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ANTI-CORPORATE PROTESTS AWAKENED ACTIVISM IN CINCINNATI
Mon Dec 25 06:31:36 2000
Anti-corporate protests awakened activism in Cincinnati
CINCINNATI, OH (CityBeat)
By Darlene D'Agostino --RELAYED BY John Zeh, OVIMC-Cinti.
A Place on the Globe
Anti-corporate protests awakened activism in Cincinnati
By Darlene D'Agostino
Cincinnati joined Seattle, Philadelphia, Washington, Minneapolis, Melbourne, Los Angeles and Prague this year, starting its own chapter in the movement against globalization of the economy. A few days before protesters in India stormed the headquarters of the World Trade Organization (WTO), demonstrators in Cincinnati marched on a conference of the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue (TABD).
The buzz about globalization began to circulate in Cincinnati in September. Big players -- the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors' Bureau and the Partnership for Greater Cincinnati -- were thick into preparations for the TABD. This was a big deal. Fifteen U.S. cities competed to host the prestigious group of more than 130 of the largest U.S. and European corporations. The goal of TABD is to free trade across the Atlantic from excessive regulation.
After tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated against the WTO in Seattle 1999 -- and caused millions of dollars in damage -- Cincinnati Police Division bristled at the prospect of similar protests here against TABD.
It didn't happen that way. TABD claimed a successful meeting in a hospitable city Nov. 16-18. Hundreds of protesters came and claimed a successful awareness-raising campaign. Police, while praised by the city for a job well done, were criticized by others for provoking activists and violating constitutional rights.
But did the weekend of Nov. 16-18 make an impact? Did the protests accomplish anything? Did the police effectively balance the rights of protesters and public order?
The TABD came to life in 1995, created by the Clinton Administration and the European Union. An invitation-only trade association, TABD aims to make trade less of a headache.
A headache? In terms of free trade, government regulations are a migraine. The United States has one set of environmental, consumer and safety regulations. European nations have their own.
TABD sees government regulations as trade barriers. The TABD has a catchy motto: "Accepted once, approved everywhere." A chief aim of the organization is "harmonization" of business regulations, working toward adoption of a single set of rules applicable in each country.
Opponents of TABD see the group as puppeteer of the WTO. TABD -- a private, non-governmental organization-- advises WTO, which is made up of government representatives. WTO member countries have to accept the organization's rulings on fair-trade practices, essentially relinquishing the power to regulate corporations.
"It's a group of financial leaders talking about what kind of laws will benefit trade, which is profit," said Sister Alice Gerdeman, spokesman for Coalition for a Humane Economy (CHE) and coordinator of the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center in Over-the-Rhine ("Taking the Bull Out of Globalization: Who's Afraid of the TABD," issue of Sept. 28-Oct. 4). "They have a real good track record of getting what they suggest, whether or not we have anything to say about it.
"What we object to is the concept that gives corporate policymaking influence over people's lives. It's a concept that says, 'We know how to fix your economies,' as the World Bank and the IMF do. It's the whole idea that what's good for profit is good, rather than what's good for people."
Most business and government leaders in Cincinnati welcomed the TABD.
"I don't think globalization is an awful thing at all," said Rene Thomas, international marketing manager for the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. "Cincinnati is the 20th largest exporting city in the United States ... TABD is a very useful tool, because it takes people with practical knowledge and discusses ways to make business easier and more appropriate for everyone."
'Riot gear' is such an ugly term
As the one-year anniversary of the Seattle protests approached, an ad ran in a Seattle alternative weekly, The Stranger. A proclamation with a bright yellow background bore the scarlet headline, "N30 International Solidarity Day Against Corporate Globalization." Cincinnati has been woven into the fabric of that movement. The events of N16, the moniker the Cincinnati protesters gave their demonstrations, were a success.
Events planned by the main organizing groups -- Cincinnati Direct Action Collective and Ohio Citizen Action -- went well, according to Rachel Belz, southwest Ohio program director for Ohio Citizen Action.
CHE, a group of labor unions, community activists, environmentalists and human-rights advocates, came together to work for economic justice. The TABD conference was tailor-made for the new coalition.
