Thousands Protest School of the Americas
Crowds estimated at 22,000 protested outside Fort Benning, GA, on November 20, calling for the closure of the School of the Americas program that trains military personnel from Latin America in "counterinsurgency techniques" including torture and other human rights abuses. Participants in the action, organized annually by SOA Watch, marched, chanted, and raised white wooden crosses symbolizing those killed by graduates of the rogram. Sixteen members of SOA Watch were arrested after symbolically trespassing on base grounds. They were given sentences ranging from one to six months in federal prison, with the exception of a minor who will serve one year probation and 50 hours of community service. Contact: SOA Watch, 202-234-3440 or visit www.soaw.org for more information
U.S. Military Monitoring Antiwar Activists
Recently released documents have revealed new details about the scope of Talon, a database on peace activists, including Quakers and students opposed to military recruitment, maintained by the U.S. military and shared with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. In violation of government policy, the information was maintained past a 90-day time limit and after it was determined the activists posed no threat to U.S. security.
Youth "Think Outside the Bomb"
The Nuclear Age Peae Foundation teamed up with various partner NGOs to host regional "Think Outside the Bomb" youth conferences in Santa Barbara, CA (October 20-22) and New York City (November 4-5). The conferences convened a combined 200 young people from 13 states who shared their experiences and leadership skills via a series of participatory discussion panels, workshops, and training sessions.
The Santa Barbara conference addressed concerns over a nuclearized world from both spiritual and organizational perspectives. The conference opened with a "spiritually infused" ceremony led by an elder of the Bear Clan of the Chumash Nation. Skill-building workshops included Researching Your Campus' Ties to the Military and Corporate Power Structure and Group Process for Social Movements. Participants ended the conference by deciding to organize around the Department of Energy's Complex 2030. It was also decided to stage a direct action at a University of California Board of Regents meeting to protest UC-managed nuclear weapons labs in New Mexico and California.
The New York conference focused on information-intensive sessions, reflecting the need for a new, younger generation of nuclear abolitionists to become engaged and informed in the Northeast. It also featured facilitated time for participants to plan how to build an effective and coordinated Think Outside the Bomb presence in the schools and communities of New York City and surrounding areas.
For more information on the Think Outside the Bomb network and conferences, visit www.thinkoutsidethebomb.org.
Writer-Homesteader: Paul Johnson, 1935-2006
Paul Johnson, a writer and founder of WIN magazine, died peacefully November 20 in his home in Las Vegas, NM, after a long and valiand fight against lymphatic cancer. He is survived by his wife Frances Ciulla; his sister Sharon Mater and her companion Leo Bremmer; his sons Christian of Peonia, CO, Victor and his wife Anna of Las Vegas, NM, and Nels and his wife Audrey of Olympia, WA; Rebecca Dayton, mother of his sons; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
In 1965, my late husband Maris Cakers was organizing the Workshop in Nonviolence with Paul and the late Marty Jezer. One day he came home and said, "Marty and Paul want to start a magazine. I said it would be too expensive, but they insist. So of course we'll do it."
The first issues were the NY Action Bulletin Supplement, a mimeographed and stapled publication designed to offer critique and analysis of the demonstrations we were all planning and attending against the Vietnam War. It was, not surprisingly, edited by Marty and Paul. The next year saw Volume 2, now titled WIN: A Magazine of the Workshop in Nonviolence. Besides editing, Paul also contributed demonstration reviews, book reviews, and humorous pieces.
Back home in Staten Island, Paul had a trunkful of novels and was working on a new one. His day job was as a letter carrier, but by 1967, WIN had acquired a minimally paid staff, and Paul became the editor. Over the years, while always writing novels, Paul held a succession of jobs, often carpentry and painting, at which he was expert.
Paul was an early proponent of the back-to-the-land movement. He and Rebecca moved, with their sons and other folks, to commonly held land near Coyote Valley, NM. About the same time, Marty helped found a commune in Guilford, VT. Later, some of us took WIN to a farm in Rifton, NY. All this activity was of course reflected in the pages of the magazine. Paul loved his life in New Mexico, but he sometimes got restless and traveled about the country, staying with his many friends. We were always happy when he showed up at the WIN farm. He would settle in for a spell to write articles, help with the canning, and build bookshelves. He also built a beautiful stone barn for our friend and neighbor Nancy Rosen.
Like Marty, Paul had a stutter, but in spite of it, he was a wonderful raconteur. He had a vast store of knowledge, which he delighted in sharing. He'd throw out an obscure but tantalizing tidbit, then when queried, say, "Ah, you don't know about...? Well, then...," and the information was always pertinent and fascinating. From the beginning, Paul added to the spirit of joy and humor we tried to cultivate at workshop demonstrations, in the pages of the magazine, and on the farm.
