Friday, May 2, 2003

Tempe May Day 2003 analysis

by Heather Ajani
On May 1st, activists and anarchists from around Arizona met in Tempe to celebrate Mayday. The crowd, which consisted of approximately 85 participants made their way down 5th street chanting, holding signs and banners for neighborhood onlookers to see as they made their way towards Mill Ave in downtown Tempe.
The celebration took shape on Mill Ave. as participants took to the sidewalks, targeting corporate business and consumers. Anti-corporate and anti-police chants were shouted by the crowd as they confronted businesses such as Urban Outfitters, Hooters, and Borders Books. As the group circled Tempe City Hall, an onlooker with the protest heard police say they were "targeting for 8 o'clock."

Onlookers stood and watched not sure of why folks were out "protesting." One man said that he thought the "whole thing was retarded..I don't know why they [Mayday participants] are protesting the war, I was in the military for two years and I love my country." When the event was explained to him, he exclaimed, "well it's still retarded, even if it's not an anti-war march."

Mayday celebrants headed up and down Mill Ave. as police blocked crosswalks and followed the march on bicycles. As the celebration headed south on Mill around 8pm, the police began to encircle the crowd, which kept moving along Mill Ave. as a police SUV blocked traffic as a muffled speaker warned protesters to stay "off of the street and the sidewalks."

As the crowd continued to move, police moved further into the crowd, charging with horses as foot police grabbed one woman with a bullhorn at 8:03pm as the march was in full swing. The woman, was charged with "obstructing a public thoroughfare" by Tempe police, though she was in the center of the crowd. None of the surrounding participants were cited or taken into custody.

As a result of the arrest, several people were assaulted and or injured by Tempe police officers, including two female Phoenix Copwatch members who were acting as legal observers. Another woman's glasses were broken and a man suffered a foot injury as a police horse trampled over his foot.

Police attempted to further control the situation by pointing pepper spray canisters into the crowd, though at one point during the march a police officer told an IMC reporter that they [the police] were not prepared to use any chemical weapons. It was apparent that the police were disorganized as various officers reprimanded each other for failing to control the crowd throughout the evening, via verbal shouting and through radio communication.

In spite of the one arrest, the crowd continued to move along unfazed for the next forty-five minutes. Police, which greatly outnumbered the march participants, continued to follow the group as they made their way back to their vehicles after the activities ended. The evening ended without further arrests, though the police continued to monitor the park that had been used as the convergence point earlier in the day.

Mayday is a labor holiday celebrated world-wide, excluding the U.S., who changed the observance of Labor Day to September, after several factory uprisings, such as the Haymarket Square riots in Chicago, at the beginning of the 20th century.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Extra security for protest: Anti-war activists question police plan

Susan Carroll
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 22, 2003 12:00 AM

PHOENIX - Police will beef up security for a war protest this weekend, spurred by concerns about a small group of radical protesters who they say have crashed peaceful demonstrations across the Valley.

"Locally, the majority (of protesters) are very peaceful," said Phoenix police Lt. Jeff Halstead. "We have a small contingent of people who want to show up and cause trouble for us, but we are prepared for that."

The "troublemakers" typically turn out in groups of five to 30 and cover their faces with bandannas to shield themselves from pepper spray and other less-than-lethal weapons, police said.

But many peaceful demonstrators have questioned police tactics at local protests.

"We are concerned that the police presence may actually be causing some of these problems," said Marty Leiberman, a member of the American Civil Liberties Union. "Ninety-nine-point-nine percent want to peacefully protest to make their point."

The concerns stem in part from the March 8 arrest of seven protesters, an incident that activists and police described differently.

To avoid such conflicts in the future, police have met with activist groups and ACLU members to work out plans to keep protesters safe and orderly and avoid arrests.

Police are offering tips for protesters to get their message out without getting arrested:

• Avoid crossing against traffic lights.

• Do not block access to roads.

• Do not lock your body to a fixed object, such as a tree, sign or bench.

"They can still show their support for peace . . . without violating any of our state laws," Halstead said.

Sue Hilderbrand, an organizer with Arizona Alliance for Peaceful Justice, said demonstrators plan to stay on the sidewalks near 24th Street and Camelback during a 48-hour vigil for peace that starts at 10 a.m. today.

"As long as we stay on the sidewalk, we won't get arrested," she said. "Our goal is to be very visible at the intersections. It's all very legal."

Hilderbrand said the police presence has raised questions about protesters' ability to freely question the war in Iraq.

"Since September 11, any sort of dissent has been considered putting America and the American government down, that we're criticizing the government," she said. "And that's not what we're doing. We're being as patriotic as anyone could possibly be because we're expressing ourselves. If we're not allowed to dissent, to question our government, then the terrorists have won."

