Protesters Target Bechtel to Mark Anniversary of Shut Downby a RAIL comrade
San Francisco- On March 19, 2004 people came out at 7am to commemorate the 1 year anniversary of shutting down the city the same time last year in response to the U$ full scale invasion of Iraq. (1) While dwarfed in comparison to 2003, the direct action to end the occupation a year later gathered strong support with hundreds of people taking the streets and blockading Bechtel Corporation's headquarters.
Once again, the anarchist-led mass organization Direct Action to Stop the War organized the day. They have succeeded in offering an alternative to the permitted march and rally/fair routine of International ANSWER and United for Peace and Justice. This year's action included two marches that surrounded Bechtel in downtown San Francisco. Bechtel was the chosen target as the primary u$ corporation that is directly extracting wealth and resources from Iraq since the invasion last year. People locked down around the entrance and successfully prevented employees from entering for an hour or two before police escorted them in en masse. Meanwhile the block in front of the building was blocked by protesters. Still, the police were in control of the situation, keeping the rally isolated to one block and getting employees to work without any arrests.
The direct actions are largely made up of youth and students who demand more action than banner waving and singing. The police seem to recognize this and allowed the demo to have the space it needed to do a little more, without actually threatening Bechtel, the city of San Francisco, imperialism, etc. Around 9am a large portion of the crowd left to occupy a squat that is scheduled to be demolished for condos. This cleared the block enough to allow police to take it over for traffic, leaving over a hundred people gathered on the sidewalk outside of the building.
Though their tactics are more fun and confrontational, the anarchists do not provide an alternative to the chauvinism of the other mass demonstrations we've seen. In an attempt to define "empire" the original flier for this action described, "transferring wealth from the majority of the people in the US and public services to big corporations and the wealthy." This statement is completely false as MIM has proven, in fact the majority of the people in the US are receiving wealth transferred from the Third World. (2) Their later flier was edited to read, "transferring wealth from the majority of the people in the US (and the world) and public services..." The parenthetical acknowledgment of the rest of the world is almost more offensive in that they didn't just forget about it, but they actually relegated it to a secondary consideration.
In addition to this, the demo was typical of ANSWER and UFPJ rallies in their calls for health care and education. (Though the students/youth makeup of the crowd left out the demand for jobs.) This is why the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist League (RAIL), as a mass organization, recognizes MIM leadership. We see the road that other mass organizations have taken; whether led by the anarchists, liberals or pseudo-communists, they all end up falling for amerikan chauvinism.
Though there was not a significant showing from the Black community, it was interesting to note a consistent difference between those in attendance and some of the other participants. When one man was chanting at the police about how they need to get out of the Third World and they're gonna get what's coming to them one womyn encouraged him to show the cops respect so that they'll behave better. He responded, "Fuck the cops!" In a similar exchange, one student was attempting to talk to police to question their motives and not just follow orders. One man interjected that the cops there would kill us in a second if it came to it, and that there was a paycheck behind that allegiance. He went on that these are the same people who voted for the current administration and their willing to support it with force if need be. No one disagreed with him, and a RAIL comrade passed him a copy of MIM Notes asserting that we had a lot in common.
notes:(1)See for our coverage from last year.
(2) MIM Theory 1 and 10.