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San Francisco | Anti-War

March 18, 07 escalation anniversary
by cp
Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM
Here are photos with some captions of a large fourth anniversary of the Iraq escalation march.
Towards the bottom, some film clips included of the antiauthoritarian gathering at the end of the main march. There was no breakaway march. I thought this situation was quite skillfully and creatively carried out

Shortly after this march, someone said that either the Chronicle's sfgate.com or the television said there were 3000 people. That is absolutely not true. This was very close to the average for the long list of San Francisco marches since 2002 - and probably had at least 40,000. Many people near me thought they were towards the end when they arrived at the Civic center for the ANSWER speeches, but it took nearly another hour for everyone to finish coming from Market street. The civic plaza was filled up.
§Insane Reagan
by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

Antonia Juhasz and Direct Action to Stop the War worked with this group at the beginning
§kid with che flag, part of cinco group
by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

§dog
by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

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by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

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by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

§dominicans
by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

§episcopalians
by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

§dogs
by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

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by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

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by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

§Pilipino socialist group
by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

§Revolutionary Youth
by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

This group was impressively large, and had lots of cute people with it.
§
by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

§'breakaway call'
by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

Quite a few people had seen an internet posting, the week earlier, calling for something like a 'breakaway' march, with somewhat similar style to events that happened in 2003 and 2004. Infoshop demoted it and some were suspicious of who was calling this, because it was unattributed. Moreover, this weekend had many distracting things going on, what with the big BASTARD conference in the east bay, and the 2nd day of the book fair - which was packed with people. How many could also manage to attend the peace march?
Still, many seemed to be looking around for the described black flags, which weren't readily visible after the ANSWER march came to the Civic Center. Two weird people were wearing henry rollins-black flag shirts and had a small black flag they were carrying back and forth, but they didn't make sense.
After some time, a group of about 75 people who seemed to be either wearing black or in some way were aware of the call coalesced near the library after someone waved a flag. There were about 30 police transport vans, plus prisoner buses on the south side of civic center, and squads of police were scattered at all the intersections in the area, totalling several hundred officers. Soon, one line of a dozen did a 'walk by and stare' manoevre at the intersection by the library where some 'black bloc' attired people were. Soon after, the person with the sound system left. About 30 of the black attired people crossed the street and sat on the grass by the library. The rest of the vaguely affiliated people stood some distance down the street or on the Civic Center plaza block. At this point, some police motorbike squads pulled in to start essentially staring at the tighter group sitting on the grass, and a large double-squad of police with helmets assembled in a square near the library dropoff parking lot. The green hat observers, and various people with cameras, both with and without press passes, stood an intermediate distance away, while other clumps of people stood a block away or wandered around.
Some time passed as the tighter group sat on the grass talking.
Then this group of about 30 stood up and walked eastward towards market street, and then sat in a circle on the library steps and started a discussion. The motorbike squad started their engines to follow them down there, and the foot officers also seemed to be radioing each other to adjust their positions, and some press and gawkers started taking their photos. There were squads of ~20 officers standing at many nearby spots around the corner from the library, and at all the civic center.
Someone in the discussion circle started passing out some pieces of paper. The most prominent rectangle of officers seemed to be placed there for intimidation. A lot of time passed, and the blood must have been pooling in their feet. Speeches echoed out from the main stage, and various main-march participants started break-dancing, drumming, and walking around and eating. While the march had arrived at the center around 2pm, it was about 4pm when the 'black bloc' looking group stood up in 2 or 3 lines and started to sing one or two songs that had been printed on the lyric sheet they had handed out and had been practicing.
Next, the group walked towards the civic center again, causing the motorbikes to all turn around and start to follow them as though they were about to set off on an unpermitted march, which could allow the police to target them all for essentially voluntary encirclement and arrest. Instead, they sat down on the grass on the sunny side of the library again. After a while, the police walked away and people went back to their lives.
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by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

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by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

There was some trouble aiming the camera here, but what this shows is someone dancing, then it pans towards a large squad of 50 police (not centered), and way off in the distance the people with black clothes are sitting on the stairs. There is an odd second where an officer seems to be grabbing an unstable person out of traffic.
§
by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

Sound isn't good here, but this captures the scene where the black bloc is attempting to sing a song to the motorbike squad that has been observing them.
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by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

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by cp Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 11:42 PM

§song again
by cp Monday Mar 19th, 2007 12:13 AM

This doesn't capture the lyrics well, but this is the idea. There was a chorus with two lines of singers.
§more march photos
by cp Monday Mar 19th, 2007 7:20 AM

There were endless numbers of clever signs and subcontingents.
§Motorbike squad, anarchists
by cp Monday Mar 19th, 2007 7:30 AM

A smaller motorbike line of police was sent to most closely stand and watch the visible anarchist group, and another large group was assigned to stand in a rectangular formation at Fuilton. The other squads of crowd-control officers were kept spaced out in all directions at Grove Street and by the art museum.
§march photo
by cp Monday Mar 19th, 2007 7:36 AM

§pretty dog
by cp Monday Mar 19th, 2007 7:42 AM

§Expression through dance
by cp Monday Mar 19th, 2007 8:31 AM

There were a lot of nonverbal signals being sent between the antiauthoritarian discussion circle and the police. The was coordinated movement in formations sending a signal of power, and the sitting around and walking half a block sent a signal of 'we don't care'. A few people from one of the two radical pilipino groups started break-dancing in front of a police batallion sent another signal