CHE lists its accomplishments on its Web site, www.che-2000.org. N16 highlighted globalization issues at a teach-in attended by more than 500 people. CHE events attracted extensive press coverage via independent, alternative and mainstream media, including CNN.
CHE also did what it intended to do -- protest peacefully for three days in a series of rallies, pickets and marches. New relationships with groups and individuals across the country were established. Protesters did not lash out at police, and property damage was contained to minor spray painting and three broken windows.
Most importantly, N16 showed the anti-globalization movement is growing and the TABD knows it has a formidable force to deal with, Belz says.
"The next step will be to address what the focus of (CHE) will be now and what structures are needed," Gerdeman says. "We learned a lot. Most of us were used to doing demonstrations, but not in such a large framework. We became aware of the complexities in bringing together different groups who have different models of what protest is."
In dealing with police, Gerdeman says the group learned about communication. Last week, CityBeat reported on poor communication between organizing groups and police. That miscommunication led to accusations of bad faith by each side. Fifty-two people were arrested in connection with protests.
But Gerdeman, Belz and CHE are encouraged by what they saw. Now Cincinnati is part of a worldwide movement that allows those involved to look across generational and philosophical lines and work together.
Whether the city feels the same is unclear. After numerous attempts to reach City Manager John Shirey, CityBeat was finally referred to Cincinnati Police Lt. Col. Richard Janke, assistant chief in charge of TABD planning. When asked to describe the city's experience during the TABD, Janke said he could not speak for the city.
"I would imagine that at any point, the city would refer you to the police division," Janke says. "From the police division's point of view, it was an experience with positive and negative aspects."
Janke declined further detail until the police department finishes its after-action report, a collection and synthesis of data due early next year.
Within days of the protests' conclusion, Mayor Charlie Luken praised police for doing a good job. District 1 Commander Capt. Vince Demasi said he was very satisfied with how police handled the protests ("Failure to Communicate," issue of Dec. 14-20).
The division spent almost two years planning for N16, but the weekend experienced some less-than-shining moments because the division was not prepared for unplanned events, Demasi says. He contends CHE should have identified troublemakers to police.
Police clashed with demonstrators on four occasions during the three-day protest ("Black and Blue," Nov. 22-29). The division reluctantly used tear gas and made arrests to protect the public, Demasi says. But protesters only became more militant as police provoked them, according to CHE Chairman Steve Schumacher.
The fact is no one knew what to expect, who would come to the protests or how many. Communication broke down when police and protesters feared the worst. Police feared demonstrations would turn violent; protesters feared police would overreact.
A week before the protests, Gerdeman said she couldn't control who might come to town. Meanwhile, Internet discussions of N16 included throwing paint balls at riot masks so officers would be exposed to their own gas and throwing ball bearings on the street if officers gave chase.
"We are, not to be dramatic, waging a brief war," one activist said via e-mail. "That is, think of the Cincy experience tactically. We are going to attempt to converge on and occupy space in a public demonstration against the TABD. The police are going to use violence to try to stop us."
In September, calls about the Cincinnati Police Division's preparedness were referred to the commander of the SWAT team.
The city's Law and Safety Department has not yet released information on the number of officers used during TABD and the cost to the city. The police division was equally uninformative with organizing groups.
"We want to make sure they're not getting ready for trouble they're not telling us about," Schumacher said before the protests. "We have asked repeatedly to explain what their preparations are, and they've not done that. We want the dialogue to be upfront and very frank. We want very clear rules of engagement on protests."
The police division consistently played down the protests beforehand. Janke stated police planned no road closings. Despite reports from street officers that confirmed they would be in riot gear, Demasi told reporters the day before the protests that officers had no plans to use riot gear. But, at the first scheduled rally on Nov. 16, the SWAT team was on hand and officers manned streets in "protective gear."
Demasi denies misleading the press.
"This concept of riot gear is really inaccurate," he says. "It's protective equipment. The fact that a person has a helmet -- it does not give you the ability to do anything any differently. The only thing that it provides is some protection for your head from bricks, bottles and cans. The same with pads -- it doesn't allow you to be more offensive or aggressive; it provides more protection to you when working in large hostile crowds that tend to throw objects."
