A Debate on Protest Tactics - part 2

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Freedom 55
A Debate on Protest Tactics - part 2
Polunatic2

This debate is so conflated that it's hard to know where to jump in. I made my position on the RBC bank incident clear at the time - i.e. violence turns people off, scares them and unnecessarily puts people at risk. 

Lectures about the nature of the G20 and the state, including the police, are red herrings. We know that and some on this board have known that for decades. It is true that most of us are in support of profound economic & social change. The debate is mostly around how to get there (although I'm not sure I'd want people who physically attack the media to be running anything where democratic rights are concerned).

That said, here are some of the arguments that I'm picking up (and I am over-generalizing) since there are almost as many views as there are commentators. 

1) If police provocateurs smash windows and set things on fire, it's bad and should be condemned. But if it's done in the name of a "black bloc", it's good and should must not be condemned or even criticized. 

2) Respect for diversity of tactics only cuts one way. Everyone must respect the right of "activists" to use (undefined) violent tactics but those engaging in those tactics are under no obligation to respect non-violent actions such as marches. They can pick and choose. Mass actions are nothing more than a cover - whether those doing the covering are in agreement or not. 

3) "The police planned to use mass arrests, excessive force and violations of charter rights from the get-go. The BB tactic had nothing to do with the police actions." Why? Some say it's because the G20 don't want the public to hear the protesters' messages (which does not jive with the suggestion that people marching around with signs is as useless as suggested). Others suggest it was to justify the $1 billion security bill. If either was the case and the whole thing was stage managed, why weren't the demos during the week broken up and people rounded up? 

4) Others view the labour movement as corrupt, ineffective and authoritarian. So rather than strengthen those organizations and help build broad mass movements (i.e. that we stop just talking to ourselves), a handful of self-appointed vanguardists can not only expose the true nature of the state, but attack the mass movements at the same time (in the name of "solidarity") to expose the sell-outs.

5) Lastly, and most alarming to me, there seems to be no limit to what tactics in "diversity of tactics" might be off limits. As long as someone engages in tactics in "good faith", they should never be criticized because any "violence" from protesters pales in comparison to that of the state. Given the levels of state violence, that leaves a lot of latitude. 

All that said, I roundly condemn the excessive violence and arbitrary mass arrests employed by the police. I also support the rights of everyone to due process, ESPECIALLY those who engaged in BB tactics. 

p.s. - Although I live in Toronto, I was in British Columbia and missed the entire G8/G20 so I was not an eye witness to anything. 

Freedom 55

Green Grouch wrote:

Freedom 55, spare me the arrogance. If you disagree, fine, but spare me the cute little rant about my presumed privilege. You know dick about me, so quit commenting on me. 

I have met enough extremely marginalised people, unmasked, in deeply dangerous situation, that I have come to believe there is absolutely zero moral or practical justification for covering your face in the midst of a peaceful protest. None. Zip. I have marched at numerous Canadian protests with people from the global South, people who receive death threats as part of their day to day work. They look around at what our protests have become, point to the people with the masks, and say "why are they doing that? What are they trying to achieve?" If you don't want to listen to me, try listening to people who are well and truly marginalised, to the point of death threats, rape, and more, and hear what they have to say.

 

I don't need to know anything about you to be able to say that this idea to actively interfere with a harmless measure that someone takes for their own personal safety betrays a position of privilege. Talk about arrogance! And, I'm not talking about you. I'm talking about this idea that you, and others, are suggesting.

 

"try listening to people who are well and truly marginalised, to the point of death threats, rape, and more, and hear what they have to say"

 

This is exactly where I'm coming from. You and the "people from the global South" who you've marched with don't feel there's any reason for people to cover their faces? Fine. Don't wear them. But other people do feel it's necessary and important for their own safety. To dismiss those concerns based on your own level of comfort with showing your face is privileged. And to actually suggest that people should forcibly unmask people is extremely fucked-up.

 

 

"You and I seem to know different individuals who have "illegal" status or are otherwise marginalised or at-risk, and those individuals are coming to opposite conclusions. I am expressing my view and you are expressing yours. End of story."

 

The difference between the two views is that one allows for people to make their own decisions regarding their own personal safety, and the other view seeks to impose someone else's decision on everyone. No one's talking about forcing everyone to cover their face. See the difference?

 

Polunatic2

Quote:
The difference between the two views is that one allows for people to make their own decisions regarding their own personal safety, and the other view seeks to impose someone else's decision on everyone. No one's talking about forcing everyone to cover their face. See the difference?

Except that in the case of Saturday, the march organizers (who had been told months ago by the TCMN that the march would be a "green" event) made it clear that BB tactics were "out of order" at the march. Had the BBers at least done their action at a "red" time, they would have shown respect for diversity of tactics. They didn't. 

6079_Smith_W

Peaceful protest is one thing, but I don't see violence or even playing street manoeuver games with police as tactics with much of a point.

If the objective is to have the cops behave badly and to embarrass the authorities then last weekend was a great success (though police managed that without much help). But did the street action do anything to affect the G20 proceedings? Were the specific concerns of protesters - presumably the actual reason for being there - even heard above the complaints of police brutality? I sure didn't see much on the MSM.

Again, I am not dismissing protest gatherings per se as a means of showing solidarity and informing the public.

But seeking to engage the police in their own game is not something that is likely to succeed in developed countries where most people aren't willing to put their lives on the line. And in most protest situations, what would be the purpose of that? I don't think there is even much of a point to it in a society in which the options of democracy (however flawed) the courts and other avenues to effect change are still available but sadly underused.

The police and the army have a much greater capacity to escalate in a head-to-head situation. Any serious game would only give them exactly what they want - the excuse to use more people, bigger toys, and stronger legal invasive powers (such as outlawing those masks as has been done in some countries). Why else would cops dress up in black and get in the mix themselves if not to provide such an excuse?

Besides, for all the romantic notion of smashing symbols I think violence probably loses some of its glamour once it becomes the norm. I was hitchiking in France almost 30 years ago and came upon an intersection filled with piles of vegetables and burning, overturned trucks. There was one person there - a cop who looked bored to tears. He told me the farmers get fed up and attack these produce convoys from Spain on a regular basis. Then he asked if I wanted to fill up a basket. 

