Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A New Perception on #FTP & #BlackBloc within #OccupyOakland

Well, I've been sitting here thinking about the events on Saturday Jan 28th and I can't help but see how there may have been a perception shift within Occupy Oakland and the BlackBloc tactics that have been so controversial in the past. Before we can get into the shift, lets first talk about the original perception.

From what I gather talking with Occupiers and sitting at some general assembilies, there were mixed emotions. Some people were adamantly against the blackbloc tactics while others thought it was a little cool even though they wouldn't do it themselves and of course there were the outright supporters. After the start of FTP (Fuck the Police march held every Saturday night)in response to the violence the Oakland Police Department has subjected the Occupy supporters to during the course of the almost 6 month old protest; the divide in opinions about blackbloc tactics deepened. This happened because of the bottle throwing that made many marchers be kettles by police and then chased several blocks by riot police. I think this divide is organically dissipating.

On Saturday many peaceful protesters who were not necessarily supporters of the blackbloc tactics seem to be more grateful for the shields, vinegar, malox and other defensive supplies that come from the blackbloc tactics as well. I saw the march to move in turn into a FTP march because of the violence that the protesters encountered. I almost think it helped merge the people who were previously split because now some people who have been against some tactics are aware of the fact that they are not against them all. Here may be the organic beginning of a warmer embrace to the diversity of tactics :)

Not that I'm for violence. I'm not, but I'm not a pacifist I do think I have the right to defend myself in the event of severe violence. Especially if it is unjust, like I didn't commit a violent crime deserving of a violent response. I'm sure most feel that exact same way, and the way the march turned into FTP hours before it was scheduled because of what was happening was pretty telling in my opinion. I think this push into acceptance will allow for more a more open minded approach to the decisions made within the movement from this point on.

A good example of preemptive decision making, it seems equally fortunate that the General Assembly decided to move to 19th & Telegraph because there was a statement that almost 100 protesters that were arrested on Saturday are also under a threat of a stay away order. Well. Unfortunately the stay away could be from the entire area of Downtown Oakland. That s a new blog post altogether though so I'm going to move on.

The point that I wanted to make with this blog is that Occupy is a truly inclusive movement. There is room for all types of different autonomous action as long as it has the same goal. When the militarization of the police department is successfully dealt with Occupy Oakland is going to probably look more like Occupy Wall Street, but may be forced to approach it differently than other occupations. There needs to be a discussion about what property damage is, what violence is, and what self defense is.

Once these different conversations get started, I can imagine that many people would start to see how their viewpoints may actually be more similar than they all believe. Making it to where the infighting about FTP and blackbloc tactics will quiet down. They might quiet down because the understanding that self defense is necessary will be understood. Those who are more responsible will understand that there isn't much that you can do about people who want to throw bottles and fruit randomly after being tear gassed or having smoke grenades thrown at them. People will start to understand that the political movement that has corporate greed as a target, might break a window at Bently or Starbucks. Spray paint the City Hall where abusive orders come out of from the Mayors office with obscene messages that are sure to be seen since the heartfelt cries of concerned citizens & Occupiers are ignored at City Council meetings, and through the form of emails and complaints to representatives and the Internal Affairs department of the Oakland Police Department.

Although I understand these tactics, I don't partake in them. I just can understand and without criminalizing those who feel strongly enough for that to be their desired way of protesting. I can understand that some may also feel as if picket signs get ignored because the world is so well adjusted to injustice. Maybe that is a part of the "imagine a new world" scenario. The one in which instead of sitting there like sheep, people are fighting back in any way they can to secure economic justice. To address police misconduct all the way to the abusive department policies and the way rights are infringed upon while protesting against governmental corruption and corporate greed.


  1. wise words indeed. good to have you in the movement comrade! long live the oakland commune!

  2. You are a true believer! I defer to your insider's view of Occupy Oakland. You may be right that recent events will close the rift within #OO by radicalizing those who formerly had misgivings about Black Bloc. In that case, #OO will emerge stronger.

