The Stranger, contd.

After traveling back to Haiti in August to produce this film, I began an apprenticeship at The Stranger last month.

Today my news feature on striking berry pickers in Burlington, Washington is out, plus the short video at right: Sakuma Brothers Berry Boycott – Workers at a Farm Outside Seattle Demand Better Conditions and Wages

Update: Sakuma Brothers Farms Responds to My Reporting in The Stranger | Slog

A few other highlights from Slog, including past reporting on the farmworker strike:

Reporting for The Stranger in Seattle

Partway through my internship at Seattle’s only newspaper, here’s a sample of what I’ve written so far:

I’m having a shit ton of fun. I’ve made editor Paul Constant’s Best of Slog round-up the past three weeks in a row.

Only downside is someone stole my camera. Kind readers donated $280 to help me purchase a new one. If you’d like to chip in, here’s a PayPal link! ;-)

Video: Seattle’s hidden history of Filipino struggle

Joaquin Uy explains how Filipino activists were gunned down at this Seattle street corner in 1981. (Photo by Ansel Herz)

On Saturday, the Filipino activist group AnakBayan Seattle will celebrate its tenth anniversary as the first overseas chapter of the democratic youth organization, which is based in the Philippines.

But the history of Filipinos fighting for dignity and respect in Seattle reaches back further to over a century ago. This history isn’t taught in schools, and there are few, if any, public monuments to its impact.

On a rainy November afternoon, Joaquin Uy, one of the founding members of AnakBayan Seattle, showed how the struggles of Filipino writers, poets, workers, and community organizers are woven into this city’s brick and concrete. The past came alive as Uy guided us on a historical tour from the International District, to a dilapidated downtown street corner, to the steps of King County Courthouse, and finally to a hilltop Queen Anne cemetery after dark. To learn this history, watch this video of the tour below.

Watch the video and read more at the Seattle Globalist »

In which I am pepper sprayed in the face by police at #OccupySeattle

Just a few comments: I don’t think it’s all that productive to curse at the cops. I tried to be an observer – I wasn’t saying anything or holding a sign, and I complied with all police orders. Some protesters did not immediately clear the intersection once the order to disperse was given. But when the police advanced in formation with pepper spray, protesters did peacefully clear the intersection.

For all their hyperbole, the guys yelling at the cops were accurate in pointing out that people were, at that point, standing on the sidewalk. When one protester seemed to puff his chest out, face-to-face with a cop, they grabbed him behind their police line and seemed to pile on top of him. As I tried to get it on camera, I was hit with a blast of pepper spray directly to the face. I saw it as it reached my eyes.

The protesters were well organized in helping me wash my eyes out (I feel they should have been better organized in communicating the objective of occupying the intersection to the public, but if anyone forgets what this is all about, see here). I wandered in a daze over to the “triage” area, where my eyes were doused a few more times, providing fleeting relief from the pain. But I couldn’t see much of anything and my whole upper body felt like it was on fire for a good 40 minutes, with a recurrence earlier this evening. Not my best look.

I hate to imagine the suffering that this 84-year-old woman went through after being sprayed. SPD’s use of pepper spray tonight was reckless and unnecessary and it surely has the effect, whether intentionally or not, of intimidating people from joining or even being near the Occupy movement.

Seattle, I’ve missed you.

Update 11/17: A couple things to add here. The NYT Lede blog posted this video in a round-up of Occupy news with the following observation. I think they’re right.

The police spokesman’s account said: “At one point a 17-year-old female suspect swung a stick at an officer but failed to strike him. As officers moved in to arrest the female suspect the officers were hindered in their efforts. Officers deployed pepper spray to move subjects away from them so they could affect the arrest of the female suspect.”

It seems possible that the protester seized by police officers and hurled to the ground in Mr. Herz’s video might have been a young woman wearing a hooded sweatshirt, rather than a man. If that is the arrest described in the police statement, the footage does not support the written account, since there was no sign of anyone swinging a stick, and the initial volley of pepper spray was fired well before the police moved to take that person into custody. Continue Reading…

Video: Peasants March Against Monsanto Hybrid Seeds in Haiti

The demonstration took place on Friday (struggled to find a decent Internet connection to get the video online until today). A friend of mine got sick and we had to leave Hinche (in Haiti’s Central Plateau) for Port-au-Prince just before they were to burn the seeds in symbolic protest.

Mark Hare, an agronomist from Ohio who’s worked with Mouveman Peyizan Papay for years, explained how Haitian farmers will be roped into a dependence on hybrid Monsanto seeds. Monsanto released an indignant statement responding to the protest the day it took place, insisting the donated seeds won’t hurt Haitian farmers in any way. Further reading here and here.

I didn’t get into it much in the video, but most of the marchers I spoke with also slammed Haitian President Rene Preval for “doing nothing” in response to the earthquake and accepting the seed donation. Wearing straw hats stamped with “Down with Preval” and “Down with Monsanto,” the peasants (young kids, old women, wiry farmers alike) marched from the MPP’s headquarters in Papay for nearly three hours past mango trees and fields to the larger town of Hinche. As they began rallying in the town’s public plaza, I had to go.

I’ll continue following this issue closely, but in the meantime, check out Al Jazeera English’s report looking at the controversy over the seeds.

Video: Rains in Haiti Expected to Double this Month. “Don’t Forget Us Because We’re Suffering.”

This is a short video looking at IDP camps in Cite Soleil, Grand Goave, and Chanmas where people still have almost nonexistent shelter. The UN shelter cluster claims they’ve provided shelter materials to 75% of Haiti’s 1.3 million displaced people. Most people I talk to believe that’s an overestimate.

The Cite Soleil camp featured in the video, in particular, I know has received nothing in months. I’ve gone back several times. Last time kids were digging mini-trenches with sticks and rocks to divert the rain. It’s down the street from the Doctors Without Borders clinic.

Red Cross spokesperson Alex Wynter has said the rains are expected to double from March to April and are likely to include continuous downpours for days on end. We haven’t had any of those yet. Last night it rained fairly heavily, but only for about twenty minutes.

Thanks to the New Media Advocacy Project for their video documentation of rained-out camps in March. And to Jerry. Continue Reading…

Video: Mistrusting of Their Government and UN, Haitians Place Their Hopes In US Troops, Aristide

Update: Also big thanks to Valparaiso for adding Japanese captions to the YouTube video! Check out his Caracas Cafe blog for continuing independent coverage of Venezuela, Honduras, and Haiti (in Japanese).

Finally sorted out some video editing problems last night. Here’s a dispatch I completed a few days ago, focusing on an aid distribution near Cite Soleil last week. Continue Reading…

Video: Immediate Aftermath of Earthquake in Jacquet, Port-Au-Prince, Haiti

I really wish I could have edited and uploaded this footage sooner.  Here it is.  The scenes are graphic, shot as soon I left my house in Jacquet, in the 2-30 minutes after the tremors. Much more video to come.

My on-the-ground report for Inter-Press Service is up: read hereNarco News too.  I also spoke with Pacifica’s Flashpoints Radio and again with the BBC and PBS Newshour.  Also Russia Today.  (Narration in video is unclear at one point – the man in the truck had not died yet.  Don’t know if he lived.)

Update: (from Galen Herz, in Austin, TX) Ansel was interviewed again by PBS’s NewsHour about possible violence in Port-au-Prince and other relevant topics.

Text of latest report is below.  It was difficult for me get my mind in a clear state to write it. Continue Reading…