San Francisco
San Francisco
Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature

"They had Swords", Mayday Mayhem in SF

by RBH Crew
Last night may have come as a surprise to some, fireworks going off at every corner, smoke hanging ominously in the humid night air, a mob marauding through 6 city blocks, projectiles flying from every hand and in every direction along the most opulent thoroughfares in the city, but a certain amount of intention and decisiveness accompanied us that night. We were elephants rampaging through the Alps, only with sledgehammers.
An officer radios to his dispatcher, "I don't know what just happened, but they had swords".

Last night may have come as a surprise to some, fireworks going off at every corner, smoke hanging ominously in the humid night air, a mob marauding through 6 city blocks, projectiles flying from every hand and in every direction along the most opulent thoroughfares in the city, but a certain amount of intention and decisiveness accompanied us that night. We were elephants rampaging through the Alps, only with sledgehammers.

Distant sirens swiftly approached and the crowd scattered through downtown alleys, incurring no arrests while wreaking as much havoc as possible.

De Beers, Prada, Coach, Tumi, Wells Fargo, Longchamp, Macy's, Armani, Crate and Barrel, Montblanc, Urban Outfitters and Guess were all targeted for all kinds of boring ass political shit, but primarily because fuck them. Exploitation is the norm of economic activity, not the exception. We see no need to reveal our laundry list of grievances and solidarity. The mission was made clear: an attack on wealth that would leave its mark.
The urge to destroy is also a destructive urge.

The face of an old tired-ass police officer appears on the nightly news, "blah blah anarchy blah blah eleventy billion to infinity dollars in damage".

The confusion of the police and the fear of the news anchors was enough justification.

"Who cares about the victim if the gesture is beautiful"

The weight of the economy bears down on us in every aspect of our lives, as such, disruption is always appropriate. The dogma of exchange is never truly escaped, in the unemployment office, at work, even in our most sincere embraces. We have no intentions of confining confrontation to the fringes of sanctioned demonstrations, or justifying it with vulgar political diatribes.

Actions always occur within a social context. The most brilliant physicists on earth have never made a true vacuum. We are part of a limitless conflict between people and wealth, between living activity and dead objects. A bank, whether at an anti-war demonstration or on your way to a friend's apartment, is still a bank.

We see each other in passing, exchanging inconspicuous nods and nervous glances, hoping for someone to do something, anything to break the monotony of daily activity. It's nice that we're finally acquainted. This is a model for what determined crews, with a little planning and intention, can do without sacrificing inclusion. Clandestinity has its place, but to generalize a participatory violence againt capital there must be more than hushed conversations.

We intend to confront economic relations in our daily lives, disrupting the exchange of commodities as often as possible. We hope you'll do the same.

And somewhere, perhaps a million miles from here, a young boy floats across a sea, waiting for the next oil tanker.

-RBH Crew

Add Your Comments

Comments (Hide Comments)
by ::
cops are pissed. they have nothing to go on.

it was a well organized mission. enough of a crowd participated to ward off any would-be vigilante protectors of property, and enough to target a large number of high-end retailers at once. quick fast and in a hurry the job was done. poof and they were outa there

the only way the cops will make any progress is through loose lips, and agents will be poking their heads all over trying to generate that one magical tip with a anonymous comment here and there

pat yourselves on the back and move on no matter what anyone says
by Stoney Baloney
"The urge to destroy is also a creative urge"

-Mikhail Bakunin

Bakunin is remembered as a major figure in the history of anarchism and an opponent of Marxism, especially of Marx's idea of dictatorship of the proletariat. He continues to be an influence on modern-day anarchists.

Bakunin played a leading role in the May Uprising in Dresden in 1849, helping to organize the defense of the barricades against Prussian troops with Richard Wagner and Wilhelm Heine. He was captured in Chemnitz and held for thirteen months before being condemned to death by the government of Saxony. As the governments of Russia and Austria were also after him, his sentence was commuted to life. In June 1850, he was handed over to the Austrian authorities. Eleven months later he received a further death sentence, but this too was commuted to life imprisonment. Finally, in May 1851, Bakunin was handed over to the Russian authorities.

Bakunin was taken to the notorious Peter and Paul Fortress. At the beginning of his captivity, Count Orlov, an emissary of the Emperor, visited Bakunin and told him that the Emperor requested a written confession[8] hoping that the confession would place Bakunin spiritually as well as physically in the power of the Russian state. Since all his acts were known, he had no secrets to reveal, and so he decided to write to the Emperor:

"You want my confession; but you must know that a penitent sinner is not obliged to implicate or reveal the misdeeds of others. I have only the honor and the conscience that I have never betrayed anyone who has confided in me, and this is why I will not give you any names."

