot of waiting. Jeff showed up with Anthony, and then left again, and I was supposed to instruct Joe where to go. When Joe showed up we put the camera equipment in the car, and took off.

We were going with the honest approach at the boarder. More or less. The only lie was that Joe and I were not interns with Jeff. Therefore we spent a good part of our 3-hour drive to Port Huron practicing our story. When we got to Port Huron, we got sent through very easily. Jeff had official media credentials, the boarder guards did a brief search of the car, but not very thorough. They just kind of opened up all of our bags and just shut them again, not even bothering to look at the bottom of our bags. In preparing for a thorough search, I had packed only nice clothes along to facilitate the story that we were going as journalists, not protesters. It meant that I spent the whole weekend as a very nicely dressed protester (which did have its advantages, namely allowed me to safely walk the street by myself with out fear of being picked up by the cops).

We called Anthony once across. He told us that Erica and Rob were waiting at Costco in London Ontario, before he got cut off. We went to Costco, and found Erica’s car, but no people insight. We looked all over for them before leaving a note on the car and going to dinner. They met us at dinner.

Erica and Rob had gotten across extremely easy (as had Bob and Tom, who had also met up with everyone in London). In fact no one’s story was even questioned, which was almost a disappointment after they had spent so much time preparing to get grilled at the boarder.

We had deliberately staggered the departing time of the cars to avoid arriving at the boarder at the same time. (Rob and Erica left at 11, Jeff, Joe and I not until close to 3). Therefore the others thought it would be a while before we showed up, so they had gone shopping for protesting supplies (none of which any of us dared to bring any to the boarder crossing).

This meant that for the whole weekend, the others were better equipped than Jeff, Joe and I. In fact I for some reason, never even got around to picking up basics like bandannas and goggles for the tear gas. (I had been to many protests before, and never got tear gassed, so I doubted how necessary these devices would be, and did not feel like acquiring them was a priority).

We set out again. However, an hour after leaving London, (in the middle of the night), Erica’s car broke down. Rob, who was driving it at the time, just suddenly lost power while cruising along the expressway. Fortunately we were near an off ramp and fortunately Erica’s car was in the front of our 3 cars. However we were delayed almost 2 hours probably while we got a tow truck and had the car towed to a car garage place. We packed into 3 cars and opted to pick the car up on our way back, rather then wait for it to get fixed and further delay our journey.

4/19/01 Thursday
Arrived in Quebec in the afternoon, found the welcome center, found out where we were staying.

We split up into two groups. Rob, Jeff and Tom (who met up with Nancy) went to do stuff (I forget what) and Erica, Joe, Bob and I were going to try and get some food and go to the women’s march. Food definitely took the priority though, and we were slow in going to the women’s march. In fact we ended up missing it. I was mildly annoyed with at the time, but it turned out men were not allowed on the march, so it turns out it’s just as well we had a long lunch. Erica, on the other hand, upon hearing that it was women only, really regretted missing out.

Since we were supposed to meet Jeff Rob and Tom at the Women’s march, we decided to find an alternate way to meet them. There was a candle light march at 8 to protest the gate being closed on Old Quebec, and we decided to go to that instead. First we took a tour of the wall, and visited Revolution Park, which was make shift park constructed safe under the expressway as a safe area.

Most of the shopkeepers were boarding up their shops. This concerned Erica, because she didn't see why independently owned businesses had anything to worry about. The violence and vandalism usually only targeted major symbols of capitalism, not small independently owned businesses. Erica worried that the boarding up of shops was playing into the fear mongering against the protesters.

(I maintained that it was a reasonable precaution on the part of the shopkeepers, since all it took was one idiot who was a bit less selective than the rest of the crowd to break a window that shouldn't have been broken).

When a shopkeeper spilled his nails, Erica helped him clean it up. I got down on my hands and knees and helped out a little bit as well if for no other reason than just because I would have felt stupid standing around watching. (Although, everyone else there just stood around watching).

After the nails were all cleaned up, Erica pointed to the boarded up windows and said “You miss judge us. You miss judge us.” Whether the French shopkeeper understood or not I'm not sure.

The candle light march was scheduled to start at Laval University. It was a hell of a walk there, and no one seemed to realize that when we set out except for me, but I actually like long walks so I didn't say anything.

After walking for a long time and then realizing we weren't even half way there yet, moral plummeted among the group. I was really the only one strongly in favor of continuing on.

