What Is The Black Bloc?

Photo: The Schumin Web, September 24 Protests

Photo: The Schumin Web, September 24 Protests (CC)

At this weekend’s G-20 summit, small bands of protesters wearing black clothes broke off from the main protests to rampage violently in what is known as Black Bloc tactics. Kristen Chick reviews just what that means, for the Christian Science Monitor:

The Toronto Star reports that the tactic, common in international protests, involves protesters dressing in black and moving as groups to perform violent acts, then removing the black clothing to blend in with the larger protest crowd to avoid apprehension by the police. On Saturday, dozens of such protesters huddled together in a park to change into their street clothes, leaving the black garments behind and disappearing into the crowds.

The Star reports that many of the “Black Bloc” protesters Saturday were anarchists. Many have attended protests peacefully throughout the week before their rampage Saturday, reports the Star.

Expressed through an assortment of chants, the group’s causes are many: They’re anti-capitalist, anti-police, anti-colonial. While the labour members marched to have their voices heard, the anarchists are resolute that world leaders aren’t listening and don’t care.

Any change has to come at their own hands.

For the most part, their targets are specific and symbolic: As the crowd tore across Queen St., they hammered police cruisers, attacked banks and other corporate companies. Yet they left a record store, a local tavern and an independent hardware shop untouched.

The protesters were not able to break through the barrier surrounding the area where world leaders are meeting, and instead turned to smashing windows and looting banks and other stores, setting fire to at least four police cruisers, and throwing bricks, rocks and bottles of urine at police. According to CNN, police used tear gas, pepper spray, and bean-bag pellets against the protesters. Many had soaked their clothes in vinegar in anticipation of tear gas.

Toronto’s police chief said some of the attacks were meant to draw police away from the barrier surrounding the summit area so protesters could attempt to breach it, reports CBC News. He also warned that the hard-core, violent anarchists would be back Sunday…

[continues in the Christian Science Monitor]


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16 Comments on "What Is The Black Bloc?"

  1. Thepolicedidit | Jun 28, 2010 at 10:29 am |

    come on your not gonna talk about how black bloc is completely infiltrated by the police and other authorities? they use black bloc as an excuse and reason to shut down real peaceful protests. research this!!!! thats all it takes! wiki the term “agent provocateurs” or google it. read the history of police dressing in all black and destroying shit to justify a police crackdown on real voices of peaceful dissent.

    • Cerebralcaustic | Jun 28, 2010 at 11:05 am |

      I did a bit of research, which reveals that Black Bloc tactics were originally used by German squatters … so the tactic comes not from cops, but from people who violated the private property rights of others.

      • Rowan Duffy | Jun 28, 2010 at 11:16 am |

        Private property is only a formal “right”. It's however *wrong* when some people get to own lots of property and make their living on it for no other reason than their ownership. Squatting property is *using* property that was otherwise going unused for the sole purpose of attempting to get revenue. Places like Britain still have the majority of land controlled by a few families from the nobility.

        The Black bloc has been used by protesters, which is somewhat unfortunate, since it allows the Canadian police to infiltrate and provoke confrontations more easily. We know for a fact that the Canadian police have a history of starting confrontations.

        A few smashed windows and a couple of cop cars is hardly anything compared to the thousands of dead at the hands of the leaders of the G20, or the trillions of dollars stolen from tax payers to give directly to the rich bankers, not to mention the approximately $1 billion spent on security for this G20. In the end, the people responsible for untold devastation and massive inequality and the erosion of what little democracy we had are the violent terrorists in the meeting halls.

        • R.R. Accost | Jun 28, 2010 at 12:11 pm |

          “We know for a fact that the Canadian police have a history of starting confrontations”…You ever been to Canada you idiot? The police are about as confrontational as us pot-smoking citizens.

          And WE KNOW FOR A FACT that all the violent asshole 'Black Bloc' pricks at the G20 were imports… showing up in our town to wreck havoc because masturbation just doesn't have the same appeal as it used to for people who can't get laid.

          • Actually Rowan is quite right. That is a fact. Big scandal about it just a couple months ago (and a pattern repeated from Miami to Genoa). They were intentionally egging on protesters, and trying to get them to act violently in response to planned police action. A Canadian government official who was participating in the protests himself spotted the fake “anarchist's” boots, which are manufactured and issued exclusively to the police in Quebec, and told the rest of the crowd to stand down an not protect the guy, because he was an agent provocateur.


          • Tuna Ghost | Jun 29, 2010 at 10:32 pm |

            I like how when the accusations about being a cop start coming they immediately try to “break through” and get taken, gently, away.

          • Yep, you got to live in Canada to know this, what RR Accost is saying is very true.

  2. Its pretty obvious to me that the police stood by and allowed their cars to be burned and stood by while all the vandalism happened. Video evidence has just surfaced on youtube. http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fww

    create a problem, offer a solution. Typical tactic thats been used many times over…

    • Exactly. And it helps to justify the security budget being 10 times higher than the last G20 summit in the US.

      “Ohh no, see what happens when you question police toy budgets? Anarchist kids go wild! Activist groups are organized crime! War is peace!”

      I'm going to have to criticize the disinfo editorial choice here. We can get “kids in black smash” story from every other source covering the G20. How about some analysis on the horrible policy statements that came out?

      I know that you'll offer that I submit stories again, but I just don't have the time I did last year. This is the G20 story posted by the disinfo editors. Maybe step up the filter a bit more, guys?

  3. E.B. Wolf | Jun 28, 2010 at 1:08 pm |

    They are agent provocateurs, plain and simple.
    While there is not enough hard evidence to conclusively determine whether they are on the payroll or just useful idiots (or a mixture of both); the end result is the same.

  4. Thepolicedidit | Jun 28, 2010 at 1:28 pm |

    also there was an article on infowars with a picture of one of the so called “black bloc” anarchists wearing fvckin nike pants. most anarchist groups have protested nike on several occasions. research it. i dunno if it “proves” anything lol, i thought it was weird though… (on top of the other signs that there are agent provocateurs in toronto)

    • Anarchists like myself have no problem with second hand corporate clothing. Its already been bought, the deed is done, stop critiquing people's politics because of their clothes. Stop saying black block anarchists. There is no black bloc organization. Just a way of staying anonymous in a protest.

      • Tuna Ghost | Jun 29, 2010 at 10:25 pm |

        I think the claim that any organization can use black bloc tactics to stay anonymous during a protest is a fair one.

  5. I'm no subscriber to the Alex Jones school of “The Government is behind it!” school of thought…since he doesn't have any other explanations for anything. Great Aunt has bunyons? Feds did it! Dog got worms? Feds did it! Got the common cold? Feds tried to kill you and you miraculously lived!

    …but agent provocateurs are standard fare in both modernized and third world countries alike. Pretending that no such thing could possibly happen is like holding up a copy of the FBI's own files from the 60s and announcing that the FBI lied about penetrating left wing groups with agents of their own. Eventually, by default, Alex Jones may have gotten one right