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"The Police Are Not Our Enemy" (Wrote this late last night....)

There are so, so many things to say about today. From the beautiful speech given by the young woman with the mask, to the thrumming energy in the crowd, to the stand-off at the Oregonian... there is a lot of good to say about what happened out there today. Then there was the woman shot with projectile weapons, the women trampled by horses, the mesomorphic displays of naked aggression by the police. All that pepper spray. Indeed, there is a lot to say. But I am tired now. It's been a long day. And the event that keeps my mind occupied, strangely, is the one that threw into stark relief for me the difference between what it means to yell "peace" and what it means to really be non-violent.
I was standing against a human barricade, sanwiched between the bad-ass line of armed police minions and the throbbing, pulsing crowd. This is not a place I like to be, but I find myself there all too often. I make my way up to the front of these stare-downs despite the grumbling sense of danger. I do it because I have a camera, and when police violence erupts in situations like this one, I know we will need to be witnesses for each other. We have learned this. But the truth is, it's scary to me there. I feel very vulnerable, with my body pressed so close to the sharp metal and hungry weapons of such lethal, angry men. When the shit hits the fan, it does so in a terrifying rush of trampling boots and flailing sticks and loud noises and clouds of pepper spray. Sometimes, like today, there are gnashing teeth and the clattering hooves of horses. Yes, it's a scary place to be. And I don't like it much.

So I do not stand against those lines because I enjoy the thrill, or because I think it's cool or because I like to provoke the guns of the police state. I do it because I have to. Because it's my chosen role in this growing resistance. And because I feel like my life depends upon it. The power of the story is everything, and so I stand up there to tell that story. The police are the front line soldiers fighting for the monster that is choking the life out of the earth. They are the ones holding the fortress, keeping back the rising tide of resistance. It is they who tuck our masters in at night, safe and sound behind that thin blue line. If the police were not herding us carefully out of the way, we would have put a stop to this war by now. We would have reclaimed our land from the bloody, imperialist, corporate regime that stole its way into our lives. We would have thrown their greedy asses out of our forests, out of our government, and out of the nurseries of Baghdad and Kandahar and Southern Lebanon, where their cold bombs are still falling. And so yes, the police are our enemies.

They are our enemies because it is their active and violent complicity that keeps the world spinning off balance and keeps the New World Order surging after innocent blood. They are our enemies because they hold guns on us to keep us from saving ourselves, to stop us from making any changes, to keep the wheel grinding even when it is grinding over us. They are our enemies because they beat people to death in the streets and the Law lets them. They are our enemies because when The Man makes it illegal to be poor or black or different, it is their guns that enforce those unjustifiable laws. They are our enemies because Vernon Allen and Jahar Perez and Kendra James and Jose Mejia Poot and Lukas Glenn and Fouad Kaady all died in a hail of their bullets, and James Chasse died beneath their boots.

Yes. The police are our enemies.

They are our enemies because every time we stand up against the evil that has overtaken our land, it is they who attack us in their surreal costumes with their surreal weapons, on horseback and on jackboot, with guns and with poisons and with clubs. And yet we have to stand up anyway. Our lives depend on it. And so that is why I stand there on that line, between the people and the police state. Because the police are violent, and they hurt people, and that is a story we must tell. What's more, their very presence there, on our streets, guns drawn, condones and props up the violence that our government perpetrates upon the rest of the world. And that, too, is a story we must tell. So I stand there in solidarity with all the people who are courageous enough to fight back against that oppression. No matter how terrifying I might find the guns of this police state, I am much more terrified by the thought of living in a world where no one fights back against this monster. And so I stood there today. Crushed between the thrumming crowd and the sweaty cops, I pulled on my mask and kept filming. Resigned in the knowledge that soon, I would be fighting for breath in the violent trample that usually comes in situations like this, I took a deep breath. And then, something absurd happened.

In the middle of all this, a woman in a white WCW organizer's t-shirt came careening out of the crowd, screaming, tears in her angry eyes, spitting as she shouted. "The police are not our enemy!" She yelled. "You people are fools! These are our friends!" Again, and again, she yelled this. People seemed too stunned to even respond at first. I wish I could say I was surprised by her raving outburst, that it was some anomaly. A crazy person. But I have seen all this before. Way too often. Alas.

She pushed her way along in front of me, turning to face the police, plaintively yelling at them that she knows that they are not our enemies. She turned to the crowd seething with rage and recriminations. Someone in a mask approached her and gently put his hand on her shoulder. He tried to calm her, tried to explain to her why her statement to these people was so absurd. She would not hear him. "You guys are ruining our march!" She screamed. I could not make out everything she said, so much venom in her throat made it hard to understand her.

"Ruining our march! You're ruining our march!" The guy in the mask tried again to calm her. "You people are fools!" She loudly fumed. "These are our friends!" Shit. Fucking just get a clue. That was my thought. I've grown tired of these displays. Enough. I was feeling edgy and worried about what the police might do, and suddenly this clueless ass who presents herself as an organizer of this event comes charging over and telling us that the cops are our friends. Shit! Our "friends" don't beat people to death. They don't pepper spray babies. They don't knock glass eyes out of little old ladies, or steal wheelchairs, or shoot people to death for being the wrong color. But these cops do. They have, and they've gotten medals for it. And if we let them, they would do it again.

I was trying very hard to understand what could possess this woman to direct such "non-violent" rage toward the people in the crowd rather than the police state, when she suddenly turned on me. "Fuck you!" She screeched, and attacked my camera with her hands. Then she turned, and was gone. I continued to film, because I think this is important. THIS is why it is hard for radicals and liberals to work together. This is a divide that may be impossible to bridge, though many people have tried. Because when push comes to shove, it seems, the liberals are always collaborators. There was a choice there, on that front line. This woman, if she did not support a direct challenge to the police state, could have simply chosen not to take part in it. Instead, she leapt into the fray, demanding obedience and conformity, maniacally screaming a venomous and spittle-coated lecture on manners at people who know who are friends really are. And alas, who they are not. And then, in defense of the police state, she attacked me. SHE attacked me. Even before the first shot was fired from the big red gun, even before the pepper spray rained down on skin and lungs, even before the trampling hooves, SHE attacked me. This woman wearing a WCW shirt attacked me.

It would be better if it were only this woman who was so ridiculous. But it's the liberal mindset itself that creates the violence of "pacifists." It is violent to support the police. It is violent to dismiss the link between the police on our streets and the soldiers on the streets of Baghdad. It is violent to encourage the police to crack down on other demonstrators. And all that unacknowledged violence seething in the liberal mind leads to an unbalanced state that sometimes comes crashing to the surface like this. And yes, it is violent to lay hands on another human being without her permission. This woman did all of those things, yet she left believing that it was the people who shouted at the police who were being violent. People who used only words and autonomy, she saw as violent. She was incapable of recognizing the violence of her own hands, or the violence in her own heart. She told me later that it is "the radicals" who are violent, because they "ruined" her march. HER march. Her march...for what?

