Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2003 14:46:56 -0800 (PST)          
Subject: Open Letter to Anti-War Community (fwd)  

Please forward as appropriate.  Please reply to the address in the letter,, not to the people who forward this.

Rise up, Seattle!

An Open Letter to the local anti-war community, from the 520 Blockade team

  In the current climate of war and the growing threat of a police state,
activists must work as effectively as possible for peace and justice. Our
action, blockading the 520 Bridge during the morning commute Tuesday
February 18, was intended as a wake-up call beyond the normal activist
community - we are asking all citizens in our region to take reponsibility
to resist and stop the planned U.S. war on Iraq.

  With privilege comes responsibility, and as privileged citizens of the
United States we have the obligation to do everything in our power to stop
this war. By stopping the regular flow of traffic, we broke the public's
daily routine and asked everyone to resist apathy and reflect on the
gravity of this war.

  Our action was also intended as a wake-up call to activists - when one
tool doesn't work, we must try another. George Bush, responding to the
largest anti-war demonstration in history on February 15th, said
"Democracy is a beautiful thing," but stated that he does not care how
many people march - he is going ahead with war. When politicians ignore
our marches, we need to develop more disruptive techniques.

  At times, the only way to change politicians' minds is to raise the
social and political costs of their policies. We have many tools to do
that: letter writing, vigils, marches both large and small, and yes,
direct action.

  Since the WTO protests of 1999, the idea of direct action has seemed
almost taboo in some local activist communities. The tripod blockade of
State Route 520 is meant to demonstrate that actions can be direct,
effective, and non-violent. Actions can come off without police riots and
teargas attacks.

  Marches, vigils and yard signs all play a major role in resisting war,
and despite Bush's claim to the contrary he is obviously paying attention
to the marches. But marching is not enough. Our action was intended to
inspire others who are already active in resistance to this war, to
escalate tactics.

  We are not saying that our tactic is the only useful kind of action
people can take. In fact, different tactics strentgthen each other - for
example, the 520 blockade was much stronger because it came on the heels
of the mass march, and tactics like freeway blockades make marches seem
less extreme and safer for more people to participate in. People and
communities have different levels of privilege and come from a variety of
activist traditions, and we must honor these differences to strengthen and
unite our movement.

  We need to utilize a broad spectrum of tactics, and stay united as a
movement, always changing and always escalating to be effective. Whatever
background you come from, we are asking you to consider what the fullest
extent of action might be that you can take, given the extreme urgency of
the present situation. Perhaps you might decide that the time is right for
you, and the peace community you work in, to take your actions to a new
level of risk and commitment.

  Seattle is full of opportunities for creative direct action. Tripods can
go up anywhere. Good locations for banners abound. Military bases and arms
transshipment points dot the region. The WTO shutdown showed the power of
people locking themselves together. Pagans can dance on hilltops,
Christians can pray in front of the Federal Building, grandmothers and
children can fly kites with peace symbols on them. The only limit to
direct action is your creative imagination.

  Direct action allows a small group to have a large impact. As Margaret
Mead said: "Never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can
change the world; in fact, it is the only thing that ever has..." Now go
out and do it.

For ideas and advice on creative direct action, try the N30 website:, the Ruckus Society website:, or get a copy of the Earth First! Direct Action
Manual (the bible of direct action) from the Earth First! Journal,


False divisions

  Since we wrote this open letter, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
published an article attempting to sensationalize and highlight potential
divisions in our anti-war movement. We reject the premise of the article,
and hope it is obvious that the newspaper was self-serving and inaccurate
in its effort to find and stoke division.  Most immediately, the claim
that one of us was quoted as dismissing the Labor Movement is false - the
true quote referred specifically to Direct Action rather than the Labor
March as having shut down the WTO meeting.  We recognize the key roles
played by Labor on N30 and the week that followed, and the importance of
the overwhelming turnout of Labor at the protest. The WTO victory does not
belong to any one element, but resulted from a coalition of many different
groups using many different tactics.  Ultimately the key to the victory
was the nations of Africa, Asia and the Americas that stood up to the
economic powers and refused to go along. At the same time, we emphasize
with pride the role of Direct Action among the N30 mix, including the role
of the blockade in shutting down and disrupting the meeting on the first
day.  The P-I refuses to run a correction of this misquote.

Tactical questions

  Despite the Post-Intelligencer attempt to promote division, we agree
there are important tactical questions facing our movement.  This is one
reason we did what we did on the freeway -- to pose these tactical
questions in a concrete way that could not be ignored.  We have
participated in frank and productive discussions on e-mail lists and in
person that have been sparked by the 520 action, and we are happy to see
these discussions take place and participate in them.  Of course these
discussions will only really be productive if they lead to action - people
need to take their ideas about tactics, and act on them, so that we can
communicate and learn what we need to do to stop the war machine and
liberate ourselves.  If you have criticisms about our choice of tactics in
this action, the best way to communicate is to go do it better - show us
how to do it right by doing it right.

Talk to us

  Not that we are opposed to talking about things.  We want to hear from
you, and we want to talk with you.  If you want to let us know what
tactics you think need to be in the mix for our movement, or if you want
one of us to meet with your group to talk about tactics and stopping the
war, we have set up an e-mail account at - send us a
message and we will respond.  Each of us has different ideas about
tactics, and no one of us can speak for the 520 blockaders as a group, but
we all want to push discussion of tactics throughout the local anti-war
community.  We have to keep the movement growing, stop this war and stop
this war machine before it destroys millions more, and perhaps all of us.


The 520 Blockade team