Yesterday was declared by our truthful, honest, and independent media to be "the day which would make or break the occupy movement."
The black block chose, once again, to infiltrate an Occupy action and use it as a platform for violence. They've been a problem before. On the last big national day of action, this happened:
These thugs are attacking the 99%. They're attacking food markets. They're attacking workplaces. They're threatening people who dare speak out against their actions. They're beating up people who stand between the black block and the members of the 99% who the black block is trying to attack.
These people assaulted my friend Tim Pool when he was bringing images of NYPD violence to the world:
Masked men assaulted him for daring to do the ONE thing which is getting the occupy movement attention: keeping the cameras running 24-7. Those cameras are our lifeline. Those cameras are keeping this movement alive, and the first step for any black block action is to destroy or disable every camera they can find.
The black block can have one effect, and only one effect: severing the Occupy movement from Mainstream America.
Occupy represents the frustrations of the majority of Americans. Actions like this can only damage the movement.
Who is the Black Bloc?
The black block is a self-styled anarchist tactic. It is not an identifiable organization. It is a method of creating violence and chaos in the streets. They desire to be an effective street-fighting force to oppose the police. They think they're being bold revolutionaries, when in actuality, they're cowards hiding behind masks, wearing a terrifying uniform.
That uniform is generally all black clothing, and they often carry dowel rods to which black flags have been affixed.
They start fights with the police, they destroy property, they attack other occupiers, and they give the police an excuse to attack us.
What do groups that use black block tactics believe?
One of the organizations which has typically used black block tactics is a group called anti-racist action. They're a streetfighting organization that goes after Nazis and other white nationalist/seperatist groups. They also attack the police and vandalize buildings. To quote them on their own website about Occupy and their tactics and beliefs:
1)"this is not about partisan politics, this is about class solidarity among the 99%" - Not sure we're down with this 99% thing, as it seems to imply a broad class front that includes everyone but the richest of the rich. There are plenty of people left out of the category of the super-rich that I don't want solidarity with, like fascists, white nationalists, police/FBI, politicians, Stalinists, the bourgeoisie and some of the petty bourgeoisie that make up the bosses and landlords that we have so many problems with, etc.This, by the way, is the logic used by some to justify the Black Bloc's attack on the mission district of San Francisco.
These members of the 99% have slightly more than other members of the 99% and thus, they deserve to have their Toyota minivans destroyed, their small business shop fronts smashed, and their neighborhood vandalized. This is the thinking of the black block, and the various groups that support them.
What has the Black Block accomplished?
The Black Block does three things which harm the movement, and nothing which helps it.
They make a safe haven for agent provocateurs seeking to disrupt occupy actions, they prevent us from getting the police on our side, and they scare the American Public.
In regards to the question of agent provocateurs one occupier who was disgusted with the violence in the mission district posted on his blog:
. You see, I don’t know who, the people I’ll dub as the ‘ringleaders’ of the march were exactly. Nobody did. Yeah some of the aggro people we always have to deal with were there, but these guys weren’t it. You remember those asshole jock bullies in high school? Well that was who was leading the march tonight. Clean cut, athletic, commanding, gravitas not borne of charisma but of testosterone and intimidation. They were decked out in outfits typically attributed to those in the ‘black bloc’ spectrum of tactics, yet their clothes were too new, and something was just off about them. They were very combative and nearly physically violent with the livestreamers on site, and got ignorant with me, a medic, when I intervened and reminded them that I was there to fix them from police violence, not protester on protester violence.In other news, Bloomberg is reporting that banks have hired Securitas (Formerly Pinkerton) to run surveillance on occupy groups.
I am typically really bad with names, but I am great with faces. I love people. I love looking into their eyes, looking at their smiles and their body language and trying to guess at their life and stuff. I probably will forget your name the first few times I’ve met you, but I will not forget your face. Even people I pass on the street, I’ll remember you for weeks. With that said, I didn’t recognize any of these people. Their eyes were too angry, their mouths were too severe. They felt “military” if that makes sense. Something just wasn’t right about them on too many levels. I’m not one of those tin foil hat conspiracy theorists, I don’t subscribe to those theories that Queen Elizabeth’s Reptilian slave driver masters run the Fed. I’ve read up on agent provocateurs and plants and that sort of thing and I have to say that without a doubt, I believe 100% that the people that started tonight’s events in the Mission were exactly that.
