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Indybay Feature
Related Categories: San Francisco | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism
A New Way Forward
by kristin hope (omgsoy [at]
Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 3:21 PM
Hundreds of protesters converged on the Federal Reserve Bank at 11am in solidarity with nationwide protests against the global financial crisis. Organized by A New Way Forward, this grassroots movement attracted a diverse crowd that made plenty of noise. This event was what will hopefully become a first step towards a series of national and international protests, culminating in the successful regulation of our nation's financial systems.
Demonstrators marched in front of the Federal Reserve Bank: a symbol of unaccountability and a lack of transparency which plagues our society. Protesters ranged from young anarchists to the Raging Grannies, with a variety of political affiliations represented. This is a bi-partisan, non-political issue and A New Way Forward aims to give a voice to the voiceless and a means to take down a corrupt system in which those with the money decide the fate of the masses.

The protest lasted for about an hour and fifteen minutes, when some decided to continue the fight and take it to Union Square and others lingered around the Federal Reserve, receiving honks from passing cars and tour busses.

America has seen successful financial regulation, stemming from the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, commonly known as The Banking Act, which separated financial institutions based on their type of business - commercial versus investment. In 1999, when Glass-Steagall was repealed by Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas), large banks were able to merge the previously separate sectors of business to form the mass conglomerates which - in part - caused the financial crisis in which we find ourselves today. Lobbyists, with their powerful campaign contributions, encouraged our government to enact legislation which benefited the banks; causing people to be stripped of their voice, silenced by money. Without regulation, our people are at the mercy of CEOs and shareholders. Regulation and nationalization worked before. It can work again.
§Jail the CEO!
by kristin hope Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 3:21 PM
§Burn it like an effigy!
by kristin hope Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 3:21 PM
by kristin hope Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 3:21 PM
by kristin hope Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 3:21 PM
by kristin hope Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 3:21 PM

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by MindfulloStrategy
Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 6:05 PM
Thanks to all who came for your creativity and positive energy.
by comma hound
Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 6:27 PM
Great write-up, I just have a couple of simple additions.

1) Organizers had not invited the anarchist group; when the anarchists brought out an effigy, organizers and other demonstrators asked the anarchists to take it somewhere else. Anarchists did not comply with the request from the event organizers and other demonstrators.

The anarchists did not seem in any way to be bad people - they actually seemed very much to care about the issue at hand. But it is reasonable to note that there exists a very clear disagreement in terms of practical steps forward between the event organizers and the anarchists.

Perhaps a solution is for anarchists to originate their own event, as they seem to create problems or find themselves unwelcome at events they join.

As many participants at the G20 protests have noted, self-described anarchists involved in showy displays or in displays of violence consistently garner a disproportionate amount of media attention, which in turn distorts the reality that most of the protesters are peaceful, and which in turn is used to discredit those peaceful non-anarchist protesters. Please note that at this event, boring non-anarchist demonstrators outnumbered anarchists by as much as fifty to one.

2) Glass-Steagal was not "repealed by Sen. Phil Gramm, (R)-Texas." The Senator from Texas did not have that authority; no senator does. It was, however, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1999, who bears no (R) after his name, since he is a Democrat. But even the repeal of Glass-Steagal may not have been as destructive as the act that Clinton signed into law the following year - on December 21, 2000. That was the Commodities Futures Modernization Act, which allowed AIG to operate essentially as a casino, instead of fulfilling its duties as a dullard insurance behemoth. Without the CFMA signed by Clinton, there would have been no credit default swaps, the lethal derivative that blew up AIG - which we now keep alive through taxpayer money.

3) The event was not billed as "bi-partisan" but "non-partisan."

Otherwise, a lovely write-up and beautiful pictures, thank you.
by truth
Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 7:22 PM
Property destruction is not violence. The effigy is freedom of speech.
by kristin hope
(omgsoy [at] Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 8:06 PM
as far as the effigy goes, i personally did not feel it was inappropriate and greatly enjoyed it. an effigy is a far cry away from property damage or other "anarchistic" actions. i spoke with one of the anarchists beforehand and he assured me that they would distance their own protest from A New Way Forward and make it clear that they were doing their own thing. they were really great, i thought, and i did not notice them causing any problems and i appreciate their support. to say that "organizers did not invite them" is to exclude people from what should be an inclusive event. if we start making demands of those whose tactics we might disagree with, where is the line of solidarity to be drawn?

i mentioned Phil Gramm specifically because he introduced the repeal to the Glass-Steagall Act. while it was signed into law by Clinton, he was not the one that initiated it. also, i should have mentioned the Commodities Futures Act, which was also introduced into the senate by Phil Gramm. i personally feel that our legislators and representatives have more political power than the president, who's role is often to put a signature on a piece of paper, and i would imagine that signature is often placed without much research or thought by the president directly. also, even if the president does veto a bill, it can go back to congress and pass with 2/3 majority in each house, which demonstrates the lack of authority the president has in congress. Glass-Steagall has important implications because it paved the way for the CFMA.

i should have said "non-partisan," you are right about that.
by WalktheTalk
Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 8:31 PM
My bad for ceasing outreach since Thur night because energy was drained by IndyBay postings implying we'd be discredited. KHope's good for positive spin, prompt photos. Comma's good for important fact/reality checks. Truth's good for speaking it.

Organizers' plan to entice a broad range of newcomers who have not been active succeeded. Kudos to 1st-timer Plu taking this plunge and courageously flyering financial district workers, and Sojourner for wise experience.

