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Indybay Feature
Related Categories: San Francisco | Global Justice & Anti-Capitalism
May Day Anti-Capitalist Action's Remaining Wreckage, San Francisco, 5/6/09: photos
by dave id
Wednesday May 6th, 2009 11:07 PM
According to anonymous communiques posted to Indybay and reports from the corporate media -- in addition to the evidence remaining five days later -- anti-capitalists attacked a string of high-end retailers in the Union Square area of San Francisco on the evening of May 1st, International Workers’ Day. Apparently the action was conducted by a large group of up to 50 people, planned without the use of electronic media such as websites or cell phones, and was completed within a matter of about ten minutes.

The 100 block of Grant Street (pictured here) appeared to be the hardest hit, or at least more wreckage remains there to this day. Obviously the original damage was more extensive than what is seen in these photos.
Posts on Indybay related to the anti-capitalist action:
Riot Hits San Francisco On May Day!
"They had Swords", Mayday Mayhem in SF
Smashing Success in SF: Anticapitalist Mayday Attack –Tactical Lessons Communique
§New plate glass setting at Guess
by dave id Wednesday May 6th, 2009 11:07 PM
§Stuart Weitzman missing two windows
by dave id Wednesday May 6th, 2009 11:07 PM
by dave id Wednesday May 6th, 2009 11:07 PM
§Anne Fontoine
by dave id Wednesday May 6th, 2009 11:07 PM
by dave id Wednesday May 6th, 2009 11:07 PM
by dave id Wednesday May 6th, 2009 11:07 PM
§Prada doors shattered
by dave id Wednesday May 6th, 2009 11:07 PM
§Chink in De Beers speckled glass (panel on right)
by dave id Wednesday May 6th, 2009 11:07 PM
§Upwards of $100,000 worth of jewelry in this one window
by dave id Wednesday May 6th, 2009 11:07 PM
Watch on the left was for sale for $18,000.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Serves'em right
Thursday May 7th, 2009 2:16 AM
Thanks for following up on this story with photos.

by No way
Thursday May 7th, 2009 2:43 AM
18 grand for a watch? That is just obscene.
Not one homeless person was housed, not one hungry person was fed by this stupidity. The glass is easily replaced; the cost charged to the insurance companies. The only pain is felt by serious labor organizing organizations who are painted with the same violence brush as the Gang of 50. That's a huge mob of 50 very strong people smashing windows; anyone else in the area must have been terrified. Only with serious labor organizing of the entire workingclass so we have the strength to carry out a general strike to put an end to the private profit system can we put an end to the poverty. As to outrageous prices, why bother with frivolous nonsense like jewelry? How about the outrage of $16 for a paperback book; it does not cost more than a few cents to mass produce paperbacks these days. How about the outrage of $1.50 for a bus ride which should be free; bus fares cannot possibly finance the bus system which must be financed by the federal and state progressive income tax general funds commonly known as tax the rich, those who make over $200,000 a year. Currently, our SF bus system is financing the police and everything else. See SF Chronicle, 5/7/09, "Supervisors Aim to Change Muni Budget" by Rachel Gordon" at

As every week night, I came home from work on Friday night, May 1, 2009, very tired and fell into bed. I was shocked to hear the next day that a huge gang of 50 broke windows and claimed to have some connection to May Day. If you have so much energy, why don't you do something to help the poor survive, anything from tenant counseling to going to all the bakeries and asking for day old bread and pastry and taking it to the nearest food distribution place to participating in literacy campaigns to help poor children and adults learn to read and write in a country where 50% of the adults are functionally illiterate, to participating in housing upgrade programs such as Rebuilding Together (a good way to exercise all those muscles) and much more. We, the workingclass, have thousands of needs, none of which include breaking windows. I do not care what garbage the rich people buy at these stores; smashing store windows does not change anything or solve any problem. It just makes the workingclass look like a bunch of hoodlums. I am not a hoodlum and am a lifelong member of the workingclass, and the same is true of everyone I know, female and male. This Gang of 50 sound like a group of people who did not receive enough Tender Loving Care while growing up. Here is your TLC: Join the Human Family in helping us survive Nazi USA so we can finally put an end to the profit motive that is destroying us and Planet Earth. Remember, we are not gangsters; we are a family. If you understand that, you do not break things; you build things.
by ::
Thursday May 7th, 2009 8:51 AM
if you are not into attacking the most opulent centers of capital and inequality, that's fine. you don't have to, and you are entitled to your opinion

but you need to know that your assumptions are just that. this action took a few minutes to conduct and perhaps a few hours to plan. that leaves a lot of time for the folks who did this to do other things. you have no idea what else these people do and I'd bet that they are active on many other fronts as well. that's my assumption

50 people would not make much of a general strike, but if you want to work on putting one together or to protest the price of paperbacks or to teach people to read with 10 minutes plus of your time, please do
by Frisk
Thursday May 7th, 2009 11:18 AM
I know it can be difficult to imagine, but a ten minute smashing spree does not preclude one from engaging in traditional organize. Not that I'm personally acquainted with any of the window-smashers, but I think it's a safe bet to say that they are more involved with everyday organizing than the average person.

With regard to your claim that the vandals did not receive enough "Tender Loving Kindness" as children, (i.e.-Mommy didn't love them) I can only say that you bear a striking rhetorical resemblance to Derrick Jensen's caricatures of pacifists who claim that only through concentrated direction of "Lovingkindness" at our enemies (Sorry, I forgot-calling them enemies only perpetuates the harmful mindset that we actually have to go up against them) can we change the world.

by zappa
Thursday May 7th, 2009 11:46 AM
The comments here bring to mind a great lyric from Frank Zappa and The Mothers about overly passive or "phony" hippies...

