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San Francisco | Environment & Forest Defense

Direct Action: Blocking Doors at Bank of America
by R. Robertson
Monday Nov 30th, 2009 9:47 PM
Today a loud group of hundreds marched in San Francisco from Justin Herman Plaza to the Bank of America’s skyscraper (the tallest building in San Francisco)/ Dzens of activists blockaded the doors all around the building

After more than 20 arrests were made, one door was still blocked. An organizer came around to that side of building and told the last blockaders that the police had said, "we've arrested enough today, we aren't going to arrest anymore."
§Eviction notice
by R. Robertson Monday Nov 30th, 2009 9:47 PM

§Arrestable
by R. Robertson Monday Nov 30th, 2009 9:47 PM

§hanging out, waiting for arrest
by R. Robertson Monday Nov 30th, 2009 9:47 PM

§hanging out, waiting for arrest
by R. Robertson Monday Nov 30th, 2009 9:47 PM

§Janine and David
by R. Robertson Monday Nov 30th, 2009 9:47 PM

§Still blocking doors at 2:30pm
by R. Robertson Monday Nov 30th, 2009 9:47 PM

§Still standing...
by R. Robertson Monday Nov 30th, 2009 9:47 PM

§Don't foreclose
by R. Robertson Monday Nov 30th, 2009 9:47 PM


Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Tell no lies, claim no easy victories
Thursday Dec 3rd, 2009 11:35 AM
Not to rain on anyone's parade, but this wasn't 'direct action'.

I'd be overjoyed if Bank of America's doors were all blocked. I'd be jubilant if Bank of America's support for polluters was halted. I'd be even happier if capitalism was halted in its tracks and we stopped the destruction of the earth's habitat and its species yesterday.

But we did not stop Bank of America from functioning. We did not even stop access to all of the doors at the main Bank of America site.

I was there. People blockaded most of the main doors to Bank of America. It was a colorful, powerful demonstration, as the photos and writing on this site make clear.

But the police kept one door open at all times. Those attempting to do business via blocked doors were simply told to go to the open door - which they did. As well, the street level concourse remained open at all times, as did access for trucks and cars. Workers came in and out of the building to put up Xmas lighting and prune the shrubbery while the demonstration went on; I know, since I talked with them.

There's a place for symbolic actions. But let's not confuse it with direct action. We have to be honest with ourselves if we intend to confront the immensity of the tasks before us. When the workers inside of BoA join with those of us outside of it to stop its functioning - and we join with them - then we can talk about the power that will be needed to save the planet.
by direct actionist
Thursday Dec 3rd, 2009 10:09 PM
The organizing spokes council decided to have a mid-day action, so shutting the place down was not an option--those who work inside were already in and the place is a rats nest of inter-connected multi-level walkways, elevators and such.

Folks set the goal as disruption--blocking as many doors as we could starting with the most used front plaza doors first. Over fifty people stepped up to blockade and we did shut down all the doors on the main entrance for a couple hours, though, yes, there are many ways in and out. It was pretty amazing watching the executive-types and office workers walk up in disbelief that they could not just walk in. 22 of us were arrested. We involved a couple hundred people as participants, thousands in the street and offices saw us, we gave out a couple thousand info sheets, our action went all over the world through climate justice networks, and independent and mainstream media. Hell there is even an article in American Banking News.

It was the first day of coordinated direct action for climate justice in the North America: There were action across the US and Canada and some global action, such as in India and Bangladesh. People in New York and seattle also targetted B of A.

About direct action: for many of us it's as much about intervening the narratives of the elites as it is about physical control of some doors or streets. We are essentially fighting a battle of information ideas and stories, and too often folks think it's about a piece of street (though sometimes that's part of it) and lose the bigger fight.


by Tell no lies, claim no easy victories
Friday Dec 4th, 2009 2:22 PM
Thank you for the response.

I applaud the actions of those who blocked the doors; it takes a commitment to do even symbolic civil disobedience. We should be thankful that many hundreds choose to show up to march and protest. I am not questioning the decisions of the coordinating spokescouncils, especially since I wasn't there to participate in those decisions. I merely showed up to join the protest and participate in what was, as I wrote, a colorful and powerful event.

My objection was not to the action, which was fine - as far as it went. My point was merely that we should be honest and straightforward in our words. One of the younger activists who was also there to help asked me how Seattle 1999 had occurred. I answered that we had organized dozens of actions such as this beforehand and those had helped prepare people to go further. But it was also the failure of those symbolic actions that led people to realize that we had to do more. Much more.

As for "...intervening in the narratives of elites...", perhaps this is where a difference may stem. I suspect you made my point about symbolic activity far better than I ever could have.

Have you ever used that particular phrase in talking with a human being and not cringed?

I am interested in the destruction of elites, not in intervening or deconstructing their narratives. I remain particularly committed to the destruction of those who support capitalism and the ravaging of the earth's environment. I could care less about the thought processes of executive types. Let us save our thoughts and our words for who actually work, whether they were pruning the plants outside the BoA building, slaving over a terminal inside or working in a coal mine that BoA is financing.

Then we can talk about direct action that may mean something.





by Tell no lies, claim no easy victories
Friday Dec 4th, 2009 4:12 PM
The person writing as 'direct actionist' used the phrase, "intervening the narratives of the elites", not 'intervening in the narratives of the elites'.

I did not deliberately mis-quote, I just could not read the original as I was responding.

My apologies.
by direct actionist
Monday Dec 21st, 2009 2:53 PM
"intervening the narratives of the elites" is a fancy way to say telling a different story.

Before movements have the power to get rid of elites that wreck our communities the environment we depend on, we need a lot of people--millions--participating and we need to have majority popular support. Small groups of people can make big changes with out this, and the history of small groups trying to fight militantly for big changes without mass suport and participation is not too good.

The first step is changing the story of what people think is going on and challenging the story (narrative) that elites tell--capitalism = democracy, markets can stop climate change, etc.

As the Coalition of Immokalee Workers say, "Consciousness plus action = change."


by DIRECT ACTIONIST
Monday Dec 21st, 2009 2:55 PM
I MEANT TO WRITE; Small groups of people CAN'T make big changes with out this, and the history of small groups trying to fight militantly for big changes without mass suport and participation is not too good.