After that, a lot of things happened. The crowd continued on to the offices of the WhOregonian, where a jubilant throng used its mighty voice to shout down the liars. Later, celebratory marchers ran through the carefully prescribed lines and nearly took the freeway (just a guess). Then, predictably, lots of angry men with bulging weapons came huffing and puffing after the crowd and another stand-off ensued. Snorting horses rammed us, and a cloud of gas burned skin and stole breath from people. Officer Robinson shot his weapon as he likes to do, unveiled threats issued forth from the ice cream truck, and at last, people tired of the game and melted into the streets. Not before ten of us were arrested, dozens were assaulted with chemical weapons, and a few were shot with projectiles. I went off to interview people who had been injured in the ruckus. In spite of everything, I think there was a positive energy present in this march that has not been around for awhile. Even after it was all over, people seemed to be in a festive and victorious mood. Something is growing out there. I was walking with friends after it was over, talking about that energy, when I came upon my assailant again. As my friends and I passed through the park blocks to make sure there was no further need there for camera support, there she was. Sitting on a chair with a knot of people in WCW shirts. And I wanted to ask her why.

I approached her and asked for an interview. Clearly, she did not recognize me at first, because she eagerly granted the interview. I knelt beside her, turned on my camera, and tried to ask her if she recognized what she had done back there. If she realized that she, an organizer of this "non-violent protest" was the one and only person who actually laid hands on me today. And that she did so in defense of the violent, armed, police state. She at first denied that she had attacked my camera. I reminded her that I have it on film. She got angry, and her friends -- the other organizers -- got angry, and I got angry, and a lot of harsh words were spoken. I remember few details. I remember her asking, did I come to a meeting, was I going to clean up the garbage, and me asking did she really think that defending the police state was a nonviolent act. I remember her demanding to know, and her friends demanding to know, "What are you trying to do?" And me demanding to know the same from them. I remember finally telling a friend to take me away before I became an asshole, which he did. We sat down across the park, co-miserating on the folly of ever trusting a liberal as we watched yet another WCW organizer engaging in a long and apparently jolly conversation with the police.

I finally caught my breath after the long and trying day, and was about to leave, when the woman came marching back over to where we sat. She had a camera in her hand, stuck it in my face (as close as she said my camera had been to hers, though she knew that she was lying). I lifted my camera and filmed back. "What are you trying to do here," she began prodding in a crazy and provoking voice. "Whatcha doin' whatcha doin'?"

"Me? I was trying to join the 'big umbrella' ya'll said you were putting out," I said. "What about you?"

She continued to shout and mock, and I continued to film her. She struck my camera again. Clearly, she was way out of control. I explained to her again that what she was doing was violent. Laying hands on me was assault. This is no way to exhibit one's superior "nonviolence." She snapped a few stills, and then triumphantly announced that I must be "one of those plants" ("Perhaps a deiffenbachia, or maybe a fern," I later remarked to a friend). She accused me of being a provocateur "from the Bushies" and told me she would post my picture to the internet with a warning that I was "a plant."

I will let those words sit with you for a moment.

This woman, who had no idea who I am or why I was there, had the absolute gall to tell me that she planned to publically accuse me of being "a plant" for the police state. Why? Because she did not like the fact that I had filmed her attacking my camera, and that I had challenged her worldview about how one can claim to be "nonviolent" as long as they only attack protesters in defense of the benevolent police state. And this, my friends, is what I mean when I say that I have trouble ever trusting a liberal to do anything but turn us in to the camps when the time comes. Because this woman, for her own selfish purposes, was willing to do the dirtiest thing one can do. She, a willing collaborator, a raving apologist for the police state, she threatened to knowingly spread dangerous and damning disinformation about an activist simply because, as I said, when push comes to shove, they will turn. On us. Always, always on us. I am appalled beyond words, but I am not surprised.

A friend who heard her say this leapt up and followed her, informing her that if she should do so there would be immediate legal repercussions. (He spoke in a language she would understand. "Legal repercussions." Liberals like talk like that.) "Oh yeh?" She asked. "Well what about me? What about my privacy? She got right in my face, and you're gonna post that video to the net." My friend explained to her what should have been obvious. That her threat to post intentional disinformation was much different than my assurance that I would show the footage of her attacking my camera. The latter is what actually happened, while the former is a lie. My friend is much more patient than I am, and spent some time talking with her defensive fellow organizers. I walked away.

But the story doesn't end there. Because as I walked away, I noticed another WCW organizer. A man who had introduced himself to us early in the day, and who seemed like he wasn't a complete ass. I asked to speak with him about what had happened. I'll admit, I was still pretty angry, and I can be less than articulate when I'm really pissed. So I must have been just ranting. I told him what had happened, and I demanded to know whether this woman's position was one supported by all the WCW organizers? Do they all side with the police? Do they all think it's all right to attack the people who came to their big show? Do they all support the spreading of disinformation just to fuck with other activists who do not share their convoluted worldview?

This man took a long time to answer. He took a long, deep breath, and chose his words carefully. To his credit, he was very respectful toward me as he informed me that the woman who had attacked me, the "vitriolic freak," the "clueless asshole," the "collaborating knife-in-the-back," and all those other words I had used, was his partner. Yikes. It was only briefly an awkward moment, as he was very genuine in his desire to understand and be respectful of what I had to say. Some of which he agreed with, some of which he did not. We talked for a long time, he and I. He tried to explain why the organizers had chosen to work with the police for this event, and I tried to explain why siding with police against protesters is dangerous. He talked about being peaceful by trying to bring the police into the movement, and I bit back my disbelief and talked about being peaceful by resisting the police state rather than collaborating with it. He explained that his partner is "really a very good person" and that she was probably just beside herself with the events of the day when she attacked me. I talked about the folly of pretending that hard words and self-directed decisions are "violent" and that guns and poison gases are not.

Yes, we talked for a long time. And somewhere in that conversation, a healing began. I could feel a thawing in the long, cold rift that has frozen the ground between liberals and radicals in this city for years. Not because the liberal mindset seems any less flawed, but because I realized as we spoke that it is not necessarily a life sentence. I guess I should know this by now, that people can grow and change. But somehow, it was surprising to me that this man sat there with me for so long, actively listening and mulling over what I said. Not in that shallow, "political" way that is the hallmark of the liberal mindset. Not in a dismissive, yeh-yeh-yeh-whatever kind of way. But in a sincere, thoughtful way that began to absorb what I was saying. And I wonder if the next event that he's involved with will be different.

My friend returned from his conversation with the other organizers, and expressed a similar sentiment. Wouldn't it be a thrill if these random events suddenly swelled and gained momentum, and did more than just herd people along the side streets.

On a side note, I'm very conflicted, now, about what exactly I will do with this footage -- the footage of her silly rampage. As I spoke with this man I began to make room for the possibility that maybe there might be a way to show the footage in a respectful manner. I honestly do not want to just make this one woman look any more foolish. After all, aside from the fact that she is this man's partner, she is also a human being capable of growth and change, just as our movement is capable of growth and change. Perhaps she will some day understand why so many of us were not responsive to her lectures about being nice to the police, as her partner seems to now understand. Perhaps. If this was just about her, I would probably just forget the footage and leave it at that. But this is not just about her. This story is representative of so many radical/liberal encounters (to use the labels yet again), and it's an important story for those still mired in the liberal mindset to hear.

