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Knocking the Boots? A Response to Mr. Riley Regarding the Bay and the Black Bloc
by lilprole
Tuesday Oct 9th, 2012 4:52 PM
An engagement with some of the ideas and critiques put forward by Boots Riley.
What follows is not an attack on Boots Riley’s recent facebook update, I’ll leave that to the hundreds of others. I’m not from, nor do I live in Oakland, I wasn't even at or participated in any of the actions last weekend, (Feminist Vigilante March into the ‘Decolonize the New World Actions’), however I've been out to most of the major actions in Occupy Oakland’s recent history (and been going to the bay for different events for a decade) and have many friends involved in the anarchist, Occupy, and the radical labor movements and have been very inspired by many of the actions that have come out of it. Boots brings up some interesting questions and points in his recent post; however, perhaps we are missing some of the bigger questions and possible debates that we could be having revolving around the black bloc, it’s influence, and the relation between those not involved in social movements and revolutionary militants.

The concerns that Boots brings up can be articulated into two basic points: 1.) People aren't into the tactic of black bloc. People do not understand the tactic, and thus it is detrimental. 2.) We lack the context for our actions to have a larger reverberation.

While I want to address these things, the questions that we should be asking, as anarchists and more broadly as revolutionaries and those against the present order are much bigger. Is there ever a right time for such actions? Are such actions sometimes just a militant version of activism that cost us more than we gain? Do we lack the context for our actions to carry weight? And moreover, why is there such a lack of proletarian fight back in the US? Is it simply the fault of the revolutionaries or are there bigger issues and forces at work?

As to the concerns that Boots brings up, obviously the number of militants in the streets as ‘black bloc’ is small, and generally in the bay always have been. At the same time, there is no doubt that black bloc (a blanket term we will use here for anyone in masks that acts illegally, engages illegally with property, and is confrontational with the police) has made a large impact despite its small size on the street. In the bay area, the black bloc itself is also nothing new. As the recent ‘anti-colonial march’ on Saturday pointed out in its call-out, it drew inspiration in part from the black bloc that was formed in 1992 against Columbus Day in SF, one of the first in North America.

A trip down memory lane first…

During the era of anti-globalization, some black bloc actions were able to not only create dialog and discussion around the use of violence and tactics within the movement, but in some instances, push the actions of militants and activists out of the terrain of the summit and the protest, and into partially generalized conflict between people outside of the protest movement and the State. This includes when people in Seattle, as well as many militants, fought police in Seattle during the WTO meetings in November of 1999 in response to a state of emergency curfew that included National Guard troops, as well as in places like Genoa and Prague, where residents joined militants in fighting the police and joined in the looting of shops as activists stood by to guard the windows of the corporations. During the anti-war period in the US, black blocs were able, at times, to again have the same type of effect on the movement, challenging the liberal and Leninist currents, not only over tactics, but also over organization. Militant actions sometimes were able to move discussion on the war into a critique of capitalism as well as tactics, as anarchists often targeted recruiting stations and corporations directly tied to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In SF, black bloc actions also again, sometimes, were able to move anti-war events away from just being large marches and rallies, into actual street conflicts that hit specific targets, (as well as many other capitalist businesses) such as recruiting stations, embassies, and the INS building. While obviously this did not stop the war, it did give rise to a feeling of militancy and momentum as tactics were escalated within large masses of people. This culminated with the large scale disruption of San Francisco as the US ‘officially’ invaded Iraq in 2003.

In the bay, we saw the black bloc again return within the riots and rebellions in the wake of the police murder of Oscar Grant as well as within the student occupation movement of 2009 – 2011. This of course is not to mention its use in a variety of other instances, be it in clashes with white supremacists ala Anti-Racist Action, or in demonstrations against police brutality across the country.

When Occupy began, we saw the black bloc’s return, largely in response to the camps across the country being raided as part of an attempt by the Department of Homeland Security and the Obama Administration to destroy the Occupy Movement. In Denver, St. Louis, North Carolina, Atlanta, NYC, and especially in Oakland, the debate over ‘black bloc’ raged.

I bring all of this up to point out that the black bloc tactic, especially in the bay area, is nothing new. This isn't to argue that “people” are “into” it, in one way or the other - I don’t think we really can have that debate in a completely definitive way. We can talk about when the tactic has been more useful however, and in what context it has been used, to different degrees of success in a variety of ways. Sometimes it has been as an intervention into wider movements, such as in the anti-globalization, anti-war, and Occupy periods, in which sometimes it was able to not only help foster a deeper critique of capital and tactics, but also to generalize, at times, deeper and more conflictual struggle with the State. An example of this would be the tens of thousands (I was there, I seen it), that participated in black bloc led breakaway marches in 2001 – 2003 during the anti-war period in SF. In some instances, the bloc played simply a defensive and strategic role, such as the wearing of masks during the student occupation movement to avoid police surveillance and for protection on the barricades and in defense of buildings or in the wake of Occupy encampment evictions. In others, the bloc was an auxiliary force in a larger rebellion, such as during the Oscar Grant riots, although its role was often over publicized, (sometimes by anarchists themselves), or overly demonized by the Left, non-profits, the media, and the State. We should proceed with a critique of the black bloc in this light. All tactics and the context they are used in need to be held up and examined, especially when they have been used in a variety of situations and in different instances, contexts, and movements, over a period of several decades. Within Occupy, while the actions that have occurred by those “in black bloc” have never involved more than several hundreds or thousands, there is no doubt that there has been a radicalization process for many, mostly new to social movements, in part because of ‘black bloc’ type actions that is completely unrivaled. The rebellions that occurred and led up to the General Strike on November 2nd, in part grew out of the experiences of many people through the eviction of the camp and a very real taste of street fighting and an attempt to defend/reclaim Oscar Grant plaza and later, appropriate a building. While few that donned masks, engaged with the police, and broke the law during those nights probably thought of themselves as ‘black bloc’ or anarchist is besides the point – in doing the actions they became part of that current as they saw a need to rebel in a certain way and do it anonymously. By January 2012 in Oakland, there was an escalation of tactics and militancy leading up to the “Move-In Day,” although clearly the numbers that we had on November 2nd were not present.

