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The World Media Descends on Anti-WEF Groups

Tuesday morning a coaliton of anti-WEF groups based in New York implored an overflowing room of journalists to be fair and informed in their reporting.

by DNP 2:39pm Tue Jan 29 '02 (Modified on 3:20pm Wed Jan 30 '02)

When a group of WEF opponents held a press conference Tuesday in New York, the line of reporters trailed out of the room and onto the street.

The battalion of cameras and microphones from the largest media companies gathered in the growing buzz over what will go down during protests.

They were there to listen to a panel of nine speakers from groups like Friends of the Earth and Direct Action Network who explained why their groups opposed the WEF.

“You’ve called us anti-globalization protesters,” Beka Economopoulos, the conference’s organizer, told the media, speaking into a pile of microphones every bit as colorful and varied as the coalition that had come to speak. “But we are not against globalization. We are for global justice.”

The speakers went through one by one, explaining how the WEF undermines democracy and imploring the media that had packed into the room like sardines to report on the substance of the issue, rather than whether the protests will turn violent.

But, the media’s questions kept leading back to the possibility of clashes with the police.

“Is this the appropriate place for protest right now?” one reporter asked, alluding to the city that is still grieving from the terrorist attacks of September.

“It’s an insult to New Yorkers to think that they can’t protest. This is a city that tolerates dissent,” Eric Laursen retorted. “We live in this city. We know what is appropriate.”

Questions kept returning to the issue of security, which is hardly surprising given the amount of coverage of how the police are preparing for the protests. At one point Economopoulos was driven to tell the gathered media that they shouldn’t ask security questions, because that was not the point of the conference.

Still, many reporters persisted.

“They are trying to create the climate of escalation and fear and we are trying to do exactly the opposite,” David Graeber, one of the founders of the Anti-Capitalist Convergence said. “We have non-violence trainers working with people who are going to be at the march.”

Graeber and others stressed that their tactics where closer to performance art than they were to violent protest.

“We’re appealing to the media and the police. Given the spirit of New York, this is a time when we should respect each other. The outsiders coming in and making trouble are the World Economic Forum,” Graeber said, not the protesters.

“We’re just trying to put on a really great show and invite everybody to join us.”


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