This is the same kind of tactic they use on Labor Unions. It's black block tactics that allow Hired Thugs to disrupt our actions.
In the early days of Occupy, we were really succesful in getting people to say "police are the 99%." This led to people chanting "We are the 99 percent SO ARE YOU!" and "We're fighting for your pension!" at the police. Some of them looked like they were going to cry.
That feeling is gone now, and it's thanks to thugs in the black block that the police aren't marching with us. Their actions allowed thugs like Anthony Bologna to divide the movement.
I don't think I even have to mention what Fox News is continuing to do with reports of Black Block violence.
Why would people support the Black Block?
I've heard only a few arguments in favor of the black block and its tactics, but if anyone here supports the black block, I'll quote your argument and respond to them.
Argument 1: I care about what works, not about high minded ideals.
Same here, buddy. I've never been one to wax ecstatic about high minded ideals over the practicality of politics. That's why I'm a member of the democratic party, and haven't joined the impotent fringe who can't get candidates elected, even if I agree with the ideals of third parties more than I agree with the ideals of the big tent Democrats.
I oppose the black block not because violence is bad, but because the specific tactics which the black block uses are A) Stupid, B) Counterproductive, and C) will never work.
We've never seen any method for political violence achieve an extreme agenda. It just doesn't work. What works is educating the voters, and winning your arguments.
Breaking the windows of a bank will only play into the corporate media attempts to portray occupiers as ignorant thugs.
And to make my point here abundantly clear, if I thought that smashing bank windows would actually help the American Republic move into a more just, more peaceful, and more educated future, I would be running down wall street with a bucket of rocks right now. This is not about being a wishy washy peacenic, this is about what will actually achieve the kind of change we want.
Argument 2: We shouldn't get rid of the black block because we might need them.
Okay, I don't know in what context we might need militant resistance to our government. For the sake of argument, let's say we've arrived at a place where armed struggle has become necessary. I don't know what that would look like. Perhaps the purveyors of Lolcats took over, created the Itteh Bitteh Kitteh action Comitteh and installed Chairman Meow as a brutal dictator: there are no elections, the constitution is suspended, dog ownership is illegal, etc.
And now, to bring down this awful dictator, we now need some kind of fighting force.
Who would you rather that force be:
A) A bunch of skinny cowards who hide behind masks because they're afraid of taking responsibility for their own actions.
B) The OccupyMarines and other OccupyVeterans who have military training and the OccupyPolice who have firearms training.
I'd argue that even in this scenario, we would want to get rid of the black block. These kids aren't going to want to be told what to do, they're not going to be willing to accept the strict discipline on which every single successful armed resistance force has relied.
Even in such a distopian thought experiment the Black Block is worse than useless.
Down with the Black Block.
If the occupy movement is going to be successful, it needs to take steps to distance itself from black block tactics.
I have some suggestions:
1. That black block tactics (Specifically: The destruction of cameras, the attacks on property) be officially banned by General Assemblies.
2. That black block uniforms be banned by General Assemblies, and people wearing such uniforms asked to change into civilian clothes, or leave.
3. That people acting violently be asked to leave.
4. That General Assemblies organize response teams designed to put themselves nonviolently between black block thugs and the people and properties they're trying to attack.
These steps might, and I stress might, prevent the destruction of the occupy movement at the hands of Securitas, the Banks, and Fox News.
11:49 AM PT: A note about anarchists and anarchy.
There's been some folks equating the black block with all anarchists. I need to be clear, they're not the same thing.
Some of the people most upset by the actions of the Black Block are anarchists themselves.
One of my best friends, an Anarchist, called me in tears after the news of Black Block actions on mayday.
"They Fucked us, Ollie. They screwed us, and now we have to pick up the pieces while they call us pussies!"
Many anarchists share our commitment to nonviolence and should not be equated with the black block.
3:01 PM PT: Pluto Cratt's comment says everything I meant to say in the briefest possible terms:
It's easy to be a badass when you're wearing a mask and you're part of a paramilitary group. It's a hell of a lot harder to, say, sit still while a cop pepper sprays your face.This is about what works. What works is being brave enough to take responsibility for the consequences of your actions.
And guess which one makes OWS look good to the MSM?