As I told the man, I have to use the footage. But I will take some time with it, and I will do so in a way that makes it clear that this woman is not a fool for getting angry, or even for being passionate in her anger. The problem is not that she had a temper tantrum, it is in where she directed her anger, and what she was defending as she did so. More than that, the problem is that her mind -- and not just hers -- was full of stereotypes about who is being violent and who is not, and that those stereotypes blinded her to the difference between actual violent behavior and behavior that she simply did not agree with. And the problem is that she, like so many liberals, has power and privilege behind her when she clashes with more radical activists, because she condones and cooperates with the system. (This is why the police did not respond when she assaulted me in full view of at least twenty of them. If it had been the other way, I would have been arrested.) Yes, this is an important story to tell, and I need to tell it. But I will do so in as respectful a manner as I can.

I am tired now. I will probably post this tomorrow, if it still seems to make sense.

Footnote 06.Oct.2006 16:53

Cat

Yeh, it still seemed to make sense, so I posted it.

They are, after all, Human. 06.Oct.2006 17:11

Verdant

An excellent piece, CatWoman.

My own foray into politics was short and intense. 2 years ago, I was apolitical. And now, a radical. We all have to start somewhere...And sometimes it takes some pretty hard knocks in order to wake us up to the realities of all this. Even those gun-toting state soldiers so often called pigs are human. It's just that when you're given a role and a cause so you don't have to think so much...It becomes easier.

A link follows that should make the above point a little more clear.


[ 06.Oct.2006 17:25

]

People who think this way should go tell the family of James Chasse that the police are not their enemy. Or the family of Lukus Glenn, or the family of Fouad Kaady or the many many other people murdered by the police on a regular basis.

Or go tell the families of people in US prisons. Every single day in the United States, there is torture, humiliation and degradation absolutely as horrible as Abu Ghraib. Savaged by dogs, Electrocuted With Cattle Prods, Burned By Toxic Chemicals, Beaten, Tortured and Killed. This is business as usual here in the US and it is done by police.

(See and read more here - warning, shocking video footage)
 http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article8451.htm

The people who think the police are our friends, are those that have never stepped out of line, or been the marginalized, Black, Poor, Mentally Ill, and so on.

Wake up people!

Bravo, Catwoman 06.Oct.2006 17:41

oldanarchist

Here's your attacker's version of the story. I know that this person is out of control. I don't believe it's a liberal thing, however. I think we can reach liberals. These people are Revolutionary Communist Party organizers. The guy, Rik, used an interview technique on you that they're taught to use. It's like scientology. I found him to be just as authoritarian as she when push came to shove. Google "world can't wait" "front group".


Subject: violent protest is more like it!
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2006 09:06:18 -0700
To:  portland-cant-wait@googlegroups.com

While marching yesterday I witnessed many instances of radicals
antagonizing the police. Saying rude and intimidating things to them,
deliberately getting in their face and wanting them to react. One guy
with a bullhorn was inciting people to violence in this way!

I was personally kicked brutally by a few of the ursurpers when I
tried to come between them and the line of police - begging them to
stop antagonizing the police, trying to explain that violence is not
the way, saying this will only get you arrested and will not help our
cause!

A young woman, also in a black mask caught my attempt to get everyone
back on the march route on her camera, literally sticking it a half
inch from my face in the middle of this violent crowd. I pushed her
camera out of my face and left the scene disgusted. Later, back at
the rally site, she singled me out - again sticking her camera in my
face and asking why I was so violent? Why had I attacked her? I asked
her who was attacking whom?

Reason doesn't work when someone is intent only on provoking you.
Then she threatened to show "my pretty face all over the internet". I
don't feel safe riding my bicycle around town. I feel like this
radical faction has it out for me and for anyone who is organzing
WCW. I have never felt this type of thing before in my life and it
makes me very uncomfortable.

I feel like my rights to privacy have been violated with this
interaction. I don't feel safe now, knowing that because I have
worked as an organizer for the WCW cause that I have to be subject to
such intimidation and violence. We had no idea that we would have to
be battling it out on the streets with people intent on underming our
cause!

None of these people did a thing to help us organize this rally. None
of them made the phone calls, sent the emails or stayed up late doing
the work to make this event come together. They have only been
critical of us for "cooperating with the oppressors". I don't care if
they went to jail, because as I see it - they have a long standing
fight with the police and wanted to drag all of us in with them into
a pointless, clueless action that has done more to undermine our
cause than the regime we seek to oust! They are not welcome in my book.

If Jo wants to call the Jail go ahead, but I don't think we should be
associated with this group at all. They will only try to do it again
at our next march. Whether or not the police will even be so friendly
to us now after this is also a question. We had made great strides
via diplomacy and dialog in Portland and we must make it clear to
the police and the mayors office that these are not members of World
Can't Wait!

I for one am completely disgusted at the scene I had to witness
yesterday!
Melinda

great 06.Oct.2006 18:24

post

and thanks for the continued work of filming
because you do put yourself on the line

I found disagreement in only one statement you made
"keeping back the rising tide of resistance"

yesterday's march, like many the past few years have seen
numbers dwindled - whether liberal or anarchist

even a look at yesterday where a police riot ensued,
some were arrested, streets cleared and back to business as usual

there was no REgrouping at the same intersection or any other
it was the token confrontation of the day
the script is generally the same with few variations

rally
march
take over the street (or other such action)
police riot
arrests
jail support
aftermath reporting

I have a dream of 30,000 people taking over 30 different intersections
all at the same time with a thousand at each - but like most things
it's just a dream

Wow 06.Oct.2006 18:41

live from the teaparty

Wow. Great piece, CatWoman. Thanks for being out there in the thick of it and for filming and reporting on all this. I really didn't understand fully before reading this what was up with WCW and the march yesterday.

And I congratulate you on being able to pull back and try to see the other side of things, that's not easy (for me at least!) when others are out of line and clearly wrong. After reading your thoughtful and reasoned article - and then your attacker's inflammatory hyperbole - the truth speaks for itself.

I hope you will show this video - if only to protect yourself from reprisal from this bitch's threats. Threatening to lay a false jacket on someone is lower than being a paid CI for the cops. Isn't it funny how being "friendly" with the cops makes people threaten such bullshit??

FYI (and just a thought)-

If you really want to mix it up in the "liberal arena," Varro has a diary over on DailyKos: "Police Attack Portland Anti-Bush Protest" (link:  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/10/6/143514/245) that currently has 376 comments. I urge you to post this over there. It'd be interesting to see the reaction.

Keep up the good work Cat!

a 06.Oct.2006 18:53

thought

You write:
"This woman, who had no idea who I am or why I was there, had the absolute gall to tell me that she planned to publically accuse me of being "a plant" for the police state. Why? Because she did not like the fact that I had filmed her attacking my camera, and that I had challenged her worldview about how one can claim to be "nonviolent" as long as they only attack protesters in defense of the benevolent police state. And this, my friends, is what I mean when I say that I have trouble ever trusting a liberal to do anything but turn us in to the camps when the time comes. Because this woman, for her own selfish purposes, was willing to do the dirtiest thing one can do. She, a willing collaborator, a raving apologist for the police state, she threatened to knowingly spread dangerous and damning disinformation about an activist simply because, as I said, when push comes to shove, they will turn. On us. Always, always on us. I am appalled beyond words, but I am not surprised."