Next come the commercials
N16 had an impact. Cincinnati is now recognized as not only a corporate town but as a place where political activism exists.
"I would hope that one would look at the city and say, 'Wow! There are people there who really care,' " Belz says. "For people to compare Cincinnati to Seattle is even more hopeful. If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere."
The direct impact N16 had on the city is still taking shape. Complaints against police actions have been filed with the Ohio Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, according Jill Davis, the Cleveland office's staff counsel.
"We're looking into it," she says. "I can't make a statement right now, but we're looking to see what happened and to see if we need to take action."
The TABD feels its meeting went extremely well, says Jeff Werner, spokesman for the organization.
"Cincinnati worked out great," Werner says. "We expected and embraced the protests. It was good. It created good dialogue. The people were noticed, and their concerns were acknowledged. The police did a really thorough and good job of allowing things to continue."
The lesson for TABD, WTO and other international economic organizations?
"Business has to do a better job of telling people why it thinks globalization is a good thing," Werner says.
Marketing is everything. ©
WCPO TV in Cincinnati Reports on Protests
Sun Nov 19 00:24:05 2000
TABD Conference, Protests End
Scripps Howard WCPO TV (relayed by John Zeh, OVIMC)
TABD Conference, Protests End
Reported by: Valerie Miller, WCPO TV 9 (Scripps Howard)
Demonstrators held rallies at Fountain Square and along other streets in downtown against the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue conference.
Protestors planning a peaceful demonstration found a police checkpoint at Fountain Square. Officers searched everyone.
The demonstrators were held behind barriers and police were everywhere.
Police arrested several protesters Saturday, and Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken said he was pleased with the police response.
The rally included a parade of pigs labeled for corporations. Protestors said business leaders gathering in downtown for the TABD conference are responsible for weak regulations.
"We lose environmental protection, worker safety protection, child protection," said Audrey Mayer of Covington.
From Fountain Square, protestors wanted to form a single file picket to drop off the pigs at several street corners. Police refused.
The group wanted to move around town and we weren't prepared for that," said Police Chief Tom Streicher. "We told them 'No'. If we are not prepared for it and there are no permits for it, it becomes a significant disruption in town."
The procession moved up Vine Street to the Kroger building for the second planned demonstration.
Along the way police were visible at every corner. Officers followed on foot and on horseback. After yesterday's few outbursts of vandalism and violence, police were keeping tight control.
The protestors took a seat outside Kroger headquarters. When the final pig was put in place outside the Chiquita building, the peaceful protest was over. The crowd was not ready to leave.
Officers arrested a total of 47 people Saturday evening for disorderly conduct after they refused to clear downtown streets. That brings the total of arrests this weekend to 56.
Police started taking people into custody a few hours after the group's 3-p.m. demonstration permit expired.
The protestors said they simply want to call attention to corporations' treatment of workers.
"We're fighting for everyone in the world. We're fighting for justice. We're fighting for peace," said one protestor. "They're so many people in the world … they don't have anything to eat."
Police had to escorted members of the transatlantic business dialogue from the downtown conference site to a riverboat cruise in Covington.
TABD Conference Wraps Up
While protesters took to the streets, inside the Omni the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue conference wrapped up.
The group of 120 CEO's and US and European government officials worked over the past two days to break down trade barriers across the Atlantic.
There was mention of the protestors during a news conference Saturday.
The US Commerce Deputy Secretary wanted the protestors to know that the TABD said it opens doors for American business owners to expand overseas.
"We have produced jobs. We've improved our technology, our ability to communicate with each other and lowered the decibel of our disputes," said US Commerce Deputy Secretary Robert Mallett. "That is what the TABD is meant to do."
A TABD report said trade between Europe and the US produces more than seven million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
MORE, video, pix:
4:38 PM NOV 18
"Blurred Vision - Maurya Orr"
All times EST and approximate.
As of Saturday afternoon there have been four offical arrests as a results of
Friday's actions. All four were arraigned and their bails have been set.
