Reportback from Today's Solidarity Action in NYC
Nodutdol Jan. 9 Solidarity Action for the WTO 14
I think we’re ready to write a book called “how to plan an action in one day.” Yesterday was one of those days that you wish had 30 hours instead if 24 so you could finish everything with a little time to breathe. I think it was about 1 am, we were happily engaged in dwipuri when three KEEP 친구 came in and gave us the plan for a creative action for the international day of solidarity for the 14 WTO protesters still detained in Hong Kong – which happened to be the following day. After a few hours of sleep we went to work. The thing about creative actions is that they take a bit more prep than you typical speech-chant-yawn-rally. Still, in Hong Kong we learned from 전농(KPL) how powerful and effective carefully and artfully planed protests can be. (I am truly thankful for this lesson. Strategically aesthetic protests are much better art than what you see in Soho galleries and museums.)
Here’s how it went. At ll:30 about 15 of us plus a two-years-old-or-less contingent of 4 gathered near the Chinese consulate. We all came wearing black and once there put on red head bands, white masks decorated with an x-ed out WTO and mock handcuffs to symbolize the detainees. There’s not a whole lot of foot traffic in that area so we stood in a line facing the highway holding signs out to cars passing by. After chanting and singing 농민가 three reps went inside and, having learned from our Dec. 28 action that they don’t appreciate aggressiveness, politely attempted to deliver our petition. Our reps were told that the consulate was closed for a lunch break, come back after 1:30. So we did a little more chanting then boarded a bus to go across town to our next target – the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office. On the bus we passed out WTO fact sheets and copies of the letter sent out by the hunger striking detainees.
Several block away from the office we lined up in single file and began to march. Inspired by 삼보일배 (am I spelling this right? Don’t know how to spell it in English either) and guided by our top anti-M6 chanter leader we took three steps in unison while chanting “Free The Detainees” then paused and chanted “Down Down WTO” all the way to the Trade Office.
Midtown eastside is an interesting place to do that kind of march. It’s all white folks in expensive suites hurrying from nowhere to nowhere. Still our march a unique enough site to make many of them watch and take literature from us. A few even stopped for several minutes to ask what we were doing and why.
When we reached the Trade Office we held a short rally, still in costume, and successfully delivered a copy of the petition, though the director, who was supposedly on an extended lunch break (it was after two by then) wouldn’t come down to see us. After concluding with농민가 most of us went to K town to eat.
Three of us then went back to the consulate and again attempted to deliver the petition. We were ushered into a waiting room, but after a few minutes the security guard came in and told us that all requests and deliveries have to go through the Consul General’s secretary and that she was gone for an indefinite period of time. Try as we might, the guard would not agree to take the petition to give to her. Apparently, guards are not allowed to accept any packages from anyone. The third thwarted attempt. Kind of frustrating, but it’s ok ‘cause we already faxed them (and Donald Tsang and Pascal Lamy) the petition 190 times last night.
THANKS THANKS to everyone who came out, most of whom will also be doing a hunger strike from sunrise tomorrow until Wednesday in solidarity with the detainees.