Posted 1 year ago on Nov. 3, 2011, 7:54 p.m. EST by NateNine
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
Read any mainstream coverage of the strike in Oakland yesterday – “mostly peaceful” gets drowned out by “broken windows”, “graffiti everywhere”, “local businesses suffering”, “tear gas”, “bonfire in the street”, “rioting”. Even the most sympathetic coverage focuses on the actions of the radical fringe; they simply go on to state that a small group of “anarchists” are responsible well after the general public has already gotten entirely the wrong idea.
OWS will fail without widespread support. Ideologically, the American people largely share the core grievances being expressed by the majority of protesters, but if any act of violence or vandalism is committed anywhere near an OWS gathering, even if it is in no way endorsed by anyone else, that act is all the news media (and therefore the public) will see.
We’re all fed up with the status quo; that’s what OWS is all about. But what good does it do to deface a local bank branch with spray paint? What good does it do to smash a bunch of windows? What good does it do to terrorize a damned grocery store? Adolescent acts of vandalism and deliberate provocation of police will only make OWS go away, and then you rabble-rousers will be back to having no cover from which to commit your pointless acts of nihilism. Anarchy is not the solution, it’s not even a solution. If you abhor government so much, go join the Tea Party – the rest of us want to build a better world without burning the old one entirely to the ground.
Anarchists – settle down or get lost. This is not the moment when the American people rise up to spill the blood of the oligarchs we all fear and distrust, and trying to turn it into that will only kill the movement itself. If you want to be part of OWS that means helping it grow, not making it fail. GAs across the country are about to have serious discussions about the role of violence and vandalism in the movement, and I can already tell you what the majority will say: Those things have no role. They serve no purpose other than to inflate egos, as though painting a few swear words on an ATM makes you Che Guevara. OWS is and must remain a strictly non-violent phenomenon to survive, and that means no violence against people (no matter how vile) or property (no matter how vile its owners). If you prefer violent tactics to non-violent ones you have no place in OWS – go start your own movement and see how far it gets.
Everyone else – those people I just addressed? They’re still here. Some of them are actually hired agents provocateurs; most of them are probably just confused and small-minded people with more bottled up rage than common sense. Do. Not. Let. Them. Define. You. They’re not going away no matter how nicely you ask, either, because this is the first time in their short, addled lives they’ve ever been part of a crowd that would hesitate to stop them from being belligerent and openly destructive. It’s hard to stop someone you basically agree with who is resorting to methods you wouldn’t use, but you absolutely need to change that, and NOW. They aren’t just destroying bank facades and coffee shop windows, they’re destroying your only chance to make OWS matter.
Luckily, there’s a very simple solution to this issue. Anyone who wants to protect his or her identity with a mask should be given the right (even outside a “masquerade ball”), but should be treated with extreme suspicion by all other protesters. Use all those fancy smartphones and cheap digital cameras to keep tabs on these people at all times. Don’t let them blend with the crowd, form bubbles of accountability around them. If they do attempt to use their anonymity to commit a violent or destructive act, remember the slanted news media will turn this into an act of violence against you. Stop them. Tackle the idiots. Take away their masks. Shout “CAMERA!” Show the world their faces, and show the world you in no way tolerate their actions. Violence committed by one of you translates as violence committed by all of you in the minds of everyday people, and if you have to resort to a little violent tackling just to wage a successful PR war I don’t think Gandhi himself would revoke your satyagraha cards.
Physically stop all vandals and provocateurs. Knock the cans of spray paint out of anarchists’ hands. Unmask anyone who commits an act that you yourself would not commit. Don’t let people who only want to watch the world burn start by leaving OWS in ashes.