True, property destruction is not violence, and the effigy was freedom of speech, but either could discourage broader participation. In the end, though, I felt fine about the anarchist presence, because we so outnumbered them and they didn't get us tased. They are creative, helped publicize, and we need younger energy. I just wish they'd checked in on the forum beforehand in a respectuful, constructive manner and been willing to compromise, as the organizers had carefully done. But hey, they're rebels. Rebels can be helpful or harmful to their own cause. We could lose public points by SF taxes going to overtime cops. (They filled the side streets.)

ANWF's raised fists silhouettes resembles IndyBay's and Anarchists', so we sent mixed messages. If organizers want mainstream folks to join in, maybe next time don't post on IndyBay, put "office workers/business people unite for peaceful picket" or somesuch on all outreach, hold it on a weekday, etc. To encourage a non-violent tone, flyers are often done in pastels, not red.

Ultimately, we need to activate more mainstream people (economy's silver lining) while still welcoming the broad range of current activists in mutual support. We're all in this together, we the people vs the banksters, so I hope EVERYone feels encouraged by today's action.
by RNC 2008
Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 9:05 PM
The St. Paul principles agreed to by both "peaceful" marchers and those committed to direct actions like blockades at the 2008 RNC were historic in that disagreements were handled in private forums, not public comment sections like this here, and as a result both sides felt less bombarded by negative attacks from others who largely share the same goals and the corporate media had zippo to exploit and use against either group of activists.

It would be ideal if both direct action folks and marchers/picketers everywhere could make compacts on similar terms. Of course, that would involve actually communicating on a personal level before demonstrations take place.

The principles are:

1. Our solidarity will be based on respect for a diversity of tactics andthe plans of other groups.
2. The actions and tactics used will be organized to maintain a separation of time or space.
3. Any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement, avoiding any public or media denunciations of fellow activists and events.
4. We oppose any state repression of dissent, including surveillance, infiltration, disruption and violence. We agree not to assist law enforcement actions against activists and others.
by Boone A.
Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 9:19 PM
I felt today went well. I may not agree 100% with the New Way Forwards goals, but I will proudly stand next to them. Same with Anarchist. We don't agree on everything, but I have no problem marching behind an (A). I will say that better tactics can be used to encourage people to march. Posing the question should we march to people, then going through the crowd chanting march, march, march, worked very well on Jan 7th; I don't think it would have went well today though. Extra-Millitant spirit and numbers were lacking by the time the March went off today---which is a further critique.
I think Kristen has a really good 'line' on solidarity. Especially if inside groups want to stand in blocks. Personally I'm all for mingling =) , we're all workers (or have been\will be) coming together for our collective interest.
I think the only way to: ' >=( Not get Anarchist to come,' is to be the RCP. ;) I jest, as I love, and disagree with, them both.
I've said it before and I'll say it again; The Bay needs a more united movement.
by comma hound
Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 9:48 PM
I'm actually heartened by reading some of these responses.

I think I could live with the St. Paul Principles if I understood the details more clearly.

I also want to make clear that I am not condemning the anarchists themselves, only their tactics and their insistence on using violent imagery.

Bear in mind that I and many others who sympathized with the aims of, say, anti-globalization protesters, were for at least a decade easily dissuaded from participating in protests because of the way in which the "anarchist" and violent protests were conducted/relayed by the media in Seattle in 1999.

We do not control the media, it is therefore necessary for us to consider how we present our concerns. Demonstrations here are fairly loose, unfocused - perhaps it is time to consider a more unified approach, one that mimics in its discipline the early civil rights movement, or the extremely uniform protests that Gandhi first organized in South Africa.

Also: I am wary of NOT taking a somewhat "hard-line" against tactics that are either violent or even use violent imagery. I think there is currently a measure of political correctness that forbids criticism within the movement. This assumes that all criticism is somehow negative - instead of considering that in-group criticism may help us move toward more effective tactics.

I realize this may put me at odds with many here, but I also know that I speak for those demonstrators (and more importantly, would-be demonstrators) who feel intimidated by self-described anarchists who were walking around at one point during the demonstration with 1) their faces covered and 2) skateboards slung over their shoulders.

Those skateboards slung over the shoulder are eerily reminiscent of the baseball bats slung over the shoulders of young Italian-American males in Bensonhurst back in the 1980's, and most of us remember what that led to.

But in Bensonhurst, it was easier to read the faces of the young white men, because their faces weren't covered.

I did not get the impression that any of the anarchists who showed up were intent on violent action against other people. But it became harder to maintain that thought once the young men had covered their faces with bandannas, donning, in effect, a mask.

I merely ask that we NOT forbid ourselves from questioning how people comport themselves during a non-violent, non-partisan demonstration. I greatly appreciate your responses.
by Andy
Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 10:07 PM
The measure of effectiveness for this demonstration, which was coordinated to occur in multiple cities across the US, is whether there was coverage on major liberal news media like CNN or MSNBC or at least Huffington Post. I haven't seen anything yet. A lot of nice people with signs out front of the FED on a Saturday afternoon do not make the news. The anarchists, whether you like them or not, were probably more news worthy.

I suggest next time the demonstration occurs on a work day, that people make a lot of noise and attempt to enter the building. Bring drums and a bull horn, chant and make enough racket that you can't be ignored.

And here's a trick from the master of demonstrations. Abbie Hoffman. When the press does arrive, someone run into the building with a stack of one dollar bills and through them into the air.
by truth
Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 10:12 PM
"But it became harder to maintain that thought once the young men had covered their faces with bandannas, donning, in effect, a mask."