Re. this paragraph. It's not just "liberals" (or whoever) who do this when they want to get back at someone they are angry at. There are a couple AR activists in England who are known to be quite radical who have done this and threatened to do this to a number of other activists there. Many people are spiteful and don't look towards the bigger goal of their cause - and instead of trying to find common ground and getting everyone to work togheter, will try to oust others from the movement. Like this person, they want to "own" it for themselves. It seems like a "bad side of human nature" thing more than a "liberal" thing.

Response to "Melinda" 06.Oct.2006 19:00

Cat

Thanks, oldanarchist, for sharing this. It gave me a laugh, and then it kinda made me mad. I have a few responses for Melinda, should you care to share them. On the other hand, it would probably not be really productive to do that. But I gotta at least say this here, if only for the catharsis. So here it is, my reply to Melinda.

_________________________

> None of these people did a thing to help us organize this rally. None of them made the phone calls, sent the emails or stayed
> up late doing the work to make this event come together.

No. We were the people who showed up because you called and emailed and asked us to. And actually, that's not even the whole story. Because from what I understand, there were radical people who showed up to your meetings, but they were marginalized and ignored.

> I don't care if they went to jail....

Well. THAT certainly says it all, doesn't it.

> Whether or not the police will even be so friendly to us now after this is also a question.

Oh, they'll always be "friendly"to you...as long as you are as ineffective and non-challenging as you were yesterday. As long as you never step out of line. As long as you never express yourself freely, and you never deviate from the shopping mall mentality that your television has programmed you with. And as long as you are white, and middle class, and deluded into thinking that the status quo is all right if we can just get rid of Bush. And as long as you keep selling out your comrades, like you did yesterday.

> ...begging them to stop antagonizing the police

Why not beg the police to stop antagonizing demonstrators by thundering around in their riot gear with their guns on their hips in a threeatening manner. Maybe you don't realize the show of aggression that was meant to portray, but the rest of us do.

> ...trying to explain that violence is not the way...

Yeh, right before you HIT me. Um, actions speak louder than words. (Punny double meaning intended.)

> A young woman, also in a black mask caught my attempt to get everyone back on the march route on her camera, literally sticking > it a half inch from my face in the middle of this violent crowd.

"Violent crowd"? No one was hitting anyone except...you.

> Later, back at the rally site, she singled me out - again sticking her camera in my
> face and asking why I was so violent? Why had I attacked her? I asked her who was attacking whom?

Indeed. Who was attacking whom. As I recall, your flailing hands struck me and my camera no less than twice. My hands never touched you. Who, indeed, was attacking whom. Your police friends attacked the people you asked to come to your parade. They did so, predictably, with pepper spray and projectiles and paddy wagons and clubs. And you, predictably, apologized for them. Blamed their victims because of things their victims had said. You, predictably, would be content to let them rot in jail. ...or in the camps.

Who attacks whom indeed.

> I feel like this radical faction has it out for me and for anyone who is organzing WCW.

No, that's actually your own paranoia and false assumptions about radicals. It's a scary world out there when you're living in your head. Let me put your mind at ease. I am not out to get you, and so far as I know, no one else is either. Just don't fuck with my camera again, because next time I really might just kick your ass. As long as you keep your hands to yourself, though, you should be all right. Please do examine your own violence before projecting it out onto others. (See above.)

> I don't feel safe now, knowing that because I have worked as an organizer for the WCW cause that I have to be subject to such
> intimidation and violence.

"Intimidation and violence"? All right, some have told me I can be intimidating. And under the right circumstances, I suppose I can even be violent. But not yesterday. Yesterday, it was you. Your hands smacking at my face, your little rookers lashing at my camera. You.

> We had made great strides via diplomacy and dialog in Portland and we must make it clear to the police and the mayors office
> that these are not members of World Can't Wait!

Well isn't that interesting. Silly me. I thought all that "dialogue and diplomacy" was intended to create a peoples' movement leading to a better world. My mistake. I did not realize it was the police and the mayor you were wooing. Well. No WONDER you were so freaked out. Shit, people were like, thinking for themselves and demanding real change and everything. If that gets out of hand, the system represented by the police and the mayor are doomed. You better call them up right now and tell them (again) that you will help them keep us in line so we don't cause a...revolution or something.





> I don't care if they went to jail...

I just wanted to repeat this sentence one more time.

In my world, solidarity and mutual aid are the defining values of our community. If we do not have that, then we are not allies. You, Melinda, are not my ally. Careful about that, because if you sell everyone out like this, who will come to your next parade?

Oh, right. The police and the mayor.

They are 06.Oct.2006 19:59

Marleen

The police are: the muscle and the foot-soldiers
of the politicians and the corporations.

The cops do all of the dirty work for them.

eye 06.Oct.2006 21:33

witness

Melinda said - "I was personally kicked brutally by a few of the ursurpers when I
tried to come between them and the line of police"

This woman is a liar. Nobody kicked her. A couple people calmly tried to talk to her. She seemed angry beyond discussion or reason.

WCW people 06.Oct.2006 21:47

are novices at this stuff

Melinda and other WCW organizers are complaining about all the work they put in and how dare people act other than the way they command. It would be good for them to realize that over the past years, Portland has had rally/marches twice the size of this on a weeks notice with no organized group behind it. At most there were 1500 people at the height of the rally yesterday. I know many people were there in spite of the messages put out by some of the WCW organizers.

I appreciate the work they put in, but it should be seen in context.

After the Dialogue Place 06.Oct.2006 21:50

fireweed

Dear CatWoman,

When I read your account of the dialogue between you and Melinda's partner, my heart lifted. My heart lifted because I think no matter what tactics people initially believe in, if they have interactions of that quality, they will find ways to work together....or better, to LIVE together...in the truest, most un-caged sense of the word. And life finds a way.

I've thought this for more than a few years and so for years have begun (emphasis on BEGUN) to learn how to have interactions like that, and how to start to recognize ways other people already have them- ways that I might otherwise react badly to because I interpret them through my own personal, cultural lens.

The results have been, at times, stunning. A logger broke down almost to tears once when I really listened. A cop who was really interested in grilling me suddenly moved on quicker than you can say, "This is not the droid you're looking for." A bitter & very defensive perpetrator experienced remorse. Once an entire community stopped bad-mouthing one another and began realizing the nuances of ending oppression at home...again, after true listening happened. Here is some of what I've learned:

1) The gains made in a true exchange like the one you had can be very true and deep...but brief & seemingly ephemeral, unless reinforced by more contact, or by the right combination of character and circumstance.

2) The gains can be deep and gain very deep momentum if enough people work on the entire social web (check out  http://www.usask.ca/nativelaw/publications/jah/ross.html ) as well as on themselves & their relationships to one another...not in a necessarily new-age way but in a way concerned w/ and celebrating the needs of self & other & all.

3) It's hard as fuck to convince myself some days, let alone others, that this tactic is radical, since it can feel terrifyingly unfamiliar and since the landscape is unfamiliar, "progress" and "effectiveness" become harder to measure by previously known standards...which is scary as fuck when your activist antennea are tuned to world oppression. So it can in fact lead to collapse back into the ordinary, out of overwhelm.

4) If you're still interested in this strategy for change after hearing all that, we should really talk. In the 4-D world. Because it's much easier practiced w/support.

Ciao, and thank you for reminding me why I keep going,

Fireweed

What are you trying to accomplish? 06.Oct.2006 22:21

What works?