I hate to see good food wasted for nothing; of course I took him up on the offer.

 

 

 

Freedom 55

Polunatic2 wrote:

Quote:
The difference between the two views is that one allows for people to make their own decisions regarding their own personal safety, and the other view seeks to impose someone else's decision on everyone. No one's talking about forcing everyone to cover their face. See the difference?

Except that in the case of Saturday, the march organizers (who had been told months ago by the TCMN that the march would be a "green" event) made it clear that BB tactics were "out of order" at the march. Had the BBers at least done their action at a "red" time, they would have shown respect for diversity of tactics. They didn't. 

 

 

I'm talking about being free to cover one's own face if that's what one feels is necessary. I see participation in a black bloc as something entirely different.

 

That said...

Are you saying that dressing predominantly in black and covering one's face was forbidden by the organizers? What if one merely put on a mask, but didn't bloc-up otherwise? If that was the case, they did a lousy job of publicizing that message. This is the first I'm hearing of that, and even now I can't seem to find anything with the help of a search engine.

 

I agree with you that 'respect for diversity of tactics' would mean not engaging in property destruction or similarly provocative actions on a family-friendly march. But as I've said previously, once a group falls-off/breaks-away from the original body of marchers, it becomes a different action. From all accounts I've heard, this is what happened. And I do know that it had been made clear to the organizers of the 'People First' march that some groups would attend the rally and march and respect their tone, but at some point they would be breaking away to head towards the fence.

adharden

Hi folks - two articles to contribute to the debate I've penned in recent days, if you're interested:

1. How the 'black bloc' protected the G20   (also up on the web only at Canadian Dimension)

2. Respecting the police: A fault line for activists

Tommy_Paine

 

In the lead up to this protest, I think I was against "Black Block" tactics, for many of the reasons people have already discussed.

 

However, if everything went peacefully, I wonder if all the world leaders would have got their message out, with Harper under a banner saying "Mission Accomplished".    Showcasing Canada his way, making him look successfull at home and abroad.

 

But, results speak for themselves.   Instead of that scenario, even right wingers can only talk about the protests.  Even the Toronto Sun had a column decrying Police totalitarianism.

And, it is all just a media event, the G8/G20.  Nothing is decided there-- intermediaries between leaders work things out well in advance.  It's just one big tightly controlled photo op, thrown by Harper.

 

In my estimation, the BB crapped all over that.   Some think they also crapped all over left wing groups trying to use the event to get media attention for their point of view.  But, sorry, burning cars sells copy, and Ken Georgetti going on about something just doesn't.  

 

Those on the left who are against violence of this nature, well fine.   Then find a non violent way to eclipse the message of the G20 leaders that has the media buzzing for days afterward.

 

 

Michelle

I completely agree with Dobbin when he says this:

Quote:

There were no cops “out of control” – the obvious fact is that were always in control. This was a very strategic operation from beginning to end.  The decision to allow the Black Bloc to do its destructive work without any intervention at all was strategic as the police and their political masters knew the media would play their pre-assigned reactionary role and focus on the destruction of property.  The mass arrest of 900 people was a message to those willing to take a stand: you could be next, and a criminal record is no laughing matter. There is no question that amongst the mob of window-breakers and car-burners were a significant number of agents provocateurs. How many we will likely never know as this time around none were exposed as they were in Montebello at the SSP Summit.

The black clad activists have a lot to answer for – they provide the cover for the provocateurs and they are totally responsible for the media frenzy about the damage to a few shops. Perhaps next time the real social activists should swarm these people and stop them if the police refuse. They are the enemies of social change – we should treat all of them as agents provocateurs and plan to deal with them accordingly.   In the process we might catch a few more cops in the act.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Michelle wrote:

I completely agree with Dobbin when he says this:

Quote:

There were no cops “out of control” – the obvious fact is that were always in control. This was a very strategic operation from beginning to end.  The decision to allow the Black Bloc to do its destructive work without any intervention at all was strategic as the police and their political masters knew the media would play their pre-assigned reactionary role and focus on the destruction of property.  The mass arrest of 900 people was a message to those willing to take a stand: you could be next, and a criminal record is no laughing matter. There is no question that amongst the mob of window-breakers and car-burners were a significant number of agents provocateurs. How many we will likely never know as this time around none were exposed as they were in Montebello at the SSP Summit.

The black clad activists have a lot to answer for – they provide the cover for the provocateurs and they are totally responsible for the media frenzy about the damage to a few shops. Perhaps next time the real social activists should swarm these people and stop them if the police refuse. They are the enemies of social change – we should treat all of them as agents provocateurs and plan to deal with them accordingly.   In the process we might catch a few more cops in the act.

Murray is right on.

Unionist

Murray Dobbin wrote:
The black clad activists have a lot to answer for - they provide the cover for the provocateurs and they are totally responsible for the media frenzy about the damage to a few shops. Perhaps next time the real social activists should swarm these people and stop them if the police refuse. They are the enemies of social change - we should treat all of them as agents provocateurs and plan to deal with them accordingly.

An important legacy of this weekend is that the cover given to the vandals and assholes by well-meaning progressives may well be over. There can be no "diversity of tactics" that includes the very acts which provide a pretext for fascist repression and simultaneously alienate the vast majority of our allies and constituency. The "Black Bloc", without support of real activists and real progressives, is finished. The police will have to try a lot harder next time.

 

Bookish Agrarian

Michelle, its funny, I spent the entire day on the tractor- and had a lot of time to myself to just think, and my conclusions about this echo Dobbin's to a very great degree.  The black clad and the police need each other.  Neither is complete without the other.  In fact one cannot really exist in its most militant form without the other.  But those of us committed to the struggle for social justice don't need them, in point of fact both of them damage our cause in their own ways.

