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Day one of the “Unconventional Action” consulta went very well!

January 26, 2008, 9:39 PM

Day one of the “Unconventional Action” consulta in Frederick, Maryland went quite well, indeed. The main thrust for the consulta was to prepare for the protests outside the Democratic National Convention in Denver, and the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, as somewhat indicated by the banner inside:

Consulta banner

However, with Denver and St. Paul being out of range for many of us (I have neither the time nor the funds to go), it also worked well for things to apply in that hotbed of activism that’s right in our own backyard – our nation’s capital, Washington DC.

We discussed a lot of stuff, too, mostly related to protest tactics and community organizing. We started with discussion on how to combat gentrification (with handouts!), took a break, and then moved onto discussion about the logistics of the RNC and DNC. Bridges, hotels, locations of various buildings, perimeters, etc. Very interesting stuff. And lots of handouts! I like handouts.

Then after another break, we got into the stuff we really could apply to demonstrations locally and in other cities. We talked about how to do street blockades, we discussed safety in the streets, getting out of potential arrests, and even practiced various self-defense techniques, learning how to get out of various holds. Those could work not only in getting out of potential arrest situations and going back into the cover of the bloc, but also for your garden-variety mugger. We also went a little bit into how the black bloc technique works, and why it works so well (though admittedly, most there had worn the black mask of anarchist blocs). And lastly, a discussion on legal aid at demonstrations, about how it all works, and what preparations are good to make ahead of time and what to do afterwards. And then from there, we broke for the day.

All in all, it was quite the learning experience, and I took several pages’ worth of notes. And I saw a bunch of my protest buddies, as Jeff, Maddy, and Olga were there, plus a lot of other people I knew from the Infoshop and from other demonstrations in DC. In fact, it was basically the core of many demonstrations’ black blocs in attendance, though admittedly in street clothes and without the masks. I even saw this girl, whom I’d first met at J27. I asked her if she’d been to the J27 demonstration, and she said yes, and that she had seen herself on my Web site (I’m famous!). She actually found it through Wikipedia around September or so, and was surprised to see herself on there. Turns out her reaction was the same as mine when I see a photo of myself that wasn’t lifted from here on someone else’s Web site: Oh, my gawd… Still, pretty cool.

And then tomorrow, it’s back to Frederick again for Day 2 of the “Unconventional Action” consulta. Should be easy to get back to, now that I’ve seen it. I just hope I do better getting out at the end tomorrow than I did today. I got in just fine, using Google Maps directions. I took the usual ride out to 270, taking Georgia Avenue to Norbeck Road to East Gude Drive to Frederick Road to Shady Grove Road, joined I-370 at Shady Grove Metro, and then took I-270 right up to Frederick. However, I didn’t print reverse directions for getting back. Usually, I can get out just fine. But somehow, I managed to get myself very lost, making a wrong turn once, thinking I’d corrected, ending up back at the site of the consulta, and then going way the hell out the other way. Frederick has two shopping malls, did you know that? I was supposed to go by one following the proper route, and went past the other one while still lost. Next time I go somewhere, I’m printing reverse directions.

Web site: Schedule of events at the consulta, currently 50% complete.

Song: Listening to Geoff Holtzman on The Chris Core Show (local DC-area talk show on WMAL) get all defensive about finances via podcast on the way up. Interesting show...

Quote: I love these little anarchist symposiums! It's a great place to learn, and to network with like-minded individuals.

Categories: Activism, Frederick