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Monday, Jul. 23, 2001 at 1:00 AM
During the past two days, the expression "Black Block" has been linked to mindless destruction, splits in the movement, and even "agents provocateurs". This is a report of a Black Block demo early on Friday, July 20th, which was part of the numerous attempts to breach the red zone.
blackpic2.jpg, image/jpeg, 250x333
Several hundred people from the park-campsite, east of the media centre, had planned to meet up with a Black Block march coming from the Social Centre Pinelli and then move towards the red zone together. But as Pinelli was surrounded by police and the people in there couldn´t get out, the roughly 300 people from the camp decided to move downtown alone. A powerful, impressive Black Block procession started and met up with a radical unionists demo on Buenos Aires, fairly close to the red zone. Parts of the Black Block targeted several banks and an estate agency, which had their windows smashed. In a side street, other Black Block people attacked a police barricade sealing off the red zone with stones and molotov cocktails. Police responded shooting large numbers of tear gas canisters at the crowd and then coming after the dispersing demo. Battles with the police occured on Corso Torino, which ended with both groups - police and Black Block - retreating and re-grouping elsewhere.
The common march of the 300 or so Black Block people, however, conceals the important fact that there was an important difference between the various groups that took part in the demo - a different political objective which eventually helped to split the group. The majority of Black Block people supported property damage only when it happened against important symbols of capitalism (such as banks) or against transnational corporations with a history of human rights abuses etc. For example, they smashed a window of a Lufthansa office and then wrote "Stop deportation" next to the smashed window (Lufthansa is involved in deporting refugees back to countries where they are tortured and often killed). This part of the Black Block is strictly against damaging small shops or cars. However, there was also a minority of other Black Block people who started to attack cars, shops and other property, mostly based on frustration about the difficulties of getting near the red zone. The first Black Block group did not appreciate this, tried to stop some of the destruction and eventually moved away. Similarly, another Black Block demo later on the day split up when the majority of Black Block activists no longer wanted to demonstrate together with some people who damaged anything and not just specific targets.
When talking about "the Black Block", it is important to define WHICH Black Block we mean. The majority of Black Block demonstrators target specific property but do not enagage in random destruction. Certainly, the vast majority of Black Block demonstrators are NOT infiltrators!
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