The ongoing struggle in Oaxaca percolated into local New York City news as grainy video footage taken by slain alterno-journalist Bradley Will has emerged as evidence in ongoing litigation over arrests at the 2004 Republican National Convention protests. On Oct. 1, the Wall Street Journal reports, US Judge Richard Sullivan in Manhattan ruled hundreds of arrests by the NY Police Department during the protests were illegal, potentially opening the city to costly civil suits. Reporter Colin Moynihan in the New York Times Oct. 8 informs us that Will’s footage of the arrests was cited by the judge, and could figure in future suits. He also notes new developments in Will’s slaying during the 2006 popular uprising in Oaxaca:
Bradley Will…was an activist who had lived on the Lower East Side and was beginning a foray into documentary-style journalism. After the convention, he traveled to Latin America, equipped with a video camera and an interest in political movements there.
Then, in 2006, he was fatally shot in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, where striking teachers skirmished with men loyal to the governor, Ulises Ruiz. A video that Mr. Will, 36, was recording until he was felled showed men firing rifles and pistols at demonstrators on a narrow street.
Now, as his video from the convention is being used to help adjudicate events that took place eight years ago in New York, friends and relatives continue to press for answers to what happened six years ago in Oaxaca.
Officials connected to Mr. Ruiz conducted the first inquiries into Mr. Will’s killing. They did not pursue prosecutions of the armed men shown on his tape. But in 2008, they arrested a man allied with the protesters and held him for 18 months even though Mr. Will’s friends and family were convinced that he had nothing to do with the killing.
In 2010, a new governor, Gabino Cué, took office and met with Mr. Will’s mother, Kathy Will, and Senator Patrick J. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, who had taken an interest in the case.
In May, authorities in Oaxaca arrested another man, Lenin Osorio Ortega. Ms. Will said last week that some people had said that Mr. Osorio Ortega had acknowledged involvement in the shooting. His brother, she said, appeared to own a house that protesters had tried to break into on the day Mr. Will was killed, believing snipers were inside.
Mr. Leahy, who is on a panel that oversees the budget for the State Department and foreign aid, said last week that he had more confidence in how Governor Cué and his administration were handling the investigation.
“We have tried to make it clear to all concerned that Congress has not forgotten Brad Will,” he said in a statement, adding: “The previous Oaxaca administration seemed more interested in fabricating facts to fit their version of what happened than in uncovering the truth.”
Days after Mr. Osorio Ortega’s arrest, Mr. Will’s video was cited during oral arguments in Federal District Court in Manhattan, with lawyers for plaintiffs saying it showed that many of them had been trapped and swept up in a mass arrest. Last week, Judge Richard J. Sullivan wrote a decision that opened the way for the dispute over the East 16th Street arrests to be put before a jury, along with Mr. Will’s 2004 video.
His 2006 video could be presented as evidence if Mr. Osorio Ortega goes to trial. Ms. Will said she was waiting for more information before deciding whether he was the man who shot her son.
“Is he the guilty person or not?” she said. “We are not sure.”
As we noted when Gabino Cué took office in late 2010, he is the state’s first governor in generations from a party other than the long-entrenched machine of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which maintained hegemony in Oaxaca long after it had lost power at the national level, and in most other states. But it is uncertain how much has changed. A Sept. 27 account on IndyBay reports on a “National Convention against the Imposition” held in Oaxaca to oppose the PRI’s return to power at the national level, with the Dec. 1 inauguration of Enrique Peña Nieto following elections decried as fraudulent. But among those in attendance were activists from the Oaxaca village of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, denouncing the arrest of 10 comrades for protesting what they called illegitimate elections by the “parties involved in the Gabino Cué alliance, who aim to divvy up the spoils in 570 municipalities” in the Sierra Mazateca.