Template:Infobox journalist Bradley Roland Will (1970-2006) was a U.S. anarchist, documentary filmmaker and a journalist with Indymedia New York City. He was shot and killed on October 27, 2006 during the teachers' strike in the Mexican city of Oaxaca.
Will was born in Evanston, Illinois, and raised in the affluent community of Kenilworth, Illinois. He attended New Trier High School, graduating in 1988. Although his grades hovered between B and C, strong performance at the entrance exams ensured Will a place at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, where he earned a B.A. in English. Beginning in the summer of 1991, he was a regular attendee at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, the summer writing program of Naropa University. There he was influenced by activist poets Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, Amiri Baraka and Diane di Prima, among others, and was a teaching assistant to Peter Lamborn Wilson (a.k.a. Hakim Bey). In 1995, after spending time at Dreamtime Village in southwest Wisconsin, he moved to New York City, stayed in various squats on the Lower East Side and finally residing in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.
At Naropa, Will participated in a satirical performance art piece designed to mock the Colorado religious right and protest a proposed amendment to the Colorado constitution (Amendment 2, which sought to limit gay rights in the state). Will, who was heterosexual, wedded a gay man in a ceremony conducted by Peter Lamborn Wilson, a Universal Life Church-ordained minister. The mock ceremony included a procession of their wedding party in drag, parading in front of a Promise Keepers event in Boulder.
While in New York City, Will became involved in the squatters movement of the Lower East Side and in what has become known as freeganism, an effort to live outside the mainstream economic grid by means that includes collecting and eating food discarded by stores and food manufacturers. Other than the occasional help of plane tickets from family and friends and other travel arrangements as trade, Will was practically able to live with no reliance on money. He also fought the removal of community gardens, including the Chico Mendez Mural Garden on the Lower East Side, named after Brazilian activist Chico Mendes. Will was an active participant in protests across the country, usually for various social justice and human rights causes, and was involved with environmental movements such as Earth First! and the Fall Creek Tree Village in the Willamette National Forest outside Eugene, Oregon.
Will gained some notoriety for his efforts to prevent New York City from demolishing a squat on Fifth Street in the Lower East Side. When construction crews arrived at the building to begin taking it down, he stood atop the roof waving his arms. His efforts stalled the demolition, but the city eventually leveled the building, which housed a café, a meeting place and a performance space. Will later talked about the building in a program produced by Paper Tiger Television called "ABC Survives, Fifth Street Buried Alive".
Template:Bquote Will was a proponent of anti-corporate media and he hosted his own program on Steal This Radio, a Lower East Side-based pirate radio station. Commenting on this form of broadcasting, Will said:
In 2000, Will traveled to Prague, Czech Republic to protest the International Monetary Fund Summit in 2000 and participate in activities related to the Anti-globalization movement during that year. His activism brought him to Ecuador, Argentina and Chiapas, as well as to Brazil in support of that country's landless peasant movement. In between his trips abroad, Will returned to New York and remained involved in the local activist community. In August 2001, for example, he participated in a Dumpster Diving Forum held at the Wetlands Preserve at 161 Hudson Street, and joined participants for a roving exploration of usable food in Tribeca garbage accompanied by a TV crew from PBS's Life 360. Will entertained participants by singing songs about dumpster diving as the group walked along Canal Street. In recent years, Will had turned to making documentary films for the Indymedia network and other alternative media outlets. In between making films, Will worked occasionally as a stagehand and lighting technician. He remained an activist and a committed eco-anarchist, participating in events like the April 8, 2006 General Assembly of the New York Metro Alliance of Anarchists.
In March 2006, he joined activists from the group A for Anarchy at a street theater and flyer distribution event at the premiere of the film V for Vendetta, which was adapted from a graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd about an anarchist revolutionary. Anarchists felt the film watered down the anarchist politics of the graphic novel and wanted to ensure that moviegoers were introduced to anarchist ideas. Will videotaped a street theater performance by the group at the Time Warner Center (Time Warner subsidiaries published the V for Vendetta graphic novel and produced the film) and the office of DC Comics (publisher of the V for Vendetta graphic novel). Will's film included a verbal confrontation between the protesters and a group of anarcho-capitalist counterprotesters who referred to themselves as "D for Diplomacy." An edited version of Will's video was featured on the now defunct website A for Anarchy.
During the summer of 2006, Will continued videotaping demonstrations, including a June 15 protest at the Mexican Consulate in response to a violent police incursion into the teacher's plantón (encampment). On June 29, he videotaped and helped organize a protest against Victoria's Secret at the Manhattan Mall. The protest, organized by the Wetlands Activism Collective, was part of a national campaign in protest of the company's use of Canadian boreal forest and Southern US forest pulp in the printing of an estimated 395 million catalogs every year. Shortly thereafter, he traveled to an Earth First! Rendezvous and a CrimethInc. gathering. He also helped to raise money for his friend Daniel McGowan, who was accused of participating in a series of environmentally motivated acts of property destruction and faced life in prison. At the time of his death, he was working on a documentary about folk punk music and experimenting with a vegan raw food diet.