Anon

{ 06.Oct.2006 23:38

}

First, to any/all the police reading this. The US is heading down the road of totalitarianism. In the not too distant future, you may be ordered to kill US citizens who are dissenting against an oppressive system, or the people you drag away may end up in camps, or just disappeared. Think about whether that is what you believe is right and should be doing. Some of you hunger for such domination, but some of you do not.

Second, the police are not our friends. History has shown that when the orders are given, that police will obey, and commit crimes against humanity. Even the decent ones, most will obey orders. It happened in Germany. German police were no different than Portland police. As police state powers grew in Germany, many German citizens said 'the police are not our enemies' and if you had told them what would happen in the country over the next decade, they would have called you crazy.

It is happening again.

radical rift 06.Oct.2006 23:42

from reality

1st- i have so much respect for the gentleman with the blue "war is not the answer" sign who alone in front of us all faced the riot police on jefferson with perfect bravery. my courage failed you, and me, yesterday. when we meet again i promise to come to your side no matter how threatened. also, i have several photos of your action and was eyewitness to your arrest(?)/removal(?). i will make them available to the legal support people.

2nd- A warning to those who would collaborate with the Man:

Us queers and/or black folks had our revolutionary movements entirely coopted by those who only wanted this racist patriarchal christian capitalist war machine stopped long enough so they could hop on and leave the rest of us to choke on their assimilationist dust.

IN BOTH CASES THIS HAPPENED BECAUSE THE RADICALS COMPROMISED WITH THOSE WHOSE CLASS AND COLLABORATION BROUGHT THEM CLOSER TO THE SEATS OF POWER THAN THE ANGRY MASSES GOT.

those who were willing to dress nice, talk pretty and bow to the man made a nice comfy buffer between those in power and the radicals seeking to actually remove the status quo in favor of true equality. In exchange for second class citizenship, blacks and queers ceded all of the power that DIRECT ACTION SPONTANEOUS CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE had earned their movements.
It was the Stonewall Riots, the lunch counter sit-ins, the garbage collector strikes, the mob actions in the Castro-- those who stood up en masse against unjust laws and abusive authority --that scared the holy living daylights out of those with power. it was only after these HEROIC ACTIONS BY INDIVIDUALS that those in power admitted the self-appointed "liberal advocates of change" into the dialog.
Because the collaborators who posed as representatives of the black and queer civil rights movement were unwilling to press the original RADICAL agendas of these causes that both movements' goals have still not been realized.
(for example :One time a woman from BasicRightsOregon asked if I was trying to "ruin their rally" because we showed up in salem with our own banner and without paying the fee to attend BRO's workshop to learn how to petition the legislature. I geuss demonstrating on the steps of the capitol doesn't count but we all know how effective BRO's tactics are since measure 36 PASSED))


3rd-I was impressed and inspired by the "radical splinter group" on thursday. I joined them because my outrage at Bush's warcrimes and his regime's brutalisation of my own rights was not communicated to my fellow citizens on the planned parade route. Although it was unclear if we meant to a) demonstrate in front of channel 8 station west of the 405 b) hang our signs and banners from the Jefferson overpass or c) hopefully stop traffic long enough that the media would be forced to pay attention to our message, it felt better to run up that street side by side than anything presented or organized by the WCW people. I can't afford a permit to keep th ecops from beating me. i don't have the computer skills or social connections to organize nationaly or even locally.

thank you to the street medics, legal support and independent media.

see you in the streets.

to Anon 07.Oct.2006 01:31

fireweed

Just this- do what you do, what you want to do, whatever tactic it is....and leave space, no, actively seek out opportunities to deeply, genuinely interact people who think & feel differently than you. What are their core needs? Yours? Start w/ people who are close but far, like the liberals in the march. Then, inexorably, widen the circle.

And no, do not start with police. To any police reading this: you are legally allowed to lie to me. You will be paid to do so. Yes, you are human. Yes, you have needs. Until you are legally required to speak truth, there is no chance of an equal relationship between us. That's the only kind I want. I will instead do what I do while widening the circle till you can no longer dismiss ( and demonize, justify pepperspraying etc.) anyone as "troublemaking elements". When the circle gets big enough, as community sea changes in other states have shown, the police first passively switch sides, then actively.

CatWoman, I recognize you might not have meant to evoke this outpouring of mine. What I mean may not be the same as the sense of possibility you had.

It's all me....and???

This is what happens when the welcome mat is pulled out from under you... 07.Oct.2006 09:50

CatWoman

I think this is an important moment for us. It's really good to see so many people putting so much thought into moving past this obstacle. And yes, I can clearly see that the WCW organizers are new at this. So I am willing to take this opportunity to clarify something for them. And may they get this message. (I am not on their lists, so I cannot fwd it to them. If someone is, feel free to fwd it on.)

I will continue to use the liberal label for now, not for all the humans present in the events I'm about to discuss, but for the mindset that led to what has happened.

When the wars began to start, there was a HUGE momentum in this city to get out there and do something about it. But we allowed some (what I now believe to be) very self-indulgent liberal organizations to step out and "take the lead," as they saw it anyway. I will not name these groups, because everyone who was there knows which ones I mean, and it is not necessary to point fingers. In the spirit of common purpose, many of us trusted them to be our allies. And so thousands upon thousands of people answered their invitations and showed up for those first few giant marches. And then, the welcome mat began to shrink.

It wasn't long before some really sadly self-centered white guys leading those groups began demonizing people, label by label. It was "the people in masks" who were messing things up, and the "radicals" and the "anarchists" and the "youths" and the "troublemakers." They made it clear that there was an in-group, and an out-group. And they made it clear that anyone who was targeted by the police must have had it coming, and was therefore in the out-group. No solidarity.

First, there was N17 when a 16 year old boy was attacked and dragged off the street by two police officers. I was walking right behind this boy, and saw the whole thing. I had a front row seat. The boy had done nothing, as far as I could see, and suddenly these two officers came stalking up behind him, and then jumped him. They dragged him to the side, and hundreds of people began to follow, angrily demanding that they release the boy. There were two officers, and something like 20,000 protesters there. If this had gone as it should have, the police *would* have released the boy. No violence needed to occur, only 20,000 people demanding that they let him go, and a few people to drag him back into the crowd. That's all it would have taken.

Instead, some pompous, arm-banded "organizer" began actively directing people away from the boy. "This is not our fight," he shouted, waving the marchers past. "Keep going, keep going," he repeated. "Keep it peaceful. Focus on the message."

And so, 20 radicals stood by their brother while 20,000 people mindlessly marched right by. While the "peaceful" demonstrators walked away in silent complicity, a 16 year old boy was bruised and mauled and dragged away in a pain-compliance hold, all the way to the dungeon. We stayed with him all the way there. His teacher was there, promising to call his parents for him. His friends were there, telling him he would be all right. He was brave at first, and then he started to cry. And 20,000 people kept chanting and waving and drumming...and walking on by. I watched him scream in pain, I saw tears streaming from his eyes. While 30 reinforcing cops rushed in, and 20 radicals tried to hold the line, I ran beside the cops and asked the boy how old he was. "I'm 16," he said through the tears. "Sixteen."

