A first hand report from the fight during which Brad Will, NYC indymedia reporter, was shot and killed.

Two POG members are currently in Oaxaca, Mexico to document the struggle and to show international support to our comrades struggling for liberty. For more information on thier experiences and ways to help see- http://www.organizepittsburgh.org/index.php?page=statements/oaxaca

Account of the Príista attack in Santa Lucia del Camino in Oaxaca, Mexico

Attacks across the city kill at least 4.

NOTE: This account is not meant to be a complete account of the day, it is meant to be from the perspectives and experiences of two people in the midst of what can only be described as a battle in the streets of Santa Lucia, in Oaxaca. We know that other things happened in other neighborhoods, and that other things probably happened in our vicinity. This is our best effort at capturing the events that we experienced and witnessed.

On Thursday night, Barricade Three in Santa Lucia del Camino set up a little earlier than normal. Reinforcing the barricades for Friday's day of action required more trucks and buses than usual. At times, it was a chaotic scene with camión after camión joining the barricade and people unsure of where they should go. Eventually things calmed down. Many more people than usual guarded the barricade and the tranquility of the night had many regulars taking time to lie down, if not sleep. As day broke, the barricade took on the feel of a community holiday or small block party with small children running about. At what felt like an informal pot-luck, people brought tortillas and beans, sandwiches, bread, and arroz con leche. Most chose to not cover their faces, despite this being a regular practice at the barricades. Up to this point, the only "contentious" moment was the permitted approached of a chicken truck that surprised several people.

Sudenly, about a dozen people started shouting, donning masks, picking up Molotov cocktails (known as bombas Molotov) and cohetes (large bottle rockets typically shit out of PVC pipes the people call bazookas), and collecting rocks and sticks. A small group moved forward to see why a truck that was part of the barricade (about 200 feet away) was moving and investigate a commotion on the other side of that barricade. After advancing about 100 feet, the group spotted 150 to 200 Príistas (supporters of the authoritarian PRI party that ruled Mexico for 70 years and currently "rule" the state of Oaxaca) marching toward the barricade. The cohetes were fired into the air to warn the Príistas not to approach. The warning was ignored.

The tiny group of defenders fell back to the barricade and gathered more supplies. It was a chaotic situation. Prioritizing in the moment, a split second decision was made to leave our bags, in part because rocks from the Príistas were already falling where our bags lay. As we sprinted down side streets to the closest barricade, there were shouts for children to go inside their homes to safety. At the next barricade, people were banging on poles and railing to sound the alarm and rally the neighborhood to fight the Príista advance. People came out of their homes and armed themselves with sticks, machetes, metal poles, cohetes and rocks. Once a fairly large crowd had gathered several people started shouting "Vamos, compañerQos, Vamos!" (Let's go) and "Avanza!" (advance). People began advancing to the fallen barricade and the Príistas, spreading out along the width of the four-lane highway, it's median, and sidewalks. Both sides fired their cohetes, and as we drew nearer rocks started flying from both sides. We pushed the Príistas back passed the remnants of the now disassembled barricade. There was a lull of about thirty seconds as we populated the area around the barricade before many decided to chase the still-visible Príistas only about 100 feet away from us. Though most of them retreated faster than we advanced, one unlucky Príistas was forced to choose his own safety and well-being over that of his fancy SUV. The look of regret was visible on his face as rocks crashed to the ground around him and he turned and ran. The SUV, lacking a license plate, briefly became the target instead of the retreating Príistas. Tires slashed, windows smashed, someone decided to ensure that it was beyond use and set it ablaze. While some focused their attention on the SUV, some continued to chase the Príistas. Most Príistas had scattered into nearby homes and businesses, so people re-grouped back at the barricade.

As we all clustered in the intersection, the two of us looked around and estimated that there were at least 500 people ready to defend their neighborhood. We were both amazed by what we were seeing. Neither of us had ever witnessed such an incredible display of collective self-defense. We both nearly cried at the inspiring sight of people successfully working together to ward off aggression without centralized leadership. The barricade reclaimed, sandbags replaced, and the Príistas pushed back, the battle appeared for a few moments, to be over.

