rn: Masquerade Project: Fun & Gas Masks!


Jan Slakov

Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2001 14:10:31 -0700
From: CyberBrook <•••@••.•••>

>forward freely....
>   FREE RADICAL: chronicle of the new unrest
>                   by L.A. KAUFFMAN
>               http://www.free-radical.org
>[to subscribe, write •••@••.•••]
>THE DC MASQUERADE . . . #18 (Sept. 2001)
>I've been going to protests for twenty years,
>since I was radicalized as a teenager during the
>first year of Ronald Reagan's presidency.
>Big ones, little ones, effective and futile ones,
>ranging in character from silent vigils to full-scale
>riots, on every issue you can imagine: abortion
>rights, U.S. military intervention abroad, apartheid,
>nuclear weapons, racial justice, AIDS, home-
>lessness, gay and lesbian liberation, environ-
>mental devastation, and many more.
>But until the Seattle WTO protests in November
>1999, I had never - not once - encountered
>tear gas, pepper spray, or rubber bullets at a
>demonstration. Not when black-clad anarchists
>smashed windows and set a police car on fire
>during a San Francisco march against the 1991
>Gulf War. Not when infuriated New Yorkers
>threw rocks at storefronts and flipped
>automobiles upside down after the cops who
>beat Rodney King were acquitted in 1993.
>Not at dozens of actions where people blocked
>traffic, or besieged government offices, or took
>to the streets without legal permits. And never,
>certainly, when people simply gathered in public
>to express dissenting views.
>Now I wouldn't dream of going to a major
>demonstration without a gas mask. Looking
>toward this fall's protests against first the
>International Monetary Fund and World Bank
>(Washington, D.C, September 29-30) and
>later the World Trade Organization (New York
>and San Francisco, November 9-13), I've
>been pricing out shatterproof prescription
>goggles. I don't want to give in to a
>police-induced climate of fear, but I've also
>been pondering - in light of the head injuries
>folks have suffered from tear-gas canisters
>and rubber bullets at globalization protests
>of late - whether getting some kind of helmet
>might be a good idea.
>At the extreme, there are even people who
>are acquiring flak jackets now, after a summer
>in which live ammunition was repeatedly used
>at anti-capitalist protests outside the United
>States. The shootings in Europe - first in
>Sweden and then in Genoa, Italy - received
>all the publicity. But Carlo Giuliani was far
>from the only young person killed while
>demonstrating for global justice in the last few
>months; people in the Global South, who bear
>the brunt of exploitative trade and lending
>policies, also take the greatest risks in
>speaking out against them. Add to the global
>movement's grim roster at least six deaths
>this summer at anti-IMF protests alone:
>Steven Kil, Peter Noki, Thomas Moruwo,
>and Mathew Paven in Papua New Guinea;
>Carlos Santillán and Oscar Barrios in Argentina.
>Here in the privileged core of global empire,
>the dilemma of this moment in time is this:
>Attend a large-scale protest without any
>protective gear (as people in this country
>have done, unthinkingly, for decades), and
>you run a large risk of being poisoned with
>toxic gas, and a small but real risk of being
>injured by a police projectile. Outfit yourself
>with a gas mask or helmet, however, and
>you suddenly acquire an appearance of
>paramilitary menace, altogether too much
>like the thuggish police.
>Violent repression succeeds when it frightens
>people out of attending protests. But it
>succeeds, too, when it hardens a movement
>and makes it off-putting.
>After the Quebec City protests against the
>Free Trade Area of the Americas, where
>Canadian police barraged the crowd with
>5000 canisters of tear gas, a few of us in
>New York got to talking. We were alarmed
>by how inadequately people were prepared
>for heavy gas exposure, which can have very
>serious long-term health effects. Vinegar-
>soaked bandannas (the standard activist
>protection) make it possible to endure a
>tear-gas attack, at least for a while, but they
>don't filter out the poisons, known to cause
>ongoing eye and respiratory problems,
>menstrual irregularities, lingering fatigue and
>more. So while it was admirable that so
>many people refused to back down in the
>face of police bombardment, it meant that
>thousands may have suffered enduring
>physical consequences for publicly voicing
>their outrage at the human and environmental
>devastation that drives the global economy.
>My friends and I were bothered by something
>else, too: the way that the police repression
>was successfully undermining the visual
>diversity and exuberance of globalization
