State Blames APPO for Brad Will’s Death

Nov 18th, 2006 – danielsan writes: As the official investigation into the killing of Brad Will goes on, legitimate questions are being asked but it is increasingly obvious that the state government is not acting as impartial investigator, but rather as ‘judge and jury,’ in the words of APPO spokespeople. This week, the PGJE (Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado: roughly equivalent to the state attorney general’s office) has attempted to blame APPO and its supporters for the killing, saying that they executed him at close range after he was taken away from the scene of the first shot.

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The investigation into Brad Will’s murder is underway, and it looks like we’ll all need to stay vigilant if anything resembling justice is to be found. Initial reports focused on the local police and local PRIista officials who were filmed (by Brad and by others) shooting at a crowd of APPO supporters and neighbors. Two of them were arrested, but they have not been located in any jail in Oaxaca City and no further information has been forthcoming. Two others apparently fled, but I talked to someone here in Oaxaca City who said they were still in the neighborhood, business as usual. Democracy Now! is a source for some of these earlier reports about the whereabouts of the men who indisputably shot directly at the crowd of people with whom Brad Will was standing. A witness, in fact, says he felt and heard the bullet whiz by his head before he turned and saw Brad fall. He was crouched in front of the camera and is clearly visible in Brad’s footage.

But this week the office of the Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado and its PRIista chief Lizbeth Caña released several statements that blame APPO for Will’s death.

Local daily ‘El Imparcial’ and the national TV outlet ‘Televisa’ both reported that Will had been killed by the second shot, delivered from close range after Will had been moved from the scene of the first shot, presumably in the second car that tried to carry him to a hospital. According to many Oaxacans, both of these news outlets are little more than mouthpieces for the government. The evidence given is that forensic experts viewed Brad’s final video, and determined somehow that the two shots came from the same gun.

There are a lot of questions, and a lot of suspicious gaps in several of the various theories being given for what happened and when on October 27th. I should state now that I was not at the scene that day, nor even in Oaxaca City, and do not intend to offer this article as proof of any one version. I have simply heard some important and strange facts about the ‘investigation’ into Brad’s death: The US Consul was not present at the autopsy, and human rights observers were *not* permitted to film the autopsy. Brad himself had filmed the autopsies of two murdered APPO sympathizers in the week before his own death. The two bullets extracted from his body (initially reported to be AR-15 bullets) were turned over to the state. The autopsy doctor said that the first shot killed Brad, that he was shot from the front in the center of his chest and that the bullet severed his aorta and lodged in his spine. The government hired a specialist who followed up the initial autopsy by refuting its claims. Bradley’s body had already been cremated when this second expert opinion surfaced, claiming that the second shot came fifteen minutes later, delivered by the men who tried to bring him to a hospital or clinic before he died. Again, the only evidence given for this theory is what you yourself can see on the video, and that you can hear some of the people in the crowd saying to ‘turn off your cameras.’ Apparently, that’s the motive for killing a so-called ‘sympathetic’ journalist, even though there are at least three video cameras visible in the footage, a big TV camera among them, and countless cameras, cell phone and otherwise.

A second shot

The second shot is the subject of all this speculation. Watching Brad’s final film, a group of APPO sympathizers are under heavy fire from the end of the block (where the implicated PRIistas are shooting) and from a house on the right side of the street. It seems clear enough that the first shot comes from the end of the block. But the second? The second bullet lodged in the right side of his body. It could have come from the same gun and hit him as he fell to the ground. It could have come from the house. The government is saying that it came inside one of the two cars that tried to bring Brad to the hospital.

Brad was initially taken away folded up into a VW Bug, which promptly ran out of gas. ‘El Imparcial’ printed the license plate number and name of the driver who picked him up and brought him to the Red Cross clinic, which as you will hear below had refused to treat APPO sympathizers in the past and who refused to send an ambulance to the scene of his murder that October afternoon. Today a report in the daily ‘Noticias’ (photo below) mentions several photos taken at the scene of the initial shooting that clearly show the second bullet wound, disputing the government-line and demonstrating that the second shot came soon after the first.

