>Organizing in the Face of Increased Repression > >by Starhawk <firstname.lastname@example.org> > >Since the very first morning of the Seattle blockade a year ago, the >police forces of the world have greeted the antiglobalization movement with >a high level of violence and repression. As the international movement has >continued on, the repression has fallen into a pattern discernible from DC >to Prague and beyond. This pattern involves: > >1. A concerted media campaign by the police and government forces that >begins long before the demonstration, painting the activists as violent >terrorists. All previous demos are equally characterized as violent, >regardless of the actual facts. > >2. Surveillance of meetings, email lists, phones, listservs, etc. > >3. Attempts at pre-emptive control, which range from mass illegal arrests in >DC the night before the action, shut downs of convergence centers and >IndyMedia centers, and border closures, to declaring a 5-kilometer >no-protest zone five months before the planned action in Quebec. > >4. Less obvious violence on the street. Seattle taught them that tear >gassing whole sections of the city was a bad idea. However, tear gas, >pepper spray, beatings, projectile weapons, water cannon and concussion >grenades, etc. are routinely used now from Prague to Cincinnati. > >5. Random arrests and targeting of peaceful protestors, while those throwing >rocks are often let go. Maybe nonviolent protestors are easier to catch? >Or maybe this is a concerted effort to discourage wider participation in >these actions? > >6. Use of provocateurs. I am not saying that all who throw rocks are >provocateurs. However, there is a growing body of eyewitnesses and stories >of 'protestors' seen one moment throwing a rock at a window and the next, >being sheltered behind a police line to indicate that provocateurs are being >used. Along with them, we can suspect the whole range of fun Cointelpro >tactics. > >7. Intimidation and brutality in jail, which reached levels of outright >torture in Prague. > >8. Some sporadic attempts to identify and neutralize 'leaders' i.e. holding >John Sellers of Ruckus on a million dollars bail for charges that were all >later dropped. > >What fun! It?s enough to make you think we?re being effective, especially >when, as in Prague, the protestors still managed to disrupt the meeting and >send the banksters home a day early. > >What can we do about it? Are we doomed to have these actions become more >and more dangerous, and smaller and smaller? Or can we succeed in building >a mass movement in spite of repression? > >1. The greatest restraint to police violence during an action is the >organizing and alliance building we?ve done before the action ever happens. >We need to counter their disinformation campaigns with our own community >outreach, to leaflet, to talk to people, to go door to door, to explain to >the community what we?re doing and why long before we do it. > >2. We need to build alliances with labor, churches, NGOs, all the groups who >are fighting the same vested interests. We don?t have to do the same work >they do, we don?t have to change our hairstyles or analysis to accommodate >them, but we do need to build bridges so that we can call on them to defend >our. > >3. We need to train and prepare as many people as possible. The more people >have had a chance to play out a dangerous situation, to think out possible >responses and try out different tactics, the calmer and more resilient >they?ll be on the streets. Even a few centered people in a crowd can be >enough to prevent panic and spark an effective moment of resistance. >Trainings need to stress flexibility and developing a range of possible >responses to widely varied situations, so activists are prepared in the >moment to make choices about what to do. > >4. We also need ever more flexible and creative tactics. The more we can >plan for orchestrated spontaneity, the harder we?ll be to stop. For >example, in Prague part of the plan was for smaller marches led by flags of >different colors to break away from the main march and go in different >directions. While this tactic had been discussed at open meetings for at >least a month before the action, it still seemed to confuse the authorities. > >5. We may need to focus more on preparation for surviving jail, for >resisting intimidation and being prepared for interrogation, than on the >classic jail solidarity tactics we?ve used in the U.S. Those tactics focus >on attempting to stay in jail where our strength of numbers allows us to >pressure the system to drop or lower charges, and helps to protect >individuals at risk. These tactics were developed, however, in a very >different time, when the authorities often were interested in releasing most >and when jail experiences were often hard and uncomfortable but relatively >decent. At times those conditions still prevail and that kind of jail >solidarity has been effective in Seattle and DC. However, if people are >being chained to the wall and beaten, the focus needs to shift to getting >them out of jail. Solidarity then becomes what people outside jail do to >put political pressure on the system, from calling on allies, phoning, >faxing and emailing the authorities, to blockading the jail itself. > >6. Organizing an action needs to include planning post-action and post-jail >support, debriefing, trauma counseling, etc. > >7. We need to continue building a broader, larger movement, to find ways to >encourage participation at varied levels of risk, to support a wide variety >of forms of protest that can mobilize different groups of people, to >confront the racism, sexism, classism etc. in our own groups and reach out >to more diversity. Most of all, we need to clarify our vision of the world >we want to create, so we can mobilize peoples? hopes and desires as well as >their outrage. And we need to be creative, visionary, wild, sexy, colorful, >humorous, and fun in the face of the violence directed against us.
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