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(en) US, Brunswick, Another take on the G8 activities - Black Bloc Demonstrates and the Need for Diverse Tactics

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 14 Jun 2004 09:16:17 +0200 (CEST)

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The anti-G8 protests in Brunswick are now over, and I have
returned home from my short time in Georgia to once again sit
here in front of the computer. Meanwhile, the occupation of Iraq
rages on, the environment is destroyed by our hands, the
apartheid wall in Palestine separates people from their basic
needs, and millions around the world are being denied their
freedom, their humanity, and their lives. These struggles carry on
day to day, but are rarely treated as such. While some came to
Georgia with the intention of making lasting change (Fix Shit
Up), the majority took only three days to challenge the status quo
through sign holding, chanting, and symbolic actions. Even the
black bloc, which is notorious for militant direct action, only just
barely made a ripple. I was disappointed to find in the Brunswick
black bloc just a louder, bandana-clad version of the same old
liberal protest tactics.

The Wednesday march for environmental justice, which was
hailed as a victory by the surprisingly reformist Indymedia, was in
reality a bunch of anarchist kids posturing for the corporate
media, the cops, and each other. I know this because I was in the
black bloc, talked with some of my fellow participants, and even
camped in the same sapce as some of them. I therefore say the
following not in disrespect to these young anarchists, but as a
criticism of all the hype surrounding these protests.

The action for environmental justice started out really well with
an unpermitted march to the rally site. Despite our small numbers
there was a lot of energy, with a monster G8 puppet, black flags,
dumpstered flowers to hand out, and feather dusters to tickle the
media, cops, and military with. At the rally some anarchists hung
a banner to a tree, reading "Fuck G8 - Resistance is not
Terrorism!" (But the tree was covered in poison ivy--yikes!
Whoever climbed it was quite daring...) After the Pagan
ceremony we marched to the Hercules power plant, playing
anarchist leapfrog on the way. Once at the plant we participated
in a die-in while the Pagan Cluster read off all the environmental
toxins it releases. We were then resurrected, and danced around
for about 15 minutes, waving our black flags high and using one
for the limbo. I really enjoyed this part of the action, and
appreciated all the energy and enthusiasm going into it. There
were no specific problems with the march until someone decided
to attempt to march down the causeway leading to St. Simon's
and Sea Island. This is not to say I had problems with the idea. It
would have done well to show that we do not tolerate the
self-isolation of the G8, and that no authority figure can separate
themselves from the problems they cause. However, if that's the
message the black bloc was trying to convey it utterly failed.

First of all, we let ourselves negotiate with the police in an
attempt to legalize the crossing of the intersection, which to me
negates any point we would have made by independently doing
so. By negotiating all we succeeded in doing was compromising
our beliefs. What kind of a statement does an anarchist make
when she lets herself be restricted by the rules of authority, when
she actually goes seeking affirmation from authority? Why seek
credibility from the state you are trying to demolish? Some black
blockers were saying such things as "I am an American citizen!
This is my consitutional right! I am a peaceful protester!" These
statements confused me, because I wasn't sure since when
anarchists were concerned with citizenry or the constitution; and
I for one never cared for pacificism. To make matters worse, we
let a woman from the Pagan Cluster and United for Peace and
Justice mediate the negotiations. I do not have something her
personally, but as an anarchist I do not want others representing
my beliefs; yet this is exactly what happened at the standoff with
the cops. Therefore when the negotiations finally ended and we
were allowed go around the intersection, I was not cheering with
the rest of them.

When we came around three-quarters circle at the intersection,
we somehow ended up facing off the riot cops. An activist from
the Indymedia Center was nervously running around behind us,
complaining that our actions were overshadowing the
environmental aspects of the march, telling us to leave, and
pleading us to "think of the community." Seeing that we weren't
budging, they begged someone to make an environmental
statement to the ever-present corporate media. Since no
anarchists stepped forward to do this, the Indymedia activist
decided to step between us and the riot cops to make a statement.
Once again my views were compromised by a liberal reformist
who assumed the authority to speak for me. They spoke of the
need to "petition our leaders to protect the environment, to hold
world leaders responsible for their actions so that through them
we can create a better world." Um, excuse me? That's not why I
went to Brunswick! I demand the abolition of all power
discrepancies, the annihilation of all authority, and the creation of
a totally free society! Nevertheless, they declared the march a
victory, and told us all to leave. And though the black bloc
obediently walked away, most other protestors (including the
Indymedia activist) stayed behind to talk to the corporate media!
It seemed like some just wanted to get the anarchists out of the
picture to avoid "discrediting" the environmental movement. And
we foolishly let ourselves be pushed away! Of course I am as
much to blame as any other anarchist there for what occured. I
easily could have shouted over our would-be representatives, I
could have presented a harder line against the cops. The fact is I
was reluctant to do so in fear of acting as a representative of the
bloc myself, being labeled an instigator, and starting something
with the cops in which someone would end up getting hurt. I also
received the impression that others didn't feel the same as I, and I
didn't want to drag others into my own personal tirade. As we all
know it's very hard to communicate effectively in stand-off

