Two Thousand Anarchists Go On Rampage In San Francisco

Two Thousand Anarchists go on Rampage in San Francisco

by B

Thousands of protestors marched, danced and sprinted through the streets of San Francisco today,shouting slogans against war, racism and capitalism. The protestors were part of a breakaway march from the larger permitted rally organized by A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) which brought out approximately 200,000 demonstrators.

After the permitted march got to its destination, about two thousand demonstrators broke off and proceded on a militant and well-planned march through the streets of the city.

Throughout the march, they targetted a number of symbols of the current capitalist war. They stopped at the building that holds the San Francisco Chronicle, a major newspaper, notorious for its right-wing slant. Masked speakers on a megaphone pointed out how the coverage from this newpaper, and from the capitalist media in general serve to bolster the US war effort at the same time as other masked protestors conveyed this message by graffittiing the building with "weapon of mass destruction," among other messages. Next, the building that houses the British consulate was grafittied, with protestors stressing the international nature of the struggle against war and capitalism, and calling for similar actions by the people of britain against the capitalists there. Protestors are well aware that Tony Blair is, as one person at the event put it, "Bush's Poodle." Protestors punctuated their message by smashing a number of windows. One spray-painted slogan read "UK out of Iraq! Burn the State!"

The breakaway march wound its way through the city, using a number of sophisticated tactics to out-manoeuver the police. At times they stopped quickly and reversed direction. At others, they stopped, shouted a countdown from 10 and then the entire demonstration ran for a block. As they moved along, more and more newspaper boxes were knocked into the street, and through the windows of a Starbucks and a Victoria's Secret. The energy built up as protestors chanted "What do we want? CLASS WAR! When do we want it? NOW!" and "What do we want? PEACE! How we gonna get it? REVOLUTION!"

The high point of the demonstration was in attacks on the building that houses the Federal government's Immigration and Naturalization Service. Numerous windows were broken and a cement pylon and a newspaper box were thrown through the INS building's glass front doors. As the call for the breakaway march, put out by a group called Anti-War Action stated, "The thousands of Arab and South Asian desaparecidos in the US since September 11th recall the US-supported fascist regimes of Latin America."

Apparently angry at being consistently outfoxed, police became more aggressive. An undercover officer grabbed one demonstrator, a number of police on motorcycles rode directly into the crowd and a group of mounted police in riot gear began to chase the protestors. The demonstration walked quickly through the streets for some minutes, leaving garbage cans in the streets to slow the pursuing police, and ended by going down into a BART station (Bay Area Rapid Transit). As protestors dispersed on San Francisco's busy Market Street, a number of police in riot gear rushed down into the BART station, and are reported to have arrested two protestors.

After September 11 of last year, media, critics and politicians gloated about what they saw as the death of radical street protests in the United States. The more conservative elements of the anti-globalization movement were frightened by a possible confrontation or worse, saw it as a time to stick together and offer "critical support" to the United States government. At the same time the radicals were targetted with stronger and more aggressive policing, and international financial institutions such as the World Trade Organization held their meetings in countries with repressive regimes that do not allow protest. But the radicals in the anti-globalization movement were never just protesting "globalization", they were opposed to capitalist globalization. This analysis has transferred easily into anti-war organizing.

The callout for today's breakaway march read "This is not a war between the people of the US and the people of the world. It is capitalism--a war on the poor. Investors in US oil companies will get a new pipeline through Afghanistan and increased access to the Iraq’s oil reserves (second only to Saudi Arabia). The weapons manufacturers will get new contracts and the US politicians will have an excuse to increase their power. Meanwhile, the poor and working people of America will definitely not be better off. We continue to live in a world of unemployment and minimum wage jobs, of racism and harassment, of surveillance and prisons, of impossible rents and evictions--a world not built for us, but on top of us."

Maybe smug critics and politicians were wrong. We are witnessing a rebirth of the radical street demonstrations in the US. As one black-clad and masked protestor said today, "The anti-globalization movement is dead, but the anti-capitalist movement is alive and well."

Today's protest are only a small taste of things to come if the war on Iraq happens.

[For images of today's protest see http://sf.indymedia.org]