Anarchists took a break from ANSWERS permited march
against war, and decided to take to the streets. When
we scream "Who's streets, Our streets" anarchists
actually mean it.
NO WAR BUT THE CLASS WAR!
Two Thousand Anarchists go on Rampage in San Francisco
Thousands of protestors marched, danced and sprinted
through the streets of San Francisco today,shouting
slogans against war, racism and capitalism. The
protestors were part of a breakaway march from the
larger permitted rally organized by A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act
Now to Stop War and End Racism) which brought out
approximately 200,000 demonstrators.
After the permitted march got to its destination,
about two thousand demonstrators broke off and
proceded on a militant and well-planned march through
the streets of the city. Throughout the march, they
targetted a number of symbols of the current
capitalist war. They stopped at the building that
holds the San Francisco Chronicle, a major newspaper,
notorious for its right-wing slant. Masked speakers on
a megaphone pointed out how the coverage from this
newpaper, and from the capitalist media in general
serve to bolster the US war effort at the same time as
other masked protestors conveyed this message by
graffittiing the building with "weapon of mass
destruction," among other messages. Next, the building
that houses the British consulate was grafittied, with
protestors stressing the international nature of the
struggle against war and capitalism, and calling for
similar actions by the people of britain against the
capitalists there. Protestors are well aware that Tony
Blair is, as one person at the event put it, "Bush's
Poodle." Protestors punctuated their message by
smashing a number of windows. One spray-painted slogan
read "UK out of Iraq! Burn the State!"
The breakaway march wound its way through the city,
using a number of sophisticated tactics to
out-manoeuver the police. At times they stopped
quickly and reversed direction. At others, they
stopped, shouted a countdown from 10 and then the
entire demonstration ran for a block. As they moved
along, more and more newspaper boxes were knocked into
the street, and through the windows of a Starbucks and
a Victoria's Secret. The energy built up as protestors
chanted "What do we want? CLASS WAR! When do we want
it? NOW!" and "What do we want? PEACE! How we gonna
get it? REVOLUTION!"
The high point of the demonstration was in attacks on
the building that houses the Federal government's
Immigration and Naturalization Service. Numerous
windows were broken and a cement pylon and a newspaper
box were thrown through the INS building's glass front
doors. As the call for the breakaway march, put out by
a group called Anti-War Action stated, "The thousands
of Arab and South Asian desaparecidos in the US since
September 11th recall the US-supported fascist regimes
of Latin America."
Apparently angry at being consistently outfoxed,
police became more aggressive. An undercover officer
grabbed one demonstrator, a number of police on
motorcycles rode directly into the crowd and a group
of mounted police in riot gear began to chase the
protestors. The demonstration walked quickly through
the streets for some minutes, leaving garbage cans in
the streets to slow the pursuing police, and ended by
going down into a BART station (Bay Area Rapid
Transit). As protestors dispersed on San Francisco's
busy Market Street, a number of police in riot gear
rushed down into the BART station, and are reported to
have arrested two protestors.
After September 11 of last year, media, critics and
politicians gloated about what they saw as the death
of radical street protests in the United States. The
more conservative elements of the anti-globalization
movement were frightened by a possible confrontation
or worse, saw it as a time to stick together and offer
"critical support" to the United States government. At
the same time the radicals were targetted with
stronger and more aggressive policing, and
international financial institutions such as the World
Trade Organization held their meetings in countries
with repressive regimes that do not allow protest. But
the radicals in the anti-globalization movement were
never just protesting "globalization", they were
opposed to capitalist globalization. This analysis has
transferred easily into anti-war organizing.
The callout for today's breakaway march read "This is
not a war between the people of the US and the people
of the world. It is capitalism--a war on the poor.