- Collin Moore - Rioting - $5,000
- Clifford Bennet - Obstructing Justice & Seriou Bodily Injury to a Police
Officer - $10,000
- Ryan Salisbury - Rioting - $50,000
- Michael Lasbay - Criminal Tresspassing, Obstructing Offness, & Criminal
Mischief - $7,500 ($2,500 for each charge)
Ryan Sailsbury will have another arraignment Monday at 9am at the Courthouse
in room B.All protestors that have been arrested will have hearings Wednesday morning at
9am in Courtroom 178.
12:45pm - Hundreds of protesters at Fountain Square were stoped by police
officers and searched. The police claimed that they were searching for
weapons in the bags of the protesters. The protesters then tried to cross
the street and march around the Omni Hotel but the police banned them from
1pm - The protesters headed down Vine St. and started towards the Kroger
Building. There were around 500 people in the march. The police then
rounded protesters up and refused them to cross the street to the Kroger
building. The police were releasing the activists in groups of 2-4 people.
2:30 - The protesters marched back towards Fountain Square. The count of
protesters ranged between 600 and 750 people. When the protesters came back
to the square they proceeded to march around the Omni Hotel and then on to
the Chiquita Headquaters. The police used CS Spray to ward off some of the
protesters and observers while they were taken some of the protesters into
custody. Of those taken into custody, two of the people were non-protesters.
One was a Legal Observer, Carol, and the other an IMC videographer, Lisa.
Those with Pig puppets were told to remove the sticks, as those could be used
as weapons according to the police.
There have been five offical arrests so far today. 1 for disorderly
conduct and four for mask violation. Although witnesses say they saw the
activists remove their masks, the police still arrested them. There is an
investigation on one activist with a possible charge of criminal destruction
of property. Reports are also coming in that protesters not giving their
names to the police are also being taken into custody.
A local call came in at 3:45 today reporting that two of the activists
arrested earlier this afternoon during the the protest march around Vine St.
have bails set for them at $200,000 each. It is not clear at this time who
the activists are or what they are charged with at this time. If you can
help out with bail in any way please write to legal@N16.org
11:30 : The permitted rally at Sawyer Point begins a march along the route
through downtown, circling the Omni-Netherland, where the TABD meetings are
Noon : The march, which peaked at between 1000-1500 people, reaches the
Fountian Sq., where more speakers are heard, and a 'New Kids on the Black
Bloc' performance is seen.
1:30 : The rally breaks up and a new march begins back toward Sawyer Point.
1:45 : A group of 200-300 Black Bloc and other activists, which has split
from the main march, approaches 5th and Vine, between Fountain Sq. and the
Omni. Some are carrying police barricades. Others appropriate more
barricades as they are being deployed, and establish a line across the
intersection to keep the police at bay.
2:00 : The crowd begins to move east from the Omni as police reinforcements
are deployed around the activist's barricades. At the next intersection, the
crowd turns south toward 4th. They then march back toward Vine and the Omni.
A small scuffle with police breaks out at 4th and Vine, and two protesters
are taken into custody. One escapes. The other, who is bleeding from the
mouth, is held down by four police while another sprays CS spray into his
open mouth and eyes. The rest of the group at this intersection, numbering
in the dozens, is separated from the main march and breifly detained.
For about the next hour, this separate group is slowly forced by police back
toward Sawyer Pt. A few blocks north of the point, the group is corraled,
broken up into groups of four or less, and allowed to leave one at a time.
They are ordered to keep moving toward the Point and not reassemble on pain
of arrest. At this point, the crowd dispersed.
At the same time, reports came in of the use of tear gas and rubber bullits
on the the rest of the group. All told, three arrests were made during the
aftermath of the march. They have been charged with riot, which is
disorderly conduct in a group of five or more. No hospitalizations were made.
Later in the afternoon, two banner hangs took place on Fountain Sq. One
addressed racist comments made by a city councilperson, and the other was
just a change of venue for a banner which went up during the rally on the
Square. It read "No God, No State, No War, No Hate." A young man moved it
from a skywalk over 5th, where it had been for several hours, to the
fountain. Several riot police appeared from around the corner, chased him
down, and arrested him as well. The police would not comment on what charges
he might face.