There is nothing illegal or nefarious about concealing your identity. Police and federal agents film/photograph protesters regularly to identify them, building profiles about the dissenting citizens. Soon, the "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act" will deem ALL PROTESTING an act of terrorism. Protecting your identity from the police is a vital tactic in the surveillance state post-9/11 (another example of state-sponsored, false flag terrorism).

Anonymity also has another message. By covering your face, you are an anonymous, autonomous individual. "Races", classes, sexes, and every other form of discrimination is destroyed once the bandanna goes up. There is no better way to create solidarity: we realize this is one struggle, for humanity.

Just thoughts

(A) ♥
by comma hound
Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 10:16 PM
"I've said it before and I'll say it again; The Bay needs a more united movement."

Re your point, Swell, I have one question.

What if the Bay could build not only a more united movement, but a larger and more effective movement?

What if doing so required demanding of demonstrators the kind of discipline that built momentum behind the early civil rights movement?

Indulge me in an exercise. Pretend that you're an ordinary, non-political person who's getting squeezed very tightly by the current economic crisis. For example, say you're a Filipino-American receptionist at a financial institution, or a day laborer, or a white female dental assistant. Which of these images are more persuasive to you? Which of these images encourage you to demonstrate or speak out? Which of these images make you think ill of protesters?

We have to remember that we need to reach out to more than just already politicized white people if we are going to make this work. That means understanding that many minority cultures in the US, as well many individuals within that "minority" group known as women, have a higher standard for propriety, respect, non-violence and safety than we have been showing at demonstrations.
by MindFulloStrategy
Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 10:26 PM
Anarchists, will you agree now to St.Paul principles for future Bay Area events? What's in it for you is solidarity--mutual support. Does #1 mean if we participate in an action organized by another group, we'll respect those organizers' announced plans? Or else #2--go somewhere else or come back another time. #3 means we can't thoroughly debrief in a public forum, so it would be good if IndyBay had a whisper option like anwf does. Implications of #4? It should not be assisting state violent repression of dissent to get my face out of the way if cops tear gas masked kids who are breaking windows. If our event didn't want to be blamed for broken windows, someone might want to phone 911, which might be justified if #1 was not respected? The 4 principles:

1. Our solidarity will be based on respect for a diversity of tactics and the plans of other groups.
2. The actions and tactics used will be organized to maintain a separation of time or space.
3. Any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement, avoiding any public or media denunciations of fellow activists and events.
4. We oppose any state repression of dissent, including surveillance, infiltration, disruption and violence. We agree not to assist law enforcement actions against activists and others.
by comma hound
Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 10:46 PM
"There is nothing illegal or nefarious about concealing your identity. Police and federal agents film/photograph protesters regularly to identify them, building profiles about the dissenting citizens. Soon, the "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act" will deem ALL PROTESTING an act of terrorism. Protecting your identity from the police is a vital tactic in the surveillance state post-9/11 (another example of state-sponsored, false flag terrorism)."

I get your point, but please consider two cases:

1) I peacefully demonstrated throughout the arms race of the 1980's. I never required a mask to do so. Decades later, I can tell you that I had been surveilled by the police or the FBI, it surely has not had any effect on my life or my work.

2) Norman Mailer, late in his life and decades after he first became politicized, was handed a huge stack of FBI files on himself. And he was struck that, although he had been surveilled for so long, he had also always been free during that time to act and publish and protest exactly as he pleased. This, to him, was a very profound and strange realization. It is especially poignant given that he had so often worked to protect writers in other parts of the world against real censorship and real oppression. He tells part of that story about the files in "Why Are We In Iraq?" which I think you would enjoy reading.

As for your point: "Anonymity also has another message. By covering your face, you are an anonymous, autonomous individual."

Is that not dissimilar from the argument the Klan used for masks?

You continued: "Races", classes, sexes, and every other form of discrimination is destroyed once the bandanna goes up. There is no better way to create solidarity: we realize this is one struggle, for humanity."

Humanity is generally not well served by covering one's face. Before we are involved in a singular "struggle, for humanity" we must also engage our own humanity, we must, in effect, "face" it.

In this case, in this time, 2009, to pretend that the SFPD treats young white men in some wildly oppressive manner without provocation is pushing one's credibility.

But there are serious and extreme civil rights violations occurring every second of every day in, say, California State Prisons, mostly to non-white males. But we all seem to be really stuck on an absolute level of freedom for young white anarchists.

To be frank? If I did not have a real confidence in your intelligence and your compassion, I would not even bother explaining this to you.

I am only asking that we step back and see this in perspective. The reality is that you are not oppressed. But if you clean up your act, you may actually be able to help people who ARE oppressed.