I have kind of come the conclusion that the best thing might have been for those opposed to the G20 agenda to not have marched at all, but to have gathered somewhere in a single location and basically made a big party out of it.  Lots of speeches, even more music and merriment.  That way the message would have been the complete waste of 1.2 billion it really was.  Empty streets would have been the story and there would have been something positive and concentrated for the media to cover.   And it would not have provided cover for the two groups that are not committed to change, but to violence- often based in the pettiest of motives.

In one way the police rescued 'us' from the actions of a tiny few on Saturday.  By being so completely absent on Saturday for however long it was- and then by being so over the top on Sunday and capturing so many non-potesters in their clutches the police made themselves the story.  They won the PR war on Saturday, and then overplayed their hand tremendously on Sunday in many ways.  Today and Monday's attempts to regain the 'success' they had on Saturday have only entrenched the damage they did to themselves and the agenda they were protecting.  True some who should know better have gotten sucked in by the Saturday story, but they are only making themselves look out of touch to even the most average person.

So in the end- I think the next time something like this needs protested 'we' should hold an event at a good, accessesible, but contained place and just hold a big party (and family friendly too) with a very positive message about the very negative things the globalization crowd is wreaking on all of us.  After all who can resist a party.

Green Grouch

 Freedom 55: "The difference between the two views is that one allows for people to make their own decisions regarding their own personal safety, and the other view seeks to impose someone else's decision on everyone. No one's talking about forcing everyone to cover their face. See the difference?"

Sure I see the difference, despite the lecturing and condescension you seem to need to use. And as I said previously, we are saying the same thing and coming  to opposite conclusions about the results of the face-covering choice. This is conversation, I am stating my point of view, and again as I said earlier-- I am leaving it at that. I have nothing further to say to you on this topic. 

Before the last thread closed, I asked if anyone wanted to talk about messaging or other protest tactics. Talking only about the Black Bloc/ police coin allows for a very narrow discussion of tactics and is arguably defining the discussion solely on the terms of the state and its armed enforcers. Anyone interested in discussing other tactics? 

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Bookish Agrarian wrote:

Michelle, its funny, I spent the entire day on the tractor- and had a lot of time to myself to just think, and my conclusions about this echo Dobbin's to a very great degree.  The black clad and the police need each other.  Neither is complete without the other.  In fact one cannot really exist in its most militant form without the other.  But those of us committed to the struggle for social justice don't need them, in point of fact both of them damage our cause in their own ways.

I have kind of come the conclusion that the best thing might have been for those opposed to the G20 agenda to not have marched at all, but to have gathered somewhere in a single location and basically made a big party out of it.  Lots of speeches, even more music and merriment.  That way the message would have been the complete waste of 1.2 billion it really was.  Empty streets would have been the story and there would have been something positive and concentrated for the media to cover. 

In one way the police rescued 'us' from the actions of a tiny few on Saturday.  By being so completely absent on Saturday for however long it was- and then by being so over the top on Sunday and capturing so many non-potesters in their clutches the police made themselves the story.  They won the PR war on Saturday, and then overplayed their hand tremendously on Sunday in many ways.  Today and Monday's attempts to regain the 'success' they had on Saturday have only entrenched the damage they did to themselves and the agenda they were protecting.  True some who should know better have gotten sucked in by the Saturday story, but they are only making themselves look out of touch to even the most average person.

So in the end- I think the next time something like this needs protested 'we' should hold an event at a good, accessesible, but contained place and just hold a big party (and family friendly too) with a very positive message about the very negative things the globalization crowd is wreaking on all of us.  After all who can resist a party.

On the first day in Toronto, when there was nobody downtown except legions of startroopers or black shirts, take your pick, the collosal waste of money and the militarization and shutdown of Toronto stood in sharp relief. It was at that time there was a consensus emerging that we had all been screwed and the entire focus of the weekend was shaping up to the contrasts within and without the fence. Too bad that was lost.

I think though that as the days roll by, we will find Chief Blair has harmed the reputation of the police and perhaps irreparably. He turned them into thugs, bullies, and used them to wholesale violate civil rights and to attack and arrest unarmed, law-abiding citizens. He allowed some of them to abuse the authority he gave them without fear of reprecussions or accountability.

I do ask where are the good cops to standup and speak out? Is this why you wear the uniform? To attack and hurt law-abiding citizens? To jail their children? To sexually assaut their daughters? Where are the cops who are not the bad apples?

Bacchus

I do ask where are the good cops to standup and speak out? Is this why you wear the uniform? To attack and hurt law-abiding citizens? To jail their children? To sexually assaut their daughters? Where are the cops who are not the bad apples?

 

Take the word good cop and replace it with protester and bad cop with black bloc and you will have the answer they will quickly mete out.

 

I agree with unionist

Green Grouch

I sure hope Unionist is right. Given his excellent prediction record of late I'm putting the whole mess in his capable hands. Cool

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Bacchus wrote:

I do ask where are the good cops to standup and speak out? Is this why you wear the uniform? To attack and hurt law-abiding citizens? To jail their children? To sexually assaut their daughters? Where are the cops who are not the bad apples?

 

Take the word good cop and replace it with protester and bad cop with black bloc and you will have the answer they will quickly mete out.

 

I agree with unionist

Actually it's quite different. Police are sworn and paid to uphold the law. It is their jobs. More than that, the public is asked to place trust and faith into the police who are granted extraordinary authority and responsbility. Plus police know each other. They are witnesses to the abuses of their colleagues and they can identify who they are and what orders they were given. The police violated all of that. And if no police stand up and speak out, then they are all complicit. To conflate protesters with police is, I'm sorry. bullshit. Cops always ask the public for witnesses to come forward. Well, let the public ask the police for wotnesses to come forward.

Bacchus

Im sure you believe that just as the opposition will believe the opposite.

We've seen enough inquiries and media blitzes to know how it will get spun in the MSM

 

We have to change that dynamic

remind remind's picture

I strongly agree with fm in respect to  the cops complicity this needs to be stated and restated until the public gets it IMV.

 

The cops are complicit in criminal behaviour, they also  are getting paid by US the TAXPAYER, they are most accountable of all. They get paid by us, and remain loyal to those who sell their souls into hell, by encouraging them in human rights abuses, is quite the traitorous thing would you not say?

Not only to us but to themselves.

