Indy journalist slain in Mexico violence
It was a horrific weekend in Oaxaca, Mexico. After months of teachers and other workers protesting against the conservative government of the state, and the country, pro-government forces cracked down on the protesters. Violence erupted, and people were shot and killed at the mercy of plainclothes para-military special forces removing a protest barricade.
Among those killed was American independent journalist William Bradley Roland, aka Brad Will, on location reporting for Indymedia. Also killed were striking schoolteacher Emilio Alfonso Fabian and Oaxaca resident Esteban Zurrita.
I knew Brad and was shocked to learn of his death via a front-page photo of his bleeding body in La Jornada. Here was a guy who believed so deeply in the power of making media, whose convictions drew him to struggles around the world for democracy and human rights, that they ultimately brought him his demise. Activist Ben Shepard had this to say:
"When I got the call [...], I knew exactly what had happened. [Brad] was always close. That's what made him an amazing activist. He lived on the cusp of history. He lived a historical life. And to be part of that history, he would take any risk. But he was not reckless. He was a caring, fun guy, who like most of us, was in it for the community, the history, and hopefully to get a little somethin' somethin'. And yet, while many such as myself, took a more comfortable route, he put himself at risk over and over and over. I know he was profoundly disturbed to see a woman burnt to death at a homeless encampment two years ago in Brazil. He lived history. Now he is part of it."Yet the community that Brad ran with is turning his death into movements of activism, in an effort to bring to light the severity of the issues that Brad died reporting on in Oaxaca. A protest at the Mexican consulate in New York City has been organized for Monday morning at 9am (details and updates available on NYC Indymedia). Other cities are planning events here, and additional media activism plans are in the works. Those wishing to give donations supporting the movement in Oaxaca are being directed here.
Brad, you taught me how to walk with my videocamera and not mess up the picture, and your giant smile will be missed at gatherings and protests. Rest in peace; we are only comforted knowing that you were doing not only what you loved, but what you so deeply, deeply believed in.
UPDATE: A new site has been launched to serve as a clearinghouse for information and related actions around Brad's death and the ongoing situation in Oaxaca: Friends of Brad Will