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Brad Will’s family “not buying” official line on his execution

21 March 2007

When U.S. videojournalist Brad Will was killed in Oaxaca the “spin” put out by the Oaxacan prosecutor’s office was believed by no one.  For one thing, there were photos and reliable witnesses — rather inconvenient for those who wanted to make the whole APPO / Teachers movement — and its supporters as — “anarchist” or suggesting it was much ado about nothing and was needlessly worrying the tourists (who were never in any danger throughout the whole ordeal). 

 

Even those opposed to the APPO admitted it was the police.  At the time, Diego Enrique Orsino, in the English-language Narco News, managed to quote a local Oaxacan mayor DEFENDING the killers in Oaxaca as ” police acting in legitimate defense against the threat of an occupation of City Hall”…which at the time confirmed my belief that violence in Oaxaca had been orchestrated by the State, not by the APPO.

The “official government explanation”… that Will was killed by APPO supporters set off bullshit detectors around the world — The  including every reliable foreign observer in Oaxaca .  

Nobody bought it then, and nobody buys it now.   Kelly Arthur Garrett wrote in Monday’s Mexico City Herald:

.. In the city of Oaxaca, the (Will) family plans to meet with Lizbeth Caña, the controversial state prosecutor who has refused to pursue photographic evidence implicating municipal employees of Santa Lucía del Camino, the pueblo where Brad Will was shot.

Instead, Caña has suggested that members of the Oaxaca People´s Assembly (APPO) killed Will at close range.

The Will family isn´t buying that theory.

“It´s pretty obvious that they (Oaxaca state officials) are covering up for their own paramilitaries, who were instructed by somebody at some level to disrupt the protests,” (Brad Will’s father) Hardy Will says. “Men were going around without uniforms shooting and killing protesters.”

(Brad Will’s mother,) Kathy Will said Monday that the family hadn´t foreseen the need for a trip to the site of their son´s death. “We just assumed there would be a complete investigation,” she said. “The evidence that he was shot by paramilitaries while he was filming was so clear-cut that it was a prosecutor´s dream.”

Instead, the investigation stopped dead in its tracks, and the Will family found itself hiring a Mexican lawyer, contacting international human rights groups, and setting up a web site (http://www.bradwill.org/).

One thing we overlook is that Brad Will was not the only journalist shot that day.  Milenio reporter Oswaldo Ramírez — who was the first to report that the police had done the shooting — was also wounded. 

My rough translation is from Diego Orsono’s interview of Kathy and Hardy Will, published in Monday’s Milenio.  The original seemed to be a tape transcript, and I may be translating back into English something that was originally translated from English into Spanish, so there may be some mistakes.

“Don’t get upset… I need to do this, and still cry several times a day. It’s part of the routine,” said Kathy Will.Mrs. Will, a teacher, and her husband, Hardy, a Chicago manufacturer, arrived in the Federal District Monday. Both were sometimes overcome with emotion when discussing the murder of their son, Indymedia cameraman, Brad Will who was shot while filming in Oaxaca on 29 October of last year.


“I knew Brad was in a conflict zone. He told me, “Mom, I’m being careful. But I knew it was dangerous, and I tried to put it out of my mind, and to bury it,” Kathy recalled .

The Will family today (Monday) begins a series of meetings with authorities, civil organzations and mass media within the country to demand a serious investigation into their son’s murder on 29 October, two days before he was scheduled to return to the United States. They have no doubt he was killed by, as they say, “paramilitaries.”


What were your feelings when you received the report from procuradora Lizbeth Caña about Brad’s death?

 

“Fury, fury, fury! Our first challenge had been to get Brad’s body back home. And to get the other children home. We scheduled the funeral service and – on week later – on 6 November, we wer told that two of the paramilitaries were already in jail. We thought justice was going to be done, but a week later we say Lizbeth Caña’s statements that it was the APPO. That was shocking and frightening. It was a wake-up call for us to get wise to how things were being done in this part of Mexico.”

Hardy added: “It seemed like a simple case, but they kept coming up with these other theories. First, someone shot him [Brad] while he was being taken to the hopital; then he was shot by someone a meter to his side. That is absurd, completely absurd! This infuriated us, but also showed us that things aren’t so simple in Oaxaca.

Kathy: “It’s childish to try to make us think that a Good Samaritan who took him to the hospital shot him. That’s absurd! By the time that story came out, everyone had seen Brad’s video, and there were protests everywhere. Embassies and around the world there was outrage that Brad had been killed when he was recording, and his only weapon was a camera. There was international outrage that this happened in broad daylight. Everyone saw the photos, and had the names and knew what happened.


***

Brad’s father, Hardy, arrived in Mexico armed with photos of the paramilitaries assumed to be PRI members, believed to have murdered his son. He also brings a graphic reconstruction based on suppositions about the incident, notes from journalists and his son’s personal notes. Hardy explained that Brad died of a 9 millimeter bullet wound, and was hit while filming at the the Santa Lucía del Camino barricade on 29 October. In the videos, regidor Santiago Zárate is clearly visible with a gun in his right hand.

“This is the weapon that shoot the bullet that killed Brad. I know it,” he swears. For months Hardy has reviewed every detail of the evidence in his son’s death. Tomorrow, he meets with the PGR (Federal Prosecutor) and Wednesday with the State of Oaxaca prosecutor among others.

 

***

Kathy recalled finding out about her son’s death: “We were in California on vacation on 28 October. In the morning, a reporter called the house where we were staying. I don’t remember his name. He ased me ‘Are you related to Brad Will?’, and I said ‘yes, and asked what happened. Is he hurt?’.

The reporter said, ‘he’s been fatally wounded,’”

Hardy added, “We knew what he was doing in Oaxaca, and we knew about the barricades, and that people were being killed. We knew it was dangerous.”


Hardy was interrupted by his wife. “Yes we knew it was dangerous. But when we received the news, out first thought was how to return home.

 

And Hardy added, “That’s when it sinks in. How does a dead person return home?” .


***

Then you believe it was was paramilitaries who killed your son?


“Oh, yes, no doubt. Absolutely, we think that,” Kathy answers.

And what do you hope to accomplish here?

We want a real investigation on what happened to Brad, as much at state level as at the federal level. Also we hope to collect ballistic evidence, for example, to find out if the bullet came from a pistol or a carbine. One of the main things that we will do is to meet with witnesses ourselves, and we want to get mass media and civic organizations, as well as human rights groups like Amnesty International, to put pressure on the Judiciary. And we want to emphatically reject the State Prosecutor’s theory.


Have you received a call, or any direct information from the Oaxaca state government?

No, nothing.


***
What did you think about the things Brad was involved in both in Latin America and the United States?

His causes were good ones, and we were convinced that if nothing else, it helped us see things differently. He had so much compassion and, mainly, a desire to help others. He wanted to help people change the course of their lives, and wasn’t prepared to resign himself to waiting for things to change.

“We were told that what Brad was doing was right, and necessary, and just investigating was enough. Our friends would say, “Look, he’s going to grow up at some time, and leave all that behind. He’s just young. But we knew that would never happen. That Brad was not some 20 year old kid, that he’d found his path in life, recording the inequities of the world.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 24 March 2007 6:03 pm

    My apologies and condolence to Brad Will’s family. I live and work in Oaxaca and I am fairly sure that Brad Will was killed by APPO thugs, I am mostly convinced by his own video in which you can hear him being told not to film. I cannot explain the second bullet, and I am not saying the PRIistas are completely innocent. I sadly believe that Brad Will was killed struggling for a political cause he did not well understand speaking rudimentary Spanish which played a large part in his demise.

  2. John Cord permalink
    21 December 2007 3:01 pm

    Brad Will were killed from washinton because he were revel.

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