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Indymedia Journalist Murdered in Mexico
Brad Will shot dead while filming a documentary of the struggle in Oaxaca
Ronda Hauben (netizen2)     Print Article 
Published 2006-10-31 15:52 (KST)   
Brad Will (Bradley Roland Will), a journalist with the global Indymedia network was shot and killed on Friday, Oct. 27, in Oaxaca, Mexico. He was there working on a documentary film about the struggle which began in May 2006, as a strike by the Oaxaca school teachers for better conditions for themselves and their students.

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When the governor of the state of Oaxaca (Oaxaca city is the capital of the state by the same name) tried to use force to break up the strike in June 2006, the teachers, activists and civil society groups that supported them began an occupation, taking control of the city, and demanding the ousting of Governor Ulises Ruiz.

Also the protesters introduced a direct democracy form of local government and formed the Popular Assembly of the Oaxacan people (APPO is the acronym in Spanish). The protesters, however, were often the target of violent attacks by paramilitary elements.

Brad was shot by such a paramilitary group while he was filming the protesters at one of the barricades, at Santa Lucia del Camino, which is on the outskirts of Oaxaca. Brad had gone to Oaxaca six weeks earlier to document the story of the struggle there. He interviewed participants and shot footage for a documentary about the people's struggle. Also wounded in the gunfire that killed Brad was photographer Oswaldo Ramirez, who worked for the Mexico City based publication, the daily Milenio.

On Friday, Oct. 27, when the gunmen started firing at protesters, Brad was there, armed only with his camera. Two bullets landed in his chest. His camera continued to record what was happening even after he was shot. (The final moments of footage are viewable here.)

He died as he was being transported to the hospital.

Five arrests have been made in connection with Brad's murder. Those arrested include several who are present or former local government officials.

After hearing of Brad's death, Zapatista Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, spoke at a meeting in Buaiscobe, Sonora, to the public and the press:

"This person they killed was from the alternative media that are here with us. He didn't work for the big television news companies and didn't receive pay. He is like the people who came here with us on the bus, who are carrying the voices of the people from below so that they would be known. Because we already know that the television news companies and newspapers only concern themselves with governmental affairs." (Narco News)

Describing Brad, a statement issued by the New York City Independent Media Center, said:

"Brad Will was both a journalist and a human rights activist. He was a part of this movement of independent journalists who go where the corporate media do not or stay long after they are gone. Perhaps Brad's death would have been prevented if Mexican, international and U.S. media corporations had told the story of the Oaxacan people."

After Brad's death, Vincente Fox, the President of Mexico, who leaves office on Dec. 1, 2006, ordered the federal police to take control of the city from the protesters. The federal police attacked the protesters, using armoured vehicles and water cannons against the demonstrators, arresting protesters and searching their homes.

The protesters have vowed to continue their struggle through nonviolent marches and other tactics.

Demonstrations in the U.S. have been held at Mexican consulates around the country to protest Brad's death and to protest the continuing attack on protesters in Oaxaca.

In the face of the resistance of the people of Oaxaca to the effort to end their struggle, Mexico's lower house of Congress called for the resignation of Oaxaca state's governor.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called for a probe by the federal government of Mexico into the killing of Brad Will, expressing alarm that the suspects in the investigation into those who killed Brad, are current or local city officials. That is why CPJ believe there must be federal investigation into the murder.

A journalist, describing the reaction of the people of Oaxaca to Brad Will's death, writes that though people in Oaxaca generally distrusted the media, they were grateful for Brad's efforts to support and report on their struggle. As one woman explained: "He was at their side because he wanted to tell the truth about what was going on. He was in the street with the common people of Oaxaca who were fighting for justice....The fact that someone from the United States would come to a place like Oaxaca and fight along side the Oaxacan people is testament that people can be good despite differences in nationality, color or economic status."(James Daria, "On the Streets of Oaxaca, the People Remember Brad Will," The Narco News Bulletin, October 30, 2006.)
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ronda Hauben

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