And they thought a little graffiti was bad back then…

January 10, 2021, 11:42 AM

I was recently participating in a comment thread on the Staunton News Leader‘s Facebook page about the arrest and charging of Jake Angeli, one of the more prominent figures to participate in the storming of the Capitol on January 6.  Most the comments praised the arrest, while some other comments amused me thoroughly.  One comment claimed that it was not Trump supporters who came to DC, but rather, it was “antifa”.  That comment reminded me of how little many right-wingers understand about what antifa is, and it made me laugh.  Recall that I used to do a lot of antifa back in my day (though the common use of the term “antifa” postdates my participation), so I know a little something about it.  The thing that amuses me most is when people think that it’s an actual organization, because trust me, it is most definitely not.  For those not familiar, the term “antifa” is short for “anti-fascist”, and if a bunch of people assemble and decide that they want to call themselves “antifa”, then they are antifa, and it’s over at the end of the event.  It’s really not that complicated.  There is no real organization to it, and people don’t answer to anyone at some headquarters.

But that commenter’s attempt to pin the whole thing on “antifa” reminded me of an event that happened back in January 2007, nearly 14 years ago.  Back then, at an anti-war protest (which I documented here under the title “J27 Anti-War Demonstration“), an affinity group of sorts, comprised mostly of people wearing black clothing and masks, i.e. a black bloc (which many might call “antifa” today), broke away from the mainstream march and headed up to the United States Capitol.  The group made it as far as the bottom of the steps, where Capitol Police was standing to prevent further movement.  No effort was made to go past them, and as far as I know, the bloc was content with that.  While we were there, a few people pulled out some spray paint cans and left some tags on the sidewalk in front of the steps of the Capitol.

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Elyse goes to the inauguration…

January 28, 2017, 8:24 PM

Sometimes, it’s fun to live vicariously.  Such is what happened on Inauguration Day.  I had to work, and so I spent my Inauguration Day mostly doing support work to help keep trains moving.  However, Elyse came down to DC to see what she could see as far as inauguration-related activities went.  She and mutual friend Dave went out to see what was going on, and I was able to follow along through frequent updates sent to me on Facebook Messenger.  Though this was not intentional, she did a photo shoot in a similar way that I shoot an event that I’m not directly involved in.  The official festivities were kind of “meh” (though she did watch the swearing-in live on television, which I didn’t get to do), but she kept up with a lot of the activism.

I admit: I have more or less hung up my activism hat, having not participated in a political demonstration in a very long time. I stopped doing black blocs in October 2010 after a pair of disastrous demonstrations soured me on the tactic, and I haven’t been to a political demonstration of any kind since August 2013.  However, I still cheer on and support my friends who are still involved in it, even if I haven’t done it myself in years, and in fact, a number of my activist friends helped organize some of the protests that occurred in DC.  So I was delighted to get these updates from Elyse, as well as from elsewhere on Facebook and the Twitter, to see what was up while I was at work.

After I got off of work, Elyse came over and we looked at her take from the day, and the photos were quite good.  She also gave me permission to run some of them on Schumin Web, and so hopefully you can live vicariously through Elyse as well, as people came to DC to protest Donald Trump on the occasion of his inauguration.

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When your entire march’s message is “f— the police”, you have lost sight of the forest for the trees…

October 10, 2010, 10:59 PM

What a frustrating weekend.

As you know if you read my previous entry, this weekend was the fall 2010 meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, held in Washington DC. I have demonstrated against the World Bank and IMF on seven different occasions prior to this weekend, most recently prior to this in the spring of 2009. This weekend’s demonstrations were perhaps the worst anti-IMF demonstrations that I have ever attended. They were disorganized, and no one was willing to step up to the plate and even so much as try to keep the group on message.

First of all, there was Friday’s demonstration. As it turned out, the 10:30 meeting point at 16th and Harvard Streets was basically a pickup spot for an ongoing demonstration. I showed up in plenty of time, and when the bloc swooped through, I, along with about four others plus Luke, joined it. That should have been a red flag right there – the group was in and out in less than two minutes, rather than staying at the announced meeting point for any appreciable length of time in case people were late or anything.

As it turned out, this bloc had already lost sight of its message. There was no anti-IMF message going on here, but rather they were trying desperately to keep a step ahead of the police. The bloc was going up and down neighborhood streets, moving water-filled plastic Jersey barriers to slow down the police. Additionally, they were dragging newspaper boxes out into the street, again to slow down police. And if all you’re doing is trying to stay ahead of the police, you have lost your way.

