Death of Journalist in Mexico Galvanizes Friends, Family to Action

Brad Will, a photojournalist killed in Oaxaca, Mexico, last month, won’t soon be forgotten. First, there’s the video the 36-year-old took of his own murder, posthumously circulating on the Internet. Now, through petitions, Web sites and a foundation, friends, family and colleagues hope to transmute the tragedy of Will’s death into collective action for good.

Susan Mitchell, Will’s cousin and a classified specialist at the Athens NEWS, contacted AAN to get the word out: “I am asking AAN members to consider reading and signing the two petitions on”

The first petition, a letter to U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Antonio Garza Jr., asks the U.S. government to investigate Will’s death and to “give full governmental protection throughout the world, in word and deed, to community-based journalists from the United States.” The second pleads the case of the people of Oaxaca.

According to an obituary in the Chicago Tribune, Will grew up in an affluent Chicago suburb but dedicated his adult life to calling attention to the plight of the world’s poor and oppressed, with a video camera as his tool of choice. His documentary footage had appeared on public access television and Indymedia, a New York-based media Web site.

“Brad was the epitome of an alternative journalist, and he was a kind, caring compassionate human being,” says Mitchell, the wife of The Athens NEWS Publisher Bruce Mitchell.

Will’s immediate family has established the Brad Will Foundation, a nonprofit “to support and contribute to non-violent groups dedicated to the advancement of underserved people and communities throughout the world.”

When he died, Will was filming protests against the policies of Ulises Ruiz, state governor of Oaxaca. What had been a mostly peaceful demonstration turned ugly when street thugs began brandishing handguns and firing into the crowds. Will’s dying act was the filming of the violence –- against others and himself.

“He gave his life attempting to give the people of Oaxaca a voice,” Mitchell says.