While the malicious attacks against the Occupy Oakland Commune by the Police State were the immediate source of inspiration for my call of Solidarity to the wider Portland Community, it was also the growing emphasis on moving Occupy and the activist milieu around it out of the Inner City into actual working class communities as to build a wider movement around members of the working class, particularly diverging it from a white male majority. Another source of inspiration was from previous solidarity acts, namely the march in November in Solidarity with the Oakland General Strike and in the West Coast Shutdown of the Ports for which a Diversity of Tactics occurred and generally raised the bar on actions. In the former of the two, the permit loving, peace police, “no steppie on the road” mentality dominated the movement before the radical organized march in Solidarity with Oakland happened, after which the Occupy movement became more courageous taking the streets with numbers as small as 40 or 50 and holding them against police influence. In the West Coast Shutdown of the Ports, another radical organized action, the shift was made from indirectly targeting local governments and the practice of big businesses to very directly targeting the management of a particular industry for the readdressing of grievances. In a sense it was the movement from Small, Indirect and Nonsensical Actions, to Mass Direct Action with a parallel only in the General Strike. I had a high hope radicals would once again in Solidarity with Oakland which has consistently raised the bar, now drifting ever so close to revolutionary insurrection, may once again change the focus of tactics within Occupy Portland.
From this, I decided to organize the march with a few things in mind: It should reach out to the Community and raise awareness in Neighborhoods themselves, the actual areas which the working class resides and it should raise the bar again and employ a Diversity of Tactics as to encourage others to act in more militant ways as to confront Oppressive and Hierarchical Institutions directly.
The Days Before and of the March
There was only a short amount of time to organize such a march. Typically anti – police demos are called a few weeks in advance as to allocate the proper number of people for successfully holding the streets and confronting the police without being torn to shreds and facing mass arrests. With that in mind I employed a few comrades and as many means of social media as I could get my hands on – accordingly Occupy’s online institutions of organizing mass sums of people were utilized. I spent the days before devising a route tactically placed as to raise awareness and build community as to confront the institutions of police – particularly the plan was to march around the SE Portland in areas where it would be tough for the police to combat us and end at the Police Station on 47th and Burnside, all the while gaining numbers and momentum from members of the community.
Arriving at Colonel Summers the day of the event, just an hour before, there we looked upon three media news outlets and bike cops bussed in from downtown, motorcycle cops and riot police and horse cops around the corner. Before the march began we planned an impromptu meeting of all the marchers to discuss tactics and plan a route as some of the original route had been compromised by the Police. The meeting was immediately infiltrated by Police and therein cut short. We set out for Yamhill St. with a plan to turn right on 29th and head to Hawthorne. We marched up for 9 blocks chanting against police brutality, inviting onlookers to join our march and often many did, building the momentum of the march. The plan to turn right was compromised as well, so we diverted to Belmont with a plan on marching up it and turning left in a major insurrection towards Burnside where we would proceed to Burnside and on to the Station. The window of Genoa was smashed, tensions rose within the crowd between people not respecting a diversity of tactics and those who were committing Property destruction. It was in the midst of this that everything went wrong. Namely everyone in the march became self-righteous professional revolutionaries, whether they were Peace Police “Occupiers” spouting shit about Love and Gandhi or some members of the Black Bloc who labeled everyone and everything liberal, spouting fuck about five times in every sentence. As for me, I honestly just shit myself in face of a Public Relations disaster for the movement in its entirety. Not because of a Smashed window, but because we looked like dipshits on what became National Television. It was fucking sad really, so I sunk to the front of the march, raised my flag and turned off, enjoying the comical spectacle unfolding. I attempted to turn the crowd right at a street towards Burnside but was shouted down by people who weren’t black bloc and called “Stupid”. Fueling the fire of disagreement wasn’t on my agenda, so I just went along with the falling rollercoaster. We got about one more block down and riot cops turned the corner. The asshole who called me stupid just about shit his pants too and took off to the back. I and Veteran with a War drum diverted the march left onto 26th ave. towards Belmont. When we reached Belmont we took right towards downtown, Black Bloc folks threw trash cans into the street to block the police riding our ass. The shitstorm between marchers continued as Occupiers brought back from the street what the Black Bloc put out into the street to defend them. The Occupiers were subsequently arrested. Huh. Anyways we were kenneled in; I booked it out because I was caring the Flag for which people were using to commit Property Destruction. I watched from the Lone Fir Cemetery marchers getting “snatched and grabbed” by Riot Cops. One dude was threatened by Police with a Glass Bottle, a few people thrown to the ground receiving injuries.