Some people wanted to turn around. Some people wanted to take the bus, which was a good idea, but we didn't know where to catch the bus or which bus to catch.

In the end I won out, and we ended up continuing on and eventually arriving at the University finally, only to decide not to march. The rest of the group was worried about the police presence, and the fact that the march was under the heading of a large sign reading “Viva l’Anarchie.” “What is this?” someone asked. “A stupid anarchist march to get us all arrested before the official protest even starts?” The marchers were planning on going down the middle of the street, presumably without a permit.

I really wanted to stay and go on the march. I argued that there were only 3 police cars present, and that was not enough of a police presence for them to try and arrest everyone on the march. But I was outvoted on this point. I then offered to stay by myself, but this was also outvoted. “We should stay together,” the rest of the group said. “It’s bad news to start splitting off.”

A more legitimate concern was that Joe beginning to get sick. In fact by the time we made it back to our room at the hostel, Joe was extremely sick. I was worried I would catch whatever bug he had and would miss out on the days of big protest, but he was all better in the morning and no one else got sick. We theorized that he must have eaten something that disagreed with him, and then aggravated his condition by putting in that long walk all the way to the University.

4/20/00 Friday
As was the case with the day before, I was really chomping at the bit to get going and protesting, and everyone else was more relaxed. This caused me a great deal of frustration, although the excitement didn't start until later in the day, and in retrospect I was unnecessarily impatient.

Jeff, Rob and Nancy opted to go to various speaking events, while the rest of us decided to go to the carnival against capitalism. This also started at Laval University (all the way across town) so the morning’s activities consisted of getting bus passes and a blank videocassette.
(We had Rob’s camera, but he had left all his cassettes with a friend who he had met up with at the welcome center the previous day.)
We got breakfast at the People’s potato, which was a free food place near the college we were staying at. While the others were still getting ready I, in the interest of getting moving faster, volunteered to go to the local media store to get a new cassette. They didn't have any. In the end we ended up buying cassettes off of another protester that we met. I also went to Subway to get change for the bus, before we left for Laval.

Once at Laval, we waited a while before the march started. I saw a few familiar faces (someone who might have been Jaggi Singh, but I’m not sure. I ran into one of the Michigan State University students that I had hung out with at the Bush inauguration protest earlier in the year. (Although he was so disguised I didn't recognize him at first. He had on the whole black block protest gear).

We also ran into former Media Mouse comrade Crystal. We had heard she would be coming from NY, and had hoped to run into her. Crystal was with a guy named Doug, although I never did figure out where Doug was from or what his relationship to Crystal was. (Doug did seem to know a lot about Calvin College, so he must have some connection to Grand Rapids).

Erica broke out the bubbles, and we had fun using those. When the march finally started, we marched all the way down the path we had walked the previous day from the fence to Laval.

There was a separation point where the yellow zone separated from and green zone, and we went with the yellow. Crystal initially stayed in the green zone, but left to join us when the Shell Gasoline station she was standing by got smashed up. (The rest of us didn't witness this, although given the anti-shell slogans everyone was saying, we all assumed it was only a matter of time. When we saw the shell station the next day, it was all boarded up. In fact, given the hatred of Shell, why Shell didn't board up the previous day, when all the Independent stores were boarding up, is a mystery to me).

We marched all the way to the fence, at which point the black bloc appeared to materialize out of nowhere. (Very odd, we all thought, since no one had seen them on the march).

Some kid, I believe unrelated to the Black Bloc, was on a CBS news van. When the CBS news guy saw him there, he began yelling for him to get off. The kid replied it was a free country and the CBS guy was furious, and started to climb up and get the kid down himself. Two black bloc guys ran over and blocked the CBS guy with their big sticks. The black bloc guys actually ran past me to get there, bumping me as I blew bubbles. The CBS guy continued to yell at the kid atop the van, but didn't try to get at him any more.

Other notes: As black bloc materialized, the guy in front had a bed mattress with the Anarchy A symbol on it. He used it violently to knock back people with cameras, yelling “no pictures”. They carried long wooden sticks in their hands, and crowd reaction was varied. A man standing next to me implored them, “peaceful protest, right guys?” There was also a catapult some of the black block had brought.

The black block began working on taking down the fence. A couple of them climbed on top and began rocking it back and forth. To our surprise, there were no police around.

Erica moved forward to film them. I stepped up on a small fence in the park to see better, and rest of the group went to look for Erica. I figured since they knew where I was, we could stay together easily, but once tear-gas hit everyone would move.