In his Letters to A Frenchman on the Present Crisis, he argued for a revolutionary alliance between the working class and the peasantry and set forth his formulation of what was later to become known as propaganda of the deed:

"We must spread our principles, not with words but with deeds, for this is the most popular, the most potent, and the most irresistible form of propaganda."


I Thank You RBH...

All of you might have done it...

Congratulations, lovers...

fuck yeah yall, you seem to have done it big once again. cheers from the south east
by @
Well done action and well done communique. This sort of thing is easily reproducible and probably a tad bit more effective than getting cordoned at a huge planned protest like anarchists usually do. Everyone has been bitching about how the black bloc is so tired and how anarchists need new tactics and this is definitely a fresh new idea that the bloc and the hooligans at night can get behind.

Excellent Excellent Excellent.
by .
looks like more and mroe folks are starting to take action, not just drooling over greece. awesome!
by xxx
what a beautiful synthesis of gesture.
by mateo czarny
so why do i think this is an efficient action?

this action had no postings on the Internet or anything like that before hand. so lets say the planing for it was a meeting, lets say all 30 of the folks got together and had a 3 hour meeting about what to do, when to do it, how to do it, etc. then, lets assume it took 1 hour for each of them to get to union square. and lets say it took one hour for them to get home.

lets say they all put in 5 hours each for this simple action to take place. lets say there was 30 people involved. 5x30=150. ok, so lets assume it was a total of 150 hours of work to get the job done.
lets assume that transportation, black bandannas and whatever cost each of them 20 dollars. 20x30=600 dollars.

now, according to the police in one of the videos on the indybay page, they estimate the property damage committed to cost around 30,000 dollars. plus a decrease in business that weekend while all the windows were boarded up.

so take $30,000 subtract the amount spent the the anarchists, 600 dollars and we have 29,400. now divide that by the total amount of hours, 150 and you have 196.
using this little formula i made up, the participants of this action cost the businesses involved 196 dollars for every hour that each person was involved in this action.
plus the lost business that weekend from less shoppers entering those stores.
and some shallow local media reports which mostly were negative.

now lets compare this to one of those huge anti-war protests that happen in san francisco.
lets say there was 50,000 people involved in this protest. between the person who it took half an hour to walk to the protest and the protest organizer who put in 40 hours of work to get all the permits and print all the signs and everything, lets say there was an average of 2 hours per person spent on preparing for the protest, plus lets say 1 hour of marching. 3 hours by 50,000 people is 150,000 hours.

plus the money for permits and signs and transportation, etc. i have no idea what this will be but let us assume it is 2,000 dollars total.

excluding any sort of breakaway anarchist march, the economic losses would be traffic jams created by the closing of streets and people avoiding shopping that day because of the protest. let us assume 30,000 dollars worth of shopping did not happen because people wanted to avoid the protest and the traffic jams.

so we take that 30,000 dollars, subtract from it the 2,000 dollars spent but the participants of the march and we have 28,000 dollars. we will ignore all the economic activities of those involved in the protest, such as the purchasing of political t-shirts, snacks and coffee while marching. divide this number by the total assumed hours, and we get 28,000/150,000 which is $0.19.

the huge march cost the capitalists 19 cents for every hour each individual spent marching and getting ready for the march. plus the shallow but mostly positive media coverage.

i am simplifying the situation, and i do think the numbers i created were favorable towards the huge march, but you get my point.
maybe there are other positives of huge marches and other negatives of vandalism, but in terms of hurting the bastards where it hurts, vandalism in the way to go.
by but your idea is right
for the smashy action: you are not counting hours of time put in by police.
they provided overnight security. thats a lot of $$. but you have to discount to
some extent the damage because economic activity is generated in replacing the glass.

