By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News
22 May 12
Reader Supported News | Perspective
like to compare those using Black Bloc tactics at a nonviolent protest to taking a six-year-old kid to the symphony. You’ll likely find yourself constantly apologizing to those sitting in your row when the child makes fart jokes every time he hears the tympani. No matter what you do, how nice you are, how appreciative of the music or knowledgeable of the composer you are, the crowd will only remember you for having the annoying kid with you who ruined it for everybody.
The highlight of the historic NATO summit protests in Chicago last weekend was when Veterans for Peace, joined by their families, threw their war medals in the direction of McCormick Place where NATO generals were meeting to denounce the senseless violence they had committed to earn those medals. The veterans also delivered a flag to the mother of a soldier who committed suicide. An Afghan woman tearfully denounced the war that took the lives of her family members. The ceremony was powerful and emotionally gripping, and showed that those members of the military rejected being sent overseas to risk their lives so the 0.1% in the military-industrial complex could profit from wasteful contracts and resource exploitation. And it would have been the media’s top story and the topic of everyone’s conversations if you didn’t have to act like a selfish bunch of assclowns.
According to those who were there, you disrespected the veterans by chanting through the Veterans for Peace’s call for a moment of silence for lives lost overseas. By starting confrontations with riot police during the ceremony you deprived veterans and their families of their moment of justice for your own selfish need to have all the attention. You didn’t stop war, end capitalism, or even get close to the NATO summit. All you did was attract more riot police to an otherwise peaceful event, leading to kettlings, beatings and arrests. Way to go.
I’m willing to accept that there were likely several agents provocateurs working with the police inside a Black Bloc to incite violence. I’ll acknowledge that even within your ranks some differ with others about using the most extreme tactics. And I’ll denounce the police for kettling and beating protesters with unforgiving brutality. But I’m still going to say it: Your tactics do our movement more harm than good, and you need to just cut it out already.
The thing is, Black Bloc tactics actually serve the cause of the 0.1%. By making the dominant message about protesters vs. police instead of 99% vs. 0.1%, your tactics divide public opinion and turn it against the majority of those in the movement who don’t believe in violence of any kind, including property destruction. Infantile behavior committed by some of you, like taunting police, blowing cigarette smoke in their faces and throwing rocks through the windows of small businesses, takes the moral high ground away from the movement, legitimizes the rule of the 0.1% and justifies the existence of an oppressive police state to the average American who we’re trying to reach.
The top commenter on this YouTube video explaining Black Bloc said, “Black Bloc activists are the true revolutionaries, not these pacifists who advocate social democracy as a way to clean up capitalism’s bullshit.” Another Black Bloc anarchist at the NATO summit said, “We’re the ones that stand up and say, ‘Fuck the police.’ … We’re the ones that have balls.” Such ignorance exemplifies the futility of Black Bloc tactics. No matter how much you destroy or how intimidating you appear, the police state and the military-industrial complex will always have more armor, more guns, more tear gas and pepper spray than you can take, and in any standoff they will beat you 100% of the time. Cops know how to handle violence. And city governments will continue to spend millions of dollars defending them when they attack you with abandon.
Occupy Wall Street was unknown outside of our own circles until an NYPD officer infamously pepper-sprayed two women without provocation, even getting Jon Stewart to talk about the event. When student protesters at UC Davis were unjustly attacked, the world saw it and got angry. These actions forced average Americans to take the side of the victims, or at least learn more about their cause. But when your group of black-clad anarchists curses at cops and smashes windows to protest capitalism and gets beaten by police afterward, you are only justifying your own punishment by testosterone-fueled riot police eager to crack a head with a baton, and strengthening capitalism’s iron grip on society.
Nobody asked you to be the self-appointed “Defenders of Dissent” at our actions. Nobody asked you to give us lessons in how to be “real activists.” If you want to join the movement, join the movement. But stop dividing the movement into “true revolutionaries” and “fake activists.” You aren’t helping anyone except the 0.1%. Either cut it out, or go the hell away.
Carl Gibson, 25, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary “We’re Not Broke,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Old Lyme, Connecticut. You can contact Carl at [email protected], and listen to his online radio talk show, Swag The Dog, at blogtalkradio.com/swag-the-dog.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.