Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bike Ride for Oaxaca a Success!

The original call-out for this action can be found here

Another Strong Action for Oaxaca in NYC

by RJ Maccani
(originally published in the Narcosphere and at NYC Indymedia)


We wondered how many people would show up. The call for Wednesday's bike ride for Oaxaca didn't even get widely circulated until Tuesday afternoon and many of us have been going non-stop since finding out about Brad's death last Friday.

The actions at the consulate on Monday morning were powerful but also draining. A.N.S.W.E.R. held another consulate protest Tuesday afternoon and that night there was a liveley and very visible Oaxaca/Brad Will contingent within Greenwich Village's Halloween parade. So who was gonna come to a bike ride for Oaxaca at 1p the following day?

It turned out beautifully. Over sixty people, including six of the 12 arrestees from Monday's consulate protest, rode through mid-town Manhattan for nearly three hours. We were a colorful mob that couldn't be missed, slowing the city's busy streets just a bit and getting the word out about who killed Brad Will and what is actually going on in Oaxaca.

The police were on us from the very beginning. We had tons of hand-painted signs and one guy even had a second, "ghost" bike attached to his own with a life-size cardboard cut-out of Brad Will painted by Seth Tobocman, local artist and a friend of Brad's since their Lower East Side squatter days. We had a mobile sound system playing what sounded to me to be Oaxaca's Radio Universidad...blasting chants of "Ya Cayo! Ya Cayo! Ulises Ya Cayo!" and urging the Oaxacan people to stay strong.

Manhattan's mid-town is packed at lunch time and, to my surprise, it seemed like many people immediately understood what we were riding about. Getting many supportive honks along the way, we passed out a ton of fliers listing the names of some of the murdered in Oaxaca and asksing people to contact Mexican government authorities and urge them to get rid of Governor Ruiz and pull the Federal troops out of Oaxaca.

Our first stop on the ride was in front of the New York Times building where we denounced their participation in the US and Mexican commercial media distortion around Brad's murder suggesting that it was the result of cross-fire between pro and anti-government forces or, worse, at the hands of the protest movement itself. (Unbeknownst to us at the time, the New York Times finally published an excellent article about Brad today that lays out the facts of Brad's case and the context in Oaxaca pretty well.)

As I mentioned before, the police presence was heavy on the entire ride and it grew as things progressed. Our first incident of the ride occurred when the sign attached to a rider's bike accidently brushed the back of a cop writing a ticket on a parked vehicle. A group of cops made sure we stopped and she was issued a court summons before we continued on...

The second stop on the ride was a victorious return to the Mexican consulate where we found the gated entrance to the building chained shut and with a metal barricade in front of it. By this point in the ride someone had leaked our planned route to the police and this was perhaps a preventitive measure on their part set up shortly before our arrival. Or perhaps this is just the look of an embattled consulate that has seen multiple days of strong protest. Either way, it was nice to see the consulate still behind barricades! And the office staff couldn't help but take notice as we screamed the names of those murdered in Oaxaca followed by "Presente!" before riding on.

On the way to our third and final planned stop, the United Nations building, we happened upon a labor picket. We joined in their chants and passed out spanish-language flyers to the workers. Represented by UNITE HERE! local 100, the workers were clearly cheered up by our surprise visit and we were excited to connect, however briefly, with their struggle.

There was no exit strategy when we arrived at the United Nations. We rolled right up to their door and some attempted to push into the building. If the ride's route hadn't been given away to the cops earlier, there might have been more success in getting inside. Nevertheless, things got a bit pushy with the cops at this point and we made a ruckus that I'm sure the people inside heard loud and clear. After hanging around chanting, passing out flyers, and changing someone's tire, we decided to be done with it and head down to Tompkins Square Park.

The NYPD had, by this time, devoted such a massive number of cops in cars, vans, and on scooters that it is not surprising that they would look for an excuse to make at least one arrest, which they did. Keith Watson was arrested, seemingly for running a red light, while three others received tickets for the same offense. Keith ended up being charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and, last I checked, is still waiting to be arraigned.

A group eventually did gather at Tompkins Square Park where the New York Times reporter who wrote that day's good article on Brad Will and Oaxaca happened to be hanging out. In a moment of reconciliation between the protestors and this particular Times reporter, we read the article aloud before splitting up.

The bike ride, inspired by a Zapatista call for actions, turned out to be an excellent form of public awareness-raising and continued to bring heat upon the Mexican government and the commercial media. The Friends of Brad Will, organizers of the ride, will be celebrating the Day of the Dead tomorrow in memory of Brad. On Friday morning some will gather to discuss sending a New York City delegation to Oaxaca and Mexico City.

Many groups have been mobilizing in New York City in solidarity with the Oaxacan teachers' union, the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca, and the popular struggle to depose Governor Ruiz. The Mexican immigrant groups, anarchist and socialist organizations, and teachers who have been mobilizing in support of the Oaxacan movements have now been joined by a committed group with a very personal stake in this struggle for justice, the Friends of Brad Will.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

RJ- Greetings brother.
A girlfriend of mine just sent me another e-mail about Oaxaca. I was, in spirit, with you all for the ride. I send prayers and infinite light to the brave people in Oaxaca. I've been getting info through the childcare collective postings... please plug me in otherwise and let me know when there are local actions that I can support. My family and I are standing in solidarity, please express our sentiments to anyone that could use the words. We are four- myself, my partner, our 17 month old sun and our Chihuahua- Uzi. Candles shine for all who have sacrificed there lives and all of those left behind... To those that also sing, cry, scream and defy: We love you all. Fuck the police- fuck a police state.

RJ Maccani said...

Good to hear from you! Will make sure to send stuff along...and you know the little one is always welcome cuz we got the childcare crew! Much love.