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Did Somebody Say "Car Bloc"?
Occupy Oakland has done it again with the introduction of a new protest march unit: the Car Bloc (included video 56:59)
Occupy Oakland is always on the cutting edge of political action. From shutting down the Port of Oakland not once, but twice (and costing millions of dollars in profits to the oligarchy running the city) to a glorious defensive shield wall that protected hundreds of people from being shot with “less lethal” munitions on Move In Day, to a weekly Fuck the Police march against police brutality and repression that has inspired solidarity marches around the country and the globe, Oakland can always be counted on to push the envelope.
Now they’ve done it again … this time with what is being called the Car Bloc, which has been putting in an appearance at the Tactical Action Committee’s weekly FTP action. It might seem a little odd to have gas-burning vehicles at an anti-capitalist action, but Car Bloc has proved to be an asset and is becoming an integral part of the often-grueling FTP.
Car Bloc started after the first several FTP actions were chased around by a line of riot cops backed up by up to a dozen paddy wagons and cruisers, herding the protest, literally right on their heels, causing people to hurry and some to panic. After the first five mile march several weeks ago, one of the FTP participants with mobility issues found she could not keep up with the march, and was in great pain and unable to walk for days afterwards. Refusing to give up participation in what she feels is one of the most important actions of Occupy Oakland, the Car Bloc was born.
Car Bloc’s founder wishes to remain anonymous in this article, so she will hereafter be referred to as OccuDriver.
OccuDriver says that the Car Bloc has two functions. The primary one is to keep the rear guard of the protest as protected as possible, by bringing up the rear so that the police vehicles can’t endanger the protester’s safety. This function is served best when there is more than one car in the Bloc, as was discovered on February 25th’s FTP to Fruitvale BART, when unmarked police vehicles tried to cut the Car Bloc out of the protest by trying to force it to stop. Basically playing chicken on the road with another vehicle, with dozens of people walking within feet of Car Bloc, some nearly right next to it, putting lives and safety at risk – something that Oakland PD both excels and seemingly delights in.
The second function of Car Bloc is to act as a rolling rest stop – a sort of taxi/ambulance for people who become tired, or are injured or become ill during an action. It has become invaluable for this purpose on the long night marches, as well as a mobile storage locker when things get too heavy or a layer of clothing needs to come off.
Car Bloc works well with the Bike Cavalry, with bikes running communications to the march leaders and back, to keep all components on the same page and acting in concert when there is a lack of communications equipment such as walkie-talkies. This is extremely important while FTP works out the kinks in moving as a unit with vehicles as well as pedestrians and bikes. It won’t do for Car Bloc to rack up several $500 red light tickets every march, so part of the learning curve has included the marchers stopping in intersections to hold them until the lights turn green for the Car Bloc to proceed.
One of the favorite perks of riding in Car Bloc is the music, CD mixes of anti-police, anti-capitalist rap and hip hop. Car Bloc’s unofficial third role is as Sound Vehicle. Car Bloc has also functioned as a rescue vehicle, as can be seen in this video from February 25th’s FTP to Fruitvale BART station:
Since the enemy has so many vehicles and officers at their disposal, that have so many weapons and all that armor, using what tools an action’s participants have access to can mean the difference between a successful march and arrest or injury. Car Bloc is one adaptation of an everyday activity to political work.