FTAA Diary
April 29, 2001 12:10 AM   Subscribe

FTAA Diary is a 48-page zine (available for download in pdf format) chronicling the experiences of folks who protested in Quebec. Illustrated with powerful black and white photos, the narratives personalize the events like no journalism could hope to.
posted by sudama (21 comments total)
If they're going to tell the story, they should tell the whole story:

molotov cocktails

injured police

perimeter breach

throwing rocks at cops

setting fires

attacking police

property destruction(2)

setting fire to their own

It would advance their cause if they admit they had some idiots on their side...
posted by owillis at 3:26 AM on April 29, 2001

"In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. we must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. "

- Martin Luther King, Jr. ("I Have A Dream")
posted by owillis at 3:50 AM on April 29, 2001

Kinda OT: When I was at uni there were dozens of protests. Most people went because mobs are fun. My smartass girlfriend and I went along with double-sided placards reading "Rent a Mob" and "[government agency] has been pleasant and efficient to me". Needless to say I was beaten (my girlfriend was punched a little but nothing serious). In these types of protests I feel for the police. These protesters need leadership or they always become righteous violent mobs. I don't respect them in the slightest.
posted by holloway at 4:16 AM on April 29, 2001

owillis: just about every cause has some idiots on its side. it doesn't detract from the protesters' points, unless you believe that a small minority's actions invalidate the majority's intent somehow.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 5:22 AM on April 29, 2001

it doesn't detract from the protesters' points, unless you believe that a small minority's actions invalidate the majority's intent somehow

Of course it does. However ignorant it gives people the option of dismissing the group by saying "bloody hippies". Swaying mass opinion requires embodying something appealing in "dignity and dicipline". There will always be a majority who judge a group by it's loudest members and who aren't interested in learning more (taking a group by the loudest member is the simplest way of categorising a group - we all do it). Mr King realised that, I hope these protesters will too if they want anyone to listen to them.

For their violence I have no qualms about disregarding these schmucks. I'm willing to be proved wrong but that's my current opinion.
posted by holloway at 6:52 AM on April 29, 2001

Not to propose any sort of consipiracy theory, but ultimately, Holloway, all an organization would have to do is send out some violent kids into a group of protesters to destroy the validity of the protest in your mind? Or even just create a climate where violence is likely...
It's good to know that we live in a country where the average citizen is able to rationally examine events, and the world around them, rather than latching on to the most sensationalistic aspects of those events. That's sarcasm, by the way.
posted by Doug at 8:34 AM on April 29, 2001

You know, holloway, I was thinking exactly the same thing, but about the cops.

Have y'all maybe considered that, fringe hooligan element aside, the protesters may have wanted to bring up a point? I don't see anyone saying that the hippie thugs were anything more than an extreme minority.

What about the rest of them? You think that maybe the people outside the fences might have had a gripe with the fact that there was a consolidation of power going on in hands that are unaccountable to the rest of us?

Or are you just focusing on some teenage kid in a ripped t-shirt with a bandanna over his face throwing a rock at a trained phalanx of cops in full battle armor and dismissing the entire lot of them as a bunch of social deviants who need to be thrown in the nearest jail?
posted by chicobangs at 8:44 AM on April 29, 2001

Tree killers.
posted by Leonard at 9:13 AM on April 29, 2001

Well, Chico, if you're looking for a reason not to hear their point, of course you're going to focus on the teenage kid. To some people this is just another incident in an ongoing, much larger, struggle for the cultural high ground. This is war, man! Discredit your enemies at any cost to the discussion. To be honestly interested in the debate and have a constructive reaction to it would be bad tactics.

As someone who is still struggling to get to grips with this whole issue, I wish there were more people on all sides who were interested in the substantive issues instead of just the propaganda images.
posted by rodii at 9:40 AM on April 29, 2001

Orginally a love letter to ftrain, but now it's for rodii, too.

That thread also has, by far, the most interesting late-comer post I’ve ever read on this site.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 10:35 AM on April 29, 2001

(From the zine):

"The Black Bloc doesn't just smash banks and lob tear gas cannisters. . . Judy Rebick's Rabble.ca tells another story the media misses. The Black Bloc are not a raving bunch of dangerous savages, they are in fact polite."

Lordy lordy lordy.

Just because one of them called her 'ma'am'. Right.

Quebec, Seattle, whereever - it's Spring Break for anarchists because they're far too 'radical' and 'nonconformist' to go to Daytona.