9pm, Thursday, Josh Robinson reporting from outdside the Cincinnati Music
Hall in Cincinnati. Around 8:45 two men were escouted out of the Cincinnati
Music Hall by officers. Reportedly, the two men let a banner fall from
inside the Music Hall where TABD deligates were going to watch a performance.
The banner read "End Corprate Rule".
The two men then went on to give a speech to the entire audience whjy the
participants of the TABD were wrong for what they were doing with
Globalization. The ment were then apperhended by appromimatly 18 police
officers. They were then put into a van which is still sitting outside the
Relayed by Maurya Orr
A local call came in around 10:15 pm on Thursday night updating the status of
the two men that were arrested after dropping a banner during a performance
in Cincinnati Music Hall that the TABD delegates were attending.
The two men, Brian Cairns and Colen P. Cairns, were charged with criminal
tresspassing and disorderly conduct. They have been taken to the Justice
Center and are attempting to obtain release on bail. Please write checks to
Ohio Valley Independent Media Center with the word 'Bail' in the memo line.
We do not know how much the bail is set at. Excess money will be donated to
other legal costs.
Send checks to Ohio Valley Independent Media c/o Media Bridges
2114 Reading Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Stay with Ohio Valley IMC for the lastest updates with TABD.
7:00 PM NOV 16
Thursday Report from Josh Robinson in Washinton Park in Cincinnati.
As of 6:45 tonight there about 100 protester outside the Cincinnati Music
Hall chanting and showing their disapproval toewards the TABD deligates that
were attending an opera inside the Hall. There is no outbreak of any
violence at this time. Protesters are shaking barricades that were put up by
the police officres outside the building.
There are Mounted, Riot and motorcade police officers outside the the Hall
making sure that the protesters outside are not disturbing the performance
There are rumors circulating about more activites by protestors around the
The performance tonight is open to members of the public that have tickets. Stay with
Ohio Valley IMC for more updates.
TABD AUDIO WEBCAST
Thurs. Nov. 16, 2000
OVIMC, Blast Furnace webcast live audio of TABD coverage from Cincinnati, OH
The live audio webcast of our continuing coverage of the TABD meeting and associated protests is now up and running, and will be for the rest of the week.
For news, music, and rambling tirades, click here!
To call in live reports or comments, dial (513) 651-4171. You will reach Media Bridges, the organization which is hosting us this week. Ask for the radio room, and we will patch you through live to the whole world!
BREAKING NEWS FROM CINCINNATI
Thurs. Nov. 16, 2000
Anti-TABD Actions Begin In Cincinnati
by Josh Robinson
9:00 AM: IMC has recieved a report of a banner hang on a billboard over Interstate 71 in downtown Cincinnati. A cameraperson has been dispatched.
Noon: The opening press conference for CHE-2000, one of the groups organizing the actions this week, took place at fountain square. Approxamately 500 people attended the event, which featured breif speechs from many of the speakers scheduled to appear at the teach-in later tonight (see below).
1:00 PM A representative of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, who spoke at the press conference, led most of the crowd on a march several blocks up the street to the headquarters of Kroger, which owns hundreds of supermarkets nationwide. They picketed the building to demand that Kroger stores pull Mt. Olive products from their shelves. Mt. Olive, which produces pickles, is accused of substandard labor practices.
7-10 PM: Globalization Teach-In at the Cathedral of St. Peter In Chains, 325 W. 8th St. (at Plum)
Featuring: Lori Wallach, Public Citizen; Ron Blackwell, the AFL-CIO; Atherton Martin, Carribean banana farmer; Baldemar Velasquez, Farm Labor Organizing Committee; and Dan Seligman, Sierra Club.
ANOTHER EYE-WITNESS ACCOUNT OF THE BIG COAL SLUDGE SPILL IN EASTERN KENTUCKY
Fri Nov 3 06:16:50 2000
Another eye-witness account of the BIG coal sludge spill in eastern Kentucky
3 Nov 2000
More than two weeks after the 250-million gallon coal sludge "spill" from the Martin County Coal Company's mountaintop removal site in eastern Kentucky, cleanup efforts and national media coverage are still inadequate.