We're unsure as to the exact reason for the second advance, but we believe that Príistas were again spotted at the next intersection where they had scattered minutes before. As we cautiously advanced, walking in cover when possible, shots were heard from the intersection and everyone ducked or ran for cover. Many corporate news outlets, most notably those relying on AP "reporter" Rebeca Romero (widely believed to be on Ulises Ruiz's payroll), have claimed it was "unclear" as to who shot first. It was the Príistas. From the ground, on the receiving end of the gunfire, there is no doubt as to who shot first. There is nothing "unclear" about it. It was the Príistas, shown by El Universal photos and local television to be armed to the teeth, who shot first. After the shooting stopped, the group moved quickly to the other side of the road and to the corner where the shots had originated from. The attacking Príistas had retreated back away from the highway and deeper into the neighborhood. Fifty to 100 people slowly advanced north a block into the neighborhood while 200 people gradually moved up, either by going north, or approaching it from the west by way of the barricade. Again the group moved north, taking cover by vehicles parked along the street. In addition to shooters at the far end of the street, more Príistas were taking cover inside a building along the street. The building was targeted with Molotovs, rocks, bricks, and cohetes. Someone kicked the door in before Príistas down the street started shooting again and we had to retreat back to the end of the block. This gave the Príistas time to close and blockade the door. A few attempts with similar results gave way to milling about, as we waited for reinforcements. One block west towards the barricade, about 100 people had gathered to take cover from additional Príistas on that street. Soon we heard a truck roar to life and a few minutes later, compañeros in a dump truck came to provide shielding for another advance. In the first such advance, the truck went too far down the road, shooting started again, at which point we fell back to the end of the block. Most waited there while the truck maneuvered itself horizontally across the street in front of the gate of the targeted building. Once the truck was ready, another advance began and the truck smashed open the gate. Another round of shooting began, and again everyone took cover and began to withdraw.

At this point, Brad Will, an Indymedia reporter from New York, was shot in the abdomen as he was filming. Many people ran to carry him around the block and down the street. As we waited for a car to arrive to take him to the hospital, efforts were made to keep him conscious and breathing, including CPR. As Brad showed signs of consciousness and movement, the crowd surrounding him cheered. He was carried into a car and driven to the hospital. Moments later, as people were still taking in what happened, it started to rain. People gathered up the Molotovs and cohetes and got them out of the rain. About a half hour later, people started to gradually head back to the barricade.

When we arrived at the barricade, we learned from a teary-eyed compañero that Brad had died on his way to the hospital. People from APPO such as Flavo Sosa arrived at the scene and were attempting to coordinate with the rest of the city where there had been other attacks. Hundreds of bottles were being filled and prepared as Molotov cocktails. Thanks to the help of several compañeras, we recovered one of our bags; though the other which contained a passport, several forms of id, travelers checks, over $1,000 pesos (most of which was intended to be used for the barricade), a video camera, is gone and was presumably stolen by the Príistas. Hundreds remained at the barricade for the night. The two of us went to a compañero's house to rest, write and watch the news.

As of this writing, the Príistas have set up their own barricades within the neighborhood, APPO has activated the mobile brigades, 4 or 5 people have died, dozens injured, and barricade 3 remains up, reinforced, and alert. Among the attackers were local municipal police (such as Abel Santiago Zárate and Juan Carlos Soriano Velasco) and politicians/PRI thugs (such Manuel Aguilar and Pedro Carmona, the man identified as Brad Will's killer), all from the neighborhood. Though the two of us had slightly differing expectations of how the day would pan out, neither of us expected an attack of this kind or magnitude in broad daylight. The diversity of people who fought the Príista attackers was astounding. We saw young kinds helping to gather cohetes and Molotovs. We saw old women armed with rocks making their way to the front. We saw people wearing circle As, hammer and sickles, and people who didn't wear their political identity on their sleeves. In the end, it didn't matter who you were, only what side you stood on.

La lucha sigue; the struggle continues.

"Tenemos dos manos y un corazón para luchar."

"We have two hands and a heart to struggle."


Two Poggers in Oaxaca


We didn't know Brad before meeting him here in Oaxaca, and wish to direct you to accounts of his life that are better than anything we would be able to write. Our thoughts go to his family, friends, and loved ones.



Our thoughts and prayers also go out to the dead and wounded whose names we do not know and whose fates we did not witness.