Also out of these militant actions, we saw the rise of T.A.C., or the Tactical Action Committee, who also helped popularize the black bloc tactic through weekly ‘Fuck the Police’ marches, as well as the growth of a radical squatting scene in West Oakland, the degree in which I have not seen in any major metropolitan city in the US. TAC also was a large part of carrying on such tactics into the Central Valley, participating with others from Occupy Oakland in clashes with police and Neo-Nazis in Sacramento, CA in February of 2012 and in demonstrations against the police murder of James Rivera Jr. and Luther Brown Jr. and others in Stockton, CA in the Spring and early Summer.

Also, I believe that the actions that followed both the police murder of Kenneth Harding Jr. as well as the recent shooting of the young man in the Mission District are very much worth noting. Within hours of Kenneth Harding’s murder, a march of several hundred formed in the Mission District, mainly as ‘black bloc,’ and marched and targeted banks and other capitalist institutions. This solidarity action was followed up by other marches and other actions, (as well as supporting actions being carried out by those in Bayview where Harding was killed). This activity helped to create a link with militants within the Bayview neighborhood and anarchists living in the Mission District and in Oakland. As someone who saw this solidarity, it is important to realize that it was through these actions themselves that this connection was created. (This of course is also not to downplay at all the very radical actions of those living in Bayview who took action themselves very quickly, targeting police as well as transit lines.) These events were followed very rapidly by actions surrounding the murder of a homeless man while on BART, which culminated in street actions and clashes which all saw a version of generalized ‘black bloc’ type activity with often minimal anarchist involvement. In July of 2012, protests in both SF and the Mission District were called in solidarity with the unfolding revolt against the police in Anaheim, which used ‘black bloc’ type tactics and destroyed property. In the Oakland march, participants targeted a bar frequented by police. In the case of the recent actions in the Mission District just weeks ago, anarchists were also the chief initiators of two nights of street actions which targeted banks, yuppie businesses, and the police station. These actions came hot on the heels of a pre-May Day militant march in April that also attacked businesses on Valencia Street, becoming a very real indicator that anger over gentrification had not washed away in the 1990’s with Kevin Keating’s posters.

In these instances, black bloc type actions helped to express solidarity and expand sites of resistance. They sought to draw people in and create a situation in which their rage could be expressed. It helped to create a set of consequences for the police, just as with the riots that followed the murder of Oscar Grant, that hopefully will dissuade police from carrying out such actions in the future as well as put them on the defensive. And, it also helped to create a link for others through action between the nature of the police in this society and their role within capitalism and as part of the process of gentrification and white supremacy. Lastly, ‘black bloc’ type actions have also been an ongoing facet of militant feminist, queer, and trans revolt in the bay as well. As the recent actions at Pride, against the H.E.A.T. conference, and the “feminist vigilante street marches” have shown, such tactics are clearly not been just the domain of straight white males as many would claim. Feminists and revolutionary queer and trans militants have also sought to foster militant responses to the murder of women, queer, and trans people, such as Brandy Martell, a black transwoman, who was killed in Oakland and left to die by police. In early May of 2012 in Oakland, a militant march and “Gender Strike Street Party,” comprised of many in black bloc, which was to remember Brandy and also call attention to CeCe McDonald, a black transwoman in jail for killing a Neo-Nazi attacker, was organized in Oakland that held the streets for hours and successfully gathered hundreds from the nearby Art Murmur while police looked on from the sidelines. This use of Art Murmur was again revisited in August as the city attempted to crack down on the street party by making people apply for permits. Anarchists responded by again calling for a street party which held the streets for several hours and ended with the attacking of the Obama HQ office.

These developments: the growth of TAC, the spreading of the tactic outside of the anarchist ghetto, and the use of the black bloc by anarchists as expressions of revolutionary solidarity and as intervention into the tensions of everyday life, are much more interesting and exciting than the destruction of bank windows in any of the “official” marches or actions that occurred during the Occupy period.

Thus, one can make the claim that ‘everyone’ isn't into the black bloc. Obviously, some people are, they keep happening! A better question is, what are the conditions and contexts for which they make the most sense and are able to actually spread and generalize revolt? Obviously, this is always changing and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it is offensive and sometimes it is defensive. Sometimes it is part of something else and sometimes it is called for solely us.

Clearly, large amounts of people outside of established radical circles aren't flocking to the black bloc, but nor did those outside of the Left to the SF ANSWER march on the same day as the Sunday anti-war and anti-capitalist march that targeted bank windows. Again and again, militants and revolutionaries of all stripes ask the question of ‘where is the rage?,’ and ‘where is the action?’ only to be surprised when a riot kicks off in response to a police shooting or workers occupy the state capitol.

As anarchists, we are trying to engage in actions which bring people in and help give confidence and inspire forms of organization and methods of action. This is not always easy. But in the end, at least in the bay area, we need to ask ourselves in what ways have we been effective, and in what ways have we not? Have we allowed the relatively high number of anarchists in one place in the US to let us slip into inaction when it comes to engagement of those outside of our circles? Are we more interested in just organizing ourselves than those we face similar conditions with, possible affinities, or (maybe now) live around?