The Black bloc took down fence. Everyone was euphoric, but then no one knew what to do next. Rob (who wasn't there, but saw news footage) and Crystal would later lament this as the lost opportunity of protest, and to a certain extent I agree with them, but we were all worried about what extreme reaction would await us if we breached the fence. Within minutes riot police showed up and the opportunity was lost.

Police fired tear gas at us. Everyone’s first reaction (including myself) was to run, but someone yelled out not to run, only to walk. I remembered the workshops I had attended on non-violence and realized he was right. We had been told that running only creates a sense of panic, and that we should avoid running under all circumstances. Once I remembered this, for the rest of the days of protest I myself would yell at other people to walk. (To my surprise, sometimes whole crowds would stop running just because I shouted out not to).

The tear gas canisters were thrown back at the police, and I suffered no adverse affects. However, as the canisters kept coming, eventually I get a whiff of some and retreated teary eyed to the back of the crowd. It was mild compared to what I would later experience, but unpleasant enough at the time.

As I went more to the back of the crowd and away from the tear gas, I quickly recovered. Those near the back of the crowd had not seen what had happened on the front lines, and everyone was asking me if I was all right. I answered I was. After I was done coughing, a news team from CTV asked me if I was okay and if I would talk to them. I told them yes. It took a while to get the camera ready, and then when the camera was finally ready two guys in black bloc walked by, and one of them flashed out his hand and quickly spray-painted the camera lens, making it unusable. So I ended up talking into the microphone/ cassette recorder instead, and said that many protesters were obviously equipped for tear gas, but unfortunately people like me were not. (The reporters were far back enough that they couldn’t see what was going on, so I told them news from front, how wall got knocked down).

The format for the rest of the day, indeed for the rest of protest, was then established. Get tear gassed, retreat, recover, advance again and repeat process.

And that was how I spent the rest of the day. Eventually I ran into Bob and Erica, who had their own tear gas stories. (Erica, being at the very front of the crowd, had apparently been tear gassed worse and had to be lead out by Bob. They had lost Tom and Crystal in the confusion. (Crystal had lost Doug at the beginning of the yellow/green split).

We sat on bench and Erica reviewed footage she had taped. There was screaming suddenly and the crowd started running. Wanting to get into the action, my first impulse was to run into the crowd towards the site of the disturbance. Bob and Erica had the opposite impulse, and yelled after me until I retreated with them. It turned out that the disturbance was nothing more than more tear gas (probably the cops were beginning to fire into the back of the crowd).

Two armored cop cars carrying water cannons in front of them came in from the opposite side of the protest, heading towards the fence. As we observed from the lawn, everyone just got out of the way to let these things get past. One kid stood in the way, waving his anarchist flag. When the kid turned his back, the police car accelerated, presumably to scare him out of the way. We all gave a general shout of alarm, concerned that he was run over. He turned out to be all right, but everyone ran forward. Even Bob, Erica and I came forward. The Black bloc attacked the police car, smashing in the windows with their sticks. The officers inside flinched defensively as glass shattered all around them.

The police vans were both forced to back up. They let loose the water cannons, but Black bloc did surprisingly well at continuing their attack well avoiding the blast.

Then the tear gas came. To our surprise it was launched not just at the troublemakers, but deep into the crowd as well. Everyone, including Bob and Erica, ran. I yelled out “Walk! Walk!” and to my surprise everyone listened, but soon I was beginning to wish I had chosen to run once the tear gas wafted in our direction. Bob and Erica, better equipped then I was, were able to lead me out as my eyes stung so bad I couldn’t open them for more then a few seconds at a time. We had to leap through some bushes in our rush to escape, and then climb down a steep hill, still covered with snow from the winter. It was so slippery Bob advised me to just fall down it, but I was able to slide down with out loosing my footing. At one point (probably at this point or shortly afterwards) I lost track of Bob and Erica even though I could hear them. Once they realized I wasn’t following them, they came back and grabbed me and led me away. With their help and with the medics help I was able to get my eyes cleaned out. It was the first of many times that I would need help cleaning out my eyes.

We eventually met back up with Tom, Crystal, and Joe. Crystal had been the Seattle World Trade Protests, and because some people had said the size of the protest at Quebec was similar, I asked Crystal if this was what Seattle was like. She said it was very similar, except the cops were more brutal in Seattle.