See, now *that* was an act of violence. In the name of "keeping it peaceful," a couple of liberal minded organizers and 20,000 lemmings let a 16 year old boy get mauled by armed minions of the police state. All in the name of "peace." Later, I tried to talk with a couple of people who had been wearing green arm bands that day. I tried to ask them how they could have let that happen. At first, they blamed the boy. They told me it was his fault. He must have done something to deserve it. Some said he spat on a police officer, others said he jumped on a cop car. Almost in Melinda's words, they told me he was "ruining their march," and the police were only doing their jobs. And then, I showed them the footage. I had been walking behind the boy for some time, filming him because he was so full of exhuberance, dancing and chanting. And then I saw the cops rushing toward him, and I filmed them too.

In the end, even the apologist organizers that I spoke with had to acknowledge that all the evidence showed that the boy had done nothing wrong. The only thing he had done was to seem like a "leader" to the police, because he was bounding in front of the march. Even when they had to concede that this boy was dragged away for nothing, though, they still believed that what happened was an acceptible price to pay in order to "focus on the message." Because, again, "This is not our fight."

And that, my friends, is collaboration with the enemy. If this was not our fight, then what was? This was an act of violent oppression, right there on our own streets, right in front of our very noses. And 20,000 people just walked on by. If we could not stand together in the face of this concrete act of aggression against one of our own people, then how do we imagine we would ever stop a war? Is it "peaceful" to turn our backs and walk away from a fallen comrade who desperately needs our help? What kind of a "message" are we to focus on when we cannot even comprehend real violence when we see it in front of our very eyes? We were told that we were marching in solidarity with the children of Baghdad, but we allowed the police to beat up a child on our own streets just for speaking out against that war. And so many well-meaning people just marched right on by.

The movement crumbled after that. Radicals and liberals pointed fingers at each other. The liberal groups began issuing dictates about "ground rules" and expected behavior, radicals began drifting away in disgust. And the giant marches grew smaller, and smaller, and smaller.

You see, the liberal mindset leads people to believe that "the masses," "the mainstream," "the public" must be just like them. Because they are afraid to take real action against the oppressor, they imagine everyone else is too, except some little fringe group of radicals. Because they are squeamish about authentic displays of dissent against the status quo, they think "the public" is too. Because they believe that the corporate media and the police are really "our friends," they think "the mainstream" agrees with them. And so begin the suicidal purges. People still caught up in that mindset start actively discouraging any alliances with...Those People. The people in masks (except the police), the people in black (except the police), the people who think for themselves. The people who call themselves anarchists, the people who call themselves radicals, the people who shout obscenities at the police, the people who hold up hands in front of corporate media cameras. The people who are passionate enough to rush into buildings or jump up on paper boxes demanding an end to the war. The people who march behind Anti-Capitalist banners. The people who advocate revolution. And so on, and on, and on.

Until no one comes to the marches anymore.

See, "the public," "the masses," "the mainstream"...that's us. All of us. From the radical grandmothers who stop log trucks and beat up missle silos and get shot with rubber bullets at our sides, to the radical teenagers who give fiery speeches and lift up anarchist banners and climb the sides of buildings, to the radical mothers and fathers who block cameras and shame the cops and pick people up at the jails, we ARE the public.

So the last "giant" march had more people listed on the big, pompous block of "sponsors" at the bottom of each pedantic flier than it had actually participating in the march. And, predictably, it went nowhere.

This is the history that must be understood. This is the impasse we have been held up by. And it is this that we must now learn to move past. But we cannot do so until the meaning of the word Solidarity is really understood. You cannot call people out to a public gathering, and then leave them at the jailhouse claiming they "deserved" it. You cannot allow the police to use clubs and guns and poison on people who came there as comrades, and then ignore the violence of the police in the name of "peace." You cannot call yourself an ally when you are consenting to police violence against others and then justifying it because some people were yelling at the cops first. And you cannot pretend to advocate for peace without actually understanding the connection between the violence here on our streets and the violence across the world.

My conversation with at least two of the WCW organizers now leads me to believe that maybe this is a lesson that we can learn together. Maybe. Maybe more of us can finally come to an understanding about what it really means to struggle against the oppressor, and how we might do it together. Maybe.

100 monkeys 07.Oct.2006 10:46

curios george

Well said, I have not been to a protest in years, if they continue on this current path the organizers could lead a whole lot of well intentioned naive people to a death/work camp. That is sad not enough people helped that boy. I have seen first hand a large group of people encircle the police and liberate his prisoner. It was one of the defining moments of my life. We need to reach a critical mass of conciosness to take care of each other and not ass kissing the empire. This has been a great post, thank you for your dedication and vigilance.

reply 07.Oct.2006 11:01

Shakti

I remember that Nov 17 march. I felt heartbroken afterwards. I saw so clearly our failure. If all those people could not stop a 16 year old boy from being dragged away by the state, then there clearly was not the will and spirit to stop the far bigger war. That moment was one of those defining moments, a moment of truth, even a test if you will. I continued to go out to every march, but inside I knew we had not met the challenge and the war against Iraq would happen.

Since the war against the people of Iraq started, the number of people coming out to protest has dwindled and the move towards a totalitarian police state has accelerated. 10,000 people came out this past March 19th after months of organizing, but those 10,000 have hardly been heard from since. They are all sitting at home, desperately depending upon the November elections. The forces of dictatorship rigged the past 3 elections (2000, 2002, 2004), killed Senator Wellstone, and increased its hold on the electoral process by putting many more rigged voting machines in place in more states.

We can count on these dictatorial forces using any means to consolidate their power and impose a naked police state. Do not have any doubt of their intent. The 4th Reich is here!

So here we are, the crisis upon us. Some are saying it is too late. Some believe we can still change the course. If we can, it needs a level of passion and will that rises above daily concerns and devotes itself to this cause. Going to a march, radical or liberal, then going home, will not do it. We will only succeed in overcoming this dark tide if we are willing to put it all on the line, including our lives. The most peaceful non-violent movement, if it does become effective, will be met with lethal force. IF we are to be effective, this is an inescapable truth.

Pleas Read... 07.Oct.2006 13:08

Generation Betrayed

Please read "Building a Movement" a few posts above this one. Thankyou.

Bravo, Catwoman - oldanarchist 07.Oct.2006 13:56

Rik

:-)
>These people are Revolutionary Communist Party organizers. The guy, Rik, used an interview technique on you that they're taught >to use. It's like scientology.

I am not a Scientologist or a member of the RCP or any party or group for that matter.
I don't do groups. I personally find most groups to be dogmatic and egocentric.
WCW is my first involvement with ANY activist 'organisation'. I joined because of the %$#@&$#%^$#*^% crimes of our government & their friends. Yes, I know they've been going on for a long, long time, since the dawn of civilization. I finally felt compelled to do some outer work.

No one, except my mother, taught me how to talk to people. I learned the rest myself.
I know what it's like to not be heard, so I learned to listen.

I am a musician and music teacher, besides being a human being like the rest of us.
I hurt, make mistakes and generally suffer from the cultural and mental conditioning to which EVERY last one of us is subject.
If we're honest with ourselves, we have to admit we're all ignorant and that is what allows us to be manipulated, all of us, including the police, by the monied heartless few at the top.

