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News ::
Updated: Call for a padded bloc at the Nov. 20-21 FTAA meetings in Miami (english)
23 Jul 2003
updated information on organizing for a padded contingent for the Nov. 20-21st FTAA meetings in Miami (with endorsers, logistics, and more) This contingent will take action with a determination to disrupt the meetings.
Updated Call for a Padded Bloc this November in Miami Shutdown the FTAA!

This November tens of thousands of people will travel to Miami, Florida for one of the most important global justice protests since the WTO meetings of 1999. The Free Trade Area of the Americas is a proposed treaty that will bind the hands of all striving for a more just world. It is NAFTA on crack, and its repercussions -- the commodification of every aspect of life, the smashing of unions, and a corporate bill of rights superceding all else -- are intolerable. We refuse to accept this agreement and invite anyone who chooses strong and healthy democracy over corporate control to resist the FTAA.

What form should our resistance take in November? In June, after long discussion and careful deliberation among assorted affinity groups, we came to the conclusion that our best chance of materially disrupting the summit lies in a Padded Bloc (a self contained contingent of people, protected from police violence through the use of padding, shields, banners, and/or other materials.)

This contingent would take action with a determination to disrupt the meetings, protecting our bodies from the forces of state repression. While we have decided on this course, a key determinant of success will be a critical mass of properly equipped participants. We realize it is important that affinity groups autonomously form and decide their role in the larger strategy. We feel it is equally important that larger clusters, capable of initiating mass actions, form as well. Since the first draft of this call went out, a large amount of work and discussion has taken place and the larger framework is crystallizing. One thing wed like to clarify is that what is being proposed is not one solid mass of padded people (there are many ways people can help, inside and outside of the contingent).

A regional consulta will take place in Pittsburgh from August 29-31st, which will continue the discussion among groups on what we can do to prepare for Miami. We envision this as a follow up to the Louisville, Montreal, and upcoming New Orleans consultas. The weekend of events is a joint project of POG and the Thomas Merton Centers FTAA group (www.thomasmertoncenter.org/ftaa). In Pittsburgh, POG is mobilizing for the protests in Miami while the TMC-FTAA group addresses education, outreach, and the logistics of transporting people to Miami. [To be clear the TMC group is not involved in or endoring the padded contingent] The consulta will include extensive discussions on the padded contingent for those interested, on other actions being proposed for Miami, on outreach and education efforts, on social encounters, imc, communication, security, and more. A call for the consulta will be out soon with a detailed schedule, housing info, food, shows, etc.

The goal of the global justice movement in Miami must be to materially disrupt the summit to such a degree that it is impossible to continue any negotiation. What will it take to stop the summit? How can we create the needed space for diverse tactics to work in tandem? If a shutdown is accomplished how can we use that to open up room for a multiplicity of voices to present their stories of, and reasons for, resistance? How can we speak to all those with a stake in this process? How can we bridge the divides society has created in its efforts to segment us off into tinnier and tinnier boxes? How can strong and assertive street action take place in a way that keeps people safe? These are the questions were asking ourselves and plan to address.

The situation were facing in Miami is significantly different than past summits. The majority of delegates are staying in the meeting site hotels, which will be closed off with some type of security perimeter (as in Quebec City). The police are planning on containing people within protest pens. There is no chance of stopping the meetings through blockades nor by trapping delegates in the meeting site once the summit has begun. Trashing all of corporate Miami will not stop the meetings, disrupting the lives of local residents already hostile to us will not stop the meetings, nor will a massive march of 10,000-100,000 people. The state would like nothing more then for this movement to fall into the predictable roles being played lately. We envision a total shutdown of the meetings through the combination of diverse tactics. We feel a well-organized padded bloc will be a critical contribution to whatever overall framework is created.

We must not allow the inevitable disinformation/fearmongering campaign of the state and corporate media to divert energy from shutting down the summit. The forces of the status quo will use every means possible to discourage people from disrupting the ministerial meetings in Miami. We must also be mindful that the key confrontation between the forces of civil society and corporate power will take place in Miami. Local solidarity events should become important components only after weve expended every effort possible to get the maximum number of people to the summit itself.

From Seattle, RNC, DNC, Quebec City, to S29 weve seen how far the state will go to advance the neoliberal agenda. Through it all weve seen in small and large ways how the actions and determination of ordinary folks can make a difference. Fences and barricades fall, powerful grips of authority figures are broken, and through it all our determination to create a new system out of the shell of this world increases.

No matter what forms our strategies take, we must be organized and prepared, and we must obtain the training and materials necessary to make it a success. Solidarity is needed in Miami. This November well see you in the streets, rivers, skies, sewers, and high-rises.

In solidarity,

Pittsburgh Organizing Group

The padded bloc has been endorsed by:
PAPPY (Pgh High School Student Activist network) Pittsburgh ARA (Anti-racist action)
Rural Pennsylvania Anti-capitalist league
Resyst! (Pgh radical Queer group)
RAG (Roots Action Group, Erie)

Support for the padded contingent also adopted unanimously at the Montreal Consulta against the FTAA in June.

We are seeking endorsement of this call. If you are interested in doing so please contact us. www.organizepittsburgh.org pog (at) mutualaid.org P.O. Box 10215 Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Resources for shields and other protection: http://www.devo.com/sarin/shieldbook.pdf (note: this is just a guide, we're not endorsing everything in it, but its a good resource for shields and protective equipment)
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