Crystal used Erica’s cell phone to call Doug and meet up with him. We stayed away from the main crowd to avoid the tear gas, but the police began firing the tear gas everywhere, and we had to retreat a couple times.

At another point, the gas was fired nearby and demonstrators had to get through a narrow passage between a wall and a bush to escape. I held a branch of it back to make it easier for the grateful protesters to get away, but by the time everyone was through my eyes had begun to sting a bit. I pulled out the lemon juice soaked bandana Erica had given me, and took a breath of that after which I really started to cough (perhaps because it had been used a few time previous to clean off tear gas, and the rag had begun to smell accordingly).

Everyone else began wanting to leave. Bob was concerned the police were going to arrest everyone. I thought this unlikely given the sheer size of the crowd, but the police encouraged this fear by embarking on various flanking tactics. Bob, taking the reluctant Tom with him, checked everything out to make sure we weren’t in danger of having our escape routes cut off. The debate about how long to stay continued for quite sometime. I was able to keep everyone there for a while by saying we didn’t necessarily have to put ourselves in the line of fire, but we should at least stay to see what would happen. However, this became a harder and harder sell once it was apparent everywhere was in the line of fire. Eventually people voted to leave.

Rather meekly I asserted my desire to stay. I thought, as in the night before, they would insist we stay together but they let me go, although they made it clear they were not happy about my departure. Erica let me keep the lemon soaked Bandana, and gave me the cell phone so I could call Anthony at 7 and let him know I was still all right. Then Bob gave me his watch so I would know when the appropriate time to call Anthony was. I left company with the rest of Media Mouse, who went in search of dinner (although they would eventually return to another part of the protest and outstay me by about an hour-ironically enough).

I spent the rest of the evening in the usual cat and mouse tear gas game. The police gradually began forcing the demonstrators back away from the park area where we were, and into a residential zone. The low buildings, as I would discover then and the next day, helped keep the tear gas trapped for long periods of time.

I called Anthony at 7. Erica, as she herself admitted, had been calling Anthony a lot that weekend, so I was worried it might be an annoyance, but he seemed happy enough to hear from me. I explained to Anthony why I was calling (because I had left the rest of the group, and they wanted me to check in). I chatted with him about the day’s events and media coverage of it (I told him what happened to us, and he told me what coverage he had been reading). I could hear Tear gas being fired off and I just commented on it in passing at the time, thinking it was far enough away it wouldn’t affect me. Aided by the low buildings, the tear gas reached me and I soon began coughing violently. I couldn’t even say good-bye to Anthony. “Did you just get gassed?” He asked at last. “Yeah, I should probably go now,” I barely managed to squeak out.

Other protestors were also caught off guard as I was. In fact, as I retreated I saw a few of them panicky smash through a police fence wall to get away from the tear gas. I ran off until I could breath again. The only casualty of the experience was a bubble bottle that slipped out of my pockets while I was running and broke on the ground.

(I would later learn that Erica and the others called Anthony about 20 minutes later from another phone. Anthony told them about my abrupt end to my call, and right afterwards they got tear-gassed and were forced to end their call in the same way. We later called Anthony that night to let him know we were all all right).

The rest of the night was more cat and mouse stuff. The protesters were beginning to get fewer and fewer. Some organization was giving out free food, and I had a quick meal in between getting tear-gassed. There was one call for people to call it a night and go to a planning meeting, and about half the group left at that time. I had really no desire to go to a planning meeting and figured someone else from Media Mouse would be there instead (although I was wrong about this), and so stayed on. When the second call to retreat and go to a planning meeting was given, I left at that time.

(Either the 1st or 2nd call to leave was accompanied by the announcement that tear gas had gotten into the ventilation of the FTAA meeting, causing the opening ceremonies to be postponed to Saturday. We all cheered).

I made my way back to the Campus. I was surprised to be the first one back. A large part of the reason I left when I did was because I was worried the others were getting worried about me. Had I known they were also still at the protest, I would have stayed out later. (And it sounds like, from the stories I heard from the Calvin group, that I missed an interesting night).

I listened to a folk singer at the college and ate at People’s Potato (a volunteer food group in the college) while waiting for the others to get back.

The others came back with in an hour, with stories almost identical to mine. It sounded like a good part of the hour extra they spent out was spent taking the long way back because of the fear about being picked off by the police once they left the main group, so we probably left the main protest at about the same time.