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Categories: Black bloc, World Bank

Friday is going to be a VERY long day…

October 7, 2010, 11:04 PM

Yes, indeed… Friday will be a very long day. I’m working all day, and then demonstrating well into the night. See, this weekend is the semi-annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), and as such, demonstrations will be held. I have been really bad about World Bank/IMF demonstrations as of late, having missed demonstrations for both the fall 2009 meetings and the spring 2010 meetings. So I’m itching to go to this one.

The weekend will be full of various events – according to DC Indymedia, there were events on Thursday, and then Friday will have three events. There will be a noontime march that I’m going to miss on account of work, and then a block party in Washington Circle starting at 5:30 that I’m also going to miss (too far plus office social event right around that time). Then at 10:30 PM at 16th and Harvard Streets NW (seriously – that far north), there will be an “Anticapitalist Night of Action”. Then Saturday will have what appears to be a family-friendly event at Freedom Plaza from noon to 8 PM, after which time a “roving street party” will take off. Finally, Sunday will have a consulta to discuss future meetings.

I’m currently planning to attend the “Anticapitalist Night of Action” on Friday and the day event on Saturday, plus the street party. The Friday event, though, makes me nervous. I anticipate it will be a black bloc event, and it also concerns me that it’s starting that far north. No idea what its goals are, but I hope it’s not just to wreak havoc in the town. After all, some of us are in the area on a regular basis, and I don’t like having to explain to my mother why my friends broke windows and such. Likewise, a number of my coworkers live in that general area, and I don’t want to have to explain to them why my anarchist friends messed up their neighborhoods. The meeting point is roughly where Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, and Mount Pleasant come together. This is not an area that is well known for political institutions. Adams Morgan is primarily known as a bar district, Columbia Heights is an area that is quickly gentrifying, and Mount Pleasant is residential.

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Categories: Black bloc, World Bank

“We’ve got a store that I explore when the customers aren’t here anymore…”

June 27, 2010, 12:14 AM

Tonight I learned some very disturbing news. G20 protesters in Toronto broke windows at The Bay’s Queen Street store on Saturday. Fans of Today’s Special will know this place best as simply “the store”. I was shocked, and it actually briefly brought tears to my eyes. But they did:

Broken windows at the store  Broken windows at the store
Photos: Karen Liu/Toronto Life

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Now I understand why Randi Rhodes says that the news has been cancelled…

June 15, 2010, 9:25 PM

I recently had a request for an interview by Kathryn Blaze Carlson of the National Post. It’s a Toronto-based newspaper, and according to its Wikipedia article, has a conservative-leaning editorial section. I was asked for an interview about black blocs due to my having participated in more than a dozen black blocs. I figured that since this was a news article and not an opinion piece, that some journalistic integrity would be in effect here, and my comments would be quoted truthfully. Not so, I’m afraid. As political pundit Randi Rhodes has so eloquently put it many times in the past, “The news has been cancelled.”

Now I’ve definitely done interviews with the media before. I was interviewed on WHSV back in 1996 about Virginia’s Standards of Learning, I had an interview in 2001 about Schumin Web in Turf (a short-lived supplement to JMU’s The Breeze newspaper), and then I was interviewed in 2006 by The News Virginian about the Skyline Parkway Motel at Rockfish Gap. This was my first interview about political issues.

What I found out after reading the final story, called “Black Bloc & Blue“, is that I could have said anything, and the story would have come out the same. Seriously, I could have said that when a black bloc forms at a demonstration, the sky turns yellow and people all start singing “La Marseillaise”, and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Carlson seemed to have it already set in her mind that “black bloc” was a movement and a defined group, and despite my best efforts at talking her down from it, it seemed that my assertions that the whole thing was a tactic and not a movement fell on deaf ears.

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Categories: Black bloc

On Sunday, the LGBT community and their allies took to the streets…

October 13, 2009, 8:19 PM

On Sunday, thousands came out into the streets to demonstrate in support of civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people. I’ve always considered this to be a bit of a no-brainer. What part of “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” in the Fourteenth Amendment do some people not understand? Obviously, to some, all people are created equal, but some are more equal than others.

Thus we had the National Equality March. We marched for civil rights for the LGBT community in all fifty states. I’m not gay, but equal protection under the laws for LGBT individuals, including the right to marry whomever they wish, is something I feel very strongly about. After all, marriage in a legal sense has nothing to do with any alleged supreme being, or even anything to do with love. The minister on Spaceballs had it right when he said, “I am trying to conduct a wedding here, which has nothing to do with love.” While love certainly makes a marriage last, marriage ultimately is a contract between two people. And as a contract, it falls under the law, which according to the US Constitution, must apply equally to all.

