by R. S. Marlow
Since Donald Trump has been elected President, there has been a resurgence in Black Bloc tactics in resistance to the agenda of the new administration. Many anti-fascist groups feel the Trump presidency is a direct threat and are willing to retaliate with unconventional measures.
Anti-Trump protests have popped up in many cities and towns across the United States. While the majority of the protest have been peaceful, property damage and physical attacks on individuals are becoming more frequent.
On Nov. 10 in Portland Oreg., twenty five people were arrested as protesters smashed car windows and stopped traffic. Police responded with tear gas after glass bottles were thrown at officers.
Activist in Berkeley Calif. effectively shut down a Feb. 1 scheduled speech my Milo Yiannopoulos, a popular alt-right speaker and Brietbart writer. As many as 1,500 people showed up to protest the event, including a group of about twenty black-clad individuals who broke windows, set fires and reportedly attacked Yiannopoulos supporters.
Tens of thousands of protesters descended on the nations capital on Jan. 20 to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States. While the overwhelming majority of protesters were peaceful, a group of antifascist protesters had another plan.
According to a report by The Washington Post:
“Around 10:30 a.m., a group of self-described “anti-fascist, anti-capitalist” protesters marched from Logan Circle toward the Mall. Some in the group tossed bricks at cars and businesses, knocked over trash cans and smashed a limousine.”
Black Bloc squares off against police in Washington D.C.. (All photos Alex Porcher)
As the group reached 13th and K streets NW, a splinter group of about 200 from within the black-clad protesters set fire to a limousine and numerous trash cans, broke the windows of a Starbucks and a Bank of America and assaulted an alt right leader.
The protesters are using a tactic called Black Bloc, first introduced in West Germany in the 1980’s. “Black Bloc was coined in 1986 when a massive black-clad bloc was formed to defend the Hafenstrasse squat, where 1,500 black bloc members and 10,000 other protesters confronted the police and saved the squat.” said George Lennox, a well know activist and Anarchist.
Justin Fawkes, and eye witness demonstrator using an alias, was just feet away from the unfolding events.”I saw the Black Bloc smash a limo and I saw them smash the bank, I remember that much and then the riot police rushed us with shields,” said Fawkes. “We were rowdy, but we weren’t all breaking things.”
A photographer gets a close shot as Black Bloc attempts to break through a police line.
According to social media reports, the group may also be credited with the alleged assault of Richard Spencer, a prominent alt-right leader. The person seen punching Spencer in a well circulated Internet video had very likely been kettled by law enforcement in the bloc march, then was part of the group that pushed and broke through the police line moments earlier.
Capital police make a line to combat Black Bloc protesters.
Black Bloc tactics first made headlines in the U.S. in a protest dubbed, “The Battle of Seattle”. The Black Bloc overwhelmed police and began smashing police cars and windows throughout downtown Seattle. The protests resulted in the activation of two battalions of National Guardsmen. 157 individuals were arrested but released for lack of probable cause or hard evidence; $250,000 was paid to the arrested by the city of Seattle.
The tactics used by Black Bloc also surfaced during the Arab Spring, a small group appeared at Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, claiming to be the protectors of the protesters from the Egyptian state police force.
As law enforcement began to evict Occupy camps in 2011, Black Bloc began to show their presence. Leaflets were passed out at many Occupy camps with the text, “Relax people. It’s us, the Black Bloc. What you can’t do, we can. We don’t just attack, we defend people against police abuse and defend our right to protest.”
While many are critical of the tactic, calling it useless and counterproductive, Black Bloc proponents see another side. “Black blockers target businesses in regards to their message. In general Black Blocs do not strike community centers, public libraries, the offices of women’s committees or even small independent businesses,” said Lennox.” This can be seen in the recent inauguration tactics where a bank and Starbucks were vandalized.”
“Many actually have days jobs working for nonprofits. Some are schoolteachers, labor organizers, or students. Some don’t have full-time jobs, but instead spend most of their time working for change in their communities,” continued Lennox. “These are thinking and caring folks who, seek change for the betterment of humanity as a whole. They may have radical ideals and beliefs along with social agendas outside societal norms but they are working on awakening the masses.”