Freedom 55

Green Grouch wrote:

I have nothing further to say to you on this topic.

 

Since you're the one who insisted on making this personal, I'm pleased to hear it.  

Merowe

Unionist wrote:

Murray Dobbin wrote:
The black clad activists have a lot to answer for - they provide the cover for the provocateurs and they are totally responsible for the media frenzy about the damage to a few shops. Perhaps next time the real social activists should swarm these people and stop them if the police refuse. They are the enemies of social change - we should treat all of them as agents provocateurs and plan to deal with them accordingly.

An important legacy of this weekend is that the cover given to the vandals and assholes by well-meaning progressives may well be over. There can be no "diversity of tactics" that includes the very acts which provide a pretext for fascist repression and simultaneously alienate the vast majority of our allies and constituency. The "Black Bloc", without support of real activists and real progressives, is finished. The police will have to try a lot harder next time.

 

I think Bookish Agrarian is correct when he says that the Black Bloc and the police need each other, and in this observation is a possibly deeper truth I've been trying to get at. I've resisted any blanket ban on 'violence' or the abandonment of 'diversity of tactics' not because I endorse violence - the weekend's events offer a textbook illustration of how counter-productive it is - but because I think the impulse comes from a flawed analysis of the situation.

I think when the state deploys massively and militarily against its own population a vigorous response will emerge organically from the beseiged population. The force and form of that response will be diverse and it is in the interests of those of us who resist the state's current incarnation to focus such responses for greatest effect. Obviously.

But I think of Gaza, and the fringe factions that have on occasion violated Hamas' ban on launching rockets into Israel. Some of those factions may be subverted by Israeli interests, or they're just stupid, but it doesn't matter, ultimately. The Israeli state invents pretexts to ramp up repression where none exist. So it is in Toronto: as the state relies increasingly on the sort of one-dimensional repressive strategy we saw last weekend, it summons the Black Bloc into being. To fixate just upon the Black Bloc with the intent of suppressing or eliminating it is addressing the symptom and not the cause. To me it's like chastising the Palestinians, across the board, for permitting a few tearaways to violate any Hamas bans on violent response. Save the heat for Israel! If I place a hot object beside one at room temperature, the latter warms up. As the state defaults increasingly to violent repression, so that impulse appears symbiotically in the population. The heat comes from the object I put into the scenario. The heat in the issue we're discussing comes from an increasingly repressive state, and not us. (Now here, of course, one might argue that one should resist this heating up, as you do and I agree, completely. Its more about how we model the forces at work here.)

If the unions actually stepped into the vacuum and provided the necessary leadership the Black Bloc would melt away or be absorbed. Yeah, that's what I'm trying to say: without fetishing violence, their instinctive and thoughtless response embodies an entirely human and natural reaction to a given situation. Under the circumstances that energy seems to have spilled out the side and made a bit of a mess, playing into our enemy's hands; but that is the entirely natural outcome of insufficient leadership from the left. I remember in Quebec how disappointed many thousands of demonstrators were when the route of the main union march carried it well away from the summit and the fence, an act of gutlessness and accommodation that gained them and us nothing. Apparently the main march in Toronto last weekend had a moment where it considered directly challenging the fence. But it didn't, turning away and petering out in time for people to get home and have their dinners.

Until we see greater militancy from the popular leadership, and the unions than I suspect there is an inevitability to anarchic, destructive elements appearing in the presence of aggressive state deployments. This is the difficult part, and there is no getting around it. Had the unions marched right to the fence and challenged it there the state response would have been massive and violent and unpleasant and maybe 900 people would have been arrested. But the leaders and people in that march, sensibly enough, were afraid of the probable outcome and turned away, they didn't have the stomach for it.

But the police got their 900 arrests anyway and the chance to reinforce their message! What if those arrests came from innocent, regular workaday folk directly confronting the state's drive against all our civil rights by challenging the fence? Which we now know was NOT proscribed by covertly passed legislation. How much more effective that might have been, as a movement-builder. Please don't read this as an attack on unions, by the way.

As the system comes under increasing stresses, as it is now, the state will increasingly turn to violence and intimidation to maintain its order, Toronto was just a shot across the bows. Few Canadians, who have never known war or the sort of darkness more common in other parts of the world, have the imagination to see what is happening at home, and shrink from the unpleasantness that is coming. But if we don't face it head-on, it will smother us as we sleep.

Green Grouch

Gerald Caplan:

"What do you call those who have the capacity to reduce hunger, poverty and disease with a stroke of the pen, and fail to act? What do you call those who are knowingly responsible for causing death and suffering to millions of fellow citizens? What do you call those who deny to the poor the benefits that we in the rich world take for granted? You call them the G8. " http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/g8-g20/ten-invaluable-tips-for...

As was pointed out in another thread, the police vs BB stuff is part of the Miami Model. In turn that model is sparked by the continuing road show of the G8/ 20 and other top-down, door-closed, utterly illegitimate summiteering that has literally led to millions deaths by AIDS and poverty in the Majority World. I feel the message about the evil that is the G8 (and its wallpapered over buddy, the G20) got totally lost last weekend... which of course is a key element in the Miami Model's ultimate goals.

What I would have loved to have seen here in TO is an organised repeat of the goals of Seattle (WTO) and Quebec City (Free Trade Area of the Americas): a belief that we need to use our bodies to shut the meetings down and a commitment to joining together to articulate why. I feel that has become all but impossible because the State Forces have shifted tactics very effectively while we have remained behind in a continuing and conclusion-less debate about "diversity of tactics". And the sheer size of the ever-shifting, bullshit foci of the G20 makes organising and messaging even more difficult. I have no answers here but I think it is worth noting that a continuing debate about shutting down and exposing the G20 for the dangerous fraud that it is continues in civil societies around the planet. I think that debate got lost here in Canada these past few weeks.

 

Unionist

Lots of great posts and food for thought here - Merowe, Green Grouch, Bookish Agrarian.

