In Defense of the Black Bloc: A Communique from Olympic Resisters
On February 12th and 13th, 2010, thousands of courageous individuals came together to resist the 2010 Olympic police state and to attack the corporations plundering the land and deepening poverty. We write this communique as participants in and organizers of the black bloc presence at these demonstrations, known as “Take Back Our City” and “2010 Heart Attack.”
On February 12th, the Vancouver Police Department pacified us with a force of mounted police. The next day during 2010 Heart Attack, they deployed riot police armed with M4 carbine assault rifles. They claim this was necessary in order to stop the march from “jeopardizing public safety” – yet the only threats to public safety were in their own hands. Participants in the demonstration only undertook strategic attacks against corporations sponsoring the Olympics and did not harm or attack bystanders.
The media are now busy denouncing the political violence of property destruction, such as the smashing of a Hudson’s Bay Company window, as though it were the only act of violence happening in this city. They forget that economic violence goes on daily in Vancouver. People are suffering and dying from preventable causes because welfare doesn’t give enough to afford rent, food or medicine, and because authorities routinely ignore the medical emergencies of poor or houseless individuals. This economic violence has gotten worse as we lose housing and social services because of the Olympic Games. In response to this assault, thousands took to the streets, hundreds joining what is known as a black bloc.
The black bloc is not a formal organization; it has no leadership, membership, or headquarters. Instead, the black bloc is a tactic: it is something people *do* in order to accomplish a specific purpose. By wearing black clothing and masking our faces, the black bloc allows for greater protection to those who choose active self-defense. The majority of people involved in the black bloc do not participate in property destruction. However, in masking up they express their solidarity with those who choose to take autonomous direct action against the corporations, authorities and politicians who wage war on our communities.
Participation in the black bloc is an act of courage. With only the shirts on our backs and the masks on our faces, we took to the streets against Canada’s largest ever “peacetime” police force. Protected only by black fabric and the support of our comrades, we stood in front of antiriot cops armed with assault rifles, pistols and batons. We proved that $1 billion of “security” couldn’t prevent us from clogging the heart of downtown Vancouver and crashing a party of 100 000 people — and getting away with it.
You won’t ever know who was in the black bloc this weekend, but you *do* know us. We are the people who organize community potlucks, who dance during street festivals, who make art, defend the land, build co-ops, bicycles and community gardens. When we put on our black clothing, we are not a threat to you, but to the elites.
Whoever you are, one day you will join us. As long as government and corporations attack our communities, we’re going defend – and that means attack.
Two organizers and participants in the anarchist presence of the “Take back our city” demonstration and “2010 Heart Attack” street march, February 2010, Coast Salish Territories