The numbers involved in each action as well as the outcome greatly affect how the ‘black bloc,’ or any antagonistic and confrontational proletarian force, is perceived. For instance, if on Sunday during the anti-colonial/war/capitalist march called for by Afghans for Peace, similar such actions would have occurred across the country, in which similar groups of several hundred would have converged, likewise targeting banks and capitalist property and fought the police, many would speak of a new rising fight-back and a return to an anti-war movement that in the face of Obama has seemingly forgotten that thousands in the Middle East are dying through military occupation, bombings, and now more than ever, drone strikes. If this context would have been different, those in the streets of Oakland would be seen as part of a return to a new militancy that sought to stop the war that much of the Left forgot about; complacent with the election of a President that simply continued the slaughter brought on by Clinton and Bush before him.

Imagine if across the US, similar actions such as the ones that were attempted in SF around Columbus Day were attempted throughout the Americas? Those 20, who with their mug shots plastered in the corporate press comprise a variety of gender and racial backgrounds, would be seen as heroes – with support and donations flowing their way.

But we cannot side step the statement made by Boots without taking it seriously, even if we do not agree with it. As he writes, “The use of the blac[k] bloc tactic in all situations is not useful. As a matter of fact, in situations such as the one we have in Oakland, its repeated use has become counter-revolutionary.” Clearly the use of black bloc is all situations has not been useful, which is why it has not been used in every situation, (i.e., anarchists are involved in a variety of actions). The point moreover, is that the tactic has not always been successful, both in generating involvement from outside the hardcore militants and in accomplishing its goals during various actions. But, to write off the black bloc completely is to write off over a decade of action in the bay that has seen the generalization of struggle, the deepening of conflict, and the inclusion of a variety of participants at times.

As the recent weekend of actions in the bay area have shown, anarchists, especially when they use the tactic of the black bloc on their own, often are isolated and easily contained and repressed by the State. While the actions over the weekend were praise worthy in the fact that they were an attempt to respond to calls for solidarity and involve the anarchist movement in anti-colonial struggles (especially when so much of the Left and ‘the working class’ refuses to support such struggles or even keep their torch lit), ranging from indigenous people to those in Afghanistan, it also shows the degree in which anarchists have few supporters (although a very large influence) in the streets outside of a radical hardcore.

Boots points out a difference in context between how the anarchists in Greece are seen as opposed to those in Oakland, by stating that those in Athens are from the areas in which they riot and are part of “militant campaigns” that happen throughout the year. But of course, anyone who knows anarchists well, even if they do not political or tactically agree with them knows that most anarchists are involved in publishing and propaganda, (AK Press,, the Anarchist Bookfair, Little Black Cart, etc), the running of social and community centers (the Holdout, Bound Together Books, the Long Haul), and organizing work, ranging from action against foreclosures to Copwatch to squatting homes. Clearly, anarchists have also been very much involved in Occupy Oakland and have helped to push it in a direction that other camps have not. But moreover, the context of Greece is much different from Oakland, ranging from the history of the military dictatorship, the no-go zones for police on campuses, to the crack epidemic made real by the US government and the realities of the racialized order of US capital.

Despite the differences, it is worth noting by reading through, “We Are An Image From the Future,” a book written by Greek anarchists after the 2008 insurrection, that according to some, tactics that were used solely (or at least by and large) by anarchists prior to 2008 were picked up by others after the outbreak of the December 2008 revolt. According to the authors, it was the continuous and committed actions of anarchists throughout the years and in a variety of struggles that led to their actions having wider support and resonance within Greek society (and hey, looting grocery stores and giving shit away doesn't hurt).

Clearly, where there has been fire, anarchists have sought to bring gasoline. The argument that anarchists in the bay area have not been involved in ongoing struggles in the area is obviously false. The degree to the quality of this involvement is open for debate that I will leave to those who live in the area.

For many young people, both non-black youth from the bay area and Oakland itself, both from the working class or outside of it, as well as the young black youths from Oakland that I have met through Occupy Oakland - black bloc tactics have created a vortex in which many of us have the ability to meet in struggle. Hopefully out of these situations, other struggles, organizing, and action can continue. On the other hand, for many within the Left, the black bloc has been alienating. As for the ‘mainstream’ Americans, or those within Oakland that find themselves in agreement with the Occupy Movement yet still put off by the black bloc, ‘vandalism,’ or people wearing masks, I ask people like Boots Riley what kind of actions could be carried out which pull these people into political action yet still would represent a real challenge and contestation with the State and capital? While clearly, not everyone is at that point, we still most ask ourselves what struggles will get more people off the couch or away from their phones if not what we already have been doing.

Black bloc has alienated many, but it’s unclear if these people would support revolutionary action to begin with, or if the working-class or poor participants (largely youths) that have been drawn in by the militant actions of Occupy outweigh those that have been alienated by it (largely less radical and older). Perhaps we will never know. But we can start to and engage in projects that attempt to meet people where they are at, and attempt to speak with conditions and frustrations that we both feel together. For those interested in such a project we are often faced with a catch-22. We want to foster self-organization and direct action, but most people are often only interested in movements that can benefit them and get them things. We have to find the projects and struggles which do both.