Merowe, I agree with you about symptoms and causes, but I think your Gaza rocket analogy is a little flawed. Our job, as Canadians, is to ensure that no disruptors - police-paid or just plain adventurous assholes - destroy our movement. It's not a question of "blaming" the movement as a whole for the actions of the disruptors, as the state and MSM and police do. But it's a job we have to do - removing a "symptom" so as to better be able to attack the root cause.

In Gaza, it's the same. Gazans and Hamas are blamed for the rocket attacks on civilians. But here's the difference IMO: We're not Palestinians. It's their job to sort out their internal issues. Our job is to support them wholeheartedly, pointing one powerful finger against the Israeli aggressors and no one else. Why? Because we have no ability, or right, to deal with their factional problems.

In Canada, we have the right and the duty to eliminate disruptors who serve the needs of the state and the police. What we need to develop is the ability and the will. I believe (as I have said elsewhere) that Toronto will go down in history as the tipping point. Never again will any credible progressive leader mumble when asked about the asshole arsonists and vandals. "Diversity of tactics" as a philosophy is dead - the issue now will be to bury it. And in that respect, I fully agree that the unions (given their mobilizing power and resources) must show the way, not just in eliminating a few assholes (not a big problem), but primarily in raising the militancy and confrontation and communications and effectiveness of mass protests like these to a far higher level.

writer writer's picture

Wasn't sure where to put this, but thought this was the best fit: [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ae5Uak2UvrA&feature=player_embedded]G20 fallout - Queers protest Toronto police chief Bill Blair at Pride party[/url]

Though perhaps it should also be brought to the appropriate forum.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

writer, your facebook images of the vandal are proliferating like dandelions after a warm spring rain.

adharden

Unionist wrote:

In Gaza, it's the same. Gazans and Hamas are blamed for the rocket attacks on civilians. But here's the difference IMO: We're not Palestinians. It's their job to sort out their internal issues. Our job is to support them wholeheartedly, pointing one powerful finger against the Israeli aggressors and no one else. Why? Because we have no ability, or right, to deal with their factional problems.

There is also the perspective that violence isn't doing anyone any good whatsoever - whether used disproportionately by an occupying force or by those who seek to resist it with violence (I would say that violence is not doing anyone any good in Afghanistan either).  Israel/Palestine and Toronto/G20 are a bit apples and oranges, but I do think there are some commonalities that point to the ultimate futility of violence in both situations to get to a peaceful end - what will push toward peace in I/P is BDS - what will push toward peace and justice here is a growing, vibrant nonviolent movement... which of course some disagree with, preferring violent tactics which I would agree lead to destructive/pointless violent spectacles... 

writer writer's picture

Frustrated Mess wrote:

writer, your facebook images of the vandal are proliferating like dandelions after a warm spring rain.

Yay! I encourage people to forward the stills and video link to friends, family, agencies, authorities, etc.

adharden

to follow that up...

Office of the Independent Police Review Director - this body now is the appropriate one, rather than the OCPC (below) to hear public complaints via an official process, and they have special information on submitting complaints related to the G8/G20. 

Ontario Civilian Police Commission (I was informed today on the phone that this body doesn't anymore have the legislative authority to hear or follow up on public complaints about the police (since October of last year)... - but I don't think it can hurt to register your voice here..) - Suite 605 250 Dundas Street West Toronto, Ontario M7A 2T3 Telephone: (416) 314-3004 Fax: (416) 314-0198 Public complaints phone: (416) 326-1189 Public complaints fax: (416) 314-2036 Toll free phone: 1-888-515-5005 Toll free fax: 1-888-311-7555

Toronto Police - If you'll notice on the Toronto Police's website, to make a complaint you must be directly affected/impacted - so as many people as possible impacted by detention need to flood the police with complaints... (though in general, I think the more complaints the better...)

It's important to make our voices heard.... 

 

kropotkin1951

Unionist wrote:

And in that respect, I fully agree that the unions (given their mobilizing power and resources) must show the way, not just in eliminating a few assholes (not a big problem), but primarily in raising the militancy and confrontation and communications and effectiveness of mass protests like these to a far higher level.

I don't condone violence because I realized when I read history that if change comes as a result of the armed thugs winning you get a perverse and violent outcome. Israel is a prime modern day example.  When your initial leadership are the armed thugs from terrorist groups you get a culture that leads to the occupation.  

I however understand rage against the machine.  I have privilege I do not have a future that says my best option is a job at MacDonalds or Starbucks. When I was an angry teenager and was in the streets in the late 1960's I remember the self righteous pointing fingers and saying they are all rich privileged kids blah blah blah.  I also know that I and my friends living on the streets when we did exchange stories all had stories of abuse by authority. But you see if you looked at pictures of Yorkville you couldn't tell who was a street person and who had taken the TTC from Scarbourgh for the scene. We all looked the same, like privileged young white kids. I see young people in the streets who are angry and mislead I don't see "assholes".  Dehumanizing people is not my thing but apparently it is open season on young angry youth who have the bleak fascist future awaiting them.

As for tactics.  Ask any activist including or especially union activists and they know that if you effectively disrupt any property rights you will have an injunction against you within hours if not minutes. And ask any political activist what happens when a majority of Canadians go to the polls and vote against Free Trade. Our Pro-counsel Harper even stared down the majority of MP's elected by people who bothered to vote. The BC Fed organizes great rallies and then they sit back and wait for the government to collapse of its own weight.  So we know big peaceful rallies don't change governments agenda.

In BC about 25 years ago (long before the bb) we had tens of thousands of citizens in the streets protesting against Bill Bennett's agenda and attack on every civil group in the province in the name of budget cutting.  The unions sold out the Solidarity Coalition and in this province there has been little appetite in the community movement sector for the BC Fed to take the lead.  

So Unionist I agree the unions should lead the way I just am not holding my breath or expecting anything other than the same old posturing without substance that we have seen for decades.  But continue on in dehumanizing the other and praising your own as the saviors.

 

Then came the summer of 1983. On May 5, 1983, there had been a provincial election that saw the Social Credit government of Bill Bennett returned for another term. On July 7, 1983 the provincial government introduced a legislative package of 26 bills that had not been a part of their election campaign. Yet, as a package, the proposals constituted a radical change in direction for the economic and social policy of the province.

