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affinis
affinis's picture
Adbusters

People here really should read the latest from Adbusters.

I'll also add - from reading various anarchist forums, etc., it appears that anarchists are generally perceiving the May Day violent/BB actions as a great and inspirational success. One can even find statements from anarchists who were previously arguing for cessation of BB who are now saying that they were wrong. So Adbusters seems to just be reflecting the general sentiment.

Also
https://twitter.com/jaspergregory/status/199580350073151488
[A minor aside - one thing that bugs me - in each retelling, Occupy people keep inflating the number of people that they claim were at the NYC march - I've seen the number grow from ~8000 or 10-15,000 (estimates from Occupy-friendly sources I saw on May 1), to 20,000, to 30,000, and now Graeber is claiming 50,000-100,000.]

The cities and scale of BB actions on MayDay (specifically in SF, Oakland, Seattle, Portland, New Orleans, and NYC) could actually be predicted quite well based on 1. statements in advance in anarchist forums and related sites, announcing/calling for participation in the BB actions, in combination with 2. recent BB history in each of the cities. However, there were two significant exceptions (and I find these of some interest): smashy did not occur in Chicago (despite attempts to organize it) and was unexpectedly minimal in NYC.

With Chicago, the BBers appear to have had a numbers problem (and this was becoming clear from forum comments in the days just prior to May Day). They ended up having a BB of only 20-30 people. Moreover, Occupy in Chicago used marshals at the demonstrations ("there was no chance for action, between an army of cops on all sides and the occasional self-important protest marshal screaming in peoples' faces and making it clear that they would do their best to undermine or punish any unplanned activity"). Over the decades, I've been involved in many large demonstrations that have used marshals, and they really can tip the balance (especially when the number of violence-oriented people is smallish). Given roots in anarchism, Occupy groups tend to dislike using marshals (also, in case anyone's interested, here's a piece from the Communist Party of Great Britain, making the case for marshals/stewards - hat tip Jasper).

In NYC, there had been calls (in online forums) promoting May Day smashy. In the week prior to May Day, NYPD visited the apartments of a bunch of Occupy peeps (and pulled in yet others on old warrants). Apparently they were targeting people potentially associated with BB/the FtP "Wildcat" march, fishing for info, etc. I'm wondering if that NYPD intimidation essentially suppressed the BB actions. Also, in the Adbusters piece, I noticed the line that "And some Zuccottis have complained that union representatives actively blocked an attempt to lead the crowd toward direct action at the end of the night" (and I've seen another allusion to this elsewhere as well).

affinis
affinis's picture
Though

it's been widely noted, perhaps not everyone here is aware of a pertinent feature of the OWS "ballerina on the bull" icon (graphic created by Adbusters last July, when they first called for the occupation).
Nihilo Zero:"The initial promotion of the #OCCUPYWALLSTREET idea was an image which showed a ballerina on top of the Wall Street bull and, in the background, is a Black Bloc wearing gas masks. I do not feel that was completely an accident on the part of Adbusters and, either way, it has accurately predicted where things would be going."

danps
danps's picture
I think we're into Rorschach territory

I don't see black bloc there. The image is black and white, and faded to boot. Any actual color would be washed out. BB doesn't use gas masks either.

Doesn't really matter though. This feels perilously close to poring over Beatles albums for clues about Paul.

affinis
affinis's picture
One can debate

whether the "ballerina on bull" graphic shows BB. It's pretty clearly riot-wear. Many have interpreted it as BB.

BB doesn't use gas masks

Ummm

Black Bloc clothing recommendations: "Gas Mask-A slightly more expensive mask, yet a useful one if you plan on engaging in some heavy street combat."

Crimethinc BB gear recommendations: "Defensive gear: banners, shields (possibly disguised as puppets or placards), steel-toed shoes (should still be comfortable for running!), body armor or padding, gas masks or goggles and bandannas soaked in lime juice (store in ziplock bags until necessary), rain coats or chemical protection gear (if there is a risk of chemical attack), whatever relevant medical supplies you know how to apply, etc"

SF Chronicle article concerning Bay Area BB actions:
"As co-managers of the Berkeley Surplus store on San Pablo Avenue, Mitchell Langon and Michael Ludlow have sold a lot of gas masks, dark bandannas and black hoodie sweatshirts to protesters since Occupy began in the fall.'I've had a bunch of rich white kids come in here looking for the black stuff - you know the type, the Marin County trust-fund types,' said Langon, whose store sports a sign reading, 'For all your riot needs.' 'It's like they want to be part of something.'"

Twitpic: "Black block protesters wearing gas masks on march into #syntagma"

1999 Battle of Seattle: "According to Klein, the Black Bloc, acting separate from more adjustive and 'peaceful' protesters, donned gas masks and took up positions at the front of anti-FTAA marches"

Another source on Battle of Seattle: "Their experience of black bloc tactics was mostly that when the police started to escalate, the black bloc came in through the tear gas (many had gas masks)"

And, whether or not the Adbusters "ballerina on the bull" graphic depicts BB, yesterday's Adbusters article is pretty unambiguous in extolling Black Bloc.

Common decency. That's an idea which may make some people smile, but the only means of fighting a plague is – common decency.--Camus

danps
danps's picture
I guess I was taking a more empircal approach

I haven't seen any pictures of BB in Occupy wearing gas masks during actions. That's what the "gas masks on the front lines" implication of the Adbusters/BB theory means to me.

affinis
affinis's picture
glad to oblige

BB Occupy Seattle D12



From barricade action at Port of Seattle terminal 18. Clashed with cops, throwing flares, paint, rebar, etc.

Original Adbusters OWS flyer

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Common decency. That's an idea which may make some people smile, but the only means of fighting a plague is – common decency.--Camus

danps
danps's picture
"I haven't seen" != "Don't believe they exist"

I think I've been a pretty close observer of BB. My point in saying I hadn't seen any pictures was that it was much more common to see ordinary masks, hoods, etc, not that no one had ever worn a gas mask. So I wasn't really looking for a counterexample.

To me the relevant question is: Are gas masks considered a common feature among BB at Occupy? Based on my observation, I would say no. I haven't done a comprehensive survey of BB apparel, it's just an observation. And that's why I think any link to the washed out, black and white background of the Occupy poster is tenuous at best.

affinis
affinis's picture
Chicago

http://anarchistnews.org/content/chicago...
http://anarchistnews.org/content/black-h...
Does seem that the protest marshals were a factor in dissuading violence on May Day. We'll see what happens with NATO.
From what I understand, the Chicago anarchist scene fell apart several years ago, and there's been little in the way of rad anarchist organization in Chicago since then. From forum posts and new websites they've recently put up, seems that they began organizing and trying to pull stuff together in the last few months (in anticipation of NATO/G8, though G8 has now been moved). But the low BB turnout on May Day (and cancellation of actions they'd earlier announced for May Day) suggests that they still don't have their act together (hopefully limiting BB actions for NATO).

Common decency. That's an idea which may make some people smile, but the only means of fighting a plague is – common decency.--Camus

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