For myself, a bigger question for anarchists everywhere, but especially those in the bay area, is why have we not played a larger role in the struggles that have broken out that were inspired directly by the Occupy Movement itself? I am speaking to the battle to occupy the farm near UC Berkeley, the occupation of public schools, and also the attempt to squat and form a library in East Oakland. Clearly, anarchists have been very involved in these struggles along with others since their beginnings, but if we are seeking to create situations in which more militant actions can have greater support it would seem that it would be here, in which the desire of people to take and hold space and use it in their own interests (at times) against capital, that we can find the greatest possibility.
Two recent conversations I had with two anarchist comrades, both recent residents of Oakland, one a woman of color and the other a white male, are telling. The former, when asked if they were still excited by Oakland and its revolutionary possibilities as when they moved there over a year ago replied to a conversation they had had with a comrade in T.A.C. before May Day after they were asked if they were excited about the upcoming day of action. The comrade from T.A.C., who was heading off to help open a squat in East Oakland replied, “It’s just another day.” My friend commented that it seemed we were putting all of our energy into, “These big days of action,” as opposed to something deeper that was based around ongoing organizing and struggles. The latter friend later commented, “I’m sick of basing how good something is on the level of property destruction.”

These sentiments bring up an old tension: do we put more energy into larger events that are designed to bring in large bodies of people to do xyz, or do we spend our energy into organizing, infrastructure, or ‘educational’ campaigns that may involve smaller groups of people? Personally, I would like to see larger events or ‘days of action,’ come out of the struggles and organizing that we are doing on the ground, and the daily practices of class struggle we are engaged in throughout our lives. We need to build our capacity to defend our squats and radical spaces when they are evicted and attacked by the police. We need to build our capacity to respond to the State when it murders and attacks people. We need to build the networks of solidarity and support that strengthen working-class self-activity and direct action. We need to build or ability to grow our own food and solve our own problems outside of the State. ‘Black bloc’ type activity will be a part of all of these, sometimes offensively, and sometimes defensively, as the battle for control over the streets and territory in poor and working class areas will become more and more contested.

For those that were arrested both on Saturday and also took to the streets on Sunday, I have nothing but solidarity and support. I support those that took militant action just as I do the ILWU workers who destroyed EGT grain or those that looted Footlocker during the riots over Oscar Grant. To support proletarian action is to support proletarian action. The degree in which more and more people will be brought into revolutionary actions and situations is much more up to all people to come into conflict with class-society and their own conditions, than it is to the ‘revolutionaries’ who wear the titles of ‘activist’ or ‘anarchist.’ If we are able to meet these others and link up with them and aid their struggles, making them ours, is up to us.

Clearly though, for anarchists seeking a strategy which spreads tactics and ideas of self-organization and direct action without simply trying to “make people into anarchists,” we do need to think hard about how we go about such a project. We should be wary about trying simply to organize ourselves and only speak to each other – for it is exactly when we reach outside of our radical ghetto that we become the most powerful and the most influential – as well as the most subversive. Many will agree with me that there is more possibility in attempting to expand and deepen the existing struggles and tensions within class society, than an endless progression of days of action called for and attended by ourselves alone.

Having said that, to the comrades facing jail time and fines, beaten by the SFPD, can we give them anything but love and support? Slandered in the media, demonized by much of the Left, and cast out by former comrades, these people heeded a call for a day of action in solidarity with Native and anti-colonial struggles and decided to risk their freedoms and take to the streets. Such a desire is as noble as it is revolutionary. For those that question their tactics, I ask only what you would suggest in their absence.

Black bloc type actions will not cease – they will continue; across the world, and especially in the bay area. More and more, proletarian activity, as it comes into conflict with the State and its police forces, will continue to look more and more like black bloc activity, although more and more, hopefully it will refuse to identify as such. At the same time, more and more, those engaging in such tactics will care more about defending territory and neighborhoods than breaking the cars of someone within them. We will care more about looting grocery stores than trying to find the one bank window on the street that will break. We will care more about physically taking out the infrastructure of the State than we will about symbolic property destruction. We will spend more energy defending what we have from the State while at the same time expanding our occupations, squats, gardens, forms of organization, and associations. If we are to continue in our revolutionary project, this will be something forced on us by present conditions at one point or another. The question is: can we ready ourselves now for what is to come?

More and more, riots and full on rebellions will be a recurring response to police violence and repression and collective acts of rebellion will become more conflictual and seek ways to stay anonymous. For revolutionaries, we must seek to deepen these situations, to make them more subversive, and connect the seemingly disconnected nodes of class struggle that exist. We will not be able to call for the day in which the halls of power are stormed, but we can help to create the affinities and relationships which can help us maneuver in the coming terrain. As the economic and ecological crisis deepens, the need for total social revolution and the complete destruction of capitalist civilization is needed now more than ever.

Someone that has not yet run out of bullets, but will still continue to grab rocks.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by One man talking
Tuesday Oct 9th, 2012 6:38 PM
You ask: And moreover, why is there such a lack of proletarian fight back in the US?"

My reply:

-Because I don't feel it's as bad as you do, and I don't find your alternative solution a credible or desirable one.
-Because your "actions" are considered self-serving vandalism by me, not "actions.
-Because the property you destroy belongs in most part to the common working man.
-Because the police response your "actions" causes costs the common man money, and reduces services in turn due to limited resources. -Because I consider you to be more spoiled child than comrade or revolutionary.

I see lots of posturing and fancy prose and romantic rhetoric in the posts here. But what I see on the streets is disenfranchised punks destroying my community. You say you want anarchy, but I don't think you're ready for it.

