Whose Streets? Our Streets!
Whose Streets? Our Streets! – The Story Of The Beating In The Park
by Chuck0 of Mid-Atlantic Infoshop
We did it! Anarchists from all over North America descended on Washington, DC today to help with the April 16th and 17th days of action against the World Bank and IMF. We were strong today and did an excellent job working with other demonstrators in disrupting the IMF/World Bank meetings. We did this despite a week of police harassment and a day of batons, tear gas, motorcycles, tanks and police horses.
If the black bloc entered a marathon, I think we would win it. The RACB marched around downtown D.C. today for over 9 hours.
The RACB got started around 6:30 am, at the same time other demonstrators were locking down at numerous intersections. In the early hours the RACB was in fact several unconnected blocs, owing to late arrivals. But eventually most of us hooked up. Eventually the RACB grew to over 1000 people.
We started off from Washington Circle, on Pennsylvania Avenue and near George Washington University, and headed south through the university neighborhood. We visited several intersections that activists had secured. We didn't realize until tonight that this was the same neighborhood that they were trying to drive the delegate busses through. They were staging the buses from the Watergate Hotel and the Kennedy Center. The RACB wasn't bothered by police, but they were monitoring us from rooftops and a helicopter which floated above us the entire day. We found out later through a police scanner that the chopper pilot was relaying RACB reports to the cops on the ground. Our parade through these neighborhood was pretty jerky, but apparently this made it difficult to get delegate buses through the neighborhood. Eventually we swung around to an intersection to the west of the northeast corner of the Ellipse, where the cops started putting on gas masks. We hung around for a bit and then started swinging around the perimeter in a clockwise direction.
At one point, near the Foggy Bottom Metro station, we started running to get around a corner and some cops formed a line with batons. We were smart in ignoring them, because our numbers were needed on the east side of the White House. We proceeded down a deserted K Street and eventually made our way to 14th and New York. The RACB quickly built barricades using newspaper boxes and chain link fencing from a nearby construction point. These barricades stayed up in some form or another for several hours.
The RACB swung through the blocks near the Treasury Building and then headed back up 14th Street. Along the way we blocked off I street going eastbound. A bunch of folks picked up several sections of chain link fencing and headed north up 14th. Our numbers at this point were between 700 and 1000.
Then all of a sudden everybody started running forward, with the fencing up front, A squad of motorcycle cops at 14th and K were taken completely by surprise and they charged the RACB. They started hitting people with batons and chased several people into the park. At some point they launched several canisters of tear gas or aerosol pepper spray. Several people were overcome, but it wasn't too bad. A few minutes after the situation simmered into a standoff, I talked with 4-5 Pittsburgh anarchists who had gotten beaten by the cops. One guy had been hit in the face and a woman had been held down and beaten on the face (with gas mask on) and on her leg. She had a pretty bad bruise when I looked at it.
The black bloc moved on after about 10 minutes. After this point I lost touch with them for several hours because I stayed behind with Adam to hand out RACB statements to the media who were interviewing a spokesperson from the Mobilization. They were pretty interested in our skirmish, but the spokesperson did a great job of keeping them focused on the WB/IMF and capitalism.
I understand that the black bloc marched around the perimeter westward for several hours and may have taken gas at an intersection. After the noon hour, most of the activists started partying in the streets. Many of the delegates had gotten through, but we had held this huge perimeter fairly well, thanks to our comms team and our network of intel bike messengers. We were also pretty exhausted. The day had gone from drizzly to sunny and humid. We had been marching around downtown D.C. for 7 hours.
About mid afternoon we hooked up with the other activists for a victory march around the GWU neighborhood. We rested several times and many anarchist were involved in some pointless standoff with the cops at the intersection of 17th and Constitution.
The police presence was heavy, but we in effect owned the streets around the World Bank conference. Despite what has been reported by several media outlets, we outnumbered the cops today.
For our efforts today we got a big thumbs up from the rest of the mobilization. Many of them have acknowledged the key role the RACB played in disrupting the streets, keeping the cops distracted, and providing solidarity to other activists holding intersection.
While the RACB block included around 1000 anarchists, there 500-1000 anarchists involved on other perimter actions including puppeteers in the Art and Revolution Parade, Food not Bombs and Reclaim the Street activists, Mobilization organizers, and the anarchist IWW members and Anarchist Soccer League players who held intersection in the southwest quadrant. Everybody did an excellent job!
The RACB block was fairly diverse, which should shut up many of our critics. Unfortunately, the critics can't see the people of color beneath the masks.
I did hear an uncomfirmed rumor tonight that the IWW meeting in Logan Circle was jumped by police hiding in the bushes. More info hopefully tomorrow.
Tomorrow is day 2. Expect to see a different strategies will be used. The cops have extended their perimeter, which means that we won't be able to encircle it like we effectively did today.
The reality of what we did hasn't sunken in for me yet. But I was rather psyched that several hundred of my comrades barricaded a street not two blocks from my office.
Whose streets? Our streets!
Graffiti of the day, painted on the Lafayette Square bathrooms:
"FUCKING WHITE HOUSE"
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Mid-Atlantic Infoshop -> http://www.infoshop.org/
Alternative Press Review -> http://www.altpr.org/
Practical Anarchy Online -> http://www.practicalanarchy.org/
Homepage -> http://flag.blackened.net/chuck0/home/