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Wildcat marches: Another novel non-violent protest tactic from the Fersusonians

New York Times:

In New York, the demonstrations have taken on a familiar feel and are similar to those happening in other major cities. They generally start at a central location, mainly in Manhattan, as the workday ends.

Protesters eschew preplanned routes, calling them cattle drives.

"Cattle drives." New language! Where'd that come from? Not Rev. Inc., for sure!

After some chanting and on-the-spot planning, they move into the streets, seeking to block traffic, disrupt commerce and cause peaceful disturbances. Some demonstrators confront the police up close, trying to provoke them.

Nyle Fort, 25, who helped organize one band of protesters, said the marchers were continuing a tradition of using the disruption of commerce as a part of peaceful civil disobedience.

Mr. Fort said that he had spent two weeks in Ferguson and that what was going on in New York was clearly different from what had happened there.

“The way we have to protest has to be very creative and very well planned out,” he said. At the same time, he said, the protests are not planned at all. Once the central locations are chosen, he said, “a lot of it happens organically.”

I've been told there's no pre-announcement. Twitter is behind.

“And,” he added, “a lot happens with engagement with the police.”

Some of the protesters are aware of the tactics employed by the Police Department when the Republican National Convention was held in the city in 2004 and hundreds of people were swept up in mass arrests if they congregated in one spot for too long.

To avoid that fate, these protesters keep moving.

Just like in Ferguson, where the protesters were not allowed to stop walking.

If the police keep them away from the Brooklyn Bridge, a contingent heads toward Times Square. If Times Square is cleared, they head to the Lincoln Tunnel.

The strategy, one protester said, has been borrowed from Genghis Khan, who forced his enemies to chase him across the plains.

Once again, I stand in awe of the dazzling tactical brilliance of the Fergusonians. And I'm as qualified [lambert blushes modestly] as any blogger I know of to recognize this, since I've covered Tahrir Square, the indignados, the state Capitol occupations, Occupy proper, and the carré rouge demonstrations, all with a careful eye to how reported, live blogged, recorded, and tweeted tactics fit (or did not fit) into Gene Sharp's 198 Methods of Non-Violent Protest and Persuasion. So if I haven't seen a tactic before, it's unlikely to have been used....

Where this is coming from, I don't know, though I'd hazard a guess that there was a confluence of energy involving subject matter experts at "Ferguson University" over the summer.

At some point, "What are their demands?" will become paramount, but for now, I'm satisfied to watch the movement (?) take shape and form.

NOTE Sharpton plans a march on D.C. December 13,

“Marches and boycotts led to the ’64 Civil Rights Act, the ’65 Voting Rights Act,” Sharpton said, adding that he hopes next week’s march will inspire federal action.

That's so fucked. They helped. In reality, a generations-worth of careful prep work and strategizing. Whoever's doing that now, it's not Sharpton. Watch to see how Sharpton tries to help Obama jam the Fergusonians into the "community" and "law enforcement" box. I don't know enough to know how to assess to correlation of forces here, but my guess is that Sharpton and Obama will not be able to do it.

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