A Party in the Streets: #F29 in Portland, Oregon

by The North Star on March 8, 2012

Report by Paul Wells

You can label this as just another liberal Occupy march that identifies only corporate influence on government and not capitalism as a broader disease on society, or you can recognize this as an interesting progression of up and coming activists towards more radical tactics and mentalities. To put #F29 in context you have to look at its significance in light of actions post-#N17.

While#N17 began with the arrests of some marchers in an attempted action to move protestors across a bridge, and continued throughout the rest of the day on the sidewalk and with the arrests of dozens of protestors. The anti-National Defense Authorization Act marches likewise had many arrests and failed attempts at de-arrests/taking the street. The peaceful Tahir Square celebration march saw a 15-year-old hit, and a few arrests. Shermanski Park occupation saw the highest accounts of police brutality – broken bones, internal injuries, black eyes, etc. The February 6 march against police brutality in solidarity with Oakland saw similar acts of Police Brutality – police officers throwing protestors onto concrete and chasing others with bottles – and failed solidarity amongst protestors.

The experience of these events, alongside the direct action training of occupiers we think lended to a different attitude of protestors at the #F29 demo. While radicals were enlisted to form the an anti-capitalist bloc at the front to provide defense for the march, the general attitude amongst all the marchers was that we had to keep this in the streets, and we had to make this a success.

Whether marchers called themselves pacifist, radical, or militant everybody played their part as we stalled police or crashed through police lines on multiple occasions with no arrests. Despite initial attempts on police to push us onto the sidewalk, nobody in the march abandoned. We stood our ground and fought their tactics, each time gaining more confidence as police morale lowered.

At one point, a cop in his stupid car wanted to drive into the march from his parked location and was blocked repeatedly; he got out and attempted to make an arrest of one of us in the AWG, but got scared and got back into his car and sat there. They brought four or five horses into the middle of the march to rescue him and we all held our ground. One of the banner/signs got partially consumed, yes eaten, by a horse (lol). On Multiple occasions we chanted “From Portland to Greece, FUCK THE POLICE” and “The system has died: HELLA HELLA OCCUPY!” which received support from all parts of the march.

On numerous occasions the liberals thanked us for keeping the front and sides of the march in a tight protective formation and on the Facebook Occupy page you could see people thanking the so called Black Bloc that in large part made the demo a success.

To the radical community which doubts Occupy, while we understand, we think it is coming around. The way anti-capitalists and anti-authoritarians participate is key. The shortsightedness of occupiers don’t seem to recognize that the same people breaking windows are the ones making their actions a success and branding them a good name in the eyes of the broader working class. #F29 did a few positive things: while short of actually challenging the capitalist regime it reversed the pacifistic rhetoric of Chris Hedges and his sympathizers and revitalized the idea of militant direct action and anonymity, small pieces of the Black Bloc tactic, and thus created a situation where activists and average people are more sympathetic to it.

In their accumulated experience, we would not be surprised to see Occupiers make their own banner defense teams. It also educated the public to, well, a practically unknown capitalist agency which corrupts the so called “representative democracy” of this country; fueling contempt for existing capitalist system amongst the working class. Lastly and most importantly, the messaging of radicals on banners and in chants were key and most likely led to a radicalization of marchers or an extended knowledge and sympathy for anti-capitalist alternatives.

It’s one thing to smash property, which is great and should not be stopped (rather extended and continued alongside education and assembly), but the radical community shouldn’t doubt or turn a blind eye to the effect we could have through utilizing the occupy medium both in outreach and in education.  As our radical forefathers and foremothers would say “Agitation, Education, and Organization”. In the wake of the spring resurgence of anti-capitalist and class struggle, this slogan becomes ever more apparent if we want to see a social war in Portland and abroad like our brothers and sisters in Greece, Egypt, etc.

Toward a new struggle this spring!

Toward a social insurrection!

Toward a world without oppression!

First published here: http://autonomousworkers.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/a-party-in-the-streets

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