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News ::
Free Speech Zones
04 Oct 2000
Non-violence doesn't mean there can't be direct action. We mustn't settle for free-speech zones.
To prevent potential chaos in the streets, the police and city officials designate "free-speech zones" where protesters can chant and scream, march around, and bang on drums for the duration of the protest. Just beyond the protest pen, lines of police officers in riot gear remind protestors that if they venture beyond the free-speech zone, they will suffer physical consequences.

The progression of intensity within the designated protest pen is usually first excitement, then disappointment, then hopelessness, then outrage. Eventually the protesters realize that they have been effectively detained by metal barricades and police officers, while the media looks the other way and events involving men in suits continue undisturbed.

In Boston last night, when protesters realized that the police line was just too daunting and that the media had ignored their presence, a very interesting thing happened: protesters collectively decided to hold a sort of town meeting to regroup and discuss options. People who raised their hands were permitted to use the megaphone. People debated whether or not direct action should take place, and if so, where it would be strategically beneficial. The legal team distributed their phone number and people who were willing to be arrested jotted their names on a pad. Once a consensus was reached, protesters proceeded towards the metal barricades, tore them down, and sat in the streets. Thousands followed after them, and an inspiring, "whose streets? our streets!" chant ensued.

Suddenly the cameras started showing up and the helicopters lurking above gave protesters the spotlight.

Protesters should not be content with free-speech zones. These pits are a way for law enforcement and the powers that be to shove dissent under the rug.

Next time there is a protest, the same sort of town meeting should be held BEFORE any marches or events actually occur. Non-violence does not have to translate into passivity. There can be effective direct action without violence. Protesters must learn to strategically organize actions beforehand. Using technology like cell phones and walkie-talkies in order to coordinate simultaneous direct actions would be very effective. Using the police barricades against the police is also effective. We shouldn't settle for anything less than the reclaiming of our streets.
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what the He** were the cop';s doing
04 Oct 2000
whjat the fuc* was the cop's thinking when thay were ridiing on the back's of thoes anmiales
the cops were putting the anmales at risk

i would like to hear yor thought post them at www.egroups.com and look the group name

OCT3POST_ARESSST_RAP_UP

and let your voices be heard
what the He** were the cop's doing
04 Oct 2000
whjat the fuc* was the cop's thinking when thay were ridiing on the back's of thoes anmiales
the cops were putting the anmales at risk

i would like to hear yor thought post them at www.egroups.com and look the group name

OCT3POST_ARESSST_RAP_UP

and let your voices be heard
Maybe not successful, but hopeful....
04 Oct 2000
While we may not have shut down the debates in Boston, or even gotten media coverage besides the negative aspects like a cop car or two getting damaged, it's great to see that at least some people are starting to wake up. We have to keep in mind that for lots of people present at the protest, this was the first time that they have been involved in anything like this. For thousands of people who have now witnessed and felt what happens at a protest like this, they are now a step up and can learn from mistakes. We'll need better organization and more solidarity. And say that 10,000 people each tell one person what happened and encourage them to take part next time, we'll have 20,000 people, and so on. It seems to me that so many more people are getting involved today compared to just a year or two ago.
1st time protester
05 Oct 2000
I was one of those first time protesters that was just mentioned above. I have to say that it was an event that really changed me. I wasn't privy to all those town meetings, as I was wandering around looking for someone with vinegar after the first instance of excessive police force. But, as soon as I recovered I joined my friends and we were back out in front of the barricade. Sitting next to my best friend while he took the blows that lead to 13 stitches, all by the hand of a man's salary I contribute to every day, really makes you take a step forward in thinking.
discoveries at o3
05 Oct 2000
i think some important tactical lessons came out of this. and one of them is that street-combat-style tactics are not always as important as successfully opening up a creative environment. remember, no one really cares if some desperate act holds us 20 ft of road for 5 more min. what DOES stick in people's minds is really opening new possibilities for them, because after all this is all about empowering people within their own lives. i think the street theatre and festive drum circles were very good at this; the moment when someone pulled down an amerikan flag and replaced it with one reading "Direct Democracy" was also quite inspiring.

that said, i think we do need to be a bit more on the ball direct action-wise. we could have blocked off the buses going into the debate- the whole world really /was/ watching at that point- but it wasn't planned. i don't know, if the badass barricading had gone on at 7 or 8 instead of 11 or 12 we might have made a bigger splash. in the end, though, as i said, the struggle in the streets is only a sideshow to the struggle within the mind. well, we did great, and we're growing, and there will be more of us next time. expect more beautiful creative anarchy and direct action.

anyone interested in confronting the bored yuppie shopping suv vain lonely consumerist empire at its heart, we are going to shut down newbury st with an anti-capitalist carnival at the height of the christmas shopping season. all interested feel free to contact me.

peAce,
~janek spinach
Sounds vaguely familiar
05 Oct 2000
I don't wish to stretch an analogy far too far but...

The whole phrase 'free speech zones' certainly causes one immediately to wonder what the other zones are.

And, of course, there is an old tendency for forces representing social hierarchy to seize upon positive and democratic-sounding phrases in order to justify quite authoritarian activities.

"Free Speech Zones" as a phraseology prompted me to think of "Strategic Hamlets," in which the US military strategists forced peasants off their homelands in Vietnam into concentration camps in order to prevent them from supporting the forces fighting the US invasion of South Vietnam.

Photos show appropriately disheartened villagers being marched through the barb wire fences, above which hung signs, in English and Vietnamese, with names like 'Camp Freedom' or other such nonsense.

Of course, the threats faced by protesters in the US are nothing compared to what the villagers in Viet Nam faced, but there's a shared tendency.

Activists marching glumly into barricaded areas, above which hang friendly signs announcing 'Free Speech Zone,' while armed police make sure none enter or leave without permission...

Just an Orwellian inspiration. Maybe appropriate, maybe not, I wasn't there.

- Jeff S.
See also:
http://www.ibiblio.org/prism