...

The response of the labour movement and social-action community was swift. Within weeks of the legislative assault by government, the B.C. Federation of Labour called a meeting of all unions in B.C., affiliated and non-affiliated, to a founding conference of Operation Solidarity, a united front of labour to oppose the legislative package and to pressure government to withdraw it. Community groups including human rights, womens’ rights, anti-poverty, tenants’ rights, students, seniors, and environmental joined together in a Solidarity Coalition. Never before in the memory of most had labour and community united so actively around a common agenda in this province. By the end of August, 1983, 50,000 people attended a protest rally at Empire Stadium and by the middle of October, 80,000 people were marching in protest on the streets of Vancouver, past the assembled convention of the Social Credit party.

The B.C. Government Employees’ Union was out on a legal strike for a collective agreement. Labour’s strategy (Operation Solidarity) had become one of joining the striking government employees in stages until the whole province was out. The objective was to get government to withdraw its legislative package.

...

Over the long weekend of November 11—13, 1983, the Operation Solidarity leadership negotiated an end to the job action with the Social Credit government. Controversy remains to this day about the end of the solidarity action. The BCGEU got their settlement. Operation Solidarity carried on for a short time after the strike and the solidarity coalition continued the fight against the legislation that was going ahead.

But, collectively, teachers never looked back. The following year, the AGM adopted a policy to respect the picket lines of other workers, including those of our CUPE co-workers if they should ever take strike action to obtain an agreement with their school board. And, following the conclusion of the Solidarity Strike, teachers in every local of the province negotiated a seniority/severance agreement with their school board. Our bargaining rights had expanded and our appetite for full bargaining rights whetted. We continued to vigourously oppose cutbacks to education funding and fight wage controls. We would move forward together from the experience of 1983 towards full collective-bargaining rights, including the right to strike, a short four years into the future.

 

http://bctf.ca/publications/NewsmagArticle.aspx?id=12834

NDPP

Unfolding Police State by Anthony Fenton

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19956

"As Canada's democracy trembles, a new global architecture emerges.."

janeyrock

To complain you must have been directly affected/impacted. As long as the human and civil rights of anyone in our

society are breached by our own police, that has an impact on me.

 

By the way, the powers that be might love it to have us fighting among ourselves; were the cops right? Do we have

a right to protest, etc. Yes of course we have a right to protest. The cops were brutal. They treated other human beings

as less than animals. Do I want to live in a society that condones that?

 

Of course, sometimes police do act with humanity, and some people probably have had very good experiences with

some police. We're talking about the actions and even the strategy of the police during the demonstrations. Why have

our police suddenly decided they can act with impunity against its citizens?

 

janeyrock

Fifi

janeyrock wrote:

To complain you must have been directly affected/impacted. As long as the human and civil rights of anyone in our

society are breached by our own police, that has an impact on me.

 

By the way, the powers that be might love it to have us fighting among ourselves; were the cops right? Do we have

a right to protest, etc. Yes of course we have a right to protest. The cops were brutal. They treated other human beings

as less than animals. Do I want to live in a society that condones that?

 

Of course, sometimes police do act with humanity, and some people probably have had very good experiences with

some police. We're talking about the actions and even the strategy of the police during the demonstrations. Why have

our police suddenly decided they can act with impunity against its citizens?

 

janeyrock

 

I think the police need to be held accountable, as does the government (local, provincial and federal). I've put my body on the line numberous times over my lifetime and will continue to do so when I consider it an effective tactic. However, it's pure hypocracy to call out the police for dehumanizing protesters but not to call out protesters who do the same thing regarding police - two sides, same coin. I may question their choice of job and general ethics but I don't stoop to dehumanizing those I disagree with so I can justify being violent and venting my rage....just like they do. Dehumanizing the rich is no different than dehumanizing the poor, dehumanizing a cop is not different than dehumanizing a protester. We're all people and if we start trying to deny the humanity of others then we're part of the problem. And, if you (tha'ts a general "you") see others as objects to be used to serve our personal needs and desires, then you're simply a narcissist (in the clinical sense) - that makes you the ultimate product of consumer society and part of the problem and not the solution! And just like the capitalists you claim to want to bring down.

Tommy_Paine

I think you can't look at this properly by looking at it two days ago or today, you have to look at it from two weeks from now, or a year from now.

I think it's a real missaprehension of the situation to blame the "Black Block"  for turning the police into fascists.  Their actions exposed the inherent fascism in our police leadership and rank and file.

The police and McGinty and all the rest aren't thinking this through, either.    They've been exposed in a way that no one would have believed a week ago.   And we've been energized in a way no one would have believed a week ago.

The only way to lose this now, is to slip back, and let ourselves forget.  Allow Blair and the rest to start rebuilding bridges to communities they have lost.

We have to organize against this.

On the weekend what happened seemed, to many, like some great defeat.

You'll see.    What happened was a great victory.  And we owe the "Black Block" more thanks for that than what you may believe today.

Yesterday, I read the link Writer provided in post #23.   Blair is afraid.  Sure, he has a smirk and all that, calculated to upset his opponents, and he has no problem emitting bare faced lies as we saw in the Globe and Mail article.  

But he is afraid.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Holy moly. Liberal commentator (and Monarchist) Scott Reid just said on P&P in his opinion the police acted with restraint on the weekend. Surprised

Tommy_Paine

 

 

Good, another fascist exposing himself.

 

 

Tommy_Paine

 

He was derict in his duty, in that he allowed the vandalism to take, place, abandoning the streets and depriving the merchants there of police protection.  

He lied about the law.

He lied about weapons confiscated. 

And more.   I will admit to not following this in detail, because it rather unhinges me, but I will catch up one day.

 

There's just too much to digest all at once.

 

Anyway, we should have another thread here keeping track of journalists etc., that are touting the totalitarian line.