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by AAA
Monday Mar 19th, 2007 8:18 AM
Appears that the kids who "play" anarchist were intimidated by the show of force from the police.
Thats ok. The real anarchists were busy elsewhere. They recognized the futility of yet another mass rally
by Coyote
Monday Mar 19th, 2007 10:04 AM
In a sense, you're right to criticize the anarchists there. No one was prepared for anything major. Most of us just happened to be in town that day, and thought if there were to be some anarchist action in SF, we'd be glad to help out. We'd heard that there was an anonymous call for an anarchist breakaway march, so we made sure we could be there to add to the numbers if anything went down. But you're right; nobody there really had any experience (as far as I could tell), nobody knew why the call was made or what the purpose of being there was, so we sat down to have a lil' consensus meeting to decide where to go from there. And rather than A.) FSU with our small numbers and get arrested immediately, B.) Have another march, or C.) just go home, we decided to use it as an opportunity to set up a communication network so we can keep in touch and be more prepared for whatever we can help each other with in the future. Some of the folks there had pretty limited exposure to consensus, security culture, etc. so we got to cover those things a bit too. I was a little disappointed that we didn't take any "real" action, but at the same time I'm really glad to have met the folks I did, and I think we made the right decision given the circumstances. Oh, and at the end we sang 'Baby, I'm an Anarchist' to the police, to the delight of our surrounding audiences (excepting the police). I know, I know, we're not REAL ANARCHISTS, eh? Haha...
by Coyote
Monday Mar 19th, 2007 10:11 AM
We didn't pass out lyric sheets, haha, the papers were for something else. Most of us just happened to know that song. We didn't even really plan to do the song... it just sort of happened.
by .cp
Monday Mar 19th, 2007 11:40 AM
I thought the whole thing was really well done - and at least as meaningful as anything happening across the street.

Did you see how the Chronicle is still almost delegitimizing the main march by continuing to argue that there were only 3000 people? I clearly remember that my high school had 1650 people. They would have sports assemblies and everyone would go into the gym during a 5 minute passing period through several sets of double doors. How could it take a couple hours for a crowd only twice that size to pass through a wide street into civic center?

Anyway, there were quite a few wise moves that the group did that we can list.
Clearly there is some coevolution occurring between the police and the affinity group that often forms a black bloc. The black bloc is a ritualistic activity which technically amounts to 'petitioning the government for redress of grievances', with a different style than the pacifist marchers. It is probably would less accurately be considered 'direct action', than a Food Not Bombs meal, in a sense. 'Insurrectionary' style stuff has its place when it is necessary to obstruct horrible current behavior by government and companies, however, the real hard work is to actually build a positive new society, rather than leaving a gaping hole after an older system is brought down.
It would be a bad move to repeat exactly the same protest format that has been done at least 10 times at the end of ANSWER marches and other large protests.
There have been several of these events where an unpermitted march didn't even do anything illegal at all, and the whole group was pre-emptively taken in. Given the statement on that call-out that it would be symbolically done for Josh Wolf, and given the large number of police, you could assume that the police would have tried to ticket people immediately for things like jaywalking. It could have become almost like the symbolic civil disobedience/voluntary arrest that the quakers do. There have been cases in the past where there also were 350 police following a group, and no one was arrested, so it is difficult to forecast what could have happened. Anyway, doing something creative, and meeting each other was probably far more productive a use of time. If anyone actually had a project, it would probably be wiser to just set a later date and reconvene.
by Misc. points
Monday Mar 19th, 2007 12:29 PM
Did you see how the Chronicle is still almost delegitimizing the main march by continuing to argue that there were only 3000 people?

The mainstream media makes a 10 minute appearence, takes a few photos and records a few sound bites.
Its possible that when there were only 3,000 people when the Chron came. The rally organizers themselves lamented the fact they didn't have the numbers of the first anti-war rallies. With support for the war at its lowest point ever, the opposite should be true.

Part of the problem, of course, is ANSWER. People have begun to realize that ANSWER is not a legitimate peace group. Working Assets brought a sizeable contingent with them- and deliberately keep them apart from the main march. They even provided their own sound ssytem
by Anarchists Hate ANSWER
Tuesday Mar 20th, 2007 12:16 PM
International A.N.S.W.E.R. is not the answer. That is the conclusion which has been reached by the majority of the American anti-war movement after two years of ANSWER's efforts to "lead" the American anti-war and peace movements. ANSWER bills itself as a coalition, but it is nothing of the sort. ANSWER is a front group organized by Stalinists associated with the Workers World Party. ANSWER has led the anti-war movement around in circles for two years, continuing its practice of organizing safe protests which promote the organization, but do nothing to slow down the war or even bring us one day closer to abolishing the U.S. war machine. What's more, scarce movement resources have been diverted into ANSWER's organization, which has only helped promote the authoritarian politics of the WWP. ANSWER has squandered movement resources on symbolic protests in Washington and San Francisco which every seasoned activist can tell you are a waste of time. ANSWER isn't interested in ending any war--they want to be in control of any new social change movements that grow in the United States.