Monday, May 7, 2012

Occupy's anarchists seen as both divisive, crucial

Every time windows are smashed and clashes erupt with police at Occupy protests in Oakland and San Francisco, one group is in the thick of it: masked, black-clad anarchists known as the Black Bloc.

Police say they are pure trouble and point to conflicts at last week's May Day rallies as the most recent example. Most pacifist protesters wish they would go away. Hard-core Occupiers say they like having them around to diversify their movement's tactics.

Exactly who makes up the Black Bloc is, by design, a bit of a mystery. Adherents rarely reveal their identity and say they aren't really a group at all, but come-and-go adopters of a tactic.

Some protesters say Black Bloc violence and vandalism undercuts the core Occupy message of advocating for more economic equality. Supporters, however, say the Black Bloc has a different definition of violence, particularly in dealing with police - and that Black Bloc anarchists are a force for protection of other demonstrators and assertive expression.

One young Black Bloc demonstrator at a "F- the Police" march held by Occupy Oakland in March said he felt he was part of "a revolution for the people that is not going away."

"I don't know anything about violence," he said. "Everything we do - it's about freedom of f- speech, freedom of gathering. We're in a revolution here. It's not business as usual."

Emotions run hot on both sides.

"The argument that they aren't doing violence is complete bull-," said Buck Bagot, an organizer with Occupy Bernal in San Francisco. "They say the real violence is from the system, and that's true. But that doesn't mean that what they do is right.

"You can get your point across without breaking things."

To read the full article, please click here.



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