This proved true yet again the next day at Palestine Liberation
march, in which 15 people were arrested. After the rally at
Overlook Park, we were all supposed to march to the start of the
causeway and symbolically tear down a cardboard wall. Instead of
participating in this action, some people decided to march onto
the causeway and see how far they could make it. I decided to
join the march to St. Simon's and Sea Island, both out of curiosity
and in solidarity with my anarchist fellows. I ended up being
disappointed by their lack of direction and consideration for
others. Apparently the extent of the plan was to go into Sea Island
to talk to the world leaders, despite a few problems with this plan:
1) The world leaders were on their way out by this time; 2) they
don't care what a group of rag-tag teenagers has to say; 3) even if
they did care, we as anarchists have nothing to say to them.
Would we kindly ask them to abolish power for us? Regardless,
the attitude of the anarchists leading the break-away march was
largely pompous and elitist. The temperature was around 90
degrees, and there was virtually no shade on the causeway. We
ran out of water quite quickly, and people were suffering from
heat exhaustion and passing out on the side of the road. Despite
this, those at the front of the march ignored requests of others to
rest for a few minutes or even to slow down. This while putting
forth a facade of "leaving no comrade behind." Others and I
eventually stopped to take a rest, figuring that heat stroke wasn't
worth this march to nowhere. The remainder of the black bloc
marched on with constantly decreasing numbers as people fell to
the wayside from heat exhaustion.

From my perspective, the black bloc didn't achieve anything
tangible, leaving behind only symbolic actions. From "radical
chants," to handed-out flowers, to strung-up banners, and
make-shift black flags, we didn't accomplish anything directly.
That's not to say that I don't appreciate good symbolism every
once in a while, and joining the black bloc beats the average
liberal marches any day. I also enjoy the autonomy, camaraderie,
and energy that black blocs offer. However, I still feel we need to
seriously examine the effectiveness of black bloc tactics. I wholly
support utilizing black blocs for direct action, but how often does
the black bloc actually succeed in this? In my experience, not
often. Instead it just degenerates into another standard march
with chanting; allbeit with more energy, radical words, and
usually more creativity. The Brunswick black bloc illustrated this
point quite clearly. We ended up in a position where we were
easily marginalized and compromised by the liberal activists who
were seeking to achieve their own ends. We ended up working
with the cops, liberal organizers, and other authority figures
instead of working autonomously. In my experience this is not an
isolated incident, but actually happens quite often due to the loose
structure of the bloc. I am by no means suggesting that the black
bloc should organize themselves, I am merely pointing out that in
such a structure it is easy for a few to assume power over the
whole bloc.

It is for this reason among others that I advocate a whole new
way to approach change. As I stated earlier, the oppressive
policies of the G8 aren't just isolated to three days a year, but are
omnipresent and should be treated as such. I am reluctant to call
for the total disbandment of counter-summits, protests, and other
mass convergences, because let's admit it, they're fun! They
present great ways to meet others, opportunities to release
creative energy, create autonomous zones, and attract folks who
may otherwise not be interested. Still, the fact remains that
change begins in our own backyards, and I feel that this is where
our revolutionary projects should take place. We can take for
example the G8 Fix Shit Up crew, who are making lasting
change in the Brunswick community. They are building solutions
with their own hands, and are developing an ongoing relationship
with the community as they make a commitment to complete
repairs on old houses for the impoverished in Brunswick. I
envision these types of actions taking a greater role in the future
of activism. Actions in which everyone is welcome to pariticipate,
in which there is no exclusiveness or elitism. Actions which
involve members of the community, so that change is
decentralized and everyone is active. Actions that don't assume
that people need saving by our hands, but that anyone can run
their own revolution. Another world is possible, but it's time to
act out the recognition that it won't be achieved by black bloc
Copied from infoshop.org

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