I'm originally from NY and I'm a Taurus. Sometimes out of impatience or excitement I might get pushy. I think that may be the 'authoritarian' thing you saw. Catwoman seems intelligent and perceptive enough, ask her if I seemed insincere.
Anyway, if you don't believe me just Google my name 'Rik Masterson', you'll see I'd rather be home singing, but unfortunately, as we all know, I may not have that luxury much longer the way things are going.

unity -> justice -> peace

Rik

Yeh, you seemed sincere. 07.Oct.2006 14:42

Cat

Yeh, actually, Rik was sincere.

And...thanks.

Yeh, I can usually spot insincerity from a long way off -- even "techniques." But this was actually a genuine encounter that I respect for what it was. That's what I meant when I said it wasn't the typical "political" way of listening and communicating that I usually encounter when I talk to people I have written off as liberals. That's why this moment had such an impact on my perspective -- because it broke through the labels and stereotypes we're all a little too quick with sometimes. (Yeh, even me.) I've been reading some of the comments on other threads, and I think the energy we all felt on thursday (in spite of the turmoil) is still building. If I had not spoken with Rik, I think I would have left feeling the same sense of betrayal that I often feel after events like this one. I still believe that we were betrayed, those of us who answered their invitation only to be told we can "rot in jail," but it was a much more minor betrayal than I might have realized otherwise. It wasn't "all those damn liberals."It wasn't even most of them. As someone said on another thread, it seems that it was only a few of them, and that many others were open to finding their way out of the liberal box.

By the way, I'm sure the possibility of blossoming understanding between factions must really be freaking out the police state right now. So plan on some shenanigans from them to keep the flames fanned.

Catwoman 07.Oct.2006 14:46

thanks

Thanks for establishing this piece for people to read about. Your points about the 16 yr old left behind at that past march is sickening. quoting ""This is not our fight," he shouted, waving the marchers past. "Keep going, keep going," he repeated. "Keep it peaceful. Focus on the message.""

That mentality shows a disconnect by these big ten corporate protest organizers. Partly why I don't show up for those types of marches. Police brutality is something everyone should be concerned about. Cops get an awful lot of leeway in the penal system for making bogus arrest, and from the sound of Portland pigs, they abuse people at their free will. People need to stand up to that, and if group organizers are saying it's not our fight, then I don't want any part of that.

Final thoughts...
"If I can't dance I don't want to be in your revolution," said Emma Goldman (1869-1940)

Thanks 07.Oct.2006 14:55

Rik

Thanks Cat.

There's a lot of work to done, not just Driving Out the This or That de jour.

Thanks again.

To Cat 07.Oct.2006 14:57

Rik

...I forgot, I learned a lot on Thursday and still am...

labels, a reminder 07.Oct.2006 14:58

it who is unlabelled

I think it's really important to recognize how twisted our words become when we use labels like we have been.

From the American Heritage Dictionary...

Liberal: Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.

Radical: Favoring or effecting fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions.

Anarchism: The theory or doctrine that all forms of government are oppressive and undesirable and should be abolished.

When I hear people refer to liberals in a negative way, they very rarely mean liberal as liberal is defined. "Liberal" has been demonized by the conservatives and the far left. When I hear people refer to radicals in a derisory way, they are usually suggesting that these "radicals" are in no way radical, and in no way are effecting change. When I hear people belittle anarchism, well, I guess I don't have much respect for the notion of eliminating government altogether, so I shouldn't comment on anarchists (who, as individuals, I tend to like).

On the one hand, I support the "radical" protests because I think that these organized "police-friendly" "liberal" protests tend to cultivate a mindset that is antithetical to our constitution's First Amendment. If a person wants to break away from authoritarianism, then why respect ridiculous demands like "stay on the sidewalk"? Liberal? Hardly.

On the other hand, I support the "liberal" notion that blocking a few streets isn't going to send a message that the powers will feel compelled to listen to. I respect that the "liberals" are trying to do a sort of PR action, to win the hearts and minds of fellow citizens. But... this is Portland, and we've about won all the hearts and minds we're going to. Time for a bit more radicalism.

What I'm saying is that, from what I've seen, liberals aren't liberal and neither are radicals radical. There is a real place for dialogue and bringing people together, but that reaches a limit at some point well below unity with 100% of the population. The American Revolution was fought and won with support from about 1/3 of the population. From their attitudes and goals, I'd dare say that that 1/3 was very liberal, but they were also radical. They endorsed and took actions that effected major change. Did they piss and moan amongst themselves? Probably. But they were united. Score from the protest? Radicals 1, Liberals 0, Police -1 (for not tolerating the culture that developed the very liberties you claim to care about and defend).

Thanks, Cat 07.Oct.2006 15:50

mh

That was beautifully said, CatWoman. It brought tears to my eyes, because what happened to that boy was appalling, but also because it is symptomatic of so many of society's ills.

"Liberals" stand by and say nothing when our children are slaughtered in the street - as in the case of Fouad Kaady. "Progressives" push for massive tax breaks and insider deals to fund hi-rise condos and then complain that the homeless scare away business. Democrats use public money to fund boondoggles like the OHSU tram, while more than a half million children in the state have no medical insurance and lack basic, preventative care.

Even after the Foley scandal in Congress, the "experts" conclude that the Dems still may not be able to garner the necessary votes to win the house. And the political wonks strategize and scratch their heads and wonder why. They can't seem to figure out that they've lost the message in their zeal to get elected.

We're supposed to understand that the people that get thrown under the train are unimportant or expendable in the quest for the "greater good." And that that's OK, as long as it's not one of us.

But more and more of us are becoming the "unimportant" and the "expendable." And the "greater good" isn't trickling down to so many anymore. It's too bad that many people can't see that until it affects them or hits close to home. They can't see the forest because of the trees.

Thanks for shining light on the trees, Cat.

WCW organizer comment 08.Oct.2006 09:08

Lucy

WOW ...powerful emotion in all of these posts! Now the dust has subsided, I am a little less upset and more open to working together towards our common goals. There are many perspectives of the events on Oct 5th. We can argue and debate and use valuable time and emotion deciding who was right and wrong..Lets look at what WORKS and DOESN'T to move closer to our common goal. As one of the organizers of this event, I can honestly say that I didn't consider it OUR event and was glad to see those there that had the passion and drive to do more than march. However participating in an event and changing the agenda of it and the 100's of hours put into launching it is disrespectful to your brothers in this cause. Remember folks, most of us are children of the 60's..we understand your passion to do MORE than march, HAVE been arrensted, Have rioted and HAVE been beat up by angry cops...but give us credit for having a little more wisdom and life experience in having a plan to both gather support and momentum to ramp up before launching a massive civil disobedience. 20 of you going out on your own worked against the movement.. The goal is to wake up the the extinguishing middle class..rioting turns them off & roll their eyes. It doesn't take all that much courage to break thru a line of cops and get arrested. It DOES take courage to be methodical, patient, devoted to a plan that is executed carefully that will bring on the 30,000 needed to make an impact. I would have never attended an event planned to break police lines and walked around encouraging others to follow MY OWN PEACEFUL MARCH..Ya gotta admit...that would have pissed you off.
Let's work together..sounds schmultzy..but WE NEED YOUR PASSION and willingness, and you guys need those of us gone before you that have a little more insight into the bigger picture.
Lucy

Guerilla tactics 08.Oct.2006 10:21

to Lucy

Thanks for listening, Lucy. I need to point out, though, that it wasn't just "20 of you going out on your own." Most of the people there supported the more passionate crowd. There were only a few who did not. Also, I'd like to say that 30,000 people HAVE turned out for these things in the past, only to be turned away by the lack of any real difference after. I think you misunderstand the true nature of "the masses." If you want to "wake the masses," you need to do more than talk talk talk up on a stage and mug for the corporate media. In fact, it is not up to you. When the time comes, they will awaken. And when that happens, what we all need is the flexibility and the courage to do what must be done. And very importantly, to support each other as we act. (We cannot leave each other to "rot in jail," for example.)