 

Good for future reference.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

I agree he is afraid. He is afraid politically when he really ought to be afraid legally. He is afraid he will be forced to resign or be fired. He ought to be afraid of his role, and ultimate responsibility, for loosing agent provacateurs onto the streets, allowing vandals to trash Toronto, and then imposing a martial law on the whole city. He needs to held be accountable either in criminal law or civil law. If there is no accountability, there is no disincentive for another to behave the same way again. What must ultimately be applied against Bully Blair is that which he is charged with upholding but which he abused and broke: the law.

Freedom 55

Tommy_Paine wrote:

The police and McGinty and all the rest aren't thinking this through, either.    They've been exposed in a way that no one would have believed a week ago.   And we've been energized in a way no one would have believed a week ago.

The only way to lose this now, is to slip back, and let ourselves forget.  Allow Blair and the rest to start rebuilding bridges to communities they have lost.

We have to organize against this.

On the weekend what happened seemed, to many, like some great defeat.

You'll see.    What happened was a great victory.  And we owe the "Black Block" more thanks for that than what you may believe today.

 

This is definitely the sense I'm getting too. People have come back from Toronto bloodied and bruised; but also energized, angry, and determined to ratchet-up the struggle. This past weekend shattered the illusions that many people held about the benign nature of our governments. That's a positive development. I simply don't understand the desire of some in the institutional Left to paint this as a defeat. Nor do I understand why some people seem to be calling for an internecine war within the Left.

Unionist

I think Cytizen H's point is well taken. We must distinguish between black-clad folks and those who cause disruptive pro-police provocations. It cannot have been lost on people that the asshole who jumped up and down on the cop car was not masked. Indeed, at Montebello, black-clad anarchists were among those who were exposing and calling out the three masked police agents that Dave Coles was denouncing.

These mobilizations need true unity and coordination. "Diversity of tactics" can only happen within the strict overall tactical and organizational approach decided, in advance, by the coalition of all those taking part. Marshalls are briefed and deployed in accordance with that approach. Then, and only then, can the demonstrators be prepared for threefold action: 1) move when and where directed to move, en masse; 2) defend the people effectively against police attacks; 3) quickly and surgically crush any rockthrowers, arsonists, assaults, or similar provocateurs.

Without such organization, the cops, when determined to do so, will always win. And I'm not saying anything that any experienced organizer or protester hasn't known for decades.

Green Grouch

Cytizen H, thanks for continuing to write here. In another thread you mentioned you were going to talk about your arrest experience as you felt able, and I would really appreciate hearing what you have to share. Also, thanks for the reminder about what i would call the true Black Bloc. I would be a hypocrite if I did not say that in Quebec City in 2001 members of the BB provided organisation and cool heads in the midst of chaos and i felt a lot of respect for the BB groups attacking the Fence. I wondered why the rest of us didn't seem up to it and how we might adapt the tactics. 

writer writer's picture

It is exactly because of actions like those described by Cytizen H that I refuse to refer to the vandals as black bloc and/or anarchists. We don't know who they were. What H describes re: Allan Gardens was also seen in Quebec, 2001.

adharden

Cytizen H wrote:

. I would rather have them protecting me than the police. I realize it is more convenient to think that they are all cowards, because then you don't have to engage with the fact that violence might actually be a reasonible response to the attrocities comitted by our police and our state. Not just this past weekend, but daily.

[double post, my bad!]

Cytizen H, previously you've professed nonviolence... but tolerance for violent tactics (which I am critical of - it is essentially for me both a contradiction and a tacit endorsement of violent tactics).  I would presume you mean you would prefer BB to protect you in... protest situations?  Or do you really lack any fundamental respect for the role of the police as an institution in everyday life

Violence is not a reasonable (or effective) response to injustice or violence - in fact I would say it is utterly counter-productive, and the spectacles on the weekend attest to this... No one would debate violence in legitimate self-defense (which leaders and bodies such as NATO and Bush II have abused to justify aggressive, illegal wars) - but in search of social change in questioning the g20, it's mass movements we need, and violent tactics won't help us there.  

adharden

The central point for me is the spectacle.  Folks who want to engage in useless violent tactics will give space for both provocateurs and those who wish to physically push at, throw things, hit police, etc., which are all in my opinion dangerous and futile moves showing a fundamental (or situational) disrespect for police - an attitude I think which is marginalizing the effectiveness of the broader nonviolent movement... It's the spectacle that puts people in physical danger more than anything else... and black clothes have  become a pretext for the use of violent tactics, no matter what some wish to use them as, or no matter how people behaved all dressed in black in Quebec City in 2001... Unionist, I would argue that we need to come to terms with a nonviolent 'diversity of tactics'.  

Polunatic2

Quote:
"the "Black Bloc", without support of real activists and real progressives, is finished. The police will have to try a lot harder next time.

Looking at some of the video, there were at least a couple of hundred unmasked BB supporters following along on Queen and up Yonge Street who would let out cheers every time a window was smashed or other action taken. Yes, I know people get caught up in the moment. There were also lots of other spectators taking photos. Some supporters even assisted in pushing around people with cameras. So I doubt that it's "finished" in the sense you're suggesting (although it will be some time before there's another mega-event like this in Toronto (Pan Am Games in 2015?).

In fact, the progressive movement in Toronto is probably more divided than ever after the weekend. 

Michelle

Cytizen H, thanks very much for that description of what the Black Bloc did to protect the Allan Gardens march.  That sounds amazing, and I'm glad they were there to do that.

I would submit that the people smashing windows and torching police cars were not fulfilling that function of protecting protesters -- if anything, they were actually helping the police, not hindering them, if they weren't actually police themselves.  So I guess I will also have to follow writer's lead and try to separate the phrase "black bloc" from the vandalism that happened.

It's confusing, though, because some activists who support black bloc tactics seem to have no problem with the window smashing, or even the RBC bombing.  I keep hearing different things -- sometimes people say that the black bloc tactics are actually simply about protecting protesters from police (e.g. throwing tear gas canisters back behind cop lines, forming an unbreakable line to protect the other protesters, "de-arresting" peaceful protesters the cops target -- these are things I have no problem with).  But then I hear defences of breaking windows and stuff like that which not only doesn't protect any other protester, but puts them in danger because they're provoking police and giving police great PR to use against all protesters.

So I guess I'm confused about what "black bloc tactics" really means.