you are underestimating how much time people spend at the antiwar march.
most do not prepare at all, however, they do spend HOURS driving/busing/barting in
marching, and etc, so youd have to count that. 3 hours is a low estimate. on the other
hand you are not counting the cost for the permit and all the other shit they trot out for
the marches... ANSWER marches (according to them) usually cost about 30,000
themselves. and they pay tons to do outreach. all stimulates economic activity.
by matt
Well all this figuring you do about the cost of the demos put on by people who use democratic meetings in order to organize around a significant date like 5/1 or to get out in the streets to show physical presence in opposition to murder through government funded atrocities like the Gaza invasions is a little off, the may day march was 900 for b rooms at each site-dolores and CC. 150 bucks for truck/stage rental- 900 for sound couse it came from someone sympathetic to the cause who has to pay bills too. a borrowed generator and 5 bucks gas for dolores for the sound 65 rental for the 4 ft high delineators with the rubber bases-30 of them,
1000plus for the stage rental at CC,Then- borrowed tents,
orange snow fence, vests for those who want to help get the march going and move it along and id themselves as tied in to the org for anyone with a question, plus and I know that this wont swallow easy for some of you-reassure the cops that they dont need to break out the nightsticks. chairs, tables first aid kits, bullhorns ect ect. all from "A" Coalition- donated but replaced at 5/1 org cost if it comes up short at return time, we replace it becouse its gotta be there for other organized demos those put on by any civil rights concern-then the paper flyer cost, we eat it and sometimes reciept it. bands donating their talent and time gratis when we can set up a fund raiser(didnt get that down this year to cover the march)
tell ya what, besides the big tickets of the b rooms and the stage and sound and truck and sound, we keep reciepts and keep reciepts and rarely get them paid off and usually pay everything off from our pockets if the donations during the march are short, . the problem I'ved got is that you people would pay 20 bucks for the black wraps you use man thats way out of line, go to a thrift store like working people do, however 20 bucks was probably a deal at Prada for the black scarf, invest that trust fund money well so you can get yourself a gold plated hammer for them windows next time my little pumpkins!
by do your thing, answer
i think big marches are a valuable part of an ecosystem. i think the efficiency argument is problematic, and i think it mainly stems from anarchists overestimation of where the movement (or social war) is really at and what role in the system they themselves have (and no, their bandanas are $2 not $20, but as you point out, noone, not even anticapitalist anarchists, are really living outside and in total opposition to capitalism). anarchists tend to be optimistic about how far we are into the social war, and how anti-capitalist they really are. so they focus on how militant we can be, and get really gung ho about action.

meanwhile answer and most vanguardist leadership tends to fall on the opposite side of the spectrum, they tend to be way to reserved, they underestimate where people are at, and how much they need to be "educated" or "led". so they get really gung ho about doing these perpetual "movement building" exercises that ultimately never penetrate into society because (see efficiency argument) people may be inspired by big marches but they are not empowered.

but there is one place where vanguardists cannot compete. its totally silly to call the organizing they do democratic. one hallmark of any kind of democracy is a changing leadership. answer has had the same leadership forever. the same is true of most of the vanguardist groups in the bay area. so while anarchists may have trouble with the organized part of organization, their processes (consensus, etc) are quite democratic, and the "leadership" (if you have to call it that) for a number of reasons (and not all of them positive) does not remain in the hands of the same 8 people.
by scz
yeah, this is what i want to talk about. not the same old boring conversation about attacking or defending an action that already *happened*, but moving on: this was an experiment, as is everything. what do the results tell us about "generalizing participatory violence against capital"? no complaints about that, first of all.

im also interested in how we can generalize criminal resistance that goes beyond breaking things. this is NOT a criticism of break things, or those who break them, but after all it is not just about the quantity of destructive acts but the QUALITY of new social relations formed in their absence, or IN THE PROCESS OF DESTROYING THEM. for instance, what about sabotaging BART fare machines so that everyone can ride for free? what about "proletarian shopping"/organized looting, as someone else mentioned (perhaps ditching the RRFM).

its good that anarchists are starting to think and talk more about the MATERIAL considerations for tearing down society. but as far as spreading reproducible tactics on the social terrain and linking up with other "capillaries" of struggle we have a lot of work to do. forming crews is great. what about the other stuff in THE CALL about "establishing inhabitable worlds here and now" to inhabit WHILE destroying the existent? how about actions that extend the contested space and possibilities of generalized resistance? yea?

not to say yall arent on that shit. it just seems like everyone gets so fixated on the smashy smashy and counting up damage totals like we were the damn insurance company.
by yayanswer
the answer quote of 30K for a big antiwar march might be an exaggeration, but if it iz too high then the ANSWER leadership deliberately exaggerates the demo costs for their own fundraising purposes.

also, anarchists, lets quit complaining about how answer shamelessly milks liberals for their cash. first off, why do we even care? it betrays a liberal middle class ethic when we instinctively sympathize with suburban soccer moms being separated from their $40. or jealousy, which would be valid, since i think we could use a slice of that liberal cash cow, instead of always throwing fun but not very profitable benefits for our broke-ass selves.
by lone wolf
congrats to all who participated or provided support...nice to read about this ESPECIALLY when no one gets nabbed or beaten by the cops...wish i could have just been ambling by, coincidentally with mask in pocket, when this shit went down. REMEMBER a lot of people have been successful in the action, only to get busted later, when the need to brag goes to their head...don't do the work for the pigs, keep it tight and silent, y'all know who you are, give yourself a pat on the back!
by (A)aaronlove
my bandanna is made out of a shirt a found on the ground i just cut it up a bit, even my black flag was made out of a broken broom stick found in a dumpster with another scrap shirt.