Isn't that the goal? Or was the goal just to stick our fingers in the eyes of "the man"?
by WalktheTalk
Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 10:59 PM
I'm tiny and it didn't occur to me that the skateboards or masks might be perceived as threatening. Their eyes were caring. If I'd ever been beaten up I'd feel different, tho, so I see that point. What to do? Ban masks? I don't think so!
Maybe include on all outreach something like:
We encourage dress and behavior that helps first time protesters feel safe and welcome.
by =
Saturday Apr 11th, 2009 11:28 PM
There are 7 million people in the Bay Area, all of whom are affected by the banking crises. From the pictures, all you got was a couple hundred mostly white people (in an area that is majority minority) to come to the freezing cold Financial District of San Francisco on a Saturday, when most of the Financial District is closed so not many people saw this little protest. It had no effect on the capitalist class, including its members Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein, that is busy giving our tax dollars to their friends, the bankers, to make the rich richer. To put an end to the bank bailouts, you need a labor movement to put an end to the profit motive, the goal of capitalism. The least you could have done is hold the rally at Union Square so that you could reach taxpayers with your mesage.
I wonder what all the rest of bay area anarchists were doing while this demo was going on? Why they didn't care to show up? I thought people were "down as fuck" here in the Bay Area were there are like thousands of us. IT WAS A BANK PROTEST HELLO! Reasons why there should have been a large turn out today: Anarchists and anti-capitalists hate the banking system. The federal reserve is the US Central Bank that prints and loans out money to all the other banks and large American financial institutions. They are a big part of the capitalist system that I thought we all hated so much. They print filth everyday don’t they? Their a tool of the financial establishment. This was a well publicized event on indybay. Flyers were posted up all over Downtown Berkeley. Nobody works on the weekends. Should I go on? Anarchist/Anti-Capitalist Action means we all come together and stick together when ever there is a Call for Action. I wonder what this means for planned future protests? Should I even go? What happened? Have we gone soft all of a sudden? Is everybody burnt out? I know hundreds of bay area activists monitor their own media website so come on people. Nobody wants to do street protests when they see the number going down like this. You have to not really care to just let it go like that. It's no wonder we're hated so much around the world. We choose to be weak alowing big-business and us militarism to dominate the world.
by non-anarchist comma hound
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 12:50 AM
Don't feel badly.

The April 11, 2009 event was NOT organized by anarchists. It was organized by people calling for more regulation within the banking sector, and more oversight by government, which is actually the opposite of anarchy. So the make-believe that you had common cause with today's events is really kind of strange.

Saturday's event was organized by "A New Way Forward" which is a non-partisan organization centered about three basic principles:

1) Nationalization (envisioned as a temporary action by Simon Johnson, former Chief Economist of the IMF)
2) Reorganization (replace the current management)
3) Decentralization (break up the largest banks/financial institutions into smaller entities)

All of this would require an enormous amount of government action, government authority, and government regulation.

This protest really had nothing to do with "anarchy" or anarchists - while anarchists want less rules and less authority, ANWF is a movement that pushes for MORE rules and more regulation.

Incidentally, the heavy police presence at today's event was largely in response to the anarchist "planning" on IndyBay, some of your planning having promised violence. This means that taxpayers will have to shell out even more money to pay for police overtime thanks to the anarchists.

So that anarchists, by their promises of violence on Indybay, have actually reinforced and legitimated the existing police structure. This seems counterintuitive to the very goals of anarchy. Odd.
by C.H.
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 1:05 AM
That's an excellent point that ANWF should consider. The Fed Reserve Bank was apparently chosen as a symbolic location, but it was problematic for several reasons. And to be fair I shouldn't blame the anarchist planning on Indybay entirely for the heavy police presence; the Fed Reserve Bank is a "sensitive" location for obvious reasons.

Also: someone commented earlier that this was a failure because of the lack of media coverage. I tend to agree with that person as well, but this is a very nascent movement, brought together by total strangers within the last two weeks, and the planning will obviously improve over time.

This is a long battle that ANWF has signed up for. Learn from today and move forward.
by Paul Allen
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 2:28 AM
See more pictures here:
by deanosor
(deanosor [at] Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 2:49 AM
1st. The event was organized by a progressive reformist formation. It was the 2nd event in two weeks was called at fairly short notice against the bailout. For the time frame and the newness of the issue (even tho it's been in the news for a while), no one has really thought thru different demonstration points until now. One reason was a lot of liberals and "progressives" were busy working for Obama for president. 2. I, as an anarchist, who is 57 year old (we're not all young and we're not all white, and we don't all have skateboards), welcome the new formations and new ideas, and experimentations with new ways of going against different parts of the capitalist structure, even i do agree with the commenter who said that the NWF's demands would create new levels of bureaucracy and regulation. I personally think it would be easier just to say "shut down all the banks', but maybe everyone's not there yet. 4. I believe in freedom of expression and think dress codes stink and codes saying how people should put forth their issues stink (within reason of course--no nazis or racists or sexists--I know some people feel that anarchists and people with faces covered are part of that unreasonable crowd,. i would argue that they are not and would like anybody to write me so we can discuss this further). Let people wear what they want. We need more people in this movement, not more regulation so some will feel alienated. 5. On the idea that some "new person" (who none of us can speak for because they have come yet) will come along and be turned of because people are dressed in away that alienates them. Supposed that person was a person who saw the anarchist call for the event, and left because everyone looked like yuppies. Political organizing is hard enough. We don't need people psycho-analyzing why people did and did not show up, and why poeple will and won't. Try your best and soem things will click and some won't . I've been at demonstrations where i thought nobody would show up and they were gigantic and visa versa. And none of it had to do what every individual decided to wear. 5. The St. Paul principals or any set of principals for figuring the way diverse peoples can work together are good, provided people have good faith. I don't believe commenter above "MINDFULLOFSTRATEGY" has good faiith. 6. The cops will show up at any demonstration especially ones in the financial district. They don't need anarchists calls to get them there. Their jobs is to protect the banks in etc. in the financial district. (and by the way none of the calls to come out and demonstrate called for violence or property destruction and none occurred.).
by .
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 6:37 AM
Yes - that's quite true, what was said above.

This event might have been mainly advertised on indybay, plus facebook or something at the last minute. There are 25+ police officers due to the monitoring of the site, and 17 participants.

