9-11-08 Interview with Dylan Avery (Loose Change)

Wendy S. Painting, M.A.

Every year activists gather at Ground Zero in New York City on September 11th to pay respects to the dead and to show the world that the victims of the attacks and the citizens of this country deserve a real accounting concerning the events of 9/11/01, something that is yet to be had. This year hundreds gathered from all over the country and the world to show solidarity and support for this growing movement.

One face among the crowd this year, and in years past, was Dylan Avery, native of Upstate New York, and one of the writers and producers of the films Loose Change, Loose Change 2, and Loose Change: Final Cut, released just this past year. The Loose Change movies go a long way in pointing out the lesser known details of that day, as well as the inconsistencies and outright falsehoods which were immediately associated with 9/11. As new information came to light in the years after 9-11 Avery and his crew, Iraq veteran Korey Rowe, and long time friend Jason Burmas, reedited and rereleased the movie. All three films go a long way in “begging the question” as to what really did happen on September 11th as well as raising awareness about the plights of the first responders and the willful ignorance and cowardice of mainstream media in asking un-ignorable questions. Loose Change turned the notion of ‘conspiracy theory’ upside down, proving that those words are often touted in an attempt to prevent information from reaching the larger public. Avery was among the scores of activists who came to bear witness this year on the anniversary of the largest unsolved crime in our nation’s history.

Dylan sat down and spoke with me at Ground Zero, the very site of national trauma, mass murder, and government cover up, which victims and concerned citizens now flock to, in an attempt to understand the event and put the pieces back together, personally and among the larger national collective mind. Avery’s work has helped many to understand the fuller implications of the attacks and helped to mobilize massive amounts of young people in an outstanding grassroots initiative for public education. In 2006 thousands came to Ground Zero on 9-11 from all over the country, many of them sparked into action by information contained in the Loose Change films, this trend continues.

(Photo: Dylan Avery outside of Ground Zero 9/11/08. Photo by Wendy S. Painting)

This year at Ground Zero, the main objective of We Are Change, an activist group dedicated to the 9/11 issues, was the plight of the First Responders, the unimaginably brave men and woman who heeded a call to duty in the time of their fellow countrymen’s most dire need, only to be abused and mistreated by the U.S Government and fellow citizens, when their selfless service led to the most horrific and terminal of health problems. Many of these responders are now dying disturbing deaths as a result of the air they ingested in their efforts to save the lives of others, yet are refused adequate health care, cannot afford medication and are forced to foreclose on their houses, leaving behind children and spouses who must now pay the price as a result of these selfless actions. Activists like the many We Are Change groups and Dylan Avery refuse to allow treatment of this type towards national heroes in their names and seek to raise awareness of their struggle.

Words speak louder than actions, an idea contained in the name ‘Louder Than Words Productions’ Avery’s production company. “This weekend is all about the first responders,” Avery said. Activists are hoping to raise money and donate it to the responders and their families via the Feel Good Foundation, a charity started by a sick first responder, John Feel, who grew tired of watching his friends die without help from the government, who heralded them as heroes immediate following the attacks but then quickly discarded them.

On September 12, organizers and activists held a charity fund raiser concert for the first responders. Among the artists to appear were legendary hip hop gurus Talib Kweli, Immortal Technique and KRS ONE as well as a special appearance by presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney, who praised the movement for its tireless work. Avery who now also works to produce Hip Hop artists in sync with the message of Louder Than Words Productions said that his own personal hopes for the event were that mainstream media would show enough integrity to cover the monumental event. “MTV and BET all said they would come out to cover this important event…I am waiting to see if they deliver.” Avery said he looked forward to the gathering of “hip hop heads,” (the name given to hard core indy hip hop fans) and hoped they would be receptive to the plight of the First Responders and the 9/11 movement in general.

Although many times not acknowledged, hip hop contrasts to what is known commonly as “Rap.” Hip Hop, known for it’s more independent and intelligent messages, usually contain valuable social and political commentary and eschews material consumerism and street violence in pursuit of higher goals and cultural understanding through art and music.

