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The story of Brad Will: Journalism out-of-service of justice

Keeping an understated ton of voice I would say the story of Brad Will is a ‘very disturbing one’ for every blogger as it involves the documented death of a photo journalist while his photographed murderers are still walking free, drinking Mexican beer. They were never arrested just because the journalist they killed was representing alternative media at its best rather than some commercial mainstream media channel. Yet, above everything, I think the Brad Will story raises the question whether Journalism should be in the service of justice or just a side viewer and observer of the injustice.

Brad Will in Oaxaca on Oct. 26th 2006, source: indymedia

For those who don’t know Bradley (Brad) Roland Will was an American anarchist, documentary filmmaker and a journalist working with the Indymedia New York City center, who was shot and killed on October 27, 2006 during the teachers’ strike in the Mexican city of Oaxaca. According to Wikipedia Will, who was 36 when he died, had arrived in Oaxaca in October 2006 in order to film the teachers’ strike. On October 27, as he was shooting his footage nearby a pro-strike barricade, a gunmen approached and shot him and two other protesters – Esteban Zurita López and teacher Emilio Alonso Fabián. Will was shot twice. All three activists were killed and several others were injured.

Source: Indymedia

Right from the beginning the Indymedia people claimed they have proof that the killer was a member of paramilitary group affiliated with the PRI, the former Mexican ruling party. Amazingly, Mexican daily newspaper El Universal indeed published photos of the suspected gunmen, who are believed to be local officials. Check them out yourself sourced courtesy of and see how they clearly show the assassins identified by El Universal: Juan Carlos Soriano Velasco (red tshirt), a police officer known as “the Grasshopper”; Manuel Aguilar (dark jacket), city personnel director; and public safety chief Avel Santiago Zárate (red shirt).

Based on his last footage, before getting shot Will was trapped in the middle of a narrow street but kept filming. Thus the footage which was pretty soon published by Indymedia, contains a clear view at the two gunmen including their guns firing which brings up the question of how come these guys were never arrested.

Will was a human rights activist first and a journalist second. Joshua Breitbart from Civil Defense says Will should be remembered as a hero of the New York City Independent Media Center because of his understanding Journalism is “either in the service of justice or it is a cause of injustice”. Breitbart can be argued to more than one side but the story of Brad Will calls for an answer. What do you think?

While doing my checkups on this post I stumbled upon this beautifully edited photoclip submitted by a user named Unpromoted and dedicated to Brad Will for “his singing, his photography, his energy and his inspiration of so many others will live on forever”. Cheers to that. I also came up on this poster, shown above, for the memory of Brad Will published on the Argentinian branch of Indymedia. Click here or on the image to download a high res version for printing and hanging on your wall.


5 Responses to “The story of Brad Will: Journalism out-of-service of justice”

  1. I first read about this in the Baltimore City paper about a month or so ago. I found it a compelling article. I am doing more research about it right now. thanks for the post.

  2. I first heard Oaxaca and the situation there when I was posting at a blog called “Taking Place” last year. Brownfeminine power posted of it most often. At the time it was ironic, as I was reading about Oaxaca in time NYT, a lengthy travel piece on Oaxaca, where to stay,( where to eat, where to spend you thousands of dollars, how beautiful it was,) written by one a travel editor who had recently visited there. Yet no mention of the situation did I find anywhere in their publication.

    My understanding is that they still struggle for justice, and the state is still sponsoring terrorism to which the only answer seems to be more violence.

    Journalism in a climate such as this one is dangerous. Journalism sometimes needs just to show us the facts and let us decide what to do, that we do nothing is not the fault of the journalist, and it is not the part of every journalist to risk life and limb though some will, and they should be honored for that. Not all journalist are revolutionary anarchists nor should they be, but thank god for the ones who are.

    It is funny still how one must go digging to get any current information on the situation there.

  3. Thanks for your visit and comment Cooper. As always you help to put things straight. I agree Journalism in a climate such as Oaxaca’s is dangerous and I am sure Will was aware of that. Danger is part of journalism business and it’s a known fact to every journalist beginner here in Israel.

    There should be all kinds of journalists indeed, no argue here. Some need to show us the “objective” facts leaving us to do the rest of the job. Others need to take side, hopefully the just one. Where there is freedom there is always variety.

    The thing I find most annoying about Will’s story, and I am afraid I might have missed that point, is that he was not killed by an accident but by a deliberate action. His killer, actually murderer, should be on trial but he is not. Yet, he probably would have if the victim was a CNN reporter, or one of the NYT or the Washington Post.

    I just thought that since mainstream journalists are a lot like policemen in the sense of standing up to defend their own colleagues, they should have made a loader voice about Will’s case, even though her is just an Indymedia ‘taking a stand’ journalist.

    Thanks for sharing us with your light on the subject and making me thinking it further.

  4. Jon, thank you for your comment. Care to share us with the Baltimore link or any additional you come up with? It would be greatly appreciated!

  5. The photo of the guy coming at the camera with the gun is one dramatic still.

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