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A New View from Inside the Genoa Black Bloc

Black bloc meeting participants were mostly young, idealistic, and highly political, a far cry from how the media is portraying them.
The Truth About the Black Bloc

While everyone is talking about the black bloc in Genoa, very little accurate information is known about what the black bloc actually did there.

The black bloc began meeting earlier in the week when foriegners started arriving. The first meetings were small and chaotic. By Tuesday nights' meeting (three days before the direct action), there were more than a hundred people and a meeting structure was enacted. There would be a general meeting in which all issues could be raised and everyone could speak. Then the group would break and a smaller meeting comprised of delegates of affinity groups would discuss in detail the agenda items generated by the bigger meeting. This structure operated Tuesday and then Wednesday night when approximately two hundred attended.
The meetings were frustrating to many people. First there were the language problems. The composition of people was very international and so discussions had to be translated into about five languages. Also, there was so much to discuss in so little time, a difficult task especially when people had just met eachother and just arrived in town.
Given the difficulty of circumstances, the meetings were relatively functional and highly participatory and democratic, inviting and accepting to newcomers in town. The same could not be said of most of the GSF activities which seemed, in contrast, predetermined and not open to participant input.

Black bloc meeting participants were mostly young, idealistic, and highly political, a far cry from how the media is portraying them.

For logistical reasons the black bloc failed to have a mass meeting Thursday night, the night before the action, and it is safe to say that going into Fridays' actions the black bloc was not a highly organized entity.
There was however a meeting point, vague goals and tactical ideas, and some common understanding of what to expect based on past black blocs.

The black bloc met at 10 a.m. Friday morning. Unable to meet up with the group it had planned to travel with to the center, at about 11:30 the

black bloc was forced to start out on its own. There were about three-hundred plus people when it hit the streets.

There has been much speculation and some evidence of police/facsist infiltration in the bloc. The fact that the bloc was able to gather, stand around for an hour and a half, and make it downtown unhindered by police did seem somewhat surprising, especially since other groups were getting stopped. We may never know for sure, but it seems at least within the realm of possibility, if not relatively likely, that the police knew the whereabouts of the black bloc, but chose not to prevent it from reaching the yellow zone. A police helicopter did immediately begin circulating overhead once the black block took to the streets. It was not too far to the center though, and the bloc was moving fairlly quickly.
As soon as the black bloc reached downtown some people started smashing things. A Credito Italia was the first to go, one of many that would meet a similar fate that day. Others in the bloc felt it was too early to kick things off, as it was only 12 o'clock and most of the other groups hadn't even reached dowtown yet. The planned time for all groups to attempt to breach the red zone was 1 p.m. Nevertheless, the window breaking spread,prompting the police, who were built up a few blocks away, to make their first gassing and charge. For better or worse, this skirmish set the tone for what was to happen that day. The black bloc scattered and for the next few hours spent its time wandering through town smashing and defacing mostly corporate property and resisting police advances.

There is a claim that the police sent Nazis into the black bloc to act as agent provacateurs. This may have been the case, since there did seem to be a fair number of people smashing things that shouldn't have been, in some cases, working class cars. How much of this was by "fake black blockers", once again, we may never know. Black blocs do tend to attract some idiots, but also, there is disagreement within the black bloc over what are and aren't legitimate targets.

Later the bloc found itself travelling farther from the center. Some people left because the smashing became too indiscriminate. Out of the center though, the black bloc did happen upon a prison which, witnesses reported, had a molotiv cocktail thrown at it and had the front door almost smashed in.

Once again, there have been allegations that the black bloc went around for hours smashing the town and the police purposely did nothing. And once again, the same response is that this may be true or partly true, but we may never know for sure. It may also be true that such rumours are promagated as a further attempt to discredit the black bloc. Let us weigh all the possibilities, gather as much confirnmed and accurate information as possible, and critically examine all theories and accusations. It is true that the black bloc was a formidable opponent because of its fluidity, its willingness to fight the police, and likely tactical decisions by the police not to be drawn too far from the fenced red zone whose protection was their foremost concern.

The black bloc engaged the police in two days of rioting, but they were by no means the only ones doing so. And the black bloc was not all males as the media portrays them, but rather males and females.

A witch hunt followed against the black bloc, including the Saturday night raid. People with any black clothing were suspect leaving town.
But the repression was not really targeted at only the black bloc as the police claimed, but rather at the whole movement. Even the raid on the school, which the police claimed was a headquarters for the black bloc,turned out to be people from across the political spectrum.
The black bloc was only the lightning rod and cover for the police's attack. But also, the black bloc was of the most radical and uncompromising groups in attendence. Fortunately, and to their credit, the Genoa Social Forum coalition did not play to the police's attempts to carve off and isolate the black bloc from the larger political movement. The international support for all those arrested, accused, beaten, and tortured has been unified and strong.