So I’m just going to quick talk about what happened tonight, 30 April, 2012, on the eve of the May Day 2012 General Strike. I don’t know everything yet, and I’m too busy getting ready for tomorrow to really sit down and do homework. You’re getting my on the ground observations and you’re getting the cursory bits of reseach and double checking i’ve done with others that were there. I’m not a journalist, I’m a big fat gay guy who spends too much time watching cat videos on the internet, so please remember to read actual news stories from this event. I am providing you with as neutral and informed an account as I possible can because I believe the truth is more important than being a movement celebrity and other dumb shit.
So anyway, I believe we were hijacked and it was an utter clusterfuck. It started out as sort of a “pep rally” type thing at Dolores Park, but maybe 20 minutes after we got there, it turned into a march. I tweeted “LOL looks it turned into a surprise anticapitalist march. #osf #oo #ows #dolorespark”. although i frown on the tactic of spraypainting and paintbombing, it was a bit funny to see the normally sneering people outside some of the boojie restaurants in 18th street get a little taste of their own class warfare. that said, what happened once the march reached Valencia was a) the fastest i’ve ever seen a march fall apart in my life and b) the largest concentration of simultaneous D: faces i have ever seen in my life. This is where I disengaged from the march, advised people I was pulling out and they were on their own, and told some people who were distracted or otherwise slow on the uptake that the march was entering ‘smashy smashy land.”
So, rather than describe what happened (since 340958345 other blogs and news agencies will do just that), I think it is more important to point out who did this. But as I’m about to explain to you, I don’t know that I can do that. You see, I don’t know who, the people I’ll dub as the ‘ringleaders’ of the march were exactly. Nobody did. Yeah some of the aggro people we always have to deal with were there, but these guys weren’t it. You remember those asshole jock bullies in high school? Well that was who was leading the march tonight. Clean cut, athletic, commanding, gravitas not borne of charisma but of testosterone and intimidation. They were decked out in outfits typically attributed to those in the ‘black bloc’ spectrum of tactics, yet their clothes were too new, and something was just off about them. They were very combative and nearly physically violent with the livestreamers on site, and got ignorant with me, a medic, when I intervened and reminded them that I was there to fix them from police violence, not protester on protester violence.
I am typically really bad with names, but I am great with faces. I love people. I love looking into their eyes, looking at their smiles and their body language and trying to guess at their life and stuff. I probably will forget your name the first few times I’ve met you, but I will not forget your face. Even people I pass on the street, I’ll remember you for weeks. With that said, I didn’t recognize any of these people. Their eyes were too angry, their mouths were too severe. They felt “military” if that makes sense. Something just wasn’t right about them on too many levels. I’m not one of those tin foil hat conspiracy theorists, I don’t subscribe to those theories that Queen Elizabeth’s Reptilian slave driver masters run the Fed. I’ve read up on agent provocateurs and plants and that sort of thing and I have to say that without a doubt, I believe 100% that the people that started tonight’s events in the Mission were exactly that.
Now I’m not pointing a finger at SFPD, although it would not surprise me if certain elements were clued in on it. Generally, the officers seemed as upset and bewildered as we were. Remember that article that just came out about the banks cooperating against Occupy? They have hired Pinkerton, those fucking goons, the scourge of the labor movement from back in the day, to coordinate against us. It could be that they are the Feds, it could be that they are some corporate assholes or even some of our right wing blogger friends who stalk us at events. It very well could be SFPD, as apparently there were no arrests, yet several cruisers drove past myself and a few other people with what I assumed were protesters in the back seats. Bandanas still up over their faces. I actually laughed at them possibly being arrested, because of the damage they did (which is an asshole move, i’ll admit, but i did it out of anger.)
Isn’t it funny too, that for the last 6 months of sustained protests, we couldn’t fart sideways without riot police raising their truncheons against us anywhere in the Bay Area, yet these cops weren’t around tonight when the convergence in Dolores Park turned into a march. the 2 squad cars and van that were following us did so at a snail’s pace while the boojie restaurants on 18th street got vandalized. Some more police units on Valencia just let the protest pass, despite it’s obviously destructive intent, and the cops were driving past laughing as their cars were pelted with paint. The laughter is really what betrays something seriously wrong about tonight’s march. For six months, we’re beaten, harassed and arrested at the slightest provocation, park and public lodging rules enforced to the very last dotted ‘i’ and crossed ‘t’, but tonight, they let a pack of vandals run riot down Valencia street.