Once they came back, the others were all in favor of leaving to get food. I had already eaten at People’s potato while waiting for them to get back. I urged them not to make to long a night of it, because we would have a big day tomorrow, and tried to get them to go to People’s Potato, but they went out anyway. I walked them out to their car, but ended up staying behind, as did Tom, who was too tired to go. He went to People’s Potato, and I went with him to keep him company and get seconds on food.

They came back before Tom and I went to sleep anyway. We all went to bed about the same time so I guess the only thing I gained by staying in was saving some cash.

Jeff, Rob and Nancy got back. They did not have quite as exciting a day as we did, but they had seen the demonstrators still outside right before they got back, and apparently the numbers had swelled since I left. The smell of tear gas was also still in the air.

4/21/01 Saturday (My 23rd Birthday)
Since no one went to the planning meeting, no one knew what the direct action was going to be. (It was not printed in the program of course. The only thing we knew about was the legal march at noon). Based on my experiences of past protests, I figured things would start early, and was impatient when the group was moving slow again. (Although, once again I was probably over reacting.)

After a slow time getting breakfast, they want to drive out of the city to get more supplies. After the previous day, more supplies for handling tear gas was no doubt a good idea, but leaving the city on the big day of direct action seemed unbearable to me. What if we had problems getting back in again?

I toyed with the idea of staying in the city and going by myself. I had brought my parents 10-year-old camera just for show of having equipment when we crossed the boarder. I had no intention of taking it to the protest because it was much too old and bulky, but I got it out and toyed with it, and decided it might not be that big and bulky after all, and I said maybe I could take it around and get some footage by myself. As with the previous day, they said it was my decision but they emphasized that they didn’t like the idea of me going out by myself.

I gave in and we all piled into Joe’s car. Rob split off from Jeff and Nancy to go with us as well and we left.

However, going down the street I saw the unmistakably form of Vito, and became excited. It was the perfect excuse to get out of the car, and the others wouldn’t be worried because I was no longer alone. I told Joe to pull the car over, I got out my camera and I ran out to join the Calvin group.

I ran over to the corner, called out Vito’s name, and embraced him. Also there was Peter, Jordon, Nicole Regiania, Johann, Danielle, and John. We exchanged stories. They had all gotten in late Friday night, had stayed in to see all the protestors get funneled out of old Quebec by being forced against the cliff by tear gas. Apparently some protestors had even been forced to jump over the cliff to escape the tear gas, but all this happened late at night (like at 12:30). I regretted somewhat not staying out.

We went over to the big legal march, and observed costumes and stuff. There was someone dressed up as an FTAA fat cat carrying labor along in chains, and he was pretty funny. He made us laugh, and agreed to be interviewed on camera. Then, as he talked into the video camera, he addressed my parents.

“I bet you didn’t think your son would come to Quebec when you gave him that video camera, and fight against everything you believe in.” Pretty amazing. How did he know the video camera was from my parents?

Eventually we fell in with the March. Then we stopped to get off on the sidelines for a while and observe. Jordan ran into some of his friends from home, who told us where the direct action would be, and there was some confusion as he tried to coordinate everything and keep up with his both friends from home and from Calvin. Eventually, we fell back in line with the march, having lost Jordan’s friends.

When the split came in the march, Jordan and I were the only ones from the Calvin group who left to take part in the direct action (although the others would all leave the main march to join the direct action later in the day).

Like the previous day, the whole thing can more or less be summed up in Cat and Mouse games with Police and with Tear Gas. Jordan and I found the area around the fence quite heavily tear-gassed already before we even got there, and we couldn’t even get close to the fence without our eyes burning. In the end we had to go all the way around to find a way up to the fence, and ended up where we had been the previous day.

We ran into Jeff Smith at one point. Jeff had gotten separated from Nancy, and seemed as happy to find us as we were to find him. I introduced him to Jordan. We also ran into Crystal at another point. However Jordan and I wanted to get up closer to the gate, and so parted ways with Jeff and Crystal not too long after meeting them.

As mentioned before, the rest of the day was simply cat and mouse games, but some high lights can perhaps be pinpointed:

I got some good shots of advancing line of Police. In fact in a moment of bravado I advanced close to film the police while the other protesters retreated. Jordan was a bit unnerved by this and entreated me to be careful because the police had a history of targeting people with cameras. The cops made a fake charge once, and I was frightened into retreating a little bit. They also launched two canisters of tear gas, which (much to the delight of the crowd) was simply blown back into their faces because of the wind. Unfortunately the cops were wearing gas masks and were unaffected.

