American Friends Service Committee
Patrica Watson, Editor
Sara Burke, Assistant Editor
Pat Farren, Founding Editor
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.
Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.
Starhawk, author, freelance screenwriter, and environmental activist, is described as a Witch, peace activist, and ecofeminist.
CLAC and CASA both are strongly committed to 'diversity of tactics;' to not having guidelines, rules, or outlawing anything, and to not having a nonviolence agreement. This doesn't mean they want to be violent--it means they don't want to tell other people what to do. The latest proposal I heard a couple of weeks ago from CLAC is to have three zones on the day of action--a safe, legal protest, nonarrest zone, a nonviolent civil disobedience zone, and a diversity of tactics zone.
The Table de Convergence, the overall group presumably co-ordinating all the activities, legal and educational and direct action, that will happen over the course of the week and weekend, is basically not talking to CLAC and CASA because they won't sign on to the nonviolence guidelines the others have agreed to. From what I saw at the World Social Forum, some of them at least don't really want to admit that CLAC and CASA exist. However, because CLAC is much more internet savvy and more hooked into the larger antiglobalization movement, most everyone else thinks that they are organizing the action.
Meanwhile, thousands of people around Canada and the US are mobilizing for the most logistically challenging action yet, involving a walled city, a 4 kilometer fence, a severe lack of potential housing and transport, a prison they've already emptied in anticipation of the protests, and border guards that are already turning activists away.
On an individual level, however, there's lots of good dialogue going on. People are talking to each other, even listening to each other. There are also Art and Revolution groups, a women's action, and a magical activist cluster in the works with lots of potential for creative and imaginative and visionary actions. There's concern among all involved to make this work and to find a way to accomodate differences without splitting the movement.
It's this sort of thing that makes it impossible for me to write fiction these days--real life is too damn exciting!
So, can the activists overcome their differences and work together?
Can different tactics and philosophies be coordinated to support
each other and not conflict? Can we support a 'diversity
of tactics' and still have some accountability to each
other? Will the Table de Convergence wake up, smell the coffee
and coordinate with CLAC and CASA? Will NGOs support the more
radical activists if they get beaten and/or arrested? Stay tuned
to your local Indymedia for the next instalment...
Lisa Fithian most recently has been training and observing in Quebec.
Quebec Province is predominantly French speaking and has long considered seceding from Canada. While Francophones are the majority, the tendency is for much of the organizing in Montreal (where many of the organizers live) to be done in English. This has presented challenges, (getting the Francophone community more involved) that will continue throughout the mobilization.
Being the capital city, it has a large civil servant population, many of the unions representing these workers are beginning to build relationships with anti-FTAA organizers. Aside from government, tourism is the next most important industry. The population is predominantely white, (98% French) although there are some Asian, mostly Vietnamese and Chinese, as well as African immigrants. The movement, however, is also predominantely white. The lower city is where most of the immigrant and poor people live. One exception however is the neighborhood of Saint Jean-Baptiste.
Saint Jean-Baptiste is an old working class community that has resisted many forms of development and gentrification over the years. It is also one of the areas where many activists live. Part of it is a shopping area made up of lots of mom-and-pop stores. There is a Comité de Saint Jean-Baptiste that is working with the anti-FTAA organizers to protest the security zone and the summit. Parts of this neighborhood will be in the zone. Organizers expect more than 4000 delegates and 2000 journalists, along with thousands of protesters.
The city is preparing one of the most massive security operations in Canadian history. A four kilometer fence will make up the planned security zone which will cover much of old Quebec City's upper town--both inside and outside the fortress walls. While the zone may be smaller than initially proposed it will include six hotels, the Congress Center meeting site, the Quebec Parliament buildings, familiar tourist stops like the Terrasse Dufferin boardwalk, the Chateau Frontenac hotel and the Plains of Abraham (a big open park area, where some old battles were fought). Two of the big hotels--the Hilton and the Radisson--border the Congress Center and it is rumored that lots of the Summit will be held in these hotels. The Loews Hotel near the Plains of Abraham is where the US Delegation will be housed.
Access will be tightly controlled, with special passes required to enter the security zone and additional photo identification badges for each summit venue, including hotels. It is said that over 20,000 people will be issued access passes, including 5000 residents of the Saint Jean Baptiste neighborhood.
There are numerous security forces: the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Sûreté du Québec, which Is Quebec's provincial police, and Quebec City and Sainte-Foy police departments. While they have differing jurisdictions, they will be working together to prepare a joint plan. They have already been meeting for some time. Right now the estimate is that there will be 8000 police available, with at least 500 of them in the Darth Vader suits ($5000 each). The city has also ordered a water cannon and it is rumored that they intend to use stun guns.
Canada has an Emergency Measures Act (previously the War Measures Act) that can suspend all civil rights during the duration of the degree. That means that with the proper pretext, they can implement this act which will also allow them to hold people up to 72 hours. This act has only been used once, in 1970 before the Charter of Human Rights when a government official was kidnapped. The government used it as an opportunity to round up and jail many, many leftists.
The city has announced it will empty the Orsainville Prison, several hours outside of downtown, to make room for 600 people.
Women's Action: What started at a potluck for the women's committee of SalAMI has grown into an independent call for action that will be circulated throughout the world. Women will be weaving a web of solidarity through a direct action at the summit. Women are being asked to weave acts of resistance in their own communities as well as to send pieces of ribbon, rope, cloth etc, with messages of hopes and dreams that will be woven together in our web. Contact information will be available soon.
Ecumenical Service, April 20 (tentative) held in two churches, one inside the security zone and one outside. The idea is at the end they will march to one of the security check points to meet.
People in Quebec City have a lot of pride in their history and
architecture, try not to trash it. It could still be cold! Even
snow! Bring warm and water-resistant clothes, (if they use water
cannons in the cold it can put you out of action fast.) The medics
have urged rain gear, layers, and lots of warm socks. They are
debating the relative value of wool over synthetics.
L.A. Kauffman is a longtime journalist and organizer. This passage is taken from one of her occasional postings archived at www.free-radical.org/issue15.shtml
One image from the Washington DC counter-inauguration was nowhere to be found on television or in corporate news accounts. Right about the time when Bush was taking the oath of office, the police had boxed in hundreds of protesters on 14th Street between K and L Streets--most, though not all, members of the anarchist Black Bloc. Some people managed to push their way out, but mass arrests were looking likely.
Such incidents point to larger truths about the upsurge of pro-democracy
and anti-capitalist protest taking place in the United States
and around the globe. Those in power are truly alarmed by these
movements' rising strength--but the key challenge
now is for radicals and reformers to find ways to work together.