Investors in US oil companies will get a new pipeline
through Afghanistan and increased access to the Iraq’s
oil reserves (second only to Saudi Arabia). The
weapons manufacturers will get new contracts and the
US politicians will have an excuse to increase their
power. Meanwhile, the poor and working people of
America will definitely not be better off. We continue
to live in a world of unemployment and minimum wage
jobs, of racism and harassment, of surveillance and
prisons, of impossible rents and evictions--a world
not built for us, but on top of us."
Maybe smug critics and politicians were wrong. We are
witnessing a rebirth of the radical street
demonstrations in the US. As one black-clad and masked
protestor said today, "The anti-globalization movement
is dead, but the anti-capitalist movement is alive and
Today's protest are only a small taste of things to
come if the war on Iraq happens.
BREAKING NEWS: A COMMUNIQUE FROM ORGANIZERS OF THE JANUARY 18th SAN FRANCISCO ANTI-WAR BREAKAWAY MARCH.
Saturday during the nation-wide protests against war in Iraq, anti-war activists, anti-capitalists, and ordinary Americans broke away from the permitted march and marched through the streets of San Francisco. The 1000+ march snaked through the streets, leaving a colorful trail of anti-war art in its wake. Drawings ranged from multicolored chalk drawing to spray-painted stencil and graffiti art. The energy grew and march participants made bolder statements, smashing windows at a Starbucks coffee shop and at the INS building.
Organizers point out that their role was simply to move the march from place to place, so that "affinity groups" and individuals could express themselves as they saw fit. They say their march was meant to send a powerful message to both private and governmental institutions they see as implicated in the war effort. Moreover they felt it was important to make this message "publicly and collectively" to amplify voices that have been shut out by the establishment and are not being heard in society. Organizers expect that their communities will show uncompromising and increasing resistance to this unjust war.
Organizers said they had been asked to bring the march to three locations, which they did. They did not cite Starbucks as one of these locations, but smiled when they were told that its windows had been smashed.
The Chronicle, San Francisco's only major local newspaper, was the first to be covered in a graffiti mural consisting mostly of short messages such as "Lies" and "Weapon of Mass Distraction". Activists criticized the paper as a "mouthpiece of the Bush regime" and said it failed to present any dissenting analysis or critical viewpoint on the war. One participant said that the spray-painted messages she left behind are "more representative of the views of our progressive communities than Chronic Liar propaganda."
The protesters then descended on the Citicorp Center building, home to the British Consulate. "Has Britain become a colony of the United States?" asked one protester, "Tony Blair is an embarrassment to British people everywhere." Protesters also targeted Citicorp itself, citing its financial complicity in the war effort. Citicorp was also criticized for funding exploitative projects in third world countries, for its offenses against the environment, and for the way it fuels poverty and injustice throughout the world. Another protester phrased her message as a question to passers-by: "Who profits from war?"
Energy remained high as the crowd redecorated the imposing INS building with images of a world without oppression. This building had recently been the target of angry protests over the mandatory "registration" of many Arab and middle-Eastern men. Marchers chanted "no borders, no nations, fuck deportations" as protesters smashed the windows of the INS and redecorated its façade. One protester said he was "outraged at the way our friends and neighbors are being humiliated and dehumanized. No person should be hauled away to a secret detention, abused, and denied access to their family or lawyer."
After the march left the INS building, plainclothes policemen who had infiltrated it tackled, brutalized, and hauled off at least two activists. The police became more and more aggressive, and organizers worried as the march began to be hemmed in. They led the protest back to Market street and headed up the street, sometimes running as police attempted to drive motorcycles into the crowd. Organizers looked for a place to disperse peacefully and called the march to an end at the Powell street BART station. Many protesters then entered the BART, only to be chased down into the station by police officers in riot gear. What happened in the BART station is still unclear.
Organizers of the march expressed gratitude to all who participated and made the event a great success. They offered a "special shout out to the pink bloc," in an apparent reference to a radical queer contingent in the march. Organizers also dismissed the preliminary media reports of violence saying, " Our march did not confront a single individual human being with violence. The only people looking for a fight today were the police."
There is no public press contact for march organizers. ###