Unionist

Polunatic2 wrote:
So I doubt that it's "finished" in the sense you're suggesting (although it will be some time before there's another mega-event like this in Toronto (Pan Am Games in 2015?).

In fact, the progressive movement in Toronto is probably more divided than ever after the weekend. 

Well, if so, that's sad indeed.

Either the movement puts an end to the saboteurs and disruptors, or the state will put an end to the movement. If we can't protect our own mobilizations against a handful of exhibitionist assholes and police agents (and if two characters are doing the same thing, it's not really important to distinguish which one is a "real" cop), then might as well put our faith in electoral politics and go home.

Michelle wrote:
So I guess I will also have to follow writer's lead and try to separate the phrase "black bloc" from the vandalism that happened.

Well, I disagree with both of you. If someone wants to associate themselves with something called "Black Bloc", let them clarify what actions they condone and commit. It's hardly your job to speculate. If you (like me) consider the car-burning and window-smashing to be destructive sabotage, say so - and demand that the organizations take action to protect their protests. Why worry about labelling? Anyway, as I've said elsewhere, I'd need a lot more evidence than Cytizen H's word before I believe that anything called "black bloc" has done anything positive in the past 5 years.

writer writer's picture

I'm *not* worried about labeling, which is why I call vandalism vandalism. A huge hulking guy with his face uncovered is assisted by a bunch of huge hulking guys *not* dressed in "black bloc" to flip over a cop car. They are ordered by an even huger hulking guy to stop rocking the car. And they stop, no discussion. All of them with haircuts that look like they are less than an hour old. Most dressed like they've popped by during a break in their golf games. All with natty white socks.

People who've been at demos for years know exactly who these people are. I can tell you that, for many many people caught up in the events of this weekend, it is a major revelation. I understand why people disagree with the tactic of exposure. I disagree with the notion that it has no affect. I can tell you that many people are making this connection for the first time. Many people who found themselves in the skin of a lesbian, in the skin of someone on the reserve, in the skin of an immigrant, in the skin of a sex trade worker, in the skin of a striker on the line ... suddenly, safe people who thought police went after the bad other, and they were safe and good. Suddenly, everything was upsidedown.

In this city, we have images from Youtube plastered on TV by the cops when a crime affects Toronto. It is not happening now. Why? I want to raise that question for those who are very recently politicized. Why? This is why.

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=2502231&id=1362964765&subject=1356...

Unionist

Great post, writer. None of us were born understanding the world. We could probably all think back to some cathartic events that helped us understand a few things about the state, the police, the wealthy and powerful. Hopefully the people "making this connection for the first time" will draw the right conclusions - namely, don't stay at home to avoid trouble, but get involved in your organization of choice, and stand up and engage everyone in discussion as to how to defend our cause against provocation and subversion and straight-out police attacks.

writer writer's picture

Unionist, the demo here yesterday was amazing. They are coming out. radiorahim posted many pictures from Canada Day T.O. on his Facebook page. Many people with signs about their (first time) experience. One sign:

20 hours
0 phone calls
1 lost job

They are coming out. In case anyone hasn't read this, I highly encourage you to: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=397205503638&id=511491565

"I was home during the day on Saturday June 26th until around 1:00pm when I went over to Allan Gardens Park (which is literally across the street from my apartment). Hey, if Mayor David Miller was encouraging people to get out do things in the city, why not?"

He spoke to the crowd yesterday. Then proposed to his partner. Out of despair, love. Hope.

mahmud

adharden wrote:

to follow that up...

Office of the Independent Police Review Director - this body now is the appropriate one, rather than the OCPC (below) to hear public complaints via an official process, and they have special information on submitting complaints related to the G8/G20. 

Ontario Civilian Police Commission (I was informed today on the phone that this body doesn't anymore have the legislative authority to hear or follow up on public complaints about the police (since October of last year)... - but I don't think it can hurt to register your voice here..) - Suite 605 250 Dundas Street West Toronto, Ontario M7A 2T3 Telephone: (416) 314-3004 Fax: (416) 314-0198 Public complaints phone: (416) 326-1189 Public complaints fax: (416) 314-2036 Toll free phone: 1-888-515-5005 Toll free fax: 1-888-311-7555

Toronto Police - If you'll notice on the Toronto Police's website, to make a complaint you must be directly affected/impacted - so as many people as possible impacted by detention need to flood the police with complaints... (though in general, I think the more complaints the better...)

It's important to make our voices heard.... 

 

There is no governmental agency that is "independent", especially when it comes to very serious wrongs by public officials. Period. Only the naive or those who never had any dealings whatsoever with such agencies think they are "independent". They are all run indirectly by the government, more precisely the minister to whom they report. In the case of the office of the Ombudsman, which reports to the Legislative Assembly, its work is hamstrung by the Ombudsman's Act, which  requires it to keep secret what the government tells it to keep secret. Thus, the Ombudsman can for instance refuse to support a given case without giving any reason. (Check the Ombudsman Act).

There is no such thing as the government svrews citizens and the government leaves a hole in a governmental agency where correction of that injustice would "leak".

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

I agree with writer that the demo yesterday was impressive, if you were there - and I was, along with a few thousand others.

But as the thread is about tactics, perhaps we should consider them here. Yesterday's demo was generally dismissed, diminished or ignored by the mainstream media. The Star claims there were "hundreds", not thousands, in attendance. And that some mystery poll by Angus Reid (absolutely no details provided about questions or methodology) proves 73% of the city and 2/3rds of the country think the police actions were all A-okay.

The CBC online is slightly better, crediting 2000 in attendance (We guessimated 3K conservatively - the march just cleared Queen's Park on the tail-end as the front reached Dundas going down University. I heard one guess of 5000, but I don't think that person was taking into account that the tail of the march was not as dense as the front.) But the CBC National news last night completely ignored our existence, so far as I could tell. CTV news squeezed us in with no details whatsoever, less than 30 seconds to admit that there was some kind of G8-related protest in Toronto & Montreal.

So the question is: How does one get any attention paid to a peaceful protest?

Any suggestions will be much appreciated.

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