The evidence that could clear all this up is no where to be found. Brad’s T-shirt (‘Make Media, Make Trouble’) has not been located, and the bullets are in the custody of the PGJE. It is possible, then, that he was shot twice by the PRIistas at the end of the block. It is also possible that the second shot came either from the house where a shooter was hiding, from an APPO member in the crowd, from an infiltrator in the crowd, or later in the second car. But there is no evidence that makes any of these possibilities fact, nor at this point any legitimate reason to implicate APPO or those who tried to save Brad’s life.

It seems to many to be a desperate attempt by the (essentially ousted) state government to deflect attention from the PRIistas and to blame APPO. An essential part of this line has been to discredit Bradley and his work. Radio Mapuche, the PRIsta radio station in Oaxaca City, has called Bradley an armed terrorist, claiming that he was shooting that day and that patriots loyal to the government should attack other foreigners with cameras, since APPO is run by foreigners anyway. The PGJE claims to have searched the apartment in which Brad was living at the time of his death and found notes and maps of the barricades, inferring that he was in deep with APPO. This is absolutely not the case. Such maps do not exist, and no one ever searched the apartment where he was living. The government has said that indymedia reporters are taking orders directly from APPO. Corporate media (and some friends and family) have called him reckless, said that he crossed a line, that he was not objective. Basically, they say that he’s at the same time both directing APPO and taking orders from it, that he’s both an APPO sympathizer who compromised his journalistic integrity and that he was executed by APPO members in order to internationalize the conflict.

Or that APPO shot him point blank because they wanted him to stop filming.

As the Anniversary of the Mexican Revolution approaches (this Monday November 20th), the 7th MegaMarcha takes to the streets (Nov. 25th), and people protest yet another inauguration of a fraudulently selected president, keep vigilant. November 20th is a national and international day of action in support of justice for Oaxaca. There are legitimate questions about Brad’s death, still unanswered, and those in power are actively deflecting blame from their supporters (those most obviously culpable) and instead manufacturing evidence to make a case against APPO. Friends of Brad Will: keep organizing! This is not over, for the people of Oaxaca nor for Bradley Roland Will.

1) Florentino Lopez Martinez reads the APPO press release

2) Augustin Sosa states that the investigation blaming APPO is controlled by the same system that committed the crimes, in order to damage the reputation of APPO and ‘give a breath’ to the government of Ulises Ruiz. He is being blamed for the death of ‘his own comrade Bradley.’ ‘This case has not been closed’ he says ‘because the judge is not objective, and the killers remain free.’

3) Jesus Lopez Rodriguez states that the government doctor, Mendoza Canseco, contradicts the medical autopsy in saying that the second shot and not the first killed Brad. ‘The same people that killed Brad are not trying to blame APPO for his death.’ He calls on international human rights groups to take another look at this case.

4) Florentino Lopez Martinez calls the government’s announcements a ‘smokescreen.’

5) A reporter asks about one of the suspicious elements of the story, the transport of injured Will. Sr. Lopez again reiterates that neighbors from the barricades did their best to get him medical care, but that the Red Cross has refused to care for APPO members in the past, that they refused to send an ambulance in this case, and just as when Alejandro died (an APPO member killed last month) the lack of medical care was again culpable.

6) Jesus Lopez Rodriguez delivers an impassioned statement regarding the imbalance in injuries and deaths in the Oaxacan movement–saying ‘this movement has already endured 14 or 15 deaths, with not one dead police or PRIista politician… Who, then, are the assassins?’ he asks. He also asks for an impartial and independent international investigation into the death of Bradley Will, a murder which he is being accused of.

English Translation of APPO Press Release

Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca

Press Release November 16th 2006

Regarding the Plan of Action from the Constitutive Congress of APPO:

Our Constitutive Congress defined continuing our path of struggle until the fall of the tyrant Ulises Ruiz Ortiz by resolving to continue to take the offensive in our mobilizations in our community, with the following activities:

*The Reactivation of the mobile brigades to close once again the offices of the state government

*Bringing in motor Caravans from all over the state to come to Oaxaca City

*The 20th of November we mobilize to greet these caravans and mobilize in general to declare this date (which is the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution) the BEGINNING OF THE REVOLUTION OF THE 21st CENTURY.

