>Tuesday, August 15, 2000
>Never Trust Anyone Over 30? Today's Young Protesters Disagree
>By HECTOR TOBAR
>Someone out there in Protestland took a closer look at the
>faces of the rebels who have gathered in Los Angeles this week
>and, in a moment of reverie, came up with a new catch phrase:
>The anonymous writer on the Independent Media Center's
>electronic bulletin board, who goes by the Internet handle of
>"Regulator," sees "a whole generation" rising up against corporate
>greed--"plus some of the sixties crew who didn't sell out, and
>maybe a few coming back in, and the 'Third Age,' those who
>survived McCarthyism, lending their wisdom."
>Yes, there is a young, counterculture feel on the streets of this
>city this week. Every generation reshapes the idea of rebellion,
>gives it a new form. This one has embraced anarchy and "affinity
>groups" instead of Marxism and "free love." Its bugaboo is "the
>global economy" instead of the war in Vietnam.
>But there are a few veterans of the old struggles scattered
>about this week, adding a bit of seasoning to the proceedings,
>people like Mo Nishida, a 64-year-old survivor of rebellions past
>who is spending part of this week at the Convergence Center, the
>unofficial protest headquarters near MacArthur Park.
>"I was at the Chicano Moratorium," Nishida says, which was
>in 1970 in East Los Angeles. "We had a pretty big Asian
>contingent at the sucker."
>The young person sitting next to Nishida raises his eyebrows.
>"Did you ever read Ruben Salazar?" he asks, bringing up The
>Times columnist who was slain by deputies, the one name from
>that event passed on to younger generations.
>"Oh yeah," Nishida says distractedly. "I used to read Salazar."
>A man with a fringe of white hair circling his bald pate,
>Nishida is more interested in what's going on now.
>Young people fill the space around him in the old apartment
>building they've rented for the week. They paint signs and make
>puppets. There is a bright yellow papier-mache sun and stacks of
>grayish skulls representing various evils. A few feet away, four
>people slice piles of vegetables, making a communal lunch.
> * * *
>The mood is at once playful and defiant, a sort of Woodstock
>goes to the barricades. Ask them about the cause they are
>fighting for and they're liable to say, in a breathless tone, "We're
>willing to sacrifice our bodies for justice."
>"There's street theater and puppet processions, rap and
>poetry. And a choir. Some people will engage in civil
>disobedience," says Brian Montez, 22, a UCLA history major
>and media "escort" at the center. "What I love is seeing all these
>people who are interested in helping people get together. The
>idea is to create a festival."
>Nishida listens to the twentysomethings speak, he sees their
>party unfolding before him and he beams with a weary happiness.
>"The young people don't have their eyes blinded by all the
>crap," he says. "They see things for what they are. I admire
>When that other, older movement ended, when its rebellion
>morphed into something quieter and less angry, Nishida felt
>cheated. He spent 12 long years addicted to drugs. They were
>years, he says, in which he felt robbed of his dignity by The Man.
>"They destroyed AIM [the American Indian Movement], they
>destroyed the Panthers," he says, the bitterness still fresh in his
>voice. "They destroyed the real conscience of America. . . . To
>me, this represents the resurgence of the real America. To me,
>the real America is the one that should stand for justice, respect
> >From the Convergence Center, where Nishida staffs a table
>with legal pamphlets, demonstrators have filtered out across the
>city--from the beach at Santa Monica, to a barbecue protesting
>the ritzy fund-raiser at the nearby pier, to Pasadena, where a
>group called the Gapatistas tries to call attention to a link between
>a certain clothing company and the logging of redwood forests.
>When the Gapatistas arrive in Old Town Pasadena one hot
>afternoon, Cheryl Pestor, 48, is there to greet them.
>"The last protest I was in was against the Vietnam War,"
>Pestor says. That was in 1969, when Pestor was a teenage
>undergraduate at USC. In the years since, she has become a
>commercial real estate broker, a profession that is not exactly a
>haven for ex-radicals.
>"I'm here because I think we should protect our redwood
>forests," she says. "We can build shopping centers without
>Pestor holds a printout of an Internet article on the Gapatistas.
>She has also read the book by Julia Butterfly Hill, the
>25-year-old environmental activist whose work has inspired
>many protesters. "I'm wondering if I'll see her here," she says.
>The Gapatistas don cardboard costumes and perform a dance
>in front of store. When they march around the corner, Pestor
>joins them, bringing up the rear with a chant of: "For redwoods!
>For workers! Boycott Gap!
>But when the Gapatistas strip down to their
>underwear--"We'd rather wear nothing than wear Gap!"--Pestor
>keeps her clothes on. That would be taking things a bit too far.
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