First, you can't reliably attract more than a dozen people to turn out with an indybay calendar item alone. We've observed this multiple times. Site statistics show that many people are visiting indybay, and people see the announcement. But there are also many things on the calendar. So most people go through a process of seeing what their friends are doing that day. They probably need to hear about the event three times before deciding to go. It's sort of the same process as deciding to attend a party gathering or to go see music that you haven't heard before based on recommendations of friends. It's very difficult for one person to interest everyone in turning out. One would probably have to hit all the key mailing lists, contact organizations people are in (so they put it on their announcement list; ex: a granny hears and all the grannies decide to go), and also know and reach the key influential folks in the community.

by a-feminist
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 10:34 AM that several hundred people for an event with short notice and a small to medium degree of publicity is a huge success, and gives all of us (anarchist and non-anarchist alike) something to build upon. To get something larger than that, you have to plan longer-term.

Also, don't be so sure about appealing to the mainstream "average person" as a means of success; DASW tried that, and it's one of the things that killed it at its most active moment. Look at ANSWER -- while there is much that could be critiqued about them, they can get out thousands of people no problem, even when things are at a lull point, and they're not a mainstream organization; they've figured out a way to balance their unapologetically leftist message with an approach that a wider base of people can plug into. Not saying that you should clone what they do (please, please, don't do that), but they do provide one example of reconciling ideology and practicality. They may not be able to do much beyond large-scale protests and medium-scale teach-ins, but they do know how to do that well, even if it's not to many people's liking.

Lastly, you need to consider that your political base may be anything but average joes and janes, especially when the political winds shift and your numbers die down; alienating that base means that you may have to lick a lot of letters on your lonesome in that situation, if you get my drift.

So when's the next event? :)
by comma hound
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 11:07 AM
isn't the criticism of ANSWER that in 2003 it was able to mobilize thousands, even tens of thousands of people, but by alienating the average joes and janes, they are now only able to mobilize a fraction of that? A fraction which is dwindling?

Again, I ask you to consider the two images I posted. Which of these movements were more successful? Which generated more sympathy for their respective causes?
by not so
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 12:22 PM
I don't think you really read a-feminists comment, or paid attention enough

ANSWER can still get thousands of people out to rallies/marches, that's thousands, even for demos against Israel's treatment of Palestinians which is controversial to many, so it's not like their message is so hideous that no one shows. and to blame anarchists is just silly. anarchists have been attending large events such as ANSWER rallies about as long as there have been ANSWER rallies, sometimes with rowdy breakaway marches, and it has probably zero effect on the numbers ANSWER is able to draw

as for tens of thousands, well 2009 is not 2003, and that's not ANSWER's fault. demos against the Iraq war worldwide don't attract the numbers they did earlier in the decade, so it's not a messaging issue. it's more that in 2003 a minority, at least in the U.S., was against the war, so people felt more need to stand up against it. in 2009 even many of the early war-boosters think the invasion and occupation was/is a bad idea, and solid majorities are against it, hence less need to demonstrate in the streets. the president of the U.S. today campaigned, and won, on the war being a mistake (if he'll actually stop it is another matter).

as for nice-ing up demos so more "regular" folk show, I think you are missing the mark and have an ahistorical perspective. to take your thinking to the nth, if you nice up a demo too far, by eliminating any controversial or confrontational messaging, then you are basically reducing it to more of a social gathering than a demonstration. the very nature of a demonstration implies that it is not a subject or demand everyone agrees on or it would already be public policy. you seem to forget that the civil rights marches, like in the one photo you are fond of posting, were extremely controversial at the time. marchers were beaten and killed left and right, by authorities and citizens who abhored their messaging. a clear majority of people were not sympathetic to the cause and people like Martin Luther King Jr. were labeled as anti-American or terrorists, that's why racists could get away with attacking them. the civil rights marchers were breaking the law all the time. first of all, many/most their marches were not permitted. it was illegal for them to sit in the front of a bus or at most lunch counters. if they were "nicer" or less confrontational or less willing to defy unjust laws, I doubt they would have made the progress they did. I'll grant that they largely did not break windows, but I'll argue that their tactics of racial civil disobedience at the time were probably considered more radical than a few broken windows and graffiti here and there are today. the entire social order was being threatened back then. and lest we all forget, there were massive race riots across America in the 1960s that did include a large amount of broken windows, arson, even attacks on people, and so forth. so even actions such as those were a part of a larger movement for social justice as America came to wake from its racist slumber.

lastly, the average janes and joes you are so invested in motivating, well, most of them will never attend any rally or march. that's just the way it is. while you might think of yourself as average (or not) and you are highly motivated politically, most people simply are not. they work, have families, whatever and have little time or energy to pile social or economic justice onto their schedules no matter how crucial you (or they even) might see the issue. and, to be frank, most of them certainly do not read indybay and get scared off from demonstrating by posts here. most of them don't even watch corporate TV news much less radical news websites like this one

and please stop reposting the same picture over and over. you can simply refer to the previous time(s) you've posted it. putting it up over and over does not enhance your point, as your visual oversimplification cannot be forced into the minds of people through repetition