    As an interested outsider, however, I see #OO from a different vantage. According to the latest SurveyUSA poll, there has been since #J28 a net 23% loss of Occupy supporters in the Bay Area—down from 58% to 35%.

    So the question becomes: at what cost is Occupy Oakland solidifying itself? #OO seems headed towards an internally tighter group that operates within an ever-expanding vacuum of public approval.

    When it began, the Occupy movement professed to be about the 99%. In the Bay Area, at least, it's now about the 35%.

    The inescapable conclusion is that #OO is fast marginalizing itself to the point of irrelevancy.

    1. I think it's happening because of closed minds and thrown bottles. People can't say that they're inclusive and as soon as someone does something they don't like all of a sudden that's not a part of the inclusiveness.

  3. Bella, I urge you to think strategically, and check this out if you haven't yet: http://www.slideshare.net/noobgank/patterns-of-conflict

  4. thank you as a staunch supporter of the bloc I will now tune in to your stream more often just cant stand all the hate negativity and all around bullshit I hear on many stream hope this text will be read by many.

    one little thing when the lady from the anti repression march J29 GA spoke about "dry snitching" I could hear you disagreed with her but remember that you always have the choice of where you point your camera and nothing wrong with filming your shoes for for 3 second if something is happening I say this because when i watch streams from Greece where the peoples taking part in black bloc don't fuck around with people with camera the streamer for his safety and the safety of his equipment, quickly point cam on the ground as soon as black flag is close to him, because filming Black bloc participant over there means getting ass kicking and camera taken to be destroyed even if the guys are just standing there doing nothing unless the guy with cameraman gained their trust and is not live and who they trust enough they will let him be. as tension keep rising in north America and people see their friends get jailed over footage taken like many of our comrades in Toronto G20 from videos on the internet camera will be more harshly targeted.

    1. The streams are there for the protection of protesters. I can't speak for others, but I make it obvious that I'm recording & have been heard telling ppl there is a streamer behind you. The point is to keep protesters safe not sabatoge the black bloc tactics within the march.

      Bottom line don't do something dumb infront of a camera and be mad the person filming. Not only that but I ask permission and turn away when ppl tell me they're not comfortable.

    2. please just stay away from the white bloc shit and the right wing live steamers such as timcast and any other who are trying to antagonize the black bloc this shit will get dangerous in Chile the call those peoples "pacos rojos" that I freely translate into Red Pigs and only lead to fight try to find footage of the student protest from over there it's almost impossibleor it's taken from behind police lines because the first thing the black bloc or "encapuchados" as they call them over there dois attack everything with a camera and this white bloc shit make me fear that we are heading right in this situation I take the time to tel you this because I appreciate your writing and the fact that you try to push for greater understanding

  5. i really like how we're all growing. i think that Saturday showed Black Bloc where they fit in the movement and showed the haters that they do, in fact, have a place.

    we need their shields for our medics, our children, our pregnant women and our elders. they have just as much right to be there as us able bodied crazy twenty and thirtysomethings, and they need protection. our injured need protection.

    OPD showed they don't care who they gas, as innocent bystanders were exposed, people in the Uptown Apartments were exposed and OPD made no attempt to help them or provide them with aftercare. that is even setting aside that it was a peaceful, nonviolent march!

    BB saved the day more than once and prevented many injuries and several hundred more arrests and should be commended.

    i was always against their tactics myself, as i counted myself nonviolent and against property destruction. i'm still against throwing bottles and rocks from the back, putting innocents in danger, but the proactive defense tactics are absolutely needed and quite stunning when put into place.