The cops eventually embarked on flanking maneuvers to divide the protestors up. There was no resistance to this. Everyone moved compliantly. Jordan was concerned (like Bob the previous day) that we would the police were planning on first surrounding everyone, and then arresting them. He became increasingly worried when we stayed close to the cops so that I could get video footage, but my brief moments of bravado aside I did share some of his concerns, and when we left to rejoin the other protesters we took the long way around to avoid all the police.

The cops eventually retreated, leaving the area open again. (All the flanking and maneuvers were presumably nothing more than a scare tactic). Then the cops started advancing again, and I did some more filming. An English-speaking hippie read out a manifesto to the police, and got a French protestor a manifesto to read to translate for him as he read, and I filmed part of this interaction.

I wanted to go further down the police line to film. Because of all the tear gas, we had a hard time getting close to the actual Police guarding the fence. To solve this, instead of going down the main street we went around a side building. On the other side of the building there wasn’t so much tear gas in the air, so we were able to get all the way to the fence. Then we followed the fence until we got to the main street.
Once there, we saw that the police guarding it had (with the help of tear gas) advanced a block down. We were then able to go behind the police lines and film them from the back. This meant some great video footage, but it caused Jordan and I to worry about getting blocked in by the police. This was becoming somewhat of a legitimate concern as the Police were beginning to close ranks on the sides as well. There was a brief panic and debate over what to do. We were blocked in on all sides now, and completely isolated behind the police lines. We eventually decided to just try to walk through the police lines and see what happens. We kept our eyes down and were non-confrontational, and they let us pass through and rejoin the main protest.

Jordan wanted to check out other areas of the protest to see what was happening over there. My previous experience at large protests made me think that there was no large area where the “main battle” was going on, simply a series of small-scale direct actions happening all over. I wanted to stay where we were because it was pretty exciting, and I doubted the other areas would be much better, and could possibly even be less exciting. I convinced him to stay where we were for a long time before I finally agreed to check out other areas.

At one point we made a brief attempt to get to an area called the Plains of Abraham, which we had heard was one of the trouble areas, but after not finding it, just stayed where we were.

On one of the tear gas encounters, a little girl from the neighborhood, who was presumably just out with her mother and little brother to check out what was going on, was crying because her eyes burned. I gave the Mom my bandana (actually Erica’s bandana) which she used for herself, the girl, and the boy as everyone retreated. (Although the Bandana hadn’t gotten cleaned out yet from the day before, so who knows if it was a help or hindrance.) At any rate, I think the Mother was grateful for my good intentions, and returned the Bandana once they were to safety. Jordan helped clean out people’s eyes afterwards who needed it. The tear gas had forced us down by a Pizza place, so we took a quick break to get a bite to eat.

Next I got some footage of the Protestors doing a peaceful sit-in in the middle of the street. They were trying to stop the police from advancing and pushing the protesters any further down the street. They pleaded with the police to respect the fact that it was a peaceful protest. The police eventually retreated, but there was more commotion as some protestors got too close to police lines, and the Police tried to club and kick them. I was the only one with a video camera present, so people were yelling at me to film it, but I had a hard time focusing the camera in the excitement, and did a terrible job.

The bank, which we were standing by, had already gotten the windows on it smashed early in the day. However, during a standoff with police someone decided the bank wasn’t smashed enough, and kicked in the window right where Jordan was standing. (In fact, Jordan was so close that they accidentally kicked him too while they kicked in the window.)

Then some sort of inflammation device was thrown in, causing a fire inside the bank. Most of the protestors were less than pleased by this. “Those goddamn anarchists,” someone next to me yelled out. There was a call for water bottles, and other protesters used their water to try and put out the fire.

The police stayed still and just watched this for several moments (for who knows what reason,) and then suddenly charged forward and tried to grab anyone close to the bank. The person who had actually firebombed the bank was of course long gone, and the only people still around were the ones trying to put the fire out. One girl who was slow to retreat was surrounded by police and just barely escaped. People yelled at the police in Anger. “She was trying to put the fire out.” The awful part was I thought I had the whole incident on tape, and then realized I had forgotten to press record.