by your politics are boring as...
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 12:22 PM
I didn't come out because I didn't want to spend the day listening to wrinkly old trots, liberals, hippies and authoritarians like this Comma character going "blurp bluro" and hate on me for "alienating the mainstream people" or whatever. I didn't want to listen to Cindy Sheehan jabber, or suffer through the interminable caterwauling of the raging grannies. I guess I would be described as a "post-left anarchist" for these sentiments. but I'm totally fed up with all these 60's burnouts telling me how to run my revolution. y'all failed in the 60's. Don't try to clip our wings now. one of these fools even has the nerve to say "The reality is that you are not oppressed. But if you clean up your act, you may actually be able to help people who ARE oppressed." well a big fuck you to whoever said that. you don't know us, and you don't know our experiences. when was the last time you got called a faggot and punched in the face by a cop? for me, its been about 8 months. how many thousands of dollars do you owe the state? They say I owe em 7 grand, and I make 800 bucks a month. I could go on. but suffice to say, just cuz you ain't don't asume the same of us. now you wanna tell us not to mask up? bullocks to that, I don't want those fascist pigs knowing who I am so they can come disappear me some night. now you bustin out with pictures of what looks like a fourth of july parade and contrasting it with two guys standing in front of a fancy store window. wtf? I could give two shits about what image the average citizen prefers, cuz the average citizen likes being told wat to do, and doesn't even see the totalitarian irony when the put a picture of our new fearless leader in they living room window. there's no way you'll ever find my ass marching under that infamous symbol of slavery and genocide, the stars and stripes. So if flag waving and koombaya singing is what it you think takes to reach out to the average citizen, you can sit on it and spin. and that is my educated opinion.
by , please!
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 12:43 PM
To Paul Allen: your photos of the day's event are really good. Why not post to indybay? Readers would like to see them.

by kristin hope
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 12:44 PM
alright, alright.

here's what the headline should have been for this:


seriously. why is there so much boo-hooing going on here about how to do things? i tried to play peacemaker prior to the protest to get everyone possible out there to join us, but now that i'm starting to see the blatant prejudice of people involved i'm really kind of sick to my stomach. while it was a huge success in the sense that a internet-only publicized event did turn out a crowd, to me, it was a huge failure with the absolute lack of coverage on mainstream media. yeah, i know, the mainstream media is file, filthy, corrupt and unjust, but until we start to see ourselves on there, when will the politicians see us?

also, i have tried and tried throughout this whole thing to stay within the ideas put forth by the folks behind A New Way Forward, and i personally was upset that many people didn't follow along with that. i don't know who invited Cindy Sheehan to speak, but it was not discussed on ANWF to my knowledge. i didn't think that not paying taxes was what ANWF was proposing. i heard one protester saying on his cell phone "i can't believe i was somewhere where Cindy spoke... my family is going to kill me." to criticize the anarchists for their tactics and then have someone just as controversial/alienating, if not more so, speak, is kinda missing the point of a "come one, come all" effort.

anyway. i just don't know anymore. it's no wonder that if there's this much bickering in such a small forum that the entire world is fucked.
by your politics are boring as...
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 1:13 PM
I gotta do two shout outs, first to Kristin Hope, I've been following your comments on this topic and you are the very picture of inclusiveness. thanks for being so chill. I hope your future organizing efforts are more to your satisfaction. You're doing a really good thing, and I know it sucks but getting frustrated with people is part of the gig. But please do keep it up.

second, to my Comrades, sorry for not making it out, thanks for the texts, I had a lot of fun at Merchants the other night, see y'all next time.

oh and one last thing, as a person who skateboards, I'd like to ask what Comma thinks people who skated to a demo should do with their boards if not hold onto them? seriously. by saying you shouldn't bring a skateboard to a demo, or that its intimidating or whatever you are alienating a vast segment of young people for whom the skateboard is a primary method of transportation. and it makes you sound old.
by MindulloStrategy
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 1:15 PM
Good points, all, and request for individuals to start now abiding by St.Paul prinicples, even without groups' endorsements. If we can't unite, let's at least refrain from negative hyperbole and publicly directing anger at each other due to differing tactics when we have similar objections to the system. We ARE on the same side.

Face to face meetings is the only way. Did comma talk with anarchists yesterday? With, not to. Reciprocal listening. Masked Zapatistas enjoy mainstream popularity there. It's different here but no one proposed a dress code.
(hyperbole eg.)

Anarchists did not "promise" violence yesterday (hyperbole eg.#2) but, in publishing photos of broken Wells window and torch, and writing about anticipating brutality from the "pigs", it seemed like Anarchists would hi-jack ANWF's work with exremely negative media coverage. We thought that would be worse than no media coverage. Our credibility was on the line since we'd recruited newbies.

Deanosor, I completely understand your mistrust and I'm sorry. My proposal was in good faith, and I wouldn't expect you to agree when anonymousers continue putting yous down publicly. I'm new to anon postings, learning, making mistakes.
by me
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 1:34 PM
you did a fine job and I am sorry you feel so frustrated now

just chalk it up as a learning experience on many levels, but please do not burn out and disappear from the scene

first learning, though, is that you can't have a non-controversial demonstration. they are by their very nature controversial (and sometimes controversy will get you that TV coverage you want). there will be other activists and speakers who show up that you may not align with. in my eyes, that means you did a good job of reaching out beyond your usual circles -- if just people you knew or 100% agreed with showed up, then it would have been a much smaller affair.

as for what one random person says on a cell phone, so what? I see tourists from conservative states wandering by demos all the time, decrying the "liberals." who knows what that persons politics are, and frankly who cares? they may very well have been against it even if Cindy wasn't there, and Cindy can help increase numbers and the corporate media likes to cover her if they know ahead of time she'll be somewhere.

