Berkeley Organization Teaches Members How to Demonstrate Effectively
- Berkeley organization teaches members how to demonstrate effectively
Updated 12:00 PM ET July 14, 2000
By Sasha Talcott
(U-WIRE) BERKELEY, Calif. -- Berkeley resident Sarah Seeds
has been arrested more times than she can count and once was
shot at while trying to prevent loggers from clear-cutting
an old growth forest.
In an effort to stop a fishing boat from going out to sea,
28-year-old Katy Flynn-Jambeck and six other demonstrators
linked arms and spent two days hanging from the side of a
Dan Rudie, another activist, hung himself five years ago
from the sign of a San Francisco Shell station to highlight
the plight of a Nigerian dissident.
These protesters and other members of the Berkeley-based
Ruckus Society kicked off their fourth annual Democracy
Action Camp Thursday, training more than 150 participants
to repel off buildings, climb a 60-foot tower and stage a
sit-in in a tree.
Participants hope to use their newly acquired "direct action"
skills to protest at the Democratic National Convention,
which will be held Aug. 14-17 in Los Angeles.
Activists say members of different left-wing movements can
use the camp and the upcoming convention to unite and,
hopefully, prevent the "hostile corporate takeover of
Ruckus program director Han Shan accuses both the Democrats
and Republicans of subverting their ideals to the allure of
soft money and corporate greed.
"These aren't conventions -- they're coronations," he says.
"It's already known that Bush will be elected for the
Republicans and Gore for the Democrats. It's a tiny group of
rich elites in business who are deciding how things are run."
In the hills above Los Angeles, the camp participants will
spend the next week honing their skills for the upcoming
convention protests, when hundreds of thousands of progressive
protesters are expected to flood the city.
Shan says liberal activists have become increasingly
disenchanted with the Democratic Party's wholesale embrace
of typical Republican issues, including free trade and the
At the November meeting of the World Trade Organization in
Seattle, this disaffection exploded into conflict, as
thousands of protesters took to the streets to rail against
the international governing body.
"The grandest tactic we used in Seattle was numbers," Shan
says. "(The World Trade Organization) doesn't represent 99
percent of the human population and 100 percent of the Earth."
Ruckus members, who heavily participated in the Seattle
protests, say they hope to shine the spotlight not on the
Democratic convention, but the drama in the street outside.
Rudie says his decision to hang from a gas station sign
created a strong visual image and focused attention on Shell
Oil's actions overseas.
"In a case like this, the most important thing was to get
people to see what was about to happen," he says. "We drew a
line in the sand and said, 'Enough is enough.' We can't take
any more. We're making a stand."
Flynn-Jambeck, who teaches camp participants how to climb
scaffolding, says the group's direct action tactics are
designed precisely to attract media coverage. She says
activists know they can only temporarily put a halt to events
but their dramatic stunts often thrust the problem into the
"You only stop something for a little while, but it makes
people bear witness to what's going on," she says. "When you
put your body on the line, people start paying attention."
Flynn-Jambeck says she chose to suspend herself from a bridge
in 1997 to stop fishermen from "strip mining the ocean" and
to push for less destructive fishing methods.
Although she was arrested in the action, Flynn-Jambeck was
acquitted after an eight-day trial. Berkeley activists formed
the Ruckus Society in 1995, after federal legislation
increased the number of circumstances under which timber
companies can log on public lands.
"Suddenly, we saw the need for a lot more activists on a lot
more fronts to prevent the wholesale destruction of our forest,"
Shan says. "We needed to give someone the tools to create a
ruckus. We have to enlist a whole generation of young people
if we're going to win this battle."
Although the Ruckus Society started as an environmental group,
it soon blossomed into an umbrella organization for left-wing
Seeds says her own long history of protest demonstrates that
nonviolent tactics can cause genuine change. A Ruckus
volunteer trainer, Seeds spends her summers in the Idaho
forests blockading half-finished roads.
In one memorable instance, she and other protesters barricaded
a road by using "lock boxes" to fasten their arms and legs
together. Environmentalists had already sued to prevent
construction, Seeds says, but the legal challenge had dragged
out unresolved for years.
While preventing construction, the activists also set up a
table with coffee and doughnuts to serve to workers who were
blocked from building the road. During that protest, a local
man shot at the demonstrators, but the bullet whizzed by
harmlessly over their heads.
Seeds says the event was memorable not for the gunshot but
because the protesters followed their training and remained
calm under fire.
"All the things we were trained to do -- all the things we
believed we could do -- worked," she says. "We saw ourselves
put to the test and we passed that test. We knew what to do
and it went well."
In Los Angeles, Seeds says she will serve as a liaison between
demonstrators and law enforcement.
"If it makes sense to risk (arrest), you risk," she says. "Use
all the tools in the toolbox, but use the ones that will get us
closer to the revolutions we want."
The Website of Lord Weÿrdgliffe:
The Dan Clore Necronomicon Page:
"Tho-ag in Zhi-gyu slept seven Khorlo. Zodmanas
zhiba. All Nyug bosom. Konch-hog not; Thyan-Kam
not; Lha-Chohan not; Tenbrel Chugnyi not;
Dharmakaya ceased; Tgenchang not become; Barnang
and Ssa in Ngovonyidj; alone Tho-og Yinsin in
night of Sun-chan and Yong-grub (Parinishpanna),
-- The Book of Dzyan.