Because when the real anarchy comes? It won't be the cops taking on your black bloc b.s. It'll be myself and other merchants, shop owners, and people who live on the block your destroying...and we'll be meeting your sticks and stones with machetes and guns. Bank on that reality. For now, we leave it to the system we live under. But if and when that system disappears and "anarchy" reigns? You'll be taken down in short order, and your fantasy of being heroic leaders to we oppressed will die as you will.
by another person
Tuesday Oct 9th, 2012 8:44 PM
Leave it to the internet to produce the first comment in which someone doesn't respond to the text and instead just talks out of their ass.

A bank windows is owned by the 'common man?' LOL You're mad about the police repressing anarchist demonstrations, what about the billions more spent going after immigrants, people of color, and the prison system?
by Anarchist
Tuesday Oct 9th, 2012 9:31 PM
You'll have nothing left of your business to defend by the time the system comes to a grinding halt and crashes in a head on collision with reality. You can't build a financial system of inequality and hold everyone in bondage expecting everyone to always toe the line to sustain your evil quest for profit. People are gona get tired eventually. It's not gona last forever. People will catch on to it and then it will fail and save it self before failing again in one recession after another until the debt causes system collapse and the system abandons everyone but the rich and being dependent on the system to provide work and money your whole life you will riot because when you're hungry and your family begins to starve, you won't have a choice. It is no longer a debate about political issues. This is not a game. It is survival.

This black bloc stuff is just the tip of the iceberg. What's coming is disaster because people have never known what it means to be self-sustaining and I can only imagine how desperate people will get and the things they will do when they'er not rioting for food. Especially once the house of card come crashing down. No one is going to listen to your cries for peace and calm. There's a lot more at stake than your bottom line here. Your selfish profit motive is destroying the lives of others and putting them in a desperate situation and the greediness of capitalism is what will put everyone out on their porch with furniture and all in no time.

That's why you see black bloc. People are not happy because some of them have woken up or are suffering the effects of banks them selves. Not everybody is distracted by TV entertainment and people do feel pain you know. Some people know what's going on and have the full picture in front of them because they have been following this stuff for a long time. You just got your window smashed yesterday and now you come to find out that there is movement that exists and things aren't fair but the system doesn't reward fairness so fairness is of no concern to you and that might have a little to do with your windows getting broken.

Civilization is one stimulus check away from collapse because it can no longer sustain it self via supply and demand because the profits are drying up and jobs are leaving the country. The only thing left to keep it running is to borrow money from the fed at zero interest hoping that will fix things but printing money can only last so long until our money is worth nothing. How is the economy supposed to improve if everybody is in a race to the bottom to offshore businesses? You can't have consumers with out jobs. That's why capitalism doesn't work and it's unfair anyways so I'm happy that it's failing miserably. Businesses are capitalist when their doing great but once they begin to fail they want a hand out. Corporate welfare.

The system is living on borrowed time and why try to save it? You're just in denial the end is almost near and flushing it out with drugs and alcohol and entertainment isn't going to make it go away and Obama isn't going to save it because he doesn't have a solution. Nothing can bring back the capitalist system because it off-shored its manufacturing capacity for cheaper labor. Capitalism is doomed to eat it self. Power unchecked is what started this problem with globalization in the first place. People got too greedy and we ended up with a bunch of people dependent on the system in a disaster and the disaster was only put on pause and pushed to a later date. The stimulus money will dry up and the collapse will continue unless we bring jobs back that are leaving everyday and no politician wasnts to stop them from leaving so its a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What ever class divisions that firmly in place today will be diminished once the system crashes from the debt. Then we will all be free. I'll be happy when the system dies because then everybody will be equal for the most part except the rich will remain the rich and we will have to force them out by forcing all 3 branches of government to resign. There's no disguising who the enemy was all along once you kill the middle class. This is why I dislike the middle class so much because of the ILLUSION of peace, opportunity, fairness and choice must be exposed for what it really is. Even before the crash the system was socially unethical. HIGHLY UNETHICAL!

The only thing holding it together is confidence in the federal reserve to bail it out every month with a free check of roughly 80 billion dollars. That's 80 billion dollars of added debt every month which is great because i want the federal reserve system to devalue the dollar that would increase the cost of living once inflation settles in and kill the economy. I'm very excited that it might happen in my lifetime. Aren't you?

I would like to see you try to rough everyone up when the financial system crashes and unites the world in rebellion against their governments and nations start toppling left and right. Don't try to be a hero when the shit hits the fan. It's a good way to get yourself killed.

It won't be political issues driving the rebellion once shit goes down. It'll be out of panic, desperation and the will to survive extinction. Better to get on the right side of history so that you'll be recognized as a liberator and not one of the oppressors because there are only 2 sides. No one is neutral in this game since the game is unavoidable and everyone is forced by the system to become a part of the system and play by the systems rules. The money game isn't always going to be here to provide jobs and money and entertainment to forget.

Better start learning the alternative now while you can and start learning to get comfortable with breaking the law.
As before we see the Police Plant spew long winded propaganda in order to effect a change in the behaviour anarchists choose among themselves, to use, particularly targeting those tactics which Offend Pseudo "Anarchist".

These obvious planted comments stick out like cops in street clothes. They may pass at a glance, but watch them, they cannot walk the walk. I really enjoy outing the infiltrating cops, that is the most fun I have at actions!

"Anarchist" is a classic. Never turn your back on "Anarchist" and keep your camera ON!
by Boots Riley
Wednesday Oct 10th, 2012 3:04 AM
This is Boots.
I don't have time to answer this thoroughly.

You falsely conflate my critique of particular black bloc tactics in Oakland with a critique of anarchists in the bay area in general. Many anarchists in the bay area share my critique- as I have stated.