>protests. We weren't talking tactics. It's one
>thing to take militant actions, and quite another
>to be dreary and menacing in the process.
>With a hard-edged, street-tough atmosphere
>beginning to dominate the front lines, we felt
>that some attention to aesthetics was in order.
>In the fight against the most powerful forces
>on the planet, our movements can't afford
>to surrender some of their most powerful
>weapons: wit, theater, ridicule, flamboyance,
>We had a brainstorm: We decided to
>distribute hundreds of free gas masks to
>folks who lack protection at the World
>Bank/IMF protests in D.C. But first we'd
>paint them in bold colors, like magenta, blue,
>and bright green; cover them with rhinestones,
>sequins, and glitter; transform them into
>marvelous emblems of the creative defiance
>at the core of the global justice fight.
>We named ourselves the Masquerade Project
>(http://www.masqueradeproject.org), and we
>drafted a manifesto. "We want to make sure
>that our sisters and brothers have the
>protection they need - and we also think
>it's time for an aesthetic intervention on the
>front lines of the movement for global justice,"
>we wrote. "Black may be timelessly chic.
>But we long for more color, more élan.
>We believe our movements should reflect
>the world we want to create. And for us,
>that's a world with loads of color, sparkle,
>variety, and individual creativity."
>So in a departure from FREE RADICAL's
>usual essayistic style, I'm putting out a direct
>If you are going to D.C. - even if you're
>planning to be far from the front lines -
>please come prepared with a gas mask or
>paint respirator. Check out our website
>(http://www.masqueradeproject.org) for
>advice on what to buy and where to buy it,
>including links to online sources of $5 gas
>masks. You'll also find the lowdown on what
>paints and other supplies work best for
>decorating, and many images of artfully
>transformed masks.
>If you're not going to D.C., please help
>protect the folks there by donating to
>The Masquerade Project, so we can
>purchase, decorate, and distribute as many
>gas masks as possible. Every $5 you give
>will shield one person's eyes, lungs, and skin
>from the damaging effects of chemical
>weapons. You can donate by credit card
>at http://www.masqueradeproject.org, or
>mail checks and money orders to
>The Masquerade Project, P.O. Box 648,
>New York, NY 10009.
>Of course, it's possible that the D.C.
>police won't use tear gas against the
>IMF/World Bank demonstrations - but
>given that they've been encouraging journalists
>from the corporate press to acquire gas masks
>and flak jackets, we need to be prepared.
>                *  *  *
>If you're in the New York City area, come
>to The Masquerade Project's big gas-mask-
>decorating party! Saturday, September 22,
>from 3-7PM, at CHARAS/El Bohio
>Community Center, 605 East 9th Street
>(between Avenues B & C). Suggested
>donation: $5-20 sliding scale, but no one will
>be turned away. Bring anything groovy and
>non-porous that can be glued to a gas mask;
>we'll provide the masks and other decorating
>supplies. The party will coincide with a
>day-long teach-in, also at CHARAS,
>organized by the New York City Direct
>Action Network.
>                *  *  *
>For more information on the late September
>IMF/World Bank protests in D.C., check
>out http://www.abolishthebank.org and
>For information on the November protests
>in New York against the World Trade
>Organization, keep an eye on http://www.noWTO.org,
>the just-launched web site of No More Walls:
>Global Solidarity Against the WTO.
>                *  *  *
>FREE RADICAL: chronicle of the new unrest
>is a column on the current upsurge in activism,
>written by L.A. Kauffman (•••@••.•••).
>It appears about once a month.
>Back issues can be found at www.free-radical.org
>To subscribe, send a blank email to:
>              This article is archived at
>      www.free-radical.org/issue18.shtml
>                                 ****
>                 ABOUT THE AUTHOR
>L.A. Kauffman (•••@••.•••) is perhaps
>the first person in U.S. history to be arrested
>for allegedly committing a crime by fax machine.
>(The Manhattan D.A. declined to prosecute.)
>She is currently writing DIRECT ACTION:
>a history of U.S. activism since 1970.
>A longtime radical journalist and activist,
>she was a principal organizer of the direct-action
>campaign that saved 115 New York City
>community gardens from development in 1999.
>Kauffman is a frequent speaker on protest
>movements past and present, and her writing
>has appeared in the Village Voice, The Nation,
>The Progressive, Spin, Mother Jones,
>Salon.com, and numerous other publications.

Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2001 22:27:19 -0300
From: Aaron Koleszar <•••@••.•••>
Subject: MASQUERADE PROJECT: Where to Buy a $5 Gas Mask

From: "Masquerade Project" <•••@••.•••>

-- please forward far and wide! --

**Masquerade Project Communiqué #1**

It¹s official: The DC police are putting up a
Quebec-style fence to shield the IMF/World Bank meeting
against the September 29 and 30 protests. This is the
first such barricade ever constructed in Washington.
Even the massive civil rights and anti-Viet Nam war
protests of the 60s never saw anything like this.

So expect Washington at the end of September to look a
lot like Quebec in April. Only more so. If anything, we
suspect the United States will try to one-up Canada in
its use of chemical weapons against those who speak out
against its policies. So much for freedom of speech and

We at the Masquerade Project urge everyone who is
participating in the D.C. protests to protect
themselves with a gas mask.And you don't have to look
like a paramilitary thug while doing so: We've come up
with techniques for making gas masks look fabulous and
carnivalesque, with bright paints, rhinestones,
sequins, and more.

We've already begun distributing free, festively
decorated gas masks to people who will attend the World
Bank/IMF protests, and we plan to distribute hundreds
more. (We need to raise LOTS more money to do so --
click over to our website,
http://www.masqueradeproject.org, for details on how to
donate, plus decorating tips and extensive information
on tear gas and pepper spray.)

But  demand for gas masks will far outstrip our supply.
And anyway, it¹s time to decentralize this operation.
So if you¹re going to DC, we strongly urge you and your
affinity group to purchase (and decorate!) your own gas
masks. (The key: FABRIC PAINT, plus rhinestones,
sequins and glitter.) And while you¹re at it, why not
buy a couple of extra to decorate and hand out to

The Masquerade Project Collective has been negotiating
with suppliers to pin down some fairly good deals in
the $5 range. You¹ll find the scoop below.

But before we give you the low-down
on where to buy good-but-cheap masks, we would like to
invite you to subscribe to our Masquerade_Project list.
This is a low-volume, no discussion list that we will
use to send out announcements such as this about our
project. We¹re anticipating one per week up to
September 30, then sporadically afterwards. To
subscribe, send a blank e-mail to

Now on with the show.

BELGIAN MASKS Our preferred $5 gas mask is the Belgian
model. It features shatter-proof lenses and doesn¹t
cover your ears, meaning you can hear. And a big bonus:
people who wear glasses find these much easier to wear.
This supplier originally had ancient, nonworking
filters. We negotiated with him to replace these with
unused NATO filters.

However, you must spend some time adjusting these masks
to get a secure but comfortable seal, especially if you
wear glasses or have big hair. Test yours before you go
out on the street. Provided you have a working
cartridge, you have two variables to deal with:

1. The masks have six different adjustable straps.
You¹ll have to play with them to achieve a secure but
comfortable seal. Warning: If it¹s too tight, you might
end up with a monster headache.

2. After the straps are adjusted, check the exhalation
valve. The exhalation valve is  right over your mouth
and is covered by something that looks like a
perforated can lid. Test the valve  by a) wearing the
mask, snugly adjusted then b) lighting a match. If you
smell the sulfur from the match smoke, you need to
UNSCREW the lid and pack a little bit of cotton in the
center. The rubber should be tight against the lid, but
loose enough to flap open when you breathe out. You may
have to repeat this operation a couple of times.


The Russian masks have one big advantage: They fit
tightly over your whole head. This makes a good seal
without adjusting any straps -- so they can be
distributed right at the front line, and victims of
tear gas get immediate relief:

The Russian mask have one big disadvantage: They fit
tightly over your wholehead. Your ears are covered, so
it¹s hard to hear. The masks provide zilch peripheral
vision. And people who wear glasses usually find these
masks intolerable.

But hey, it¹s better than breathing in tear gas.

Note, however, that this supplier has two different
kinds of Russian masks, which we've been calling
"little eyes" and "big eyes." ONLY ORDER THE LITTLE-EYE
RUSSIAN MASKS! The big-eyed masks have glass lenses,
which could shatter if hit directly by a tear-gas
canister, rubber bullet, or police baton. We bought
some of these by mistake, and are having to modify them
to make them safe.