Ahead of the march, much of DC’s radical community was deciding how it was going to handle the march. Of course, we support the underlying concept, but some of our views differ from the mainstream. Calls for pink-and-black blocs were put out, and ultimately there were two locations tossed about. One was for a pink-and-black bloc meeting on the Ellipse at 10 AM on Sunday. Another called for a pink-and-black bloc to meet at Dupont Circle at 11:00. As I considered the Ellipse location a little far-flung as far as Metro accessibility went, and a little bit early, I chose the Dupont Circle location. Thus I took Metro from Wheaton to Dupont Circle and arrived a bit early – around 10:30. I was early, but better to be early and waiting at the appointed location than to be waiting on the train hoping to make it on time, or to be late and potentially miss what I was going for in the first place.

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Categories: Activism, Black bloc

Meanwhile, on the subject of protesters…

September 11, 2009, 7:52 PM

While I’m on the subject of protesters today, this is something I’ve been thinking about for a bit, and it relates to how my regular protest buddies handle their protests in the District of Columbia. I’m specifically referring to the radical crowd.

First of all, I believe that black blocs certainly have a place in the protest landscape. I believe that these people are far more dedicated to the various movements than most people that show up for large rallies, and that these people do a pretty good job in spreading the message that the system is rotten, and that all the bums need to be thrown out on their butts and the system rebuilt from the ground up.

However, I’ve observed that when engaging in demonstrations, the interactions with the police seem to become counterproductive more often than not. Specifically, the whole idea of keeping the police in the dark and not dealing with them directly. In my six(!) years of DC activism, the cops have started to get harsher with their tactics when it comes to anarchist blocs. They will forcibly shove protesters out of the street, and not being in the street and marching on the sidewalk instead tends to diminish the impact of a demonstration, since you’re kind of wedged into a narrow space between parked cars and the buildings. Likewise, if the police believe they’re forced to use force against demonstrators, they have demonstrated that they will gladly do so.

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Categories: Black bloc

“Cut your cheese in style” probably didn’t go over as well as the writers hoped…

August 12, 2009, 10:46 PM

First of all, let me just say that I am WIRED tonight. One of my coworkers, who recently came back from an extended vacation overseas, brought a loaf of palm sugar and a plate of coffee beans to work, and the idea was to take a pinch of sugar (it has the consistency of brown sugar), and some coffee beans, pop both in at once, and enjoy. Something tells me I had too many coffee beans today – on top of my regular daily cup of coffee. And to add to it, today’s coffee was the best kind – that bottom-of-the-pot coffee that’s super strong. My coworkers even commented that I was particularly “animated” today. I blame the excess caffeine. Perhaps crunching on coffee beans and then washing it down with a cup of coffee wasn’t the best idea…

But the caffeine buzz might just work, because I have a lot to say today.

First of all, the title of this entry. I spotted this on the front page of the Express today:

"Cut your cheese in style"
Image: Express

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So there seems to be a protest just about everywhere…

November 14, 2008, 10:27 PM

This weekend will be fun, let me tell you. First of all, there is a protest against the meeting of the World Economic Forum, where the G20 will be looking to figure out how to handle the financial crisis. The main demonstration starts at 10 AM at Murrow Park, in front of the World Bank building at Pennsylvania Avenue, 18th Street, and H Street NW. We march to Luther Place near Thomas Circle. There, a people’s forum will be held.

For this event, I will be in radical cheerleader configuration, and cheering. After all, this will be our last opportunity to do the multitude of Bush cheers prior to George W. Bush’s leaving office (and counting the days). My cheer outfit this time around will be nearly identical to the one I wore for October Rebellion, minus the tights. It will be a shade too cold for tights, so I’m substituting jeans. If they weren’t calling for a 90% chance of rain, I might have done the tights, but not with rain in the forecast. As it is, with the foul weather planned, Duckie is being seriously prepped along with the Kodak, since it sounds like it might just get its day in the rain (which is what it was designed for). On days when Duckie is not expected to see use, I just take it along with no special preparations.

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Categories: Activism, Black bloc

And we’re on the flip side of the “rowdy” march…

October 20, 2007, 8:09 AM

Just as an update, I made it to the flip side of the rowdy march. That was something, with everyone in full black bloc going through Georgetown on a very wet night. But most people got out unscathed, and to my knowledge, no pepper spray was used on anyone. But that was an intense little march.

But we made it through. We were soaked, mind you, but we made it through. Now today is the permitted rally. This should be pretty tame, but draw a bigger crowd.

Remember – the cheer group meets at 10:30 at Tenleytown Metro and then will ride down together, and the main rally is at 12:30 at Franklin Square.

Categories: Black bloc, World Bank

Would you believe it’s been two years already?

September 25, 2007, 2:42 PM

Would you believe it? Two years! As of yesterday, it’s been two years since this…

Black bloc participants take a moment to stretch before the march.