its free homie! lolz

for transportation its 4 dollars for a cal train day pass between sf and sj, and free if you hitch hike witch i have done to get to a protest in berkeley

but the only thing im a victim to is those dam monster energy drinks and cigarettes


friday good job to who ever was there ;)
by mateo czarny
yeah, i know my numbers were off, i did that on purpose. since no one has the exact numbers, i figured i would overestimate and underestimate certain things. if folks spent 2 dollars instead of 20 dollars, great, that just proves my point even more.
by reality check
this meaningless gesture and limpid poetics of nothing
provided some catharsis and little else
psuedo-anarchists give anarchy a bad name
as is their role
they are mice ramshackling thru the mud
with silly putty ball peen hammers
selling another empty commodity
by (a)
Your critique is worthless. Every anarchist I know (lots and lots of anarchists) thinks this was fucking brilliant. So do I. It makes me proud that there are so many other clever anarchists out there.

You, on the other hand, make me throw up in my mouth a little bit. Get off indybay go close down those businesses in whatever way you see fit. But holy fuck! Please shut the hell up.

Capitalism is limping. Kick them while they're down!

Anarchists thought going into action will always be a threat to the mainstream; be it the massmedia vouching for government or big business. I ask what kind of anarchist demotes anti-capitalist action? Capitalism is just as oppressive as government if one pays attention.

Property destruction kind of reminds me of the Berlin wall demolition. That was property destruction. Why not decry that? If people could see the property destruction Anarchists do and why they do it as good thing, you would have millions of people helping the anarchists to bring it all down but because the media has so many people brained washed into believing anybody who does such an act is a terrorist nobody supports it. You will not do anything unless the media condones it or the state.


The anarchists are the 1st ones to view private corporate property belonging to rich industrial capitalists as theft but they will not be the last. In time people will catch on to what why and how.

But the rebels have to keep marching until it is revealed that these people are not and never will be true members of the community and do not represent the community and only use the community for their money.

Work, Consume and shut the fuck up is the motto of American democracy and I'm tired of it quite frankly.

by rob
I think you need to be really careful to not take historical events or quotes out of context which you have. Bakunin believed that destruction could be creation when the revolutionary masses (not isolated individuals):
1. have a sheer hatred of their environment
2. Believe that change is possible
3. have a CLEAR vision of the future society. Then, under those conditions can destruction be creation. There is also a huge difference in Mass base insurrection and individual or affinity group. First, mass bass insurrections took form through formal organizations such as unions and tend to be mass scale, such as the involvement that you mentioned bakunin in or the CNT taking over entire states of Spain.

"The chief defect which to this day paralyses and makes impossible a universal popular insurrection in Russia is the self-containment of the communes, the isolation and separateness of the local peasant worlds. At all costs we must shatter that isolation and introduce the vital current of revolutionary thought, will, and deed to those separate worlds. We must link together the best peasants of all the villages, districts, and, if possible, regions, the progressive individuals, the natural revolutionaries of the Russian peasant world, and, where possible, creating the same vital link between the factory worker and the peasantry." Bakunin

actions like this are hardly insurrections and the idea of propaganda by the deed (originally) was that taking action as a PART of the working class would radicalize people faster than a pamphlet (strikes, demonstrations, confronting bosses).

I feel that it will only be a matter of time before these isolated kids dressed in black pajamas will be infiltrated and mounted with felonies. As a group they have no bass of support outside of their small network, 2. they use macho language to make themselves appear much more militant then what they are capable of doing; social war, insurrection, etc
Then, after the arrest role in their activities will be BENEFIT EVENTS. Way to confront capital during a crisis and its great to see you all working to support working class people.
by rob
Lets take hurricane Katrina or the exon Valdez. Both cost million-billions in damages and in all actuality increased GDP (whats been created and sold in one fiscal year). Exxon Valdez was good for capitalism because money was spent on chemicals for the oil spill, clean up crews and so forth. The same thing for katrina, 9-11, and the Iraq War. If you have ever seen the Corporation there is a businessmen talking about 9-11 and how stock was going through the roof (oil, steel, weapon manufactors and so forth). This was an arguement that we all made starting in Seattle but come on, we have to develop and learn since then. It will take a whole lot more than broken windows and in fact, where people life in the worst conditions there aren't starbucks or gap in the projects.
the previous commenter should read about the Parable of the broken window

People have a right to voice their own opinion but trying to end capitalism just by feeding the poor and not doing anything else is like refilling a tank of gas that has a hole at the bottom. You have to do both. Smash Capitalism and feed the poor w/ fOOD nOT bOMBS!
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


$55.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network