Both of our recommended masks use standard NATO filter
THEM TO WORK. This seemingly obvious detail might not
be during the commotion of an action. So pass the word.
We recommend that you buy some spare cartridges. One
supplier that we have used sells them for $4.95 each,
or 10 for $39.95.



If these folks are sold out, you might try the two
suppliers listed below. We have not dealt with them,
however, so we're not recommending them -- just
providing contact info.

BUT DON'T BUY AN ISRAELI MASK! Sure they¹re cheap, but
they have glass lenses that shatter easily. Several
movement medics are written to us to bemoan the
possibly permanent eye damage that they have seen these
masks inflict.

$6.99 BELGIAN GAS MASKS **Note that the filter that
they are selling with this mask almost certainly does
not work.**

You will need either to convince them to replace it
with a new NATO filter, or you will have to buy a
filter separately.


**The masks are used -- make sure the filters aren't!**


e-BAY AUCTIONS One member of the Masquerade Project
collective recently purchased a mask through an E-Bay
auction. Of course with e-Bay, time is an issue. And
it¹s just three weeks until the DC convergence... So
hurry, hurry, hurry!

Instead of ordering gas masks by mail, you
can also check out army-navy stores in your area. The
prices are likely to be higher than these Internet
deals, but you get the opportunity to try the masks
before purchasing, and you don't have to wait for them
to be shipped to you.

Another good choice: Buy a paint respirator, available
at any hardware store. These cost about $30. They must
be paired with some kind of goggles, to keep the nasty
gas out of your eyes. Swim goggles work well for people
who don't wear glasses; scuba masks are an option for
those who do. You can also try shop goggles or ski
goggles, if you seal the vents with maskingtape. BUT
Tear gas and pepper spray are bad -- but shards of
glass in your eye would be disastrous.

We¹re still researching! If you have experience, good
or bad,  with any model of mask -- OR KNOW ABOUT
ANOTHER CHEAP SUPPLIER -- tell us about it at

To receive further
communiqués such as this, send a blank e-mail to

<snip>1. DONATE TO THE MASQUERADE PROJECT! It's very simple:
The more money we get, the more masks we will buy and
give away on the streets. Each $5 purchases one mask --
give generously! You can donate by credit card at
http://www.masqueradeproject.orgor send a check or
money order made out to The Masquerade Project to P.O.
Box 648, NY, NY 10009.

2. DO IT YOURSELF Decorate your own masks and join us
in Washington, D.C., September 29-30.  See
http://www.abolishthebank.org and
http://www.globalizethis.org for details on the
protests.  Check out our website at
http://www.masqueradeproject.org for information on
where to buy a gas mask and what materials work best
for decorating (plus photos of some of our favorite

3. EDUCATE yourself and your community about the health
risks of tear-gas and pepper spray exposure, and how to
protect yourself. We've compiled links to the best
available sources of information on these chemical
weapons, their health effects, and recommended methods
for treating exposure at our
http://www.masqueradeproject.org site.

In previous demonstrations, a large and vibrant
festival has emerged in the safe zones, behind the
front lines.  But the front line is wherever there's a
fuming gas canister. And increasingly, the creeping,
stinging gas seems to be everywhere.  We can't let it
stop our celebration -- or our resistance.

Let's bring the carnival against capitalism to the
front lines of protest.


To Post a message, send it to:   •••@••.•••

To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to: 

Aaron Koleszar <•••@••.•••>
"Por todos nuestros muertos, ni un minuto de silencio. Toda una vida de 
[To honor our dead, not a minute of silence. A whole life of struggle.]
- In memory of Carlo Giuliani who was murdered by a soldier at the G8 
meeting in Genoa, Italy.
"Find out just what people will quietly submit to, and you have found out 
the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them, and 
these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows. The 
limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."
         -Frederick Douglass       [and by the inaction of witnesses]
Evil flourishes when good people do nothing.
"If you assume that there's no hope, you guarantee that there will be no 
hope.  If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are 
opportunities to change things, there's a chance you may contribute to 
making a better world.  That's your choice." - Noam Chomsky
http://www.indymedia.org - The Independent Media Center (IMC)
The Biotic Baking Brigade.....coming soon to a pie-o-region near you.
•••@••.•••                              http://www.asis.com/~bbb/