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Categories: Anti-war, Black bloc

It wasn’t on the scale of others, but it wasn’t bad, either.

June 11, 2007, 9:51 PM

On June 10, 2007, I was in Washington DC for the demonstration protesting the Israeli occupation of Palestine on its 40th anniversary. All in all, it was a nice day, and despite the lack of numbers that some of the anti-Iraq war demonstrations I’ve been to have commanded, it was still a strong demonstration. The march started at the Capitol, and marched to the Ellipse.

First of all, though, to clarify: This was not an anti-Israel protest. This was also not an anti-semitic march. We were demonstrating against occupation. If we demonstrate so vigorously against the occupation of Iraq by our own country, why should we sit idly by while there’s a longer-standing occupation going on? After all, the saying goes that “occupation is a crime from Iraq to Palestine.”

My day went quite true to form. I met up with my anarchist buddies at Dupont Circle, where we were having our own black bloc feeder march to the main march site. The march was nominally under the banner of Students for a Democratic Society, otherwise known as SDS. However, turnout was not as many had hoped. This was not like the SDS-organized blocs of J27 or March 17. There was only one person carrying anything that said “SDS” on it. This was by and large DC’s usual gang of anarchists and their supporters, many of whom I consider as friends. You had me, Jeff from the Guerrilla Poets, Luke and his bike, and a number of others that I know from the Infoshop. I made the comment, in jest, “Okay, Jeff and Luke are here, so now it’s official.” There were also two young women who were dressed normally (vs. all-black) in the group.

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You were just on TV – Fox News

March 17, 2007, 5:01 PM

First of all, hello from the Infoshop, where I just now met David Rovics.

The protest went swimmingly. I got off the Metro at Foggy Bottom, headed down to the main rally site, and eventually found the SDS contingent. After we determined what we wanted to do, we were off! This time, the black bloc stayed with the mainstream march (sponsored by ANSWER) for the most part. We formed a very tight affinity group, with arms locked the entire way. My right shoulder is now a bit sore due to that. We marched past the counter-protesters “guarding” the Lincoln Memorial (*eyes rolling*), and then marched over Memorial Bridge and on into Arlington. We eventually made a left turn, and headed towards the Pentagon. Our black bloc, after initially having to wedge itself into the mainstream march to get moving, mostly marched as its own unit to the side of the mainstream march, arms locked all the way. Did I say very tight affinity group?

At the Pentagon, we split from the mainstream march. The mainstream march went left, and down into the Pentagon’s north parking lot (ho-hum). There, they had their rally, complete with speeches. Meanwhile, we continued on Route 27 for a little bit more, before we were physically stopped by Pentagon Police and the Virginia State Police. After briefly pushing against the line of police, a pyrotechnic device went off right in front of us (I was near the front of the march at this point), and we backed off. The police then started putting on gas masks, and a standoff began. The police were warning us to disperse, and many participants in the black bloc sat down in the street in front of them. The police gave warnings to disperse, they sat down. I backed off, and went to the back of it all, since I wasn’t in the mood to get sprayed and/or arrested. Thus I ended up standing in the back, ready to run if it became necessary. A number of people from the SDS contingent determined that they were going to go back to the recruiting center in DC where the window had previously been broken, while others (including myself) decided to call it a day. Meanwhile, a very dedicated group of black bloc-ers remained at the Pentagon, continuing the standoff. I’m told that no pepper spray or tear gas was ever used (though they were prepared to use it), and that the group finally dispersed on its own when the State Police brought a large number of paddy wagons into position, prepared to make mass arrests (unlike DC, they can do that in Arlington).

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Categories: Anti-war, Black bloc, DC trips

You mean this?

March 13, 2007, 9:52 AM

While I was at Daily Grind yesterday burning my mouth, I was listening to Neal Boortz on WTKS out of Savannah, Georgia via an Internet feed. Neal and a caller were discussing ANSWER Coalition (which as of late has become far less mainstream than it once was). The thing that got me a little riled up, though, was the fact they attributed the graffiti-ing of the Capitol on January 27 to ANSWER.

Why did this get me a little riled up, you might ask?

Well, first of all, what did ANSWER have to do with the January 27 march, and also, what did ANSWER have to do with the black bloc that was originally organized by SDS? The answer is nothing. ANSWER had nothing to do with J27, aside from a few banners out in the crowd. It was the anarchist contingent that put graffiti on the front of the Capitol. I should know. I was with them all day.

I have no problems with these radio talk shows criticizing these organizations, whether their target be ANSWER, UFPJ, DAWN, SDS, or otherwise. That’s their right. I do, however, think that if people are going to criticize groups, that they should at least attribute actions to the correct groups. To do otherwise is just irresponsible.

Categories: Black bloc, Radio