TAC has been there since the beginning of OO, they are my friends. If you're implying that bb tactics got them involved, I would disagree that that is what got them involved. Whether they use bb tactics or not is a different question. By the way, I know the answer to this, but how many of them do you think there are? You seem to be implying that there are a lot of them.

Publishing an anarchist press, and running an anarchist space is not engaging with the community in the struggles that they are involved with. Books that are published from those presses are on my shelves, but are unknown to most of the people of Oakland.

The question is, what has historically worked in successful revolutions of the past? Is there anything at all that we can learn from them?

If you have a situation where a crowd of 50 POC- that are very influential and well liked in the community- are coming out of a club yelling and cussing at the march because of 3 or 4 people that they heard are smashing car windows- then you have a problem with that tactic. They wanted to fight the march, but didn't because I was there (2 of them said this to me later). This was a crowd of DJs, some who I had recruited to stop their parties on the friday and saturday before the November 2nd General Strike to urge people to be part of the general strike. So- people that are popular in the community, that WERE on our side, but are now not.

You have a situation where a Black man jumps out of their car and chases white kids (they were young)- wanting to fight them- who have just thrown stuff at his car. Many people watching, choosing sides in their head. If I was 19, even with internationalist principles, I would have sided with the Black man. That's how it is in Oakland.

Your unwillingness to catch this before its too late is missing a historical opportunity.

And I'd like to say that if that picture is supposed to show that people of color are blac bloc, maybe they sometimes are, but that picture is a picture of two people that I got to be on the front line in the march to the port so there wouldn't only be White people with shields. So it's not really an accurate representation. I can say that at least one of those dudes agrees with me.
by Anarchist
Wednesday Oct 10th, 2012 3:13 AM
Cop cars and Banks would be a Bulls Eye!
Story from Jan 2012 from OLA:

As reported earlier, social media going by the name of "Occupy Los Angeles Anti Social Media" or, OLAASM and BlackBlocMedia have invaded Occupy LA in order to cause rifts between people and to try to cause the end of the Occupy Los Angeles group.

OLAASM and BlackBlocMedia are apparently part of a larger psy-ops campaign against the Occupy movement that was launched nationally a couple weeks ago. This post is about OLAASM. OLAASM has a twitter, a Facebook, and a tumblr (website). Since last writing, I have found out a lot more. OLAASM is run by several people – among them are angry young, inexperienced newbie protesters. Also among them are also people who act as if they are undercover FBI and agents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) trying to catch or draw in those angry protesters. By now, quite a few people know who is who.

The INTERESTING thing is that FBI/DHS undercover agents behave almost exactly like actual terrorism planners -- so if you avoid anyone that acts like this, you are avoiding both. Both undercover operatives and people actually planning bombings or attacks try to draw you in using the same techniques -- which I explain below, but which you can also read about on many place on the Internet.

The techniques being used by OLAASM are typical Psy-Ops, or psychological operations. Psychological operations are often used by undercover law enforcement agents infiltrating protest groups. The marks in OLA -- the people being drawn in as “insiders,” are supposed to view themselves as special, in on something big, and against the other lame, more mainstream people. These "lame" people are being harassed on twitter and tumblr.

Several people from OLA have told me that they now fear for their lives and safety because of this OLAASM group.

I personally was harassed on the OLAASM twitter after I wrote my first blog exposing them. If you do not know me, I am a lawyer who helped OLA with legal information before the camp began. Since then, I have helped with many things for OLA, including getting major news coverage for a recent arrest/ overcharging situation. I have also called attention to the trademarking situation and have worked with several of the OLA Legal team members, whose hands have been tied by obstructionists.

Rest of article:
by lilprole
Wednesday Oct 10th, 2012 8:53 AM
Never stated that I thought there were a lot of people in TAC, I do think that they have had a large influence, both in the bay area and by coming to the Central Valley where I live. It was in the streets that I met them, so that is my personal experience.

I think publishing and running spaces can obviously be apart of community based struggles, although I would state that most anarchist publishing in the bay area is not aimed at all at people on the ground nor are many anarchists interested in connecting with them (a major problem). I do think anarchists have been involved in a variety of community struggles and organizing campaigns, ranging from supporting those arrested after the Oscar Grant riots (Oakland 100, etc) to foreclosure defense to Copwatch, etc. Again, I don't live in Oakland or the bay, so the quality or degree of this involvement should be gauged by others as I stated.

As for your experiences on Sunday, in regards to either a large group of well known DJ's and artists getting angry at people breaking car windows or a young gentleman who wants to fight a crowd of 'white kids' because they threw stuff at his car - you'll find no disagreements with me - that shit is idiotic.

I think this type of engagement with people in Oakland or the targeting of cars shows that there are definitely some people within these circles that are more interested in finding anything, something to attack than using tactics which building confidence, solidarity, and combativeness within the poor and working class.

Having said that, as I pointed out in the essay, I don't think that 'black bloc,' either carried out by anarchists or simply as a popularized method of action in a variety of situations is going to go away anytime soon. In part because the tactic has been generalized to a certain degree and in part because material conditions will demand it. Also, like I wrote throughout the piece, there are a lot of instances of black blocs being used in good and successful ways.

I don't think that whether the black bloc alienates people from Occupy is the reason in which a 'historical opportunity' is being missed now or not. I do think that anarchists need to grow up and really ask themselves if they want to build another scene for a year or two or actually be involved in the creation of a social current that can connect with poor and working people in Oakland and the greater bay area.

