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A communique from the Black Bloc on 3/29

On 3/29, people from Portland marched down from PSU for over five hours in the rain in response to a murder by the Portland Police of one of our own. On that same day, police on bikes, horses, cars, mopeds, and even a chopper, armed with tear gas, guns, and batons, physically attacked demonstrators and even passers by, blocked streets, shouted at us, and demonstrated to us and onlookers the reality of the police state we live in.
The American state's rhetorical devices include a near religious reverence for the institution of freedom of speech, but on 3/29 it was shown conclusively through physical force that this freedom of speech will not come to us from the state. The state sanctions freedom of speech only to those that go through the trouble to get a permit weeks in advance, and even then there are steep limits to what we're allowed to express. We can't express, for example, that we don't respect the right of the Bank of America to fuck us all over in obvious ways. There is no room in the state's version of free speech to make a same-day response to a police murder. We defend our own freedom of speech through the Black Bloc.

Contrary to what the mainstream media has told you, the Black Bloc is not a group. The Black Bloc is an environment created when enough people come together in conscious defiance of state repression to express their freedom. Not freedom in the dystopian sense that the state uses the word, limited by laws, regulations, and availability to channels, but the freedom to physically create the world we wish to live in by fighting back when the pigs try to kidnap our friends, by removing the power cables from the van of a corporate media station, by forging bonds of friendship that will last a lifetime and grow ever stronger through a shared struggle to destroy the rotting institutions of capitalism.

There are two aspects of the march that the media didn't even attempt to touch on, and in some cases intentionally censored. The first, which I've already touched on, is the intense police violence we encountered. I watched two people violently pulled to the ground and kicked by police. One hauled into a van with his face covered in blood. I watched a cop continue to threaten a woman who was clearly having a panic attack. Police ran into people on their bikes and horses, trying to provoke us into fighting back so they'd have an excuse to arrest us. When they didn't get that excuse, they arrested whoever they felt like anyway. Regardless, the only violence the corporate media talks about was committed against corporate property. Because of this blatant disregard for our so-called freedoms of speech and assembly, we ended up demonstrating far beyond the original plan to go to Pioneer Square and disperse.

The second is the solidarity that others expressed for us. The media didn't mention that the longer we marched, the more people marched alongside us. They didn't report that when we stopped in front of the prison the prisoners inside flickered their lights in solidarity with us. They didn't report the fact that we gathered maybe 100 of us in PSU, but by the time we managed to evade the cops and proceed with the march, perhaps as many students had joined in with us. They didn't mention that by the time we got to pioneer square, we'd been joined by queers, members of the homeless community, people with physical disabilities, and other marginalized groups. 3/29 was portrayed as an action that had no reach and no participation beyond the existing anarchist community. That couldn't be farther from the truth.

But what 3/29 really was was a rejection of the laws and order of the old capitalist society. On 3/29 and the marches leading up to it on 3/22 and 3/23, we created and communally enforced our own new order; we created a law that if the Portland police force keeps killing us, there will be consequences. In doing so, we proved that it is not only possible but necessary for a community to manage itself without courts, jails, or police. Let's create laws about how if they keep locking us in jail, kicking us out of our homes, intimidating us on the streets, there will be hell to pay.

This movement for police accountability isn't enough. All the accountability in the world won't assuage the constant wailing of police sirens in North Portland. Even the cops that aren't murdering us are ultimately being paid to "clean up" (gentrify) our neighborhood by locking us in prisons and evicting us from our homes, to add to the illusion of the state's infallibility, and to keep the poor poor. Let's turn this into a movement for police abolition.

From a future without police, the Crisis City Collective.

homepage: homepage: http://crisiscity.wordpress.com

black bloc 03.Apr.2010 07:40


Hey people, just thought I'd let you know, that I was guided to your thoughtful and reasoned essay by a link while looking at the weather forecast on the Weather Underground Portland site. Your message is getting out into a larger audience. I'm in my 60's and a child of the 70's and often wonder where the rage is over what's happening in this country with the right wing corporate takeover of the government, which should be by of and for all the people, not just the rich and the corporation. Thank you Black Bloc for reminding me there are still people willing to act to wake people up.

So now what? 03.Apr.2010 21:21


So now that you've managed to consolidate a street rally, got your adrenaline fix making noise, getting a little publicity committing acts of vandalism. Now what?
You really think the cops are any less likely to shoot someone dead? You really think they won't take their frustrations out on innocent peaceful protesters?

RA, Ra, RA. BFD.

One victory 04.Apr.2010 11:54


You'll note that the very next day after the protest, the city council unanimously approved a civilian police review board that at least on paper seems like it will have more autonomy and clout than the current incarnation. For example, now someone other than THE POLICE CHIEF will be nominating the civilian members. That seems like a good start. Whether that vote in the halls of government can be attributed to hundreds of community members strongly making their stance on these matters known the night before is unprovable. I certainly think that it was and that it proves the efficacy of such actions. Obviously there's plenty more to be done until there are no cops and no prisons.

asdf 04.Apr.2010 16:35


Great move guys! Solidarity from greece.

To the one above: What is YOUR opinion on how demonstrations should look like? Because you seem like a couch-judge. DON'T be negative unless you have an alternative. Otherwise no one wants to hear what you have to say.

Spontaneous action is essential on the street comrades. But i guess you know that better..
Keep up!