FIERCE LIGHT JOURNEY
Brad Will was a friend of mine. He was an American activist, and independent journalist for IndyMedia, who was killed in Oaxaca, Mexico on October 27th, 2006. He was shot twice by "local public officials" and died while he was being carried away from the area. Alongside Brad, two protesters - Esteban Zurita López and teacher Emilio Alonso Fabián - were also killed by the same gunmen.
I was shocked and saddened by Brad's death. It was so very close to home -I'd worked side by side with him throughout 9.11, at the New York Indy Media center, and had seen him only months before at the World Social Forum, in Venezuala.He was like so many of my friends on the front lines - an unrelenting media activist who cares so much about showing the world the truth, that he put his own life at risk.
After Brad was shot, I found myself questioning just how far I am willing to go. The stakes felt suddenly much higher. I have traveled to all these hotspots, and yes, have even been shot at on occasion, but somehow, I've always had a sense of protection. Perhaps part of my sense of protection comes from being from the first world, and part is relentless optimism. But now, I wasn't so sure.
Brad was shot twice, deliberately, directly. They wanted his camera off. And perhaps they wanted a pretext, for the next day the president finally authorized the use of federal riot police - 1200 were sent in, and a brutal sweep of the city of Oaxaca began.
To make sense out of Brad's death, I needed to do more than mourn. I needed to take action.
At a rally for Oaxaca held at the Mexican Consulate in Toronto, I took the bull-horn and made my first political speech. I've been on the front lines, and cared about many causes, but never before have I felt so moved and inspired to raise more awareness to the unjust that was happening and honor the people of Oaxaca and honour Brad Will for the life he gave to the cause.
NEW YORK CITY, USA
After giving my first political speech at the Mexican Consulate in Toronto, I went to New York City to attended a weekend of mourning and celebrating the life of Brad Will.
By this time, I had made the decition to go to Oaxaca myself. I invited filmmaker and activist Claudia Medina who is part Mexican and speaks spanish, and cares passionatley about what is happening if she would join me on the trip.
The tribute for Brad in New York was 48 hours of memorials, street parades, plant-ins at community gardens, and teach-ins about Oaxaca. At the church where the memorial was held, there was an eucentral (a zapatista term for gathering) , about the dramatic situtation of the general strike in Oaxaaca. It was here being so close to Brad's friends and supporters and hearing stories from those who had recently returned from the heart of the struggle, and seeing their video footage of how charged and volitile the situation was that I felt, for one of the first times in all my experience, afraid. I questioned whether I should go.
After much consideration, I knew I had to go.
Video Diary - Brad Will Remembered
"Cultivating Hope" article by Brad Will
Rolling Stone Magazine article about Brad Will
Brad Will's Blog written in Oaxaca