The terrain of struggle is going to have to expand in a variety of ways; people are going to come into conflict with capital and the State on a variety of playing fields. The workplace, their neighborhoods, against evictions and foreclosure, in prisons, etc. Some of these struggles are already popping up and we can look toward them for inspiration, others have yet to come.
by Anarchist
Wednesday Oct 10th, 2012 2:12 PM
How can the BLACK BLOC divide people across the class spectrum that are already living divided/separated/apart/detached/different worlds?

How can the BLACK BLOC divide people of income-inequality and different regions and race when they are already divided by those boundaries?

Occupy Oakland consisted of most people who were living out of town.

Living out of town was never a problem until you dawned a black mask and fought the police, the same police who ---cough---tore down the Occupy Oakland encampment---cough.

Living out of town was never a problem until you dawned a black mask and attacked banks, the same banks who ----cough----stole our lives----cough.

The smashing of expensive cars just goes to show you how divided we are by class and how much animosity that exists between class lines in this country. It shouldn't take a fucking rocket scientist to understand that we're not all in this together and hate each other for it. Some people are more successful than others and are hated for that because capitalism permits it and encourages that division and people participate in it willingly. That is not the work of BLACK BLOC. That is the work of other people being greedy. The BLACK BLOC is just a form of punishment given to those who are greedy and those who are power mongers.

Breaking the property of the 1% or people that can afford luxurious automobiles is the biggest way to show the rejection of wealth and accumulation. I understand the resentment. It's like people are hurting in this country while these rich bastards are just living it up not feeling a thing that is happening to everyone else. Hard to feel sorry for that broken car window that'll be replaced for the person who owns luxurious cars can obviously afford to fix it. Does that mean the owner won't get mad? lol Let me just say that it isn't a good time to be a rich man and that a class battle is being waged. We didn't create these divisions. The divisions created us.

Society consists of groups of people that can never live in harmony with one another so long as the imbalance of wealth is there and keeping them at odds with one another. WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT THAT'S THE WAY IT IS and until we change this error in our system or overthrow the system, the attacks will continue against the rich and against the police.

People are already divided by class interests so dividing them up anymore doesn't make any sense. The only thing that's gona unite us all permanently is if the system falls apart and the middle lose their label and become poor with those who have always lived a life of of a victim of police/system abuse and poverty.

The only way you're going to tear down those boundaries is if you tear down the capitalist system but you're more interested in protecting the class status and wealth that it has given you so you have no reason to join a BLACK BLOC or to desire tearing down the system at all.

That is why the numbers of are so low in every black bloc in America. Because everybody still wants a piece of the pie and isn't ready to give it up. Boy if this applies to you reading this right now, I wish I can reach through your screen and smack you.

The experiment of OO was to see what it would be like to live in a society with out class and racial boundaries and to see what it would be like to live in a society with out class and race determining how you are treated. It was an experiment to see what it would be like to live with out authority. That is why cops were not allowed in side or called in times of need because that would ruin the experiment of self-governance. Expropriation of space was necessary in order to carry out that experiment because that is what we are going to have to do EVERYWHERE before during and after the revolution in order to implement our alternative leaderless society.

Not only was everybody free of authority but also free of the class label they were born with. Where you came from wasn't supposed to matter. OO was different from all other encampments around the U.S. We had something different going on and that's what made it special.

Our home came under attack and we tried to defend it but not enough people were ready to ditch their comfortable lives back home to hold on and stay true to our desires to live in an autonomous world. There was a comfortable place for many to go back to. That comfort zone or place of comfort is what is dividing this society. Not the BLACK BLOC TACTIC!

I hope this was an educational experience. But it'll never stick with some people no matter how many attempts at teaching the them. The words have to enter the ears first before they can enter the brain. The information kind of just bounce off of peoples heads missing the ears and that is why we're still having this debate over tactics in the first place. People just don't know how to listen. It won't be forgettable when you lose everything. It won't be a game of political issues when you lose your status to recession/depression/collapse. It won't be a game when you lose everything you you value. If your material possessions and wealth is the only thing holding back from throwing a brick and burning down this system of class division and oppression, maybe you need to lose everything you own. We need your help in the streets and could use another comrade, not an enemy.
by Anarchist
Wednesday Oct 10th, 2012 3:21 PM
They ought to be made from plexiglass next time if there ever is a next time. Hopefully by then anarchists will be 10 times stronger and organized enough to build and intensify the social battle and this silly debate over black bloc tactics won't be hindering our efforts to wage war against the rich and their goon squads.
by Kevin Keating
Wednesday Oct 10th, 2012 3:24 PM
The following statement is completely inaccurate:

" In the case of the recent actions in the Mission District just weeks ago, anarchists were also the chief initiators of two nights of street actions which targeted banks, yuppie businesses, and the police station. These actions came hot on the heels of a pre-May Day militant march in April that also attacked businesses on Valencia Street, becoming a very real indicator that anger over gentrification had not washed away in the 1990’s with Kevin Keating’s posters."

I went out at dawn on the Friday and Saturday mornings after the recent "two nights of street actions" in SF's Mission District. Not a single brick-worthy window on the ever-more repulsive hyper-bourgeois Valencia Street had been bricked. Not one.

These people were capable of getting together an angry crowd, and for reasons only intelligible in the context of their ongoing manifest self-absorption and irrelevance they did not use this as an opportunity to make the rapidly gentrifying Mission an unfriendly place for bourgeois invaders.