After he and Rebecca separated, Paul spent more time back in New York City, hooking up with a succession of talented women. (Paul was handsome, 6 feet 6 inches, and blond.) He also published three novels between 1987 and this year: Killing the Blues, Operation Remission, and The Marble Orchard. It was when he met Fran in 1988 that he found the "great love of my life," as he says in the dedication of his final, soon-to-be-published novel, City of Kings: The Further Adventures of K.C. Jones, written doggedly and joyfully during the years of his cancer treatment. He emailed that he never enjoyed writing a book so much or had it flow so easily.
Paul's positive attitude and optimism throughout his treatment, made possible in part by Fran's unswerving support, will always be an inspiration to all who knew him. He lived his life fully to the end, and he will be sorely missed.
-- Susan Kent Cakars
Troops Petition for Pull-Out
A coalition of antiwar military groups, including Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, and Military Familes Speak Out, is conducting a petition - "Appeal for Redress" - among active service personnel calling on Congress to support a "prompt" withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. The organizers hope to collect 2000 signatures and present the petition to Congress in January. Visit www.appealforredress.org for more information.
Remembering Brad Will: 1971-2007
After independent journalist and lifelong activist Brad Will was shot and killed in Oaxaca, Mexico, extraordinary tributes poured into the Indymedia website from all over the world. Brad had brought his skil, energy, and wry sense of humor to countless grassroots struggles - and left a powerful impression upon thousands who crossed his path in his restless, impassioned 36 years.
William Bradley Roland - known to friends and to the public alike as Brad Will -- and I first met in the fall of 1997 at the Chico Mendez Mural Garden, in New York City's Lower East Side. The garden, a much-loved community institution, was in imminent danger of being bulldozed, and a number of us were strategizing about how we might resist the destruction. Brad was off to one side, crouched down, his long thin legs bent out like a grasshopper's. "I've got some ideas," he said, with the impish twinkle in his eyes that I soon came to associate with some of Brad's finest trouble-making schemes. Then he began instructing us in sophisticated nonviolent blockading techniques.
An ardent believer in nonviolent direct action, Brad was, indeed, continually making trouble, in the best rabble-rousing spirit. Throughout the hothouse organizing years from the late 1990s until the September 11 attacks, Brad played crucial roles, time and again, in key movements and actions: backwoods Earth First! treesits in defense of old-growth forests; street party protests in celebration of New York City's public spaces; massive grassroots blockades like the one that shut down the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle in late 1999.
Brad was fearless. When the police came to bulldoze his squat on the Lower East Side, he risked his life by climbing to the roof, standing as a beacon of resistance even as wrecking balls slammed into the building. "I could feel the walls shake," he told The Shadow soon afterward. "I clung to the walls and started crying because it was a strong building and it was a shame to tear it down. I loved that building."
My memories of Brad from those powerfu years are all intense: hollering down a friendly hello to me rom a precarious perch hundreds of feet in the air at an old-growth encampment in Oregon; defiantly braving clouds of tear gas at the FTAA protests in Quebec City, with little more than a bandanna to protect him; calmly holding my arm as the police cut a bicycle lock off our joined ankles during a community garden action.
Like many of us, Brad shifted gears in the period after 9/11, when dissent became much more difficult, the U.S. anti-globalization movement waned, and many other movements went relatively quiet. Rather than disengage from grassroots struggle, he increasingly turned to independent journalism and video activism, chronicling popular movements throughout Latin America. In October 2006, he traveled to Oaxaca to document the grassroots uprising that had grown out of a teachers' strike there.
He brought the same fearlessness and passion with him that had characterized all his activism over the years. On October 27, he was filming at a protest barricade when he was shot twice in the chest by pro-government paramilitaries. Intense to the very end, Brad videotaped his own killing - dying as he had lived, in the very thick of action for justice.
"What we're faced with," Brad said to me during an interview in 2000, "is, are we going to keep living the way we've benn told to live? Are we going to keep letting people oppress us and steal our power, or are we doing to reclaim that power in ourselves? And reclaim our wildness, and reclaim our wild spaces, and reclaim our souls?"
Brad certainly reclaimed his. He was ony 36 when he died. In the days afterwards, those who knew him began adopting one of his favorite email sign-offs as their own: Stay in trouble.
For more on Brad and the ongoing struggle in Oaxaca, visit www.friendsofbradwill.org
-- Leslie Kauffman
PTSD Sufferers Sent Back to Iraq
In order to maintain troop levels, military doctors are under pressure to rotate soldiers suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder back to combat duty in Iraq, despite the risk that soldiers' psychological condition might pose to themselves or their units. One PTSD sufferer wrote in an email to his parents "Head about to explode from the swelling inside, the lightning storm that happens inside my head."