Press reports out of Mexico indicate the gunmen suspected of murdering New York journalist Brad Will are missing and not in police custody. We speak with independent journalist John Gibler in Oaxaca. [includes rush transcript]
Press reports out of Mexico indicate the gunmen suspected of murdering New York journalist Brad Will are missing and not in police custody. Will died on Friday after being shot by paramilitaries in Oaxaca. The 36-year-old Indymedia journalist had his videocamera in his hand. Photos taken at the time of the shooting show the armed men who carried out the attack. They have been identified as local police officers and government officials. Initially a local mayor said five men had been detained. But the Mexican papers Milenio and Noticias de Oaxaca are now reporting that no arrests have been made.
John Gibler joins us on the phone from Oaxaca. He is an independent journalist and a human rights fellow with Global Exchange.
- John Gibler. Independent journalist based in Mexico and a Human Rights Fellow with Global Exchange.
Brad Will’s body is on route to his family in Wisconsin. There will be a memorial for in New York City at St. Mark’s Church, between 1:00pm and 5:00 pm on November 11th.
AMY GOODMAN: John Gibler is on the line with us from Oaxaca, an independent journalist and Human Rights Fellow with Global Exchange. Welcome to Democracy Now!, John.
JOHN GIBLER: Thank you. Good morning.
AMY GOODMAN: What is the latest?
JOHN GIBLER: The latest news on the killers is indeed that they are missing. As a result of a Milenio investigation, we were unable to locate their whereabouts anywhere in the city of Oaxaca. I went yesterday to the scene of the shootings and interviewed several people there. They said that they were still in town and were actually at a house just four blocks away from where the shootings occurred, but they wouldn’t take me there, but for very obvious reasons, fear for their safety. I interviewed several people on the scene who were witness to the attacks and went against what the local chair of the city council had said, that the gunmen acted on their own and in self-defense. The governor of the state, Ulises Ruiz, has said that the men had been arrested, but that has now been proven to be false.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, what are the local mayors saying? It was mayors who had announced that they had been arrested.
JOHN GIBLER: Exactly. Manuel Feria, who’s the chair of the city council in Santa Lucia, where the shootings occurred, he says that the APPO had initiated the attacks, the members of the Oaxaca People’s Assembly shooting at these police officers and trying to violently break into a property where they were located, which has been — people I have interviewed on the scene, everyone, everyone has gone against that, saying that the gunmen had come through, tried to break through a barricade and gotten out of a pickup truck and opened fire, first at the barricade, and that the gunfire had then spread to several locations in surrounding blocks. It’s also important to remember that there were several shootouts simultaneously that day in different parts of the city.
AMY GOODMAN: John Gibler, this situation right now in Oaxaca, Brad Will, the New York Indymedia journalist, is not the only person who died this weekend. In fact, on Friday night, weren’t there three others, Mexicans, who died? And then, when the federal police moved in in force on Sunday, also there were casualties.
JOHN GIBLER: Absolutely. And one of the most, I think, kind of powerful, symbolically powerful actions of the Oaxaca People’s Assembly and their movement has been to take up the traditional Day of the Dead ceremonies here in Mexico and use them as a form of protest. They called two days ago for people to build Day of the Dead altars in honor of the people who have been killed throughout the five months of conflict in different barricades across the city, reinforcing the symbolic power of their barricades and the maintenance of the barricades, the way of defying the federal police intervention, and saying that the protesters still have control of the city. Even though they can’t build their traditional sand sculptures in the zocalos they’ve done every year for decades, if not longer, they have been building the altars throughout the city. And it’s definitely important to mention that one of the most frequently honored people at these altars across Oaxaca City, and especially in Santa Lucia, is Brad Will.
AMY GOODMAN: And what do you expect is going to take place right now, now that the president of Mexico has moved in the federal police?
JOHN GIBLER: They’re really at a deadlock, because the protesters are not backing down, but to many people’s surprise, neither are they confronting the police. They are maintaining a strategy of nonviolence. They have called people to lift barricades without resistance when the police came in or come in. Such was the case yesterday with two police incursions against barricades. But they’re not going away. They’re holding marches daily, organizing barricades and taking, for example, the traditional ceremonies of Day of the Dead and incorporating them into their protest, which puts the federal government in an incredibly binding position to either crack down with violence against the protesters or to force the exit or the ouster of Ulises Ruiz.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much, John Gibler, for joining us, speaking to us from Oaxaca, an independent journalist there. Brad’s body is on its way to his family in Wisconsin. There will be a memorial service for Brad in New York City at St. Mark’s Church between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. on November 11th.