Ric Urrutia, photographer, bass player for Debajo Del Agua and all around revolutionary mensch, reports on Day Two—
More terror on the home front, RR. It’s really the police state that’s getting to me. It’s a total drag. So. Many. F*cking. Cops!
Today Denver experienced the anti-capitalist march, mostly attended by anarchists. I got there about 20 minutes before the cops boxed in a group of approximately 200-300 anarchists (and others) at an intersection downtown. The anarchists were trapped between three rows of cops in every direction who were backed by hundreds more in full riot gear.
Cops had the whole nine tonight: riot gear, water canon, pepper spray, rubber bullets, tear gas, cops on horseback, cops on bikes, etc. I left the scene at 9pm and by that point numbers had dwindled on both fronts. From what I’ve heard, the cops saved the pepper spray for a handful of the anarchists who were trapped. I think a few of the anarchists also got roughed up.
My friend Blake got trapped and detained. We kept in touch while cops took down information on everyone. Little by little the cops started releasing people to the cheers of spectators. It’s 12am and no word from Blake though.
The atmosphere was intense and I really wasn’t up for getting arrested, tear gassed or beaten. Not for this. This is a grossly outnumbered counterculture provoking a confrontation with heavily armed cops. What is the point? Seriously. Why are you putting yourself and others in this type of danger?
Frankly I need to justify a police beating with something better than a group of masked and alienated youth shouting “no slaves no masters.” Had it been immigrants demanding basic rights or wage increases, I’d be right in the thick of things. But not this. Exactly what were they expecting? We saw our numbers yesterday so we knew a confrontation wouldn’t have resulted in any kind of victory for us.
Coincidentally on both Sunday and Monday I heard two people ask two anarchists why they hide their faces. The essence of the anarchists’ response: “to hide [their] identity from constant surveillance by a repressive government.” What the fuck planet are we on? Do these guys seriously think that a black handkerchief is going to throw off the state in any way? If the anarchists reaffirmed anything tonight it would be that you have to be very public with your identity when doing political work.
Pardon the venting RR. It’s just been a long night of figuring out whether or not I should’ve taken a solidarity beating with the anarchists. In the end, I’m happy with my decision. I’m not going to land in the hospital without health insurance for the rhetorical battle cry of a counterculture. I’d rather go home, post this on RR and look forward to the moment when I have my own blog and can write without losing my non-profit job.
Jumpingjacks- I agree with you. There are lots of reasons for the poor state of the movement (and it’s piss poor). For example I imagine if there were a draft the anti-war mood of the the country would be seen more forcefully. The fact that this mood is ambivalent on Afghanistan also helps to confuse the issue. Another is the change in the opposition to the occupation in Iraq itself.
We shouldn’t forget that part of the problem reflected in Denver isn’t simply the isolation of the radicals, but the total bankruptcy of the liberal wing of the anti-war movement who have demobilized in support of the Dems for the upteenth time on the false pretense that they will deliver. That can’t simply be laid at the left for not presenting themselves as a viable enough alternative. Now are radicals isolated? Absolutely.
Is part of the problem the self-importance, and frankly a little stupidity, shown by some of the anarchists at yesterday’s demos (and certainly present in its different guises by some of the far left)? You betcha. We’re in bad shape. We have lots of work to do.
The point, in part, is to take the long view as Jessica has pointed out in her comment. Rhetorically, should there have been no demos? Should the left say, “shit we’re in bad shape, let’s stay home when the war criminals gather?” I, for one, am glad they didn’t even though I completely recognize the lousy context in which we find ourselves, some of it of our own making, most of it the fault of a general political decline in Late Imperial America (these are not separate problems of course).
Things never stay the same, Things will change, maybe even for the worse for a while. That’s the situation we find ourselves in. In my opinion, it doesn’t negate the need for alternatives to both the war party and their liberal abettors to be posed, even if the left can only muster it’s own, meager, immediate forces to pose it.
I am of the belief that the level of protest in Denver reflects, for worse not better, the general state of anti-war activity in the U.S.
I am curious what the people who post and/or comment on this blog think about this proposition.
I also agree with Ric.
— Ron in Detroit.
I am with you on this one. As Kenny Rogers (not the Tigers pitcher) once wafted “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em/know when to fold ’em/know when to walk away/and know when to run”. Comrades do better work out of jail than in. The food sucks too. The cops are more than happy to assist in the symbolism of the demonstrators. Arrests like these scare the shit out of people. Why give them what they want? Good luck to Blake and all of those arrested- if there are appeals for support we will gladly help. Stay safe comrade, the reports are much appreciated!