Guerilla tactics are much, much more effective than mindless phalanxes. Remember, that's how the revolutionary war was won.

I do not think that taking the march in a different direction was any more disrespectful than expecting to have dominion over all the people who showed up, expecting them all to just do what you say. Perhaps, in the planning process, it would be wise to consider that there may be other ways to be effective, that the people who come to the march might have minds of their own. They haven't come just because you asked them to, after all. They have come because it really is time. We really have all had enough. So please respect the people who are there with you, and allow them the flexibility that will make us far more effective.

See the discussion area for more on this. (Cllick on the "discuss this article" link below.)

To Guerilla Tactic 08.Oct.2006 12:10

Lucy

Thanks..gave me some food for thot.
I'm not sure you completly read my post. I agree that there HAS to be much more than talk talk talk..We've had ENOUGH TALK!..HOWEVER...give me a good reason you guys didn't join the planning efforts for this event, and most of all HOW your independent riot gave ANY strength or momentum to our cause. If it worked..I am guessing there isn't one of us in opposition to what you did that wouldn't be there with you at the forefront. It wasn't the time and we need to recruit and organize to be effective. It worked AGAINST any momentum we worked hard to create. We really could have used some help organizing these efforts to have the support needed to cross police lines. You are right, it's the peoples march..BUT anarchy against EVERYONE and EVERYTHING BACKFIRES and we made 2 steps forward and 3 back.
Please respond..WHAT is the "EXIT PLAN" of this war you are waging...without the troops to support it and what is your long term vision besides chaos and tantrums about rights?
Respectfully,
Lucy

to lucy 08.Oct.2006 12:44

guerilla

I don't see this as "three steps back." Far from it. I think this was a very important moment in this struggle. Sometimes, Lucy, you need to be open to the opportunity that presents itself, even if you had not seen it coming in the planning stages. So, in this case, maybe look at what's happening here. You may not see it yet, but there's actually tremendous growth going on here. There is momentum beginning to vibrate through the ether again.

Just to point out, this was not an "independent riot." Sure, there was a police riot at the end. But no one other than the police was rioting. No windows were smashed, no cars overturned and set alight, no buildings burned. No, this was not a riot by any means -- carefully reserving judgement on whether there should be one or not. On the contrary, this was a peaceful protest that took its own course. This was reclaiming the right to organize, the right to free expression, the right to gather -- withOUT asking for it. Power concedes nothing without demand, and we demanded and WON the right to do all of those things more than 200 years ago. We must not give them back, piece by piece, bit by bit, by kneeling at the officers' feet and asking if we can gather, and if so where we can march. Fuck that. This was a reminder to us all that these streets are OURs, these voices are OURs. We really do have the power to take this nation back now. All we need to do is recognize that power. This demonstration, thanks to the efforts of everyone who participated and who continues to participate in this dialogue, is a step toward that realization.

Now, for the nitty gritty. You are right to ask what the point would be if this were the way every demonstration shook out. For this moment, it was important and valuable that it went the way that it did. These little victories (and yes, it WAS a victory) breathe life back into us. All of us. We all needed to break through those police lines as surely as we needed to break through the prisons in our minds, and we did. But now, you are right that the next time we need to do more. Yes, we need to plan and organize (carefully, though, remember the HS agents looking over your shoulder). Yes, we need to come together now. Yes, it would be pointless to just keep breaking through those lines without a solid purpose. (That's why I mentioned checking the discussion link, because I wrote about this there.)

Aside from the woman irredeemably spouting that the demonstrators who were arrested can "rot in jail," I think there is more solidarity here than you know. You have asked for Portlanders to join the cause. They are starting to. You just need to understand that many, many of the "mainstream" people you are talking about are more radical than you think. Many of them have not come out to the streets in a long time (or ever) because they have not been moved to do so. If you show them that real change is possible, I believe you will find what you are looking for.

So yes. Point taken. More must be done. We must make tactical decisions, and have a reason to break through those lines. But this time, this time it worked. This time it was very important for things to happen as they did, and for all the mutual disgust that has been expressed here, I think everyone is beginning to recognize that something more is happening here than just another protest.

wcw supports a wide diversity of tactics 08.Oct.2006 14:45

Jed Brandt

That said, the key issue is the conscious participation of those many millions of people who are not currently in motion against the Bush agenda.

I don't think we "start slow" and act reasonable in the face of madness. I have helped organize direct actions at the last two Republican National Convetions, and in order to make city-wide direct action a reality requires tens of thousands of discussions.

That's what organizing is. Not just personally resisting through the most passionate means, but taking responsibility to faciliate new and deeper resistance. Direct action at its best isn't just acting out. Skirmishing with cops doesn't even slow them down. That blockade of a Stryker contingent at the Port of Olympia DID slow military shipments. It did bring people into direct, non-violent resistance.

I'm not a pacifist. I'm also not a fool. I don't want to pick fights I can't win, and I don't want to see hundreds (and thousands) of protesters beaten down because a small group has decided that they are going to pick a pace the rest of the crowd can't keep.

Direct actions as component work much better in a convergence model of protest, rather than the march that happened on Oct. 5. It is not an either or thing.

Timing counts for a lot. The base political work leading up to actions, and consolidating after mobilizations, is what BUILDS our strength.

So, I think there are diversity of opinions on these matters withing participants of the World Can't Wait campaign, as well as those who are in the larger movement against the scary shit Bush is forcing on us.

Let's keep talking like we're all real people here. Thanks.


Lucy in the sky 08.Oct.2006 15:14

60'sleftist

I respect Guerilla's comments very much.

Lucy, you need to back off and stop laying trips, as we told each other in the 60's. Your age (and mine) do not establish us as authorities, leaders, or fountains of wisdom. Nothing we have done has stopped the slaughter or the torture, or the daily erosion of our rights, so we need to be open to all tactical options.

Let's try to interact with all who are devoted to democratic, non-coercive change with respect. Those in the splinter group were the best among us.

where's my momentum? 09.Oct.2006 15:47

objects in motion tend to remain overstretched metaphors

> It worked AGAINST any momentum we worked hard to create.

The whole concept of "momentum" as a social phenomenon is flawed. There's no "velocity," there's no "mass," inertia does not keep things moving just because they were moving last time you looked. This is just pseudoscience. Rallies in the park are not "creating momentum driving Bush out of office." It would be nice if they did, but there is no evidence that they are, and no conceptual basis to believe they would or might. Nor is getting arrested in the street. It just doesn't work that way. This is voodoo, two groups of voodoo priests pointing fingers and accusing the others of casting evil spells and ruining their plans.