Sunday, October 29, 2006

US journalist gunned down in Oaxaca

An American freelance journalist, Bradley Will, was killed in what Beyond the Border blog described as a "shootout between police and the People's Popular Assembly of Oaxaca — a coalition of striking teachers and other protesters — and community groups."

Given the nature of Mexican politics, where power still grows out of the barrel of a gun, I have wonder if this was really a "shootout," or if it was a little more one-sided than that and police did most of the shooting. Reported the Village Voice:
"He was filming as the paramilitaries began their assault on the crowd," says Shannon Young, a reporter for Free Speech Radio News based in Oaxaca. "According to witnesses, someone grabbed Brad's shirt and said, 'Come on, let's go,' but he kept filming and he got shot."

Will was felled by a bullet to his stomach. He died while being transported to a Red Cross hospital.

The New York Times also portrayed the incident as the police surrounding the crowd and "moving in," not a "shootout" involving both sides - that misrepresents, from all I can tell, what really happened. The "shootout" portrayal doesn't make any sense; those protesting teachers have been camping in the streets of Oaxaca for many months - they're going draw down on the police now? This incident likely had more in common with Kent State than the OK Corral.

Bradley Will's death will deservedly draw a lot of attention, particularly because he's an American from New York City, apparently with many mourning friends in lefty NYC writer and journalist circles. He was a brave guy to stand there filming as the soldiers moved in. But it's important not to forget that many other journalists have lost their lives recently covering politics in Mexico and the rest of Latin America.

It's one thing when drug cartels kill journalists - they're criminal gangs, after all, organized crime, the modern mafia. They're criminals who need to be brought to justice. It's quite another when the government itself pulls the trigger. Who will bring the government to justice?

That question may soon be resolved on the streets of Oaxaca - the answer quite possibly is no one - or else this could just be the beginning of something much bigger than what's going on in that city's dangerous, tent-filled streets.

UPDATE: Beyond the Border blog has more updates by Dane Schiller from the streets of Oaxaca.


DZ said...

Typical Mexico.

Kill a gringo, get some action!

Fox finally got off his butt and ordered the federales to Oaxaca.

DZ said...

Here's a good Mexican opinion on the subject.

and Mark in Oaxaca is doing some great photo work.