People staged a sit in like the previous one above to assure police we were actual peaceful protestors, but this was ruined by beer bottles which tended to come about every thirty seconds from somewhere in back. These were thrown at the police despite the booing of the rest of the crowd. [Side note: I support a variety of tactics during protests, but nothing disgusts me more than a violent protester hiding behind a non-violent crowd. If you want to go throw beer bottles at the police, go do it at another place. Don’t cowardly hide behind a peaceful crowd and ruin their attempts at non-violent protest.] One of the police, after beer bottles were repeatedly were thrown at him, yelled out something in French, which I didn’t understand, but the response of the crowd was more booing and yelling “fuck you”.

Eventually I gave into Jordan’s desire to go see the rest of the protest, and we traveled along the fence, although we had somewhat of the same problem we had before in that at most areas it was hard the fence because of the tear gas in the air.

At one area there was a water cannon. Actually there had been a water cannon in the area we had just left, but we could never get close to that one because of all the tear gas in the area. This water cannon was guarding part of the fence at the end of a narrow street, and shooting water at the protesters trying to approach the fence.

Jordan wanted a picture of the water cannon, but was nervous about getting close to it. I had used up all the battery on my video camera, so I gave Jordan my video camera to hold, and I took his camera, and tried to get close enough to the water cannon to get a good picture.

I ran up far enough to get into a little nook where a bunch of protesters were hiding (mostly young kids, but a couple older guys). It was a narrow indent, and we were really cramped in there, but these kids were playing cat and mouse with the water cannon. They would emerge from the nook briefly, throw something at whoever was manning the cannon, and retreat back into the nook while the water cannon tried to knock them down. I don’t think either the police or the protesters were accomplishing much of anything by this game, but everyone seemed to be having fun. Giving the Black Bloc’s adversity to having their pictures taken, I identified myself as part of an independent media group and asked if it would be okay before I took a picture of the cannon. A kid repeated my question in French to the rest of the gang, and then told me no one seems to mind, but that they were concerned about my lens getting wet. I took my picture, and then ducked back into the nook. A neighbor also shouted something in French down at us, and one of the older protesters yelled something back. I asked for a translation of the argument, and the neighbor was angry because we were egging the water cannon on. The older protestor told me, “I told him to just relax and watch TV. This is the most excitement he’s going to have all year.”

I left the nook and went back to where Jordan was. Jordan complained about burning eyes, and soon afterwards mine also started to burn, eventually so bad that I couldn’t open them. Their was no tear gas in that particular area, so Jordan hypothesized that the water was mixed with pepper spray, which was a likely solution, although we had breathed in so much tear gas earlier in the day that it was getting hard to tell.

Our eyes burned so bad that we need to stop and get help from the medics cleaning them out. Then we moved on. We got to another intersection, and saw part of the fence ahead, but also a thick cloud of tear gas. “Should we walk directly into the tear gas?” I asked Jordan. It was a joke question of course, but another protestor overheard and laughed. “You have so many options here, walk into the tear gas, walk into the riot police.” “Welcome to Quebec,” I added.

There were riot police in fact just up one block, which was what she had been referring to. As before, a group of protesters were doing a peaceful sit in. I joined in at the sit in. Jordan wanted to keep going to see what else was out there. I wanted to participate in the demonstration as opposed to just walking around and observing it.

I stayed there a while before moving on. Various people would try to approach the cops with peace signs and hand them copies of Canada’s constitution as a symbolic effort. One kid enraged the older protesters by shaking his butt at the police. They kept booing him and telling him to sit down.

Eventually we left, and ran into Jeff again. Jordan and I asked him what was further down the fence, and he told us what I already suspected. There was a lot of stuff going on, but so much tear gas in the air it was impossible to get close to it. Jeff wanted to go back to the park area that Jordan and I had come from, and we agreed to it.

On the way back we saw people being carried away by the cops, apparently for aggressively attacking the fence. Jeff got some video footage of it. It was one of the few instances I saw of cops arresting people as opposed to simply tear-gassing them.

Back at the park-same old same old. Tear gas and strategic retreat. Eventually as it got late we decided to leave. I thought we were just going to another part of the protest, but we ended up going to a restaurant to get something to eat. I was ready for a break, and Jeff hadn’t eaten all day.

As we left old Quebec we saw signs that protest had spilled over into other parts of the city. There was a bank that had all its windows smashed (Erica and the others had been there when this happened, apparently a black bloc group that was very organized) and cops guarding the broken bank (although I don’t know why. The damage was done.) There was also a rave going on in a park that featured black bloc looking people dancing up upon a van.

