No single person speaks for Occupy Wall Street, and anyone who has
participated knows that it takes a general assembly to turn a group in a
particular direction. What I am about to say is spoken only from the
space that I Occupy personally.
I would like to present the
following ideas to any and all groups, for discussion. This piece is
specifically about the methodology we use during Occupy Wall Street
actions and what I believe our response should be proactively, and
reactively, to the tactics of Black Bloc when they are infiltrated
within our street actions.
obstructionism is not a new one. It has been around since the Boston Tea
Party. One of the primary differences between then and now is that the
perpetrators of those actions were also actively involved in the
physical confrontations that followed.
I am not going to
denigrate any of the tactics listed here, for they all have their place
and time. What I'm disillusioned with is what I perceive to be a
relatively small group of people in disagreement with the Occupy Wall
Street message, who would catalyze incidents that lead to overt
violence, injury and ultimately death, and then leave the scene. Their
sole stated purpose is to nullify the effectiveness of the actions we
are taking and the message we are trying to convey.
One of the
realities we must face is that if some group is intent upon impeding, by
whatever means necessary, the progress we are intent on making, and
that progress is social evolution; they will stop you. Your alternatives
are to accept that result or respond in a fashion consistent with your
beliefs and message.
There is a story about a corner man at a
prizefight, whose boxer is getting pummeled mercilessly. Between rounds,
as he's pushing his boxer back out to the center of the ring he's heard
to say, "Don't worry champ, they can't hurt us." This is so very true
for the guy who's not in the ring taking the blows.
grandest tradition of Occupy, Chris Hedges has epitomized the kind of
things we can accomplish by catalyzing conversation on this topic. Is
the occupy movement one of violent and aggressive revolution or is it a
movement for peaceful social change? The differences between those two
positions are striking and diametrically opposed. Just because each
method could achieve the desired goal does not validate violent
methodology superseding the Occupy philosophy.
Never, for a
moment, believe that assertive violence, property destruction (including
property belonging to the 99%) or vandalism represents the 99%'s best
interest in this endeavor. We have a responsibility, when we step out on
the street under that banner, to be true to the concepts espoused from
the very beginning. Evolution of the movement is essential, the
devolution of the structure that makes us a society is not and never has
been a part of the plan.
Have you seen West Side Story??? That
is how Black Bloc should run an action... the big rumble scene as a
template. The Jets vs. the Sharks, the sharks in riot gear and the Jets
in black hoodies. Black Bloc, in their own words, has stated that their
actions are designed to cause material damage and that Black Bloc
Activists Are NOT Protesters or participants in Occupy Wall Street
I believe we are a non-violent movement, as we must
be when facing a better armed and morally unteathered opponent in an
arena more suited to violence than a softball game. We will NOT "handle'
the police. We will win them over by persuasion or we will cease to
confront them in the streets because of their limited understanding of
the "master' they serve and our own attrition.
If we don't
have representative committees speaking to the police departments in
various cities on a regular basis, we are conceding control of every
situation to the better armed. This metamorphosis will only be realized
with words and overt, peaceful actions. Where force is necessary, and
there will be times when it is, that force will not be against the
Biggest Dragon in the Valley (the police) but should always be focused
on those who drew us to the streets in the first place; the 1%.
I earned my street cred on the streets and my diplomas hang on my body
as scars. Those marks speak to field studies. In the late "60s, when I
was a young teen protestor, I almost certainly would have been a
participant in Black Bloc actions, of a sort. I would like to think I
have learned a few things since then.
It is for all the reasons
listed above, and many I've yet to share, that I will state my most
controversial suggestions and the real point of this piece. I believe
that if we don't strike a middle ground with Black Bloc, which does not
include violence at our events, then we should look at Black Bloc
participation as a greater threat than the target our eyes have been
intentionally drawn to; the police standing station.
see Black Bloc as a threat to achieving our clearly stated goals, I'm
going to suggest some ways that we can deal with that threat in the
least aggressive way possible. There are three players on this field,
Occupy Wall Street, Black Bloc and those who believe they have come to
maintain the peace. We must make our intentions known clearly to all
three parties prior to any action.
Here are my suggestions:
All Occupy Wall Street participants must take responsibility for
everything that occurs at an event. Having peace monitors at a march is
limited in its effectiveness because when you are trying to curtail
violence one-on-one, you will almost certainly be drawn into the
The first proactive step we need to take is to put
Black Bloc on notice that: "If you fail to exhibit appropriate actions
at any OWS event you will be seen as an overt threat to that event and
you will be contained and turned over to the proper authorities". Have
no doubt that I know what screams of "sacrilege' will echo from the
heavens, one protester turning another over to the police. With fair
warning, if you show up at our events with the sole intention of
disrupting them and catalyzing violence you are not a protester, by your