(Photo: KRS ONE and IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE at 2008 NOW OR NEVER Concert, in back ground Luke Rudkowski, Organizer of We Are Change, photo by Wendy S. Painting)

The alliance of 9/11 truth with Hip Hop has been a long time coming and became prominent with the music and groundbreaking lyrics of Immortal Technique, as well as through the underlying, youthful beats which accompanied the soundtrack for the Loose Change movies themselves. The alliance of 9-11 truth with hip hop has strengthened both movements and caused cross over among them. People who previously were turned off by the empty materialism and shallow violence of rap now find wise words and resonation with the more intelligent form of Hip Hop. Hip hop gives people the ability to look at things in a different light through complex and intelligent lyrical content. Plus, who doesn’t like a good beat thrown on top of their daily dose of philosophy?

“Mainstream artists cannot go to that intellectual extreme, they might want to but they don’t,” Avery explained. Avery sites artists such as Twalib Kwali and Hakim, as individuals who are not afraid to speak Truth to Power and contrasts them with more commercial Rap artists who may know about the 9/11 Lies, but choose to remain silent, for whatever reason.

The Madison in New York hosted the concert and it was an astounding success, packing in 9-11 activists and hip hop heads from all over the country. Avery’s advice to regional and national organizers for hosting successful events such as this year’s “2008: Now Or Never” concert was to “be intelligent. Don’t try to squeeze too much into one event. Also, be on top of your promotion. It takes months of ground work to attract people to a successful event. Don’t think you can just send out a few emails the night before and attract a crowd.”

I asked Avery if he thought that the collective of people who gather at Ground Zero every 9-11 could be considered a “Movement.” “Without a doubt,” Avery responded, “People want to see a change; they want to see things done differently. This is a movement and it’s the right thing to do.”The 9/11 movement is revolutionary in many ways and has turned the previous model of social organization and grassroots mobilization theories on their head. (More on this in an upcoming article). Avery credits much of this to the rise of the internet and tools such as Google Video, social networking sites and citizens independent media initiatives. Rarely do you see a 9/11 activist without a camera in their hand, ready to upload their work onto the internet to inform and inspire others. “When JFK was killed it took years for a movement dedicated to finding the truth of that event to form. Activists had to find each other and there was no quick and efficient way to do this. Loose Change 2 came out right when Google video did and the marriage of these factors is an undeniable reason for its success.” Indeed, Loose Change 2 dominated Google video for months in 2005.

The 9/11 Truth Movement was given a shot in the arm by Avery’s talents and contributions. But the information initiative cannot end with him. Avery’s advice to researchers, organizers and activists is not to be ignored. “Don’t believe ANYTHING you read! You have to verify and follow up on any piece of information you read. Just because it’s on the television, the internet or spoken by a “leader” within the movement doesn’t mean it’s correct, I don’t care if it’s me or Alex Jones, you have to research for yourself and use critical thinking. There is a lot of disinformation out there and it’s easy to become sidetracked. Even things that movement “leaders” say must be treated with serious scrutiny and discretion.”

Avery’s work has received mainstream criticism and acclaim and was featured in well known magazines such as Vanity Fair and talk shows such as Democracy Now. Avery who has been extremely busy the last few years producing, filming, scouting and traveling to speaking engagements throughout the world says he’s tired and needs a break. There are none who would argue that he doesn’t deserve one but I don’t think we’ve heard the last from this inspirational film maker whose extracurricular hobbies in the years following 9/11 would help spark the rise of a movement which has changed and deepened the collective understanding of that horrible day. As a crash course in 9/11, movies like Avery’s, which rivals and outshines those of many film school graduates, should be shown to young people to inoculate them against lies perpetrated by political and media elites, as well as proof that individuals have power to effect change around themselves.

(Upcoming: Exclusive interview with Hip Hop Legend : KRS ONE)

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Where did this come from? I

Where did this come from? I felt flattered by it. Yes, 9/11 truth IS the right thing to do.


Loose change guys. You have opened the eye's of millions.