if you want corporate media coverage, be sure to send them all a press release and follow-up repeatedly. play up the turn-out numbers expected. if you did that, then try to think of an angle that might appeal to their sense of either empathy or outrageousness. for example, drill it into their tiny corporate heads that the demo speaks to the struggles of regular folk in this economic decline, play up the national aspect of the demo, or tip them off about some stunt that that will happen (they might want to use it to draw eyeballs and sell ads on their newcasts). the bay area has a 1000 demos all the time, so it is difficult to get corporate media coverage for most of them, regardless of how righteous you might think they are

maybe you could have gotten more help from locals in controlling who spoke, and prep them better, if you wanted more message control, or maybe the national group should have given you more support in your organizing efforts (definitely follow up with them and see what happened at other demos and report to them what happened at the SF one). and while you can suggest the type of demo you want to have, in a large public demo you'll never control exactly who shows up and what signs etc they might carry though. that's just the nature of the beast

people like yourself do this all the time, often for the very first time, and it's definitely a learning process. while you didn't change the world with this one event, I'd count it as a success that could be built on. learn from it and take those learnings forward - don't walk away and lose them all

there is much left to do and the world needs dedication and commitment from activists like yourself. take a breather if you need it, but don't give up over one demo
by Boone A.
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 1:55 PM
Everyone here has been politicized by something or some event in their life. 'The normal Jane\Joe' has not. I've been to (what seemed to me to be) 2 supa-large protests that were mainly Janes and Joes, and one was awful (and was dominated by school room chatter), the other was continued by militancy that made change a reality. Ceremonial Protests, don't change anything.
Janes and Joes will become politicized by the crisis. They may at first have some reservations about radical ideas... but considering that "[a]ccording to Rasmussen Reports, just 53% of Americans believe capitalism is the best political-economic system. 20% say they prefer the idea of 'socialism,'" [-Amy Goodman on Democracy Now] I'm thinking not so much.
But I think this begs the questions: "Who can we rely on to show up to demonstrations?" and "Who are radicals?"
Radicals are people who have been politicized (they weren't born that way), and the people you can count on are---people who have been politicized.
But I'm young, and I've only dealt with the notably sectarian Bay Area left for 5 months now.
I lived in Arkansas for the past 4 years, and I was very close to a cook where I worked because at least he was center-left ('Loved Obama,' but was left of him), and politicized.
It's almost like people here are too spoiled to be accepting. Personally I love having both Anarchist and people who are closer to the center in the same place. That's just the way it was in the town I lived in (in Arkansas).

As far as garnering 'sympathy,' no protest has garnered more sympathy than the Haymarket Riot: with actions remembering it world wide for the past 121 years.
by kristin hope
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 2:03 PM
to "me" (who are you, masked man?) and "your politics are boring," thanks for some much needed words of encouragement. i'm in no way going to give up, and it was a learning experience, that's for sure. i suppose it just hurts to see people focus negative energy on other participants, instead of where it matters, but i understand the level of frustration is high at this time in our society. as far as corporate media, i know a lot of people in the industry and they were very enthusiastic when i spoke to them and then when april 11 rolled around, they did shit. i suppose, as a former journalist, i shouldn't expect them to keep their word. (journalists are for some reason incredibly flaky people, in my experience.) ANYWAY, let's continue the fight and make it way bigger and better next time!!!
by bradley
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 2:35 PM
The website for A New Way Forward listed a rally at the County Offices in Santa Cruz.

When people came for the rally, they were disappointed to find out that no rally was taking place.

I got there and initially saw two people, Natasha and David, each of them holding a homemade sign.

Read more, with a couple photos, at:
by a-feminist
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 2:37 PM
Don't let the "opinions are like assholes, everybody's got one" stuff get you down. You're clearly operating in the right spirit, and as was noted above, support for the system that got us in this mess is rapidly dwindling in the US. Cranky old lefties are basically a sidebar at this point.

Speaking of cranky lefties: thanks to whoever spoke up on my behalf regarding my point being missed. You summed up what would have been my reply nicely.

So, again, when's the next event? :)
by WalkTalk
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 2:54 PM
The event was a success. I loved the helicopter, the signs, the darling Anarchists, the business people, the Raging Grannies, the jailed bankster. Thanks for photos and song lyrics. Video anyone?

What a tribute to what Jane Goodall calls "the indomitabilty of the human spirit" that this was created mostly by 4 strangers who didn't meet until day of. That's the newsworthy angle--that 4 people of very different backgrounds, ages, political persuasions managed to reach consensus and pull off this beautiful protest without ever even having met. And the one who actually took the lead is a relatively conservative business person and first time protester yet was able to work with radicals.

We did this in spite of, not because of, not having met. Moving forward, many probs practically take care of themselves at in person meetings. Look later on anwf forum for where/when. Not before next week. Where depends on how many reply to Sojourner's inquiry to those who gave contact info. Kristin, you've been great! Keep it up.

The 5 brief speakers were all good. Yes, Sheehan was discussed on the "Where should it be" thread. She'd offered to speak on a facebook event page. Sojourner ok'd it on our forum, asked how others felt, Bobcat said no rambling off-topic, I informed Sheehan we wanted only a brief on-topic speech and asked her to bring a bullhorn (we didn't have one. There was an anarchist call to bring bullhorns.)

Sheehan brings in many more people than those who'd stay away because of her. She's a "draw" for newcomers. I didn't publicize her, tho, other than the facebook event wall, because I didn't want people to come expecting to hear a long speech (and I ceased publicizing due to fear of provocateurs posing as black bloc.) Remember - she was not a lefty before her son was killed but an all-american military mom in Vacaville. She mentioned her son yesterday and related the wars to the economic emergency and, as usual when she speaks, moved many listeners to tears.

I was off-topic in mentioning Cindy's and my mentor. It was to pre-empt civil disobedience whispered in honor of what would've been his 84th b-day. Non-violent CD by elders and "mainstream" people without property damage shouting "Arrest the banksters, not us!" as they're handcuffed could have gotten positive media coverage. We respected an anwf forum organiser's wish that there be no arrests.
by a-feminist
Sunday Apr 12th, 2009 4:26 PM
"It's almost like people here are too spoiled to be accepting."