Clearly these two-night "riots" had no credible anti-gentrification content. The pretext for the events was the police shooting of an alleged gang-banger, who is alleged by the cops to have been packing a Tec-9. Perhaps the cops are lying. The cops often lie. If they are lying, then their lie on this score will not remain a lie for long. But whatever the case may be on that score, the two night "riots" had nothing to do with the galloping dispossession of the wage-earning class from the Mission District, anymore than the earlier April 30th episode of acting-out event has anything to do with any credible direct action-based opposition to the gentrification of the Mission.
(For more on that, see my earlier link above, "In San Francisco's Mission District, The Black Bloc Breaks Windows and Fails to Make an Impact.")

Your scene, the anti-authoritarian subcultural identity phenomenon of the SF Bay Area, has done absolutely nothing to contribute to any kind of credible sustained public resistance to the gentrification of the Mission District; this would require an adult-type attention span and a capacity for sustained commitment that the people in your scene clearly lack. For instance, circle-A-sceneters have a self-styled "anti-capitalist" space called Station 40, situated at the virtual ground zero of the most public face of Mission gentrification, near the high-end restaurant zone. Station 40 has held numerous public events of some ostensible spiky nature all throught the current phase of Mission gentrification, including a public appearance by members of France's one and only 'Invisible Committee,' but somehow your scene and its scenesters have never had it together to do something as simple and basic as hold a public meeting on the gentrification of the Mission at your scenester space.

I've lived in the Mission for 24 years. I've been in two for-real riots, in DC on Nov. 27, 1982 and on the UC Berkeley campus at dawn on April 7, 1986. I am no Ghandhian, and although I can't claim that the two riots I was in were "anti-capitalist" events I can honestly claim that both were authentic expressions of small-scale social revolt against what passes for life in American society. I'm happy and proud to have tried to contribute to both events -- but I don't try to offer them as the most effective form that an opposition to contemporary market society can take, let alone the only possible form.

I've been around the anti-authoritarian scenester-scene in this part of the world for a solid 30 years -- if this wasn't online you would now see me blush with shame at that. Year in, year out, decade in, decade out, your scene generates no sustained, credible, public collective manifestation of what the circle-A-scene claims to be about. This was especially evident with the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project of 13-14 years ago; many scenesters passively sympathized, but few got involved, and none got involved for long. And more importantly, none launched comparable or better working class-oriented direct action efforts of their own -- in your scene they never do.

Your scene has been psychologically annexed by the core pathology of market society -- it is all about being entertained. Nowhere is this more in evidence that with incresingly stupid Black Bloc actions; the one that began at Justin Herman Plaza with a big banner that said "AFGHANISTAN WILL WIN" (win what? Rule by the Taliban? Just because Al-Qaida waves a black flag it doesn't mean you should return the favor)

The Black Bloc stuff doesn't communicate anything to mainstream working people, other that an impression that the kids who enegage in BB tactics are going through an unpleasant phase and cannot be taken seriously.

Kevin Keating
proletaire2003 [at]
by Anarchist
Wednesday Oct 10th, 2012 4:36 PM
People will say just about anything on here to discourage you from lighting up the night and there for will do just about anything to prevent an insurrection from inconveniencing their privileged lives under capitalism. Homeland security would be proud. That's the ultimate reason to hate the black bloc because it shatters the American Dream/Illusion/nightmare you believe in. To be anti-violence means to ignore the violence inherent in the system so systemic violence can continue uninterrupted keeping everyone a victim in total submission. You think we don't know what's going on and like to call us children. You know nothing.

The disruption of the social order poses a threat to your American way of life and getting in our way is just your way of defending the American establishment/culture/civilization/society. That is why you hate BLACK BLOC because it displays a genuine dissatisfaction that successful people like you and others in the media and on wall street are trying to cover up. I EXPOSE YOU FOR WHAT YOU REALLY ARE AND I DO NOT SUGAR COAT LIKE SOME PEOPLE AROUND HERE!

You really don't care how unethical or violent and hurtful the system is and how it effects other people until you're the one who is effected by it. Then you'll be wanting to break shit and burn stuff ALL OF A SUDDEN! American hypocrisy at its finest. Classic example of how everybody is asleep and could care less about other people when everything in their life is just going fine. Your concern for maintaining the social order has nothing to do with protecting others safety and bringing us together and don't try to act like you know how a movement works and how we should try to market our selves in a better way to appeal to the dumb down masses. It is all about pure selfishness and shows you are willing to put up with the systems violence so long as it doesn't change your way of life. The revolution has no place for you. YOU ARE THE ENEMY!

And if you're poor but nevertheless still have the same point of view, SHAME ON YOU for parroting the voice of the privileged middle class and everyone else leading to the top of the social pyramid. Property damage shouldn't matter to you unless you own property yourself. The BLACK BLOC tactic is for the poor and not for a bunch of yuppie scum who live for their materialistic consumption of stuff and could give a fuck about the natural world dying just to have all that crap you call a life.

You are the real cancer to this planet not us.
by James Ryan
Wednesday Oct 10th, 2012 4:55 PM
"Anarchist" seems to have taken leave of his/her senses. Read the "anarchist" posts again and note the lack of factual information.
by Konsider
Thursday Oct 11th, 2012 1:17 AM
I've had many discussions on this subject, most of them with me debating on behalf of blac bloc, and I totally support a diversity of tactics, but as regards how blac bloc tactics have been applied recently in Oakland, I feel they've been mostly idiotic grandstanding spectacle.
by Anarchist
Thursday Oct 11th, 2012 4:09 AM
Last time there was a real BLACK BLOC that I'm aware of was Nov. 2 at the anti-cap march. That was a real BLACK BLOC. Lots of damage was done that day and what a nice day it was for Nov.