We got a meal at a coffee restaurant. It was the place Jordan was supposed to meet the rest of the Calvin people later in the day, but they got their shortly after we did, so we all stayed together and chatted. They had had a similar day as us; the only difference was that they had stayed with the legal march for slightly longer before joining the direct action. Vito apparently had behaved himself (Jordan said he picked up a rock early in the day, and then Peter got on his case for it), but Vito admitted that when he was separated from the group for a time he had thrown stuff at the cops. I thought this might be flourish of rhetoric until others in media mouse later confirmed that they had seen him throw stuff over at the cops. (He finished off a bottle of beer, and then threw it over the fence.) Vito and others also told us that as they passed the rave scene a cop van had suddenly stopped and apparently grabbed kids at random and carried them away.

We stayed in the place for a while, and then left. The Calvin crew had decided not to stay for the night, and was going to head back. Jeff too decided to head back. I gave Jeff my video camera, but said I wanted to stay out for a while longer, and he was perfectly fine with that.
From the coffee house, we could see a bonfire up on old Quebec, and I wanted to check it out. The protestors had found wooden crates and were using them to make a huge fire. The cops came after a while and sprayed water cannons to displace both the protesters and the fire.

Some Protestors threw some Molotov Cocktails at the cops, and also would run forward to flick off cops in between water gushes. To further disperse us, the cops tried to shoot the water around the corner where most of us were hiding, but there was a street light in the way, which prevented this.

Because I had only packed nice clothes with me to aid in the boarder crossing, I felt safe walking around by myself just like I did the previous day. I didn’t look like a protester, and especially as the night went on more people who lived in the city were outside mingling with the protesters. I even had one group ask me for directions in French because they thought I lived in the area.

The Quebec nightlife was also beginning to integrate with the protest scene.

I made my way back up to the place where I had spent most of that day and the previous day. It was now dark out, and the helicopters were used to spotlight the protesters. Usual cat and mouse game still going on with tear gas. As the bars were opening, some of protesters were becoming drunk and some of the drunks were joining the protesters. Organized protest was beginning to disintegrate, but I wanted to stay out as long as I could anyway. Media Mouse group was already talking about leaving on Sunday morning to head back, so I figured this would be my last chance to observe.

The Black bloc showed up again, and was booed by some of the protesters while others chanted “solidarity”. Although I opted for the solidarity chant, as far as I could tell the black block didn’t accomplish anything more than getting the tear gas launched again.

Police officers did at least two charges that I saw, in which they ran and grabbed whoever they could for random arrests. In the second charge they covered the area with tear gas first, firing several times deep into the crowd. By this time I had given up on my principles of not running. At the end of the day, my eyes stung too much to simply walk and let the tear gas catch up with me. I ran, and managed to escape with out too much tear gas ill effect, or getting grabbed by the police.

The college we were staying at had a 1 0'clock curfew, so I started walking back around midnight. (Had I known the college ended up not enforcing curfew, I would have perhaps stayed out longer). There was another big rave in the street at one intersection. There was a bonfire at another intersection. Both were outside of old Quebec. I stayed and observed the bonfire for a while, then left eventually in order to make it back one time.

Again I half expected everyone to be worried about me, but as with the night before, they were out later than I was. No one was back yet except Jeff and Nancy. Apparently Bob, Joe and Erica had been back before, but then left to go out and look for Tom. Rob and Tom came back with Crystal and Doug. Rob used my card to get Crystal and Doug into the building, then came back out and gave my card to me. I told Tom the others were out looking for him, and he thought that was stupid because there was no good way could hope to find him in the huge city. He was probably right. Soon it was past 1, and we worried that the others would miss curfew. However the building security told us Curfew was not going to be strictly enforced, and when I went to bed, I awoke the next morning to see Bob, Joe, and Erica had all made it safely back.

4/22/01 Sunday

I really wanted to stay for the protest on Sunday, but I was the minority on this. As I had been the minority all weekend, and as the group had already been talking about heading back on Sunday the day beforehand, I didn’t make a big deal out of it.

The problem was that Erica’s car would not be ready until Monday morning, so we had to wait around until then. I figured as long as we were stuck in the area anyway, we might as well attend the protest, but the others wanted to go to Montreal and spend the day away from the tear gas.

In the end we compromised, and we stayed only long enough to attend a conference on Sunday morning. Rob and I went to a conference put on by the Sierra club. When we came back, we left. (Jeff and Nancy had already left, so the rest of us went without them.)

We went to Montreal and had a good time. However, as I've written quite a bit here already, I think I'll just end the account here.