Protest movements, political action, and news coverage.
The point of protesting is not to close down the streets at rush hour, it’s an amazing thing to do but that wasn’t the goal of the protest. The goal is not to get pepper sprayed or arrested, look maybe some people enjoy getting pepper sprayed, it makes them feel they’re living on the edge or whatever, but that’s not the point of it. Banging drums and dancing in the streets is not the end goal of a political march, we would much rather be dancing in the streets in celebration than in protest. A protest is not a parade, it’s not a standoff between police and protesters, and a sit in is not a camp. A protest and a march and a rally and a political action, is a tool towards achieving a cause. Yet the news coverage of political actions NEVER, and I almost don't exaggerate when I say never, but journalists never seem to cover the real story. Even independent media, and especially social media, don’t give a shit about the cause. They’re all like OOH pepper spray, youtube it youtube it! OMG police in riot gear it’s the POLICE STATE!!! look mate, the police state is only a byproduct of the real problems of injustice, I’m not trying to underestimate the problem of police violence, but take the Toronto G20 for example, still today you will read in the papers about court cases, accusations, “scandals” all regarding the treatment of activists and passers-by at the hands of the Police. But why were these activists on the streets in the first place? Were they by any chance protesting environmental degradation, inequality between rich and poor? Between north and south? The criminal and outrageous theft of native land across the globe? Capitalism? War? How come no one gives a shit about the issues?
It’s the same thing with foreign events, like everyone was all on about Egyptians using twitter and txt messaging to topple a dictator! As soon as Mubarak left, western media left. Except Egyptian activists were trying to topple a regime, not a man! They (the liberal media) publish opinion pieces and news items by the dozens when a story breaks of the authorities shutting down facebook, or cellphones in Tunis or Egypt or etc… they don’t realize that these uprisings are MUCH more concerned with SOCIAL JUSTICE, much more concerned with the right and the privilege they’re told to eat and drink, than with their freedom of expression.
Look at the May 1st coverage in Toronto, if I wasn’t already aware of the issues at stake during that day’s political actions, would I have learned anything about them from reading the papers? No! Not because the protesters “didn’t know what they were protesting” oh they know very well, there may be more than one issue (surprise, we have more than one problem in our society today) but those protesting know exactly what they’re protesting, the problem is that it’s not being reported. If I didn’t know beforehand, would I learn what Bill C-31 is, from reading a news item with the headline BILL C-31 SPARKS PROTEST ALL OVER CITY! No! Because they don’t even bother to spell out its official name “Refugee Exclusion Act” let alone the fact that a RACIST law, that prevents genuine refugees from getting official status in Canada, that aims to deport documented and undocumented migrants with little concern to their safety, that that racist law just passed in the House of Commons and is about to get enforced on June 21st.
If you read or watch the news coverage, all you get is the following: Fucking wankers, protesting simultaneously on May Day!? They blocked the streets, but not the highway, PHEW! Oh and thank god there was no violence. A local TV reporter literally said: “there were large numbers BUT it was peaceful” with an emphasis on BUT. Yes it got reported that Barrick Gold had a convention in Toronto, and that local activists were protesting outside, but did anyone report on why Barrick Gold is the incarnation of the devil? You spelled out the full name of the organizer, well listen to what she has to say! No we’re not against Barrick because they’re the largest gold mining company in the world, but because of what that means. Because of the ugly reality that that creates for indigenous populations around the world. Because of all the rape and civil wars, and impoverishment, and theft that this company is implicated in.
Lastly and I hate to be saying this, because I’m always on and on about how we’re not running a PR campaign and we shouldn’t be too worried about how we’re perceived, BUT, the only way we are getting our ideas across is through the banners and the signs, so let’s not “waste” on generic statements like “Strength in unity” or “United we Stand” just be a bit more specific, like the big red NO ONE IS ILLEGAL banner, I know it gets dismissed very easily, but it has a substance to it. You know signs like “They got tax cuts, we got service cuts” or “The Refugee Exclusion Act is a Racist Legislation” or defaced images of Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney, those are great!
Also when activists give an interview to the media, they should at all costs, never say anything generic. Like going on a rant about racist immigration laws, and how immigration policy is not there to “protect the country” but rather to “serve the interests of capital by providing a precarious work force without any rights” and ending it with “finally we want justice. Justice for Immigrants. Justice for Workers. Justice for the 99%” you know what? they’re gonna edit everything out except that last bit, and make you sound like a sound bite from Hillary Fucking Clinton, that’s if you’re lucky, they will more likely edit out only “Justice for the 99%”. Or if you make the mistake of ending your interview about what your organization stands for with “we’ve been doing this for 6 years, and this is the biggest turnout yet” that will be cut out, and followed by a mocking deep male voice from the “studio” saying “it took them 6 years to gather a thousand people around their cause, great job, you gotta give it to them though, they’ve blocked major intersections for 2 hours”. I mean I say this, but there’s no way around it, you can’t help it, if you somehow end up spewing something exclusively radical and to the point, you just won’t be broadcast.