I rejoined the march on 20th and Morrison, where the police were laughing at the shitstorm occurring across the street. Dan Sandini, a Tea Party, 1 %, Fascist fuckhead was filming the situation dressed in Black Bloc clothing laughing down the situation as well when Black Blockers engaged a Veteran with PTSD in an aggressive manner.
I left at this point. The Bloc left too. I followed the March in car for a while. I had to collect my thoughts and chill out.
What went wrong?
Call me a coward for leaving, a poor leader for not being able to lead my own march. I don’t think of myself as a tough “dude” or any kind of leader, I sure as hell don’t fit the qualities and I trusted in people’s ability to be self-governing.
First of all – don’t go to a march labeled “Diversity of Tactics” and be the Peace Police. It is okay to open up a rational dialogue in the march exploring the usefulness of a particular tactic. When to try to alienate or sellout the utilizer of a particular tactic, you are a scab and a disgrace to the history of Social Movements and Working Class History which has utilized a Diversity of Tactics. Do your research before attending a march. Don’t sell out your comrades.
Second of all – Cool smash Genoa, smash a car. I get it, I sympathize with it, the fact that you pulled it off so easily, fuck, I have a lot more courage in myself to commit such an action. But does the bystander walking by, conditioned by Bourgeois mentalities realize that? No. You don’t build community and awareness by fucking up things tacked on with the label “Local” or “Middle Class” which as of right now the working class sympathizes with. While the so called “Liberal” elements seemed opposed to property destruction, they were only in the sense that it was petty property destruction – hence why the chanted “pick the right target” and the discussion was mostly centered around “Fuck the Banks, Not Cars” was raised. We as radicals should be nurturing this reappraisal of militant action.
Third of all – Just because you think you are the shit in the activist community does not give you the credentials to show up and lead the march wherever the fuck you want to go. I choose that route after days of careful thinking and planning with certain targets in mind. Congratulations you showed up and lead us in a wild goose chase around SE Portland and got 10 people arrested. This was not the Black Bloc that did this as is commonly contributed; I have my suspicions it was from Occupiers.
Fourth of all – Saying fuck in a privileged culturally white neighborhood with Bourgeois mannerisms doesn’t gain you allies. It sends the message of aggression associated with immaturity. We within the radical community will always remain a minority as long as we act in a way which is alienating. Before you jump all over me I am not saying accommodate privileged and bourgeois mannerisms. Not in the least. It’s a process of gaining people’s interest and raising awareness parallel to education and organization which move people away from such privileged mannerisms towards a way of radically rethinking the world we live in.
The Historical Moment which rendered Occupy realizable is over. It ended like most periods of heightened class struggle, with the General Strike. It is after such a strike, the State realizes the situation gets its shit together and crushes radically minded people, censors free speech, raises Union Bureaucrats and Politicians to create the illusion of Reform as Revolution. The Police state was solidified, the austerity measures passed, the political hegemony of the Capitalist Class reinforced. Now Class Struggle is in retreat, but the problems of Capital’s process of accumulation continue. The division between wage slave and the employing class continues. Therein, struggle must continue. In retreat we consolidate, we learn and we exchange experience; we become the kernel which snow balls into the next wave of Class Struggle and crystalizes into a movement with an even greater possibility of Social Change. We are in the process of learning, heightening our consciousness and consolidating our strengths while tossing the weaknesses. The peace police mentality is already heading out the window, but will remain with the committed minority of police lovers. Nonsensical Elitism is out the door. As for “Property Destruction” the word of the night and defiantly of the week, it will stick around; only its use will be much more refined to targets which go well in Public Relations.