Reach the reporter at (602) 444-8543.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

3000 march on Phoenix streets to demand peace

By Dennis Welch
and Tracy Kurtinitis
East Valley Tribune

Thousands of banner-waving demonstrators, energized by musicians and political speakers, took to the streets of downtown Phoenix Saturday to challenge America's countdown to war with Iraq.

The peace rally was part of a world-wide series of protests denouncing the looming conflict in the Middle East.

The day started at 10 a.m. with heavy clouds over Patriots Square
Park as nearly 3000 people assembled near Washington Street and Central Avenue for a speakers' rally before marching into the streets.

The crowd included a diverse group of college students, senior citizens, anarchists, Christians, Muslims, doctors and construction workers. They sang, waved signs that criticized President Bush's foreign policy, and expressed sympathy for the Iraqi people.

"I'm for peace," said Dr, David Willbirt of Tempe. "This is the personal agenda for a few people who want to control the oil supply."

The Rev. Scott Ritchy, a minister at the Scottsdale United Methodist Church, was the first to address the protesters and drew loud cheers from the crowd when he proclaimed "war is not a family value."

Alfredo Gutierrez, a former Democrat candidate for governor, finished the ally by declaring the Bush administration has presented no compelling reason for war.

Not everyone who attended the rally agreed with the speakers' agenda. A group of about 20 people gathered on the north side of the park to support the president's policy towards Iraq.

"I believe in the rights of the Iraqi people," said Greg Iannelli, 21, of Gilbert. "We are the most powerful nation and we can't just sit back and do nothing."

His roommate, Eric Sprattling, added, "Saddam Hussein is a dictator who has no right to sit on the world's oil supply."

After the rally, protesters marched about 2 ½ miles along the streets of downtown Phoenix as police closed some intersections to traffic. A contingent from the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition dominated the parade front, wearing all-black clothing and dark bandanas covering their faces.

Beating drums, the crowd chanted antiwar slogans with obscene phrases and wrote statements in chalk on the pavement.

Don Clouse, a photographer from southeast Phoenix, held an American flag upside down with white gloves.

"It's a symbol of distress," the 61-year-old said. "I think our country is in a state of distress."

Clouse said he wore the gloves because he didn't want to show disrespect to the flag.

Phoenix police in riot gear were deployed in large numbers and attempted several times to divert the demonstrators from their planned route. At First Avenue and Roosevelt Street, officers blocked the intersection with motorcycles and bicycles as they tried to direct the crowd east toward Central Avenue.

After a brief pause, the crowd pushed past the make-shift barricade and continued north.

One anarchist waving a black flag led the protesters as they continued to ignore police instructions at two more street corners and ended the march where they planned – in front of a military recruitment center at First and Washington streets.

As officers stood in front of the recruitment center, angry protesters called for an end to the "police state".

"Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day we will shut you down," one man said.

Authorities arrested six people outside the recruitment building for undisclosed reasons.

Most of the demonstrators returned to Patriots Square Park for more speeches and music. But about 25 people danced and taunted police officers near the corner of Washington Street and Central Avenue. Police in riot gear tried to push the group north onto Jefferson Street.

However, most refused to budge and chanted antiwar messages as motorists beeped their horns and flashed peace symbols.

"The story here really is that there is this outpouring of protest for a war that hasn't even started yet," said Barry Vaughn, 38, a philosophy and religious studies professor at Mesa Community College. "Wait until you see the public outcry once young Americans come home in coffee cans because thy had to be cremated in Iraq due to the risk of biological contamination.

Gary and Christine Guerin, who marched with their basset hound, Archie, said they participated in rallies in the late 1960s that opposed the Vietnam War and supported the civil rights movement. The Guerins said Saturday's protest was subdued by comparison.

"It's a lot less radical," Christine Guerin said.

Thursday, January 2, 2003

Report on INS Demonstration on December 27

Over 50 people demonstrated at the Phoenix INS building in late December to express their anger at the racist terrorism of the government's recent detentions, harassment, and forced registration of Arab, Persian, and Muslim men and boys in Los Angeles. Members of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Phoenix Anarchist Coalition (PAC) and the Arizona Alliance for Peaceful Justice attended the rally along with other concerned individuals.

Demonstrators marched south from the INS building on Central to McDowell to spread out and cover the four street corners with signs, posters, and banners. The Phoenix PD's political police were in tow
as usual, with two cops following the march, and three others standing across the street observing the participants.

The demo ended without any trouble from the cops, even though they had a line of INS cops lind up outside of the building. The demo was organized in only a few days and brought muslims, arabs, anarchists, and anti-war activists to oppose the racist, fascist scare tactics of the INS and the US government, we need to continue to be in the streets opposing the rich and powerful and fighting for freedom.


Anarchists Against War and Terror