Traveling under a tourist visa, Will had arrived in Oaxaca in early October 2006 in order to document and film the teachers' strike. On October 27, he was videotaping near a barricade erected by pro-strike protesters when gunmen approached and opened fire. Will was shot twice and died while he was being carried away from the area. Along with Will, two protesters – Esteban Zurita López and teacher Emilio Alonso Fabián – were also killed. Several others were injured. Mexico City daily newspaper El Universal published photos of the suspected gunmen, who are believed to be local officials.
A Oaxaca news organization has claimed that Pedro Carmona, a local politician and member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, shot Brad Will. During a news conference on October 29, 2006, Oaxaca mayor Manuel Martínez said that four men, all local public officials, were being detained in connection with the shooting.
News of the shooting traveled quickly and in response, several independent media groups, activists and other organizations issued statements condemning the incident. Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos issued this statement:
An open letter written "to honor the memory" of Will and support "the Oaxacan people's efforts to establish a popular government that recognizes local traditions and values," was signed by numerous academics and activists, including Noam Chomsky, David Graeber, Naomi Klein, Michael Moore, Arundhati Roy, Starhawk and Howard Zinn.
Federal Police mobilizedEdit
The day after the shooting, Mexican President Vicente Fox changed his previously non-intervention policy and ordered Federal Police to Oaxaca to reestablish government control of the city. The army was also mobilized to provide intelligence support to the police, but not to engage directly with protesters. APPO representatives declared their intention to resist the government's armed intervention in the crisis and by the beginning of November, violent clashes continued between protesters and police. The government claimed that the Federal Police that entered Oaxaca were unarmed.
On October 28, Will's colleagues and strike supporters held an emergency rally at the Mexican consulate in New York. Speakers, including longtime New York activist Beka Economopoulos, condemned the Mexican government's response. Template:Bquote Template:Bquote
Demonstrations at Mexican consulatesEdit
On October 30, more than 200 protesters convened outside the Mexican consulate in New York City to deplore the killing of Will and others and to demand an end to the violence. The protest was organized by the activist group Friends of Brad Will. Additional demonstrations occurred outside Mexican consulates worldwide and protesters briefly occupied the consulate in Raleigh, North Carolina. Simultaneous protests were also held around the world.
On October 26, 2007, a home-made explosive artifact shattered the windows of the Mexican Consulate in New York City. According to Mexican news media Reforma, Will's supporters may be connected to the incident.
Committee to Protect JournalistsEdit
The Committee to Protect Journalists sent an open letter on October 30 to the Mexican attorney general calling on the federal government to launch an official investigation into Will's death. The statement also mentioned that David Vega Vera, special independent prosecutor, had begun gathering information and facts related to the case.
Commemoration and memorialEdit
On November 11 and 12, Friends of Brad Will organized a gathering in New York City to commemorate Will's life. The event included a memorial service at St Mark's Church in-the-Bowery attended by 250 people, as well as speeches and concerts. Outside the church was an array of freegan food as well as a pile of Will's personal possessions, from which attendees were urged to take. It was followed by a procession through the East Village described by The Village as "jubilant and rowdy", which culminated in marchers breaking into the former CHARAS/El Bohio - inside which they cavorted, scrawled graffiti, twirled a fire bolas and cycled - for about 20 minutes.
- Anarchist Superstar: The Revolutionary Who Filmed His Own Murder, from Rolling Stone: Issue 1044 Jan. 24, 2008.
- Obituary, from The Chicago Tribune.
- Friends of Brad Will, activist group created in his name.
- One More Martyr in a Dirty War: The Life and Death of Brad Will, by Matthew Power, Virginia Quarterly Review, Summer 2007
- Brad Will 1970-2006, a friend's tribute.
- Remembering Brad Will, Kate Crane, Brooklyn Rail
- Memoriam and tribute from American poet Lisa Jarnot, October 28, 2006.
- Memorial and Convergence more information from Lisa Jarnot on the Brad Will memorial at the Poetry Project, including a schedule of events.
- Fragments of a Shattered Hope, essay by Brad Will on the squatter movement in Sohno, Brazil (reprint of an article that appeared in Boog City, Issue 24, April 2005).
- Brad Will interview, El Libertario, February 2006 (Spanish)
- BradWill.org: website set up by Will family
- Brad Will Foundation
- Brad Will's footage from Oaxaca including his final tape. 8 minute edited piece
- Brad Will's last video footage, 2006 Oaxaca teachers' strike, includes interviews with protesters and the shooting (16:32, mp4 format). Creative Commons by-nc-sa license. Torrents available from indytorrents.org.
- Brad Will's last video footage, 2006 Oaxaca teachers' strike @ YouTube
- Brad Will In His Own Words, archival Footage of Will discussing the importance of community media and the struggle against NYC demolition of a lower east side squat (via Democracy Now!)
- Brad Will 1970-2006, friends remember Indymedia journalist and activist killed in Oaxaca (via Democracy Now!)
- Friends of Brad Will Shut Down the Mexican Consulate, Includes footage of Brad singing, and of arrests at Friends of Brad Will demonstration. (via Not An Alternative)
- You Are My Sunshine: a 4 minute tribute to Brad Will by his friend Priya Reddy
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