  6. bella,

    it sounds like you're saying that people are beginning to accept black bloc as a tactic. i disagree with that assessment. i think that because OO has been getting smaller and smaller, the people who support a "diversity of tactics" have coalesced more as a group, and those dissenting voices are now no longer present because the people who are dissenting are pulling back from OO, what seems to be a reconciliation of ideas is probably a segregation of ideas. one group over here, one group over there. i think you're experiencing an echo chamber, not a acceptance of these stratagems and approaches.

    OO is not united, and the move-in was not anything close to being a unifier across groups and committees of occupy oakland. i say this as a member of different groups hearing different voices. there is a lot of upheaval and turmoil within occupy oakland not only about FTP and the building occupation, but about the general unrest regarding violence, nonviolence, strategy, and tactics.

    i don't denounce black bloc. as a matter of fact, i think occupy oakland needs to be schooled on what real black bloc is and how to utilize that tactic effectively and strategically. i'm open to learning more about cuz what i've seen so far in oakland does not impress. IMO, the black bloc of occupy oakland has been very irresponsible, except maybe for tearing down a couple of fences and helping injured people escape from cops. other than that?...nope.


    1. Hello Yvonne, I'm not saying that it's being embraced with warm hugs, but I m saying that certain aspects of the black bloc tactics are being accepted. So when the medics know what to do, or some of the strategies that are attempted like the shields are partly successful at helping people, those individuals are thankful for the tactic. Now there is need to build the bridge between liking certain things and letting people know that it is in fact black bloc.

      I do agree that it's not being done all together right. There is more uniformity needed and three is a lot of tension/controversy behind the subject. The points that people are learning about the real black bloc and having to say that they approve of some of the tactics. That there is a step towards some acceptance. Is it going to be a ideal situation? No. I am hoping that people can be autonomous and still get along. Would be nice, but I see that people want to go their own separate ways. I'm hoping that doesn't happen.

    2. If that does happen, the police tactics have won over Occupy Oakland which would be a sad thing to see. Hopefully, the movement can go on. Maybe the discussion of violence and nonviolence needs to brought up in a few GAs in a forum so that there can be an understanding of what's acceptable and unacceptable then vote on an official statement? I'm not sure but this is fixable, if Occupy Oakland is willing to work on it.

  7. i love the presumption that black block and nonviolent protestors are mutually exclusive...i think you have just stumbled into making the same assumption about black block that so many argue against, its a tactic not a person
    as if nonviolent protestors couldnt possibly unarrest their fellow demonstrator, or have gas masks, or maalox, etc. etc.
    the difference is neo-anarchists and people with a romanticized ideal of revolution and power hungry naive IDIOTS made a grave error on saturday and throughout the organization of this entire action.
    when will you and other people admit this was a grave tactical and strategical error...more concerned with trash can shields then where to lead a march of 1000 people...TO NOT leave them ripe to be kettled, talkin about Laney College route, leading a crowd through the tiniest streets in downtown oakland after failing to be essentially 'let in' to the kaiser building?..assuming in some naive way the cops were not going to stop you from doing a highly publicized illegal action...in shock when they throw tear gas and flash bombs! hell they did that when we weren't doing anything but marching let alone trying to take over a fucking building...lambs to the slaughter...and led by which wolf in sheep's clothing? think about that please...if this wasn't agents infiltrating then who the hell needs undercovers when we can just shoot ourselves in the foot at an epic rate?! when is anyone going to take responsibility for this complete tactical failure that gave us 400 casualties for what? what did we accomplish? oh right! more solidarity and marches from other occupys? whoopdeefuckindoo! the choir is liking the sermon...great...problem is while you are all on your pulpit you are not taking the time to look out into the empty pews of your church...at what point will people take responsibility for their actions or maybe even rethink them?

    this is from someone deep within the movement...that lives in oakland...considers themselves an anarchist...believes in nonviolent strategic actions...
    Occupy Oakland- the only occupation in the world that denounced itself as a nonviolent movement for the sake of being CO-OPTED by the diversity of tactics brigade.

  8. that pretty much sums it up right there^