Look, what these brave little soldiers of chaos don't realize is that they will never, ever, EVER reach the mass consciousness (read: the cop in Mississippi who has a family of 4 and shops at WalMart) until they decide to have respect for everyone, until they can learn to listen as well as they can chant and holler.

The anti-WTO/FTAA people might have a good point, but I'm 29 years old, a former activist myself, liberal and all I see when I look at them is a bunch of bored, angry kids who don't know what else to do with all that energy and anger. I see amateurs, I see spoiled brats.

If they are brave and mature enough to alter their presentation then we'll know they have a cause worth paying attention to. Until then, feh.
posted by gsh at 11:44 AM on April 29, 2001

Thanks for having a lively discussion on the FTAA Diary.

We'd like to clear up a few points:

First, this zine is not meant as a comprehensive account of everything, and if it focuses heavily on "our side" of the story its because those were the stories that the mainstream media didn't tell.

Second, to respond to one comment, yes there were idiots at the protest, but whether they were on "our side" is debateable. The people we saw throwing bricks were often had a beer bottle in one hand - ie they were not organized protestors but rather opportunists.

Regardless of that fact, as it says in one of the first pieces in the zine, until you have had your lungs raped by the most vile chemicals you can think of you have no idea what it will make you do. The point of telling these stories was not to glorify or to deny that there were some idiots, but rather that blaming all the violence on Black Bloc anarchists as most media outlets did was ludicrous — the 'violence' carried out by protest groups was actually primarily vandalism; attacks against property. Its amazing how people can get riled up by smashing a office but the same sort of outrage isn't inspired when we here of 12 year old working 12 hours a day in horribly unsafe conditions for pennies. As a final note, the idea that there were some idiot protestors shouldn't overshadow that there were far more idiot cops. The guy Richard we profile is now back in hospital in Victoria being treated for reoccuring internal bleeding. Need I remind you all he was shot IN THE BACK?

Finally, to respond to the comments about the black bloc, the Bloc doesn't have much interest in gaining support from anyone. There's is not a representative action (ie you should support us) but rather a direct action - retaliating with vandalism for acts of real violence inflicted on people around the world by coporations and governments.
posted by FTAAdiary at 7:35 PM on April 29, 2001

I just thought I might add a little to this healthy discourse. I have read through the entire Zine, edited a few of the stories myself, and am the editor of the magazine that published much of this text as well. I did not go to Quebec and had no input on making the zine though and am frankly not nearly as radical as the people who made it, just by way of stating my biases..but I have not seen what they saw, breathed what they breathed. Maybe I would be.

But I would like to provide two links : one which leads you to a poem appearing both in the zine and on Forget Mag. And two, the story of a woman who volunteered as a medic during the protests (this also appears in the zine). These two pieces for me sum up the spirit of the FTAA Diary.

I think the point of the zine—and the point of the links provided— is not to curry favour or necessarily demand an active response but rather to perform the simple task of reporting, independent reporting.

If nothing else it (the Zine) is providing an alternative source for the events than our regular news outlets. No question these people have agendas, but, at least their agendas are easy to see, easy to recognize. And they are using the tools of the age we live in to communicate their news freely. Their way.

I guess, in summation what I am getting at is I think this zine, and the forces behind it, the accountability it requests, the problems it reveals, speaks to me about the humans involved in this conflict. And I agree some of the humans (on both sides of the fence) did not behave well.

But the story itself should be told. There can't be any doubting that it needs telling from many sources, many angles, to reveal as much about what happened as possible. And you can dismiss its creators this way: "If they are brave and mature enough to alter their presentation then we'll know they have a cause worth paying attention to. Until then, feh." (gsh)
But I think that seems to flow directly against the spirit of this publication. Isn't it a peaceful, brave and informed presentation? Isn't this what smart young people do when confronted with a problem? Isn't publishing the ultimate act of non-violent resistance?
posted by bruyneel at 10:21 PM on April 29, 2001

FTAAdiary and bruyneel:

Talk about eloquence within the fog of disinterested armchair liberals! Thank you for coming aboard.

Isn't it interesting how many feel themselves "involved" and democratic, yet disparage that which democracy allows us to do? Democracy, it seems, is only best as the "mandated" kind, the kind which goes only as far as posting to internet Community Weblogs.

Probably everyone who's yet posted to this thread is against sweatshop labor, pollution, cruelty and inhumanity, yet none find it to be in their interest to take up that brilliant "freedom of the press" and hear from those who can publish on this great digital equalizer what really happens, what really happened. What the issues are.