Patty Draus and I spent Sunday afternoon (10/22) on Wolf Creek and Coldwater Creek in Martin County taking pictures of the sludge spill and talking to people involved in the cleanup. Also we talked to a homeowner on Wolf Creek who had her backyard coated in sludge. We got some good pictures. I was totally unprepared for the extent of the damage. This is a major environmental catastrophe. The Big Sandy is black all the way from Catlettsburg to the headwaters. There is a goo ranging from several inches to several feet thick along the entire length of the two smaller Martin County streams. Authorities are blocking the road so that no "outsiders" including the news media can have access and see the extent of the devastation.
A few observations: It would not be an overstatement to state that every living thing in the two smaller streams is now dead. Don't know about the Big Sandy, I would guess its in serious trouble A cleanup worker (vacuum truck operator) got trapped in the creek bed earlier this week and was buried up to his chest, its like quicksand. He got stuck and was yelling for help and some other workers pulled him out. He said his feet never touched the bottom and he would have sunk in the quicksand if he hadn't been rescued.
They are digging pits along the stream and vacuuming up the sludge from the creek and dumping it in these pits which are about 1-2 acres and 10 feet deep. We saw at least five of these pits. They look kind of like hog lagoons, no liner of course. They just started this on Sunday. Supposedly they will treat the sludge in the pits with emulsifiers and then pump the clean water back into the stream and haul off the sludge. Probably to another sludge pond somewhere. I would expect this cleanup to got on for at least a year at the rate they are going. It is a huge mess and their efforts aren't even making a dent.
Ohio River will be impacted for months in my opinion. We talked to one homeowner on Wolf Creek, which has less damage than Coldwater Fork (two separate watersheds affected - both creeks flow together in Inez). She stated that they had been calling the coal company for about a week and they wouldn't even talk to her, they are too busy on Coldwater Creek. About 2/3 of her backyard is coated in sludge, at least 6" deep and several feet deep in places. The sludge pulls the boots off your feet. Homeowners do not appear to be organized yet or have any idea what to do. Supposedly damage is much worse on Coldwater Fork, but they wouldn't let us back there. Martin County Judge Executive has closed the 2 roads leading to spill. We navigated around using the County Map Atlas. It is about 3 hour drive from Lexington using the Mountain Parkway.
News media from Cincinnati now covering the spill, haven't seen national coverage yet. We need to bring national attention to this spill. The cleanup operation looks just as gooey and messy as Exxon Valdez. Very dramatic photos are possible, would make great TV. One of the Cincinnati reporters was going to put on waders and climb into the creek until we told her about the quicksand effect. We need to alert people to stay out of the creek, I think it is very dangerous. The goo is slippery and slimy.
Homeowner along Wolf Creek said that they were lucky only 10 percent of the pond drained out (250 million gallons out of 2 billion). She felt they would have been killed if the whole pond had drained out. You can see the high "water" mark (black line) on the trees along the creek bank, about 3-5 feet above current level. There is a good photo on the front of this weeks Martin County "Mountain Citizen" paper showing a stretch of creek, it looks paved black and wide as an interstate.
According to Martin County paper, this is not the first spill at this particular sludge pond, it happened before in 1994. Have more details if you need them. Animal tracks in the goo leading to the creek - I imagine that a great number of raccoons, possums, etc, have gotten stuck in the goo like the La Brea tar pits in California. Any animal that drank from the creek would probably die. The water is totally black. The sludge has settled in the creek bed several feet thick and the water just makes a little channel in the muck and flows on top of the sludge.
They are never going to get this all cleaned up. They are using booms, hay bales, and vacuum trucks, building temporary rock dams to try and create "settling ponds". Water utilities are going to have to deal with this residual sediment for months if not years. They are draining a reservoir in Inez that will only last about a month, after that where are they going to get their water?
For more information contact:
Suzanne Webb email@example.com
Dave Cooper at DSCOOPER1@mmm.com
Hilary L. Hopper at firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out Appalshop's reports on the web!
In depth reporting on the environmental disaster in Eastern Kentucky.