BLOCH Vs. HAGLER ON VIOLENCE
At the March 14, 2000 at Mobilization for Global Justice Press Conference a reporter asked about the possibility of violence. These are two responses in a row, quoted in full. The second obviously is a response in part to the first response to the question. Photos are from the press conference.
My name’s Nadine Bloch and I am an organizer with the Mobilization for Global Justice and I’m one of the coordinators of the convergence which is our training week, April 8 -15, here in Washington, D.C.
And just to be pretty clear, these questions about violence, I think, are coming out of the reports on Seattle, that there was violence in Seattle. I'd like to make it perfectly clear that there was no violence in Seattle save the violence done by police to people and protesters in the street. There was property destruction. We witnessed people using different tactics from hand holding, to sit-ins, to property destruction.
Here in Washington, D.C., as in Seattle, in the Direct Action Network, we have nonviolence guidelines which include a guideline of no property destruction. And, we want to focus on the issues of structural violence against people by the World Bank, the International Monetary fund rather than get mired down in discussions about tactics, because we know that everybody who's going to be out on the street is going to be there because they're motivated by the same great feeling of anger and frustration about the ability to set their future direction in this world and stand up for environmental rights and human dignity. And so we cannot control the masses of people who will be coming to Washington, and as Kevin said there will be masses of people in Washington, because these issues are complicated and far reaching, addressing labor concerns, human rights concerns, environmental concerns, you name it. So we will have a wide array of people who are here, most of which will have gone through training and have pledged to part of our nonviolence discipline which includes statement on no property destruction.
But we cannot take responsibility for people who do other things outside these guidelines. That’s the responsibility of the World Trade Organization, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. We lay that down on their doorstep because they are the ones who perpetuate violence against people every minute of every day through their structural adjustment policies.
Hello, I am Reverend Graylan Scott Hagler of the Plymouth United Church of Christ which is located here in Washington, on the corner of North Capitol Street and Riggs Road.
And in response to the question that has been raised, there is no way that those of us who live in Washington, D.C. would condone any destruction of the properties in Washington, D.C. And I think that the organizers of this are very committed to an agenda of nonviolence.
But at the same time making sure that the first amendment right to freedom of speech is fully demonstrated and with the maximum amount of potential. One of the things that also we have to point out is that there have been recent statements in the media by the Metropolitan police department and those statements, they concern us. During an interview recently a high ranking police officer stated, quote: “Our officers will be well prepared, they will have special helmets, they will undergo riot control training.”
And clearly we are saying that this is not necessary for one of things that you do when you stand up and you take moral leadership is to declare what is condoned and that which is not condoned, that which is outside the guidelines of what you have gathered for. And clearly what we have gathered for is to express the issues which are before us, the issues that you have heard, and to do that in a responsible but well visioned way so all the world can see, because the whole world will be watching, and Washington, D.C. is obviously an arena of all types of political discourse, discussion and democratic interaction. And we intend, in a sense, to lift it up, to raise it up so the whole world will clearly see the sins of the present system, the sins of the current structure.
One of the things that again I don’t need to reiterate this again, but I will: That simply we are going to be engaged in nonviolent direct action. And in that regard we will not condone the destruction of property, the hurting of individuals by other individuals and by law enforcement. And it needs to be clear that one of the things that law enforcement can do in this process is help to facilitate the freedom of speech component of the demonstrations to allow it to be seen to allow the world to see that Washington, D.C., and law enforcement and all law enforcement in Washington, D.C. knows how to conduct themselves in accordance with civil behavior when it comes to those who want to express their viewpoint in the arena that tends to be the streets. So again we do not condone violence or property destruction but we will engage in militant direct action.