I'd rather not get them from dailynews.yahoo.com.

The Internet people! Use it. Use your brain and decide. Don't let the FTAA, WTO, capital minded profiteers et al do it for you.
posted by crasspastor at 3:14 AM on April 30, 2001

By the way, I really didn't mean to offend anybody with that "armchair liberal" crack. Sorry if I did or if I do.
posted by crasspastor at 9:57 AM on April 30, 2001

Quote from the zine: "We are the first generation that knows the taste of teargas."

What? They used something different than teargas in the '60s?
posted by Reggie452 at 10:23 AM on April 30, 2001

Every revolution labors under the misapprehension that it is unique.
posted by gsh at 11:20 AM on April 30, 2001

Its amazing how people can get riled up by smashing a office but the same sort of outrage isn't inspired when we here of 12 year old working 12 hours a day in horribly unsafe conditions for pennies.

Hmm. Let's see, if you smash my window (what if it's a home/office, is that still a blow for the revolution?) that has an impact on my life. As for the 12-year-old and the pennies, what the gang-of-four types fail to realise is that the monies paid to these people are far more than they could make in their own economies. What, you think these kids say, 'Hey, let's work at the lowest paying company around!'? While whatever they earn seems like, erm, pennies to us, it is quite a bit more in some other countries. As for why, ask the countries' IMF loan reneging, despotic overlord rulers where the money went.
posted by haqspan at 12:13 PM on April 30, 2001

don't miss this
posted by john at 12:25 PM on April 30, 2001

>what the gang-of-four types fail to realize is that the monies paid to these people are far more than they could make in their own economies<

So that means they should be contented with whatever table scraps we throw them? That notion should have went out with colonialism

>What, you think these kids say, 'Hey, let's work at the lowest paying company around!'?<

Actually my guess is that the "kids" in question—if by that we mean the exploited children who work as slave labour—have very little say in the matter. They are pawns in an enormous game. Being moved here and there. Totally insignificant. Which dovetails nicely with this:

>As for why, ask the countries' IMF loan reneging, despotic overlord rulers where the money went.<

Well that is kind of the point of the protest, to ask where the money is going, to have an open discourse. Also: I fear the implication that somehow a citizen of a country ruled by a tyrant is somehow left to that destiny. That is not where we are (heading) is it?

And finally:

>Every revolution labors under the misapprehension that it is unique.<

A broad generalization I think, applied only if you view things from the most cynical of perspectives. I think what is more important is that the idea of revolution, when it is born in a new mind, is unique and freeing and opens up thought patterns and motivates actions that are unique, at least to the revolutionary.

This idea, the revolution of one, without a leader, is the same idea Naomi Klein discussed in her story about Subcommandante Marcos. I also think it would be incredibly reductionist to reduce the movement to dismissal b/c of an overstatement.

So let us give the point that yes, other generations were tear-gassed, does that mean the people who were should be any less radicalized by the action? Semantically you may have a point, but on the high ground, where the thought was aimed I think, the point is the same.

"We (meaning the people who went and were effected by the protest) are now radicalized. And we shall express our dissent for the things we see as being wrong, in print and on the web."

How can anyone not see the nobility in that? All the aforementioned Yahoo photos, taken and run out of context, with small captions telling "what is happening" can show the side of the police. What are the biases at Yahoo? What is their agenda? (insert Yahoo-avoiding-taking-financial-DirtNap joke here)

It is not as if the FTAA diary is going to knock any of these news sources out of importance. It is just another voice in the choir.
posted by bruyneel at 1:08 PM on April 30, 2001

"What, you think these kids say, 'Hey, let's work at the lowest paying company around!'?"

Thanks for the wise posting and economics lesson. I'll say that over and over in my head tonight, to allow me to sleep sounder. It will allow me to feel better about the residue of sweat left on my Nike's by some 11 year old, knowing that the 12 cents an hour he makes in his country, will add up to more in his/her own economy.

Maybe said young sweatshop worker will be able to buy a decent meal for his/her older sister, who was fired from her job for getting pregnant, or help out his father, who is sick from all the chemicals he's forced to inhale on a daily basis, in the unregulated working conditions in said far away country. Maybe if he's lucky, he can save enough to treat himself to the luxury of a washroom break, which his boss may or may not allow during his 14 hour shift.. I could go on..
You get my point.

Lucky for us, ignorance is still bliss...
posted by danjerboy at 1:09 PM on April 30, 2001

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