On May 20th, hundreds of rebellious youth, students, and workers converged on downtown
Palo Alto. United by an effective critique of global capitalism - weaving
together the dominance of the G8, the monotony of modern urbanism, and
alienated suburban boredom - local youth, joined by a small number from around the Bay Area and Central Valley, successfully reclaimed the
streets. Marching behind banners exclaiming "Reclaim the Streets!",
"Resist the G8, Empire, and Global Capital", and "Live Without Dead
Time!", approximately 250 demonstrators (by police and media estimates)
left Lytton Plaza on a march which shutdown the entire downtown Palo Alto
commercial district for well over an hour.
A block later an occupied police cruiser was attacked - its windshield shattered - with one arrest and police driven away from the march. As police scrambled to contain the demonstration, protesters counted down and swarmed a police barricade attempting to prevent them from reaching University Avenue. On University, demonstrators barricaded the street with a large dumpster and occupied a block of Palo Alto's largest commercial artery. As people danced in the street, protesters spraypainted anti-capitalist messages on the street, government property, and a Starbucks storefront. The march reversed and continued down University.
With police failing to maintain control of the situation, an American Express foreign currency exchange center and bank was attacked, a flagpole shattering its window. Police attacked the march - again with numerous dearrests - and managing to arrest only one protester. Next an E-Trade storefront was attacked and suffered damage to its windows. Streets were blockaded with newspaper boxes as demonstrators circled around to make a second pass through downtown.
As the march passed the City Hall/Police Station complex protestors broke off, spraypainting anti-statist messages on the building. After failing to contain the demonstration and activating the emergency response mutual aid system, Palo Alto police were joined by additional riot-control units from the East Palo Alto and Mountain View departments. The march was attacked by police following an attempt to return to University Avenue and some protestors suffered injuries from batons. Again every arrest attempt was thwarted, and police were unable to breach or contain the march as it turned down an alley. Later a Borders bookstore and Longs Drugs were temporarily invaded, as demonstrators appropriated commodities and a combination of confused and supportive employees stood aside and watched. After being driven away from downtown by subsequent police attacks, marchers dispersed without further arrests. Police continued to surround several blocks and buildings, conducting searches and setting up checkpoints - all of which proved futile.
The Palo Alto Police Department was completely unprepared and proved entirely incapable of making arrests, maintaining control, or containing the march until riot-control units arrived from neighboring cities. The media have shown that they lack an intellectual framework to comprehend the revolutionary anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian theory which local youth and students grasped and appropriated so intuitively. They are left to blindly quote call-outs, posters, and protester soundbits, and mourn the corporate property destroyed by a reified praxis which they cannot understand. Despite this, working people and consumers in the area seemed to grasp the crux of the confrontation, as many voiced support and joined in spontaneously.
In all, corporate property was defaced and destroyed at at least three different locations, government property was defaced, and police property was destroyed. Local youth and students joined forces with anarchists to dance, confront the police, and recreate their suburban environment - in every sense of the phrase. The entire downtown commercial district was closed to traffic for well over an hour. Only two successful arrests were made.
Palo Alto Was Just a Warning Shot...
This is not the end. As the Bay Area and entire West Coast mobilizes for an revolutionary anti-G8 convergence this July, this is just the beginning - and things are only going to build from here. Watch anarchistaction.org for updates - we'll see you in July!