The bloody Black Bloc

Yesterday I watched a live stream of the anti-NATO protest in Chicago, for hours and hours until things kicked off and the police dispersed the crowds. It was fascinating to watch this live video, as opposed to short and/or edited clips in news programmes or on YouTube, because it was almost as though I was there. The most striking thing in Chicago yesterday was the absolutely massive police presence. The cops and secret service agents probably outnumbered the protesters, who were proceeding slowly and peacefully down Cermak road towards McCormick Place, where the NATO heads of state were meeting.

Jesse Jackson and 30 or so anti-war vets led the protest. It was a hot day and I would guess that somewhere between 3000 and 5000 people joined the protest. The cops let them get as far as South Michigan Avenue, about six blocks from the NATO conference. The anti-war vets made short speeches and then threw their war medals in the direction of McCormick Place. Other leading activists started making speeches, and that’s when the Black Bloc sprung into action. They charged a small group of cops who had got separated from the main body and all hell broke lose. Here’s an accurate report about the demo from today’s Chicago Sun-Times…

Inside Sunday’s violent clash between ‘Black Bloc’ anarchists, cops

The Black Bloc form of direct action came out of Germany in the 1970s and 80s. Black Bloc protesters wear dark clothing and face masks and stay together in an amorphous mass. There were about 30 of them at yesterday’s protest in Chicago. The philosophy behind Black Bloc is that hippies waving flags will not overthrow an authoritarian state. Black Bloc does not believe in peaceful protest. Black Bloc directly attacks instruments of the state in order to show that the people have the power. Black Bloc wants the state to fear it. You can find a YouTube video here that gives a good explanation of what they’re all about.

The following is a recent fascinating Occupy Wall Street debating session about Black Bloc, involving Chris Hedges and Kevin Zeese (Chris Hedges was one of those who brought a lawsuit against President Obama over the NDAA 2012 – you can find my post about it here). Joining in the debate are some of the young anarchists who undertake Black Bloc tactics. I agree with much of what Chris Hedges says to them, except the bit about peaceful demonstrations overthrowing governments in communist eastern Europe. Just about all the Soviet block countries were bankrupt, and it didn’t take much to make them collapse. The United States of America is a different ballgame. Huge sums of money are held by a small elite. Most Americans realise that their society needs fundamental change, yet it does not seem likely that the elite will give up their wealth and power without a very violent struggle. Libya is a good example of this: if it weren’t for the fact that (ironically) NATO intervened, Gaddafi and his cronies would have massacred the protesters and retained power. Anyhows, if you want a better understanding of the Occupy Movement, and the anarchists within it, this video is well worth watching…

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