Definitely agree - I think that's because 1) there's a lot more radicals here, so people aren't forced to work together, and as such, can divide off into sectarian cliques while not imploding overnight, 2) as you noted, people are more spoiled/privileged here than in other parts of the country and 3) it's easy to settle into one's own personal comfort zone because of the above two factors. Like for your patchouli-smelling self to hang out with hippies while having a decent day job? Want to live down and out with anarchists and eat out of dumpsters, while having some sort of cushion to fall back on? Unlike most other parts of the country, that was relatively possible to pull off in the Bay for quite some time for some, and not quite so possible for others. Given the way things are, I suspect that's not going to last for long, and things are either going to lean towards getting somewhat better (as in more like the rest of the country; read: more solidarity and less infighting, kind of like a slightly more melodramatic, bullshitty version of "The Fifth Sacred Thing") or a lot worse (as in Octavia Butler's "Parable" books.) Good times, good times! Of course, that could all change, but such is the nature of history in the making.

How this pertains to this thread is that this directly effects the ability (or the lack thereof) for protests to be effective, and is part of what any dedicated, sincere organizer has to contend with when organizing in the Bay. I strongly suspect that this is a major factor in the levels of attrition and burnout that we experience here, relative to our overall numbers, and is a critical factor to keep in mind when attempting to get any activist project off the ground here.
by me again
Monday Apr 13th, 2009 1:23 AM
I forgot to give you props for not only pulling off a successful event, but for even covering it here on indybay for those who could not attend to see

most people can barely do one or the other, but to do both is to be commended

and I'll bet that despite the lack of corporate media coverage you sought, most of those who attended were grateful to have been provided a forum to display their discontent with the way our economy is being managed. I hear a lot of talk about why aren't there events like the one on Saturday focusing on the economy, and then there you went and helped organize one
During the years when the U.S. banks were regulated in the way A New Way Forward wants them to be regulated again, the U.S.:
  • Killed several million people in Korea and left most of that country, especially the North, a wasteland.
  • Killed several million people in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia and left those countries devastated.
  • Intervened militarily or covertly in numerous countries to protect oppressive governments and overthrow reformist ones, killing hundreds of thousands of people directly (perhaps millions in Indonesia alone) and millions more through the economic policies those interventions imposed and protected.
What the banksters are stealing from the majority of the U.S. population now is the latter's share of the loot that has been, and is still being, ripped off from the oppressed nations and from the planetary environment.

The world needs a solution to the crisis that doesn't preserve or restore the old way of doing things, with its massive inequality and environmental destruction. In other words, it needs what is usually called socialism or communism.

As a step in that direction, it needs to begin confronting the violence of capitalism and imperialism with the violence of the oppressed classes, castes and nations against their oppressors. If this be "terrorism", let us make the most of it!

by keep your eye on indybay
Monday Apr 13th, 2009 11:20 AM
A regular contributor to indybay took video and with any luck should be posting soon. Meanwhile, see this clip of Raging Grannies who were inspired to sing about an evil banker with a new friend they hooked up with at the rally.
by a-feminist
Monday Apr 13th, 2009 12:43 PM
"The world needs a solution to the crisis that doesn't preserve or restore the old way of doing things, with its massive inequality and environmental destruction. In other words, it needs what is usually called socialism or communism. "

No offense meant here, but the US also needs a solution that isn't laden with ideological rhetoric that smacks of the cold war; all such posturing does is keep us boxed in and dialoguing (read: infighting) with the people who are already in the room.

Perhaps part of the way forward is to stop recycling catch phrases from 1968, while still addressing the root causes of the problem; btw, this applies across the board, not just for socialists and communists.
by green pacificst
Monday Apr 13th, 2009 5:21 PM
"needs to begin confronting the violence of capitalism and imperialism with the violence of the oppressed classes, castes and nations against their oppressors. If this be "terrorism", let us make the most of it!"

Yeah, right, Aaron, meaning right-wing. Let's get the oppressed classes committing violence because it will get us committed behind bars for years, which will help the economy and the prison/military/industrial/corporate complex. After all, prison guards are people, too, and need jobs. Support Wackenhut inc., whacko.

I'm with feminist--must be a better way forward, which includes judicious hindsight. From the Depression until deregulation began in the 80's, most Americans' incomes were rising. Not that increasing consumerism is an answer. Green the economy.
by yes
Monday Apr 13th, 2009 5:55 PM
Path to a New Economy -- Abe Lincoln and Ellen Brown
by Boone A.
Tuesday Apr 14th, 2009 4:11 PM
Russia, China, N. Korea are\were all state capitalist. Capitalism wrapped in red flags, with a new bureaucrat ruling class collectively owning all of the means of production; instead of a capitalist class individually owning the entirety of the means of production. It was a shit sandwich instead, of shit on a stick.
The first stage of communism\socialism looks like Paris 1871, Seattle 1919, Oaxaca 2006 etc. There are no examples (that I'm aware of) of what the second stage will look like.
by Lotus Yee Fong
Saturday Oct 17th, 2009 9:09 AM
Kristin, I was at the SF Fed protest. In today's, Danny Schechter blogs his idea for weekly vigils at our local banks, Mondays at Bank of America, Tuesdays at Wells Fargo, Wednesdays at Chase, etc. I would like to bring to your attention that JPMorganChase in on Mission between 1st and 2nd, and Barclay Global Capital is on Howard and 1st.
I heard William Greider speak at the Unitarian Church and he plugged A New Way Forward.
If you want to discuss these possibilities further, you can call me at 415.921.3009 home or 415.786.3010 cell.
Thanks! Lotus Yee Fong