The other thing that bothered me is the level of destruction and the targets. This was all Bay of Rage Indybay organized, from what I gather, but it was all wrong. Black Bloc goes after state or corporate property. They do not engage in violence but property destruction, let alone that of the working class and poor. I disapprove of that behavior, as it is not something I would personally engage in, however, this was off. This wasn’t directed against corporations or big banks, with the exception of one single ATM I saw smashed. This was specifically directed against mom and pop shops, local boutiques and businesses, and cars. Lots and lots of cars. I won’t weep for the hipster dives or the WASP nests for nouveau riche white trash, but the working class, poor and immigrant owned places I will. At first it was a few luxury cars, but as I followed the march down Valencia from a distance, it was all types of cars. There was a little girl crying and her mom was holding her and telling some onlookers that people smashed their car windows right in front of them as they were walking to it. She’s always going to remember the ‘mean people’ smashing. Everyone everywhere was really upset and blaming Occupy.
We’ve spent months radicalizing and empowering the Mission, working with and learning from groups who have already been here for decades, trying to use our momentum, enthusiasm and appeal to energize moribound organizations and skittish and apathetic people. We’ve been encouraging people to feel empowered to organize themselves, to get unions for day laborers, to march for and bring attention to our terrible immigration practices, hell the list goes on and on. It’s just convenient that these so called ‘protesters’ acted in such a way to undermine and burn all those bridges we’ve been so carefully building. The destruction was too calculated and precise in it’s seeming randomness to be Black Bloc or even those fucking suburban scumbags who get an anarchist patch at Hot Topic and think that gives them license to come to Oakland or SF and burn shit down.
Like I said, I don’t know who did this, but I am 1000000% certain they were not OccupySF and they were not OccupyOakland. I know the action was marketed as an action against gentrification, but too many regular people suffered tonight. Too many car tires are slashed. An old, brown minivan on the corner of Valencia and Duboce has all the windows busted out and the tires are flat. How is the owner supposed to drive that to work? The point is, the Mission, my neighborhood, a working class neighborhood, albeit one infested with yuppies and hipsters, got fucked up tonight. All that work we’ve been doing is now jeopardized. All the interest in what we were doing that brought people in the Mission to ask OccupySF to help them organize is jeopardized. I’m sure the woman wondering how she’s getting to work in the morning because her car is jacked up now finds her job and way of life jeopardized.
This was not OccupySF, this was not OccupyOakland. What it was, was fucked up and a failure. I don’t care about delusions of anarchist grandeur and being the vanguard. That’s masturbation. I care about results and I care about how I’m getting them. The end does not justify the means, the journey is just as, if not more important than the destination. Fuck the yuppies and the hipsters. They’ll join us when revolting becomes ‘cool’ and claim they did it all along. By doing this, and by allowing ourselves to be led on by provocateurs, we alienate them, we push them back into their sleepy little tyranny enabling little coccoons. If you’re gonna break windows, if you’re gonna smash cars, be real with your targets. Even rich WASP assholes are family when your their your neighbor. None of you that live in the mission tonight, none of you that live along Valencia know what damage was done here. For months, years even, this will be a nest of counter revolutionary sentiment because of the actions tonight. If there’s one thing to be thankful of, at least the media isn’t blaming OccupySF or OccupyOakland for once. It’s strange when they actually bother to do research and report correctly.
Anyway, I’m tired, it’s May Day and I’ve got a long day ahead of me. Good luck, stay safe, and be smart and considerate in your tactics. This shit was bunk as fuck tonight.
PS: i get that certain affinity groups may have been involved in the planning and execution of this action, and that you may have worked with these people for years, but i’m telling you that the little love and revolution sandwich you have made has some fucking bacon in it. thank you, love scott.