"I will love everyone, I will love the police as they kick the shit out of me on the street."
from Who needs the peace corps?
We're Only in It for the Money, 1968

I'll never forget that lyric. Great album, btw. One of Zappa's very best. Great critique of the social conditions in America at the time. Turns the whole revolutionary hippy myth on its head as most so-called hippies were not committed social activists but merely fashion/party trendies. The album title and artwork also take a direct shot at the Beatles and their role in the whole phony hippy phenomenon.
by FZ
Thursday May 7th, 2009 1:25 PM
. . .Seen the cops out on the street
Watched 'em throwin' rocks and stuff
And chokin' in the heat
Listened to reports
About the whisky passin' 'round
Seen the smoke and fire
And the market burnin' down
Watched while everybody
On his street would take a turn
To stomp and smash and bash and crash
And slash and bust and burn

And I'm watchin' and I'm waitin'
Hopin' for the best
Even think I'll go to prayin'
Every time I hear 'em sayin'
That there's no way to delay
That trouble comin' every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin' every day
by (a)
Thursday May 7th, 2009 2:49 PM
ok, i am not concerned with the quantity of broken windows anymore than i think we should be concerned with the quantity of say, food or housing provided to help anyone survive the ravages of capitalism. how do these destructive gestures transmit and reproduce themselves, as a growing capacity for resistance and destruction to the forces that impose these miserable conditions on us in the first place?

as other people have pointed out, of course no one is going to say "yea i broke windows and i also do food not bombs" or something. but who cares? whether we are the we of food not bombs or the we of broken windows. this is a quantitative view. all tactics and all objects set in motion need to contribute to a qualitative break with business as usual, with a diminishing coherence among the systems of control. with an uncontrollability that spreads like swine flu. how does the unmanageability of a revolutionary minority contribute to the overall struggle of humanity against bosses - not as charity works, but as catalyst, contagion, transmitters, etc.? these are the questions i want to hear more about. breaking a window makes an opening. filling someones stomach may give them the strength to break things. this is all well and good. what goes into the opening to prevent it from being filled with capitalism again? how to bring a real "crisis" to the system rather than a few nuisances or a few more do gooders?

"they called us anarchists, we intended to much worse".
by contra cruz
Thursday May 7th, 2009 6:00 PM
First of all, I aim to infect with greater efficacy than swine flu which has nothing next to the social insurrection it would take to topple the titan state of '09.

You're right, (a), these are the questions to ask. Autonomous action is obviously a step towards self-organization, because as much as it is already precipitated by the state, it is also going against some of its functions, such as laws, the piety of property, the illicit conversations that spark action. What else goes against this system's functions? Collective action and the practice of revolutionary criticism. Blending the dichotomy between actors and critics... we have been involved in small actions, but they are not enough, we want a simultaneous outrage against the institutions of reform, and also a communalization, or collective debates about how our streets will transform. We reject a political embalming that stops us from criticizing our own comrades, the actions that we take... because if we are acting it is in the very realization that our options are currently too limited. We are seeking actions which criticize apathy, and might place us wholly outside of capitalism's organization. That would be a major clash with the repressive forces, and an ingenuity in either production or distribution where communism( or some life not based on wage-exploitation) is operating.

"breaking a window makes an opening. what goes into the opening to prevent it from being filled with capitalism again? how to bring a real "crisis" to the system rather than a few nuisances or a few more do gooders?"

The opening is in the envision that action is possible, that the system is in maleable jepoardy, the realization that more 'actors' would turn the whole beast on its belly. The opening is in the logic of capitalism, and to some sense it is a collective opening or suspension of that logic. But whether its a tiny hole free from capitalism or whether it is already filled in because capitalism marches right on by, it is clear that the real "crisis" comes with a whole series of these openings, that they are perpetuated, sustained. The blockade is partially deserted to open another, the building occupation becomes campus wide, etc. Guy Debord talked about insurrection (my term) as a series of portals opening up around each other. A city or other spatial organization being populated by moments of rupture with regularity or capitalistic functioning. It is social and strategic more than it is ever tactical, but it is experimenting with tactics.
by (A)
Friday May 8th, 2009 10:55 AM
and plan for the futer of the movement not stay stuck on this like we were with the oakland riot

windows were broken good job, they are still there and we need to be too

we need to organise like its 1999

(A) (E)
by A
Wednesday May 13th, 2009 10:29 PM
It looks kind-of 'Prada-Ish,' except for the obvious hole/dent in the right door. They are beautiful. Maybe the stores prefers the new look 'you gave them.' Two gals walked past saying absolutely nothing about the shattered doors but did say how much they liked the fashun. Those distressed-looking styles can be bought at any thrift store which I pointed out to a clerk a while ago. He didn't appreciate my comment. What is fashion anyway?
by unamused
Saturday Aug 8th, 2009 8:55 AM
great. we're soo much closer to the revolution without those windows. now the revolutionaries have prada too, its like the revolution already happened. TAZ at my house at 7. who cares about 'boring political shit' when you can satisfy your destructive urge? im sending this around to comrades as a self-defeating argument AGAINST this sort of shit.

destructive urges dont make you a revolutionary at all. in fact, individualist tactics like this are often a symptom of something worse.. some tendency to "act hard" in order to fool people. walter ulbricht and erich mielke were hardcore proletarian revolutionary cop-killers. then they got into power and became hardcore prada-wearing reactionary worker-killers. and god knows how many windows Lula smashed before he embarked on his course of grand treason........