Howard Dean Drops Out of Race, Media to Blame?

Howard Dean announced that he is dropping out of the race for the Democratic Party nomination, ending a campaign that took him from front-runner and media star to media laughing stock. Howard Dean was never a progressive or left candidate, despite the media’s constant labeling him as such. Nevertheless, it is interesting how the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) and much of the corporate media viewed Howard Dean as a threat to their power. The DLC issued harsh criticisms after Dean called them “the Republican Wing of the Democratic Party” and the media’s coverage of Dean was more critical than other candidates–playing his post-Iowa Caucus speech (at least the part where he screamed) 633 times in the 4 days after the Iowa Caucus, according to a study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs.

There is a good article on Alternet titled The Assasination of Howard Dean that argues Dean was considered a threat to the DLC, media, and big business and that was the reason for his failure. An older article, The Media vs. Howard Dean, looks at the media’s role in bringing down Dean’s campaign.

Miami Police Release Report on Handling of FTAA Protests

The Miami Police Department has released a report on their handling of the protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas in November of 2003. While much has been said about “the Miami Model” and the government-corporate alliance to silence dissent, the MPD’s report provides an interesting look at how the police operated internally.

Of course, the MPD report must be placed in the proper context. In the name of “protecting the city” from “anarchists,” the MPD denied thousands of people their constitutional rights through a series of illegal stops and searches, illegal arrests, and a surprising level of militarization of the police force. In the months since the protests, judges have said that they witnessed the police commit felonies, many charges have been dismissed when there was no evidence presented to back them up, and members of the Civilian Investigative Panel have resigned. (an update on developments over the past two months)

By all indications, activists are learning from the FTAA protests and continuing to challenge corporate globalization. Protests against the G8, meeting in June of 2004, will consist of local and regional actions linking the global neoliberal agenda to local communities. There have been discussions about creating a continental anti-capitalist network in order to build a stronger movement and expanding resistance beyond protests.

Past Media Mouse Coverage of the FTAA:

Bush Administration Still Lying about WMD

After lying in his 2004 State of the Union address by stating that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, President Bush’s administration is continuing to claim that Iraq has WMD. In a recent interview with NPR, vice president Dick Cheney said that Iraq had mobile biological weapons labs and that the United States found two such trailers, a claim that has been discredited by the CIA and head inspector David Kay. In the same interview, Cheney also claimed there were connections between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda, a claim that has been repeatedly discredited. Meanwhile, the head of the inspections teams, David Kay, has resigned stating that Iraq never had stockpiles of WMD. Secretary of State Collin Powell has also suggested that Iraq may not have had any WMD.

Report from Morning Direct Action Against the FTAA in Miami

This is an eyewitness report of the events by a Media Mouse correspondent on the scene.

Photo of Protestors at the Fence

MIAMI–After months of planning, activists confronted the ministerial meeting of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in downtown Miami on Thursday, November 20th.

The day began with an early 7:00am unpermitted gathering at Government Center in downtown Miami. A call had been put out for affinity groups to either engage in autonomous direct actions against capitalism and the FTAA throughout the city or to participate in a march on the security perimeter around the fence. The intended goal of the 7:00am march, agreed upon by representatives of numerous affinity groups, was to take down the fence surrounding the summit in order to disrupt the meeting, or if that was not feasible, to blockade all entrances to the fence in order to prevent delegates from leaving the meeting.

It was clear from 7:00am that the police were the ones who controlled the streets of Miami. A black bloc of several hundred people was prevented from joining the gathering at Government Center and never made it to the security perimeter. Moreover, a truck containing puppets and props for the march was stopped by the police and detained long enough that it delayed the start of the march. While heading towards the fence, the crowd estimated at 500 to 1,000 was clearly ill prepared for the massive police presence. The group was corralled numerous times and its route was entirely directed by the police. In addition to police control of the march route, the police had numerous undercover officers in march who were able to act as snatch squads and arrest targeted individuals due to the disorganization of the march.

After reaching the intersection of E Flagler and SE 1st, protestors headed south towards the fence where they were stopped by a line of riot cops. An impromptu street party was held with beats from a drum corps and vibrant chants from participants. The atmosphere was energetic, although the group was unable to attempt anything more than holding their space, but even that proved impossible. The police cleared the intersection after ten minutes, using batons and tight formations to push the group of protestors back to Flagler. Over the next twenty minutes, the police continued to push the protestors off of Flagler, eventually using pepper spray and hitting people with gloves in order to subdue what little resistance there was to the police advance.

People were eventually pushed onto Biscayne Blvd, bringing them right up to a heavily guarded section of the security fence, with the Intercontinental Hotel (the site of the FTAA meetings) in full view. While people danced with puppets and drummed, the police announced that it was an illegal assembly and that people needed to clear the area. The order was largely ignored and the dance party continued.

It was at this point that the only attack on the fence occurred, with two grappling hooks attached to rope thrown at the fence. A group of protestors was able to pull twice before the police responded with rubber bullets, concussion grenades, and tear gas. After the police reaction, much of the crowd retreated from the fence and attempted to decide what to do next. After about twenty minutes, the police once again pushed forward, moving the crowd about 200 yards away from the fence and bringing them up to the point where the permitted labor rally was going to begin at noon.

There were rumors going throughout the crowd that people were going to be offered the option of going into the labor rally or being subject to arrest if they did not clear the area. While the mass arrest never materialized, there were targeted arrests by the undercover officers who had infiltrated the march. While most people were sitting around and attempting to decide with their groups what to do next, a group of undercover officers ran up and used tasers on a man who they dragged behind a police line. The same group of undercover officers, with “Stop the FTAA” written on their backpacks in white-out, later rejoined the protestors waiting outside of the labor rally.

People who had participated in the direct action march were denied entry to the labor march after the police used tasers on four participants of the earlier march, arresting them and then taking control of who was allowed into the rally (AFL-CIO marshals were previously the ones searching bags). Consequently, many earlier direct action participants were unable to enter the rally as they feared arrest from the police and instead chose to wait to meld into the AFL-CIO march or simply rest after the earlier events.

After the AFL-CIO’s permitted march, which took an abbreviated route after the police denied them access to their negotiated route, there was another confrontation with the police, resulting in a series of skirmishes and arrests.