*On November 25th, a state-wide MegaMarcha starting at 10 AM from the Casa de Gobierno, with the objective to encircle completely the PFP in the Central Zócalo for an indefinite time.

*On November 30th we initiate a large state-wide, national, and international movement to demand the removal of Ulises Ruiz and to stop to taking of power of Felipe Calderón as president of the Republic.

*Within the next days we will fortify the blockade in front of the Senate and mobilize against the embassies of other countries.

*Within the next few days we will put forth our legal case against URO.


Today more than fifteen days after the killing of northamerican journalist Brad Will, after international and national public opinion remains clear that it was government thugs in service of URO who killed him, now the government intends to create a smokescreen, changing the facts of the case, including to the point of implicating members of APPO in his death, which we totally reject, for the following reasons:

*The character of our struggle is pacifist and at every moment we are living with the aggression of the ministerial police and the thugs of URO who create fear and terror in the streets of Oaxaca each night with the objective of frightening people out of the movement for the ouster of Ulises Ruiz, adding to the aggressions we’ve suffered even before the arrival of the PFP.

*On the 14th of June, APPO made a call to the national and international press to come to Oaxaca, to communicate to the public the true situation of our struggle for justice, and together with other organizations in defense of human rights, to act as shields for the movement and since then the presence of the national and international press has grown, breaking the silence that our own government had implemented in the case of Oaxaca’s popular movement.

*Just like other members of the national and international press, Bradley Roland Will came to Oaxaca with the same idea of breaking the silence and informing the world about what was happening in Oaxaca via the website New York City indymedia.

*With the arrival of national and international press as a diverse solidarity brigade from all over the country and the world, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz began a campaign of terror against them, in some cases accusing them of being advisors to the Oaxacan movement, and opening files on many of them over the course of time.

*Before Bradley’s death, at many points in our path of resistance local, national and international press had been threatened, assaulted, even injured by fire-arms, by hired thugs, provocateurs, in all cases because they were doing their job with honesty and objectivity.

*When URO was at his most desperate, he organized a plan for the invasion by Federal troops, to get a breath, for his earlier solicitations for intervention had gone nowhere due to differences between his group (the PRI) and that of Pres. Fox (PAN). On October 27th, as APPO`s strategy of shutting down developed, URO and his thugs organized provocations at more than fifteen points in the city. This aggression began with the shots fired at Radio Universidad and a fire in an office on the campus of the Ciudad Universidad at 10 AM, followed by shots fired at the barricade at Cinco Señores, and at 4 PM attacks on Coyotepec, and at the PGJE. In said places we saw disappearances, arrests, and killings, at the same time as the group of thugs headed by the municipal police of Santa Lucia del Camino and sent by the Municipal President began its attack on the Barricade at Calicanto and Av. Ferrocarril, in which they fired various guns at the barricade. At this place there were many members of the press, among them Bradley Roland Will, who was shot and killed. Other members of the press also were shot as well as members of the barricade.

*This killing was totally planned with the object of getting international pressure on Fox to send federal troops to Oaxaca, and it was successful, since after the death of Will the US government ordered the Mexican Government to send federal forces to violently occupy Oaxaca.

*For these reasons APPO totally rejects the perverse accusation that members of APPO were involved in the killing.

*We hold responsible Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, Helidoro Diaz Escarraga, Lino Celaya Luria, and Manuel Martines Feria as the intellectual authors of this killing, just as the head of Public Security of Santa Lucia del Camino Abel Santiago Zarate, the personnel boss of the same PRIista outfit, Manuel Aguilar, who is the cousin of the CROC director David Aguilar Robles, who is also local representative of the PRI, municipal police officer Juan Carlos Soriano Velasco, alias El Chapulín, and Pedro Carmona, ex president of the neighborhood Felipe Carrillo Puerto of Santa Lucia, as the material authors.

For all of these reasons we demand punishment for the authors as much planning as executing, the killing of Bradley Roland Will, and we state that it is not possible that the PGJE can investigate this crime, as it is acting as judge and jury in this investigation, resulting in error.


Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca

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