First Tear Gas, Now Bullets

Activists Weigh the Cost of Confrontation

During the FTAA protests in Quebec, there were over 80 rallies, marches, and direct actions across North America, including nonviolent blockades at the U.S.-Canadian border in northern Washington and Buffalo, New York. Activists also marched from San Ysidro to Tijuana in an effort to draw parallels between the job losses in the U.S. and the environmental and social squalor brought by the spread of maquiladoras in Mexico. While these demonstrations don't have the international splash of large summit protests, they put the injustices of globalization on people's doorsteps.

The protests surrounding the WTO's November meeting may present the first real test of whether the fervor of mass actions can be achieved on a local scale. Already, activists in New York are scheming to blockade the New York Stock Exchange as part of a global day of teach-ins and actions against corporations and financial institutions.

"I think Qatar will start to spell a different way of doing things," says Tony Clark of the Polaris Institute, a progressive think tank in Canada. "There's no opportunity for a mass demonstration. So that will compel people to decentralize and regionalize their actions. And I think that's better for the movement in the long run. Unless we do develop a broader, more decentralized movement, we won't be able to build the momentum to turn things like the FTAA and the WTO around."

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