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Article ID: 2599

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W.T.O. - Open Letter From Temple of Pneuma

Author: Pagan Communities
Posted: December 19th. 1999
Times Viewed: 9,307

Due to recent events in Seattle concerning the protesters at the meeting for the World Trade Organization, we - the Council of Elders for the Temple of Pneuma - feel there is a need for a public statement. As has become common knowledge, Starhawk - author of the Spiral Dance - and other members of Reclaiming Group were among those arrested during the protests. Starhawk is a well known, well respected member of the American Pagan community and, as such, is often viewed as representative of that Pagan community by those of other religions and philosophies. Because of this representational aspect, we feel that we must offer a response to recent statements on the protest and subsequent arrests, thus separating ourselves from what appears to be the prevailing Pagan opinion.

In this response, we would like to make the following points:

  • We believe, based on reports that we have seen and read, that the police response to the protest was violently above and beyond what the situation called for. As such, it would be proper and should be demanded that investigations into police brutality and excessive use of force be conducted immediately with appropriate action taken.

  • We believe that the behavior of a few malcontents who performed such violent actions as breaking windows should not be viewed as representational of what was, to most, a non- violent protest. Furthermore, it is an outrage that this violent minority did not receive the majority of police action and attention.

  • We fully support the Constitutional rights of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly which lead to the protests and we support the complaints of the protesters on global labor treatment and related issues.

  • We absolutely do not support the protesters on illegally blocking entrance to the building, removing the Constitutional right of Freedom of Assembly from others, and "completely surround[ing] and blockade[ing] the Convention Center and hold[ing] it closed for the first day of meetings". While we support the protesters in their complaints against the brutality of some of the arrests, we do not support the attempt to drum up complaints against the arrests themselves. Those people who performed the above listed actions not only broke the law but violated the rights of others and thus deserved to be arrested.

We of The Temple of Pneuma fully agree that standing up for beliefs is both important and essential to improving the world around us. We agree that at times, it may seem as though that may require breaking the law. However, when a protester feels that breaking the law is necessary, that person should not then attempt to dodge personal responsibility and complain that an arrest was not warranted. When protesters move up to violating the civil rights of others, while not invalidating the protest, they have done great damage to their cause and should not be supported in such actions.

Solidarity among the Pagan community is important. Solidarity on this issue, however, is impossible. When we begin violating the rights of others because of one belief versus another, we have learned the wrong lesson from past struggles. When we begin supporting each other in such actions simply because "she is one of us", we have lost credibility and should begin to rethink out situation.

When Starhawk questions why she was arrested and subjected to the conditions of jail, the answer is because she broke the law. Not in assembling or in using free speech, but in preventing others from doing the same. If it was worth it, then she and all of the other protesters should stand up and proudly accept responsibility for all of their actions. If it was not worth it, perhaps they should rethink their methods of protest.

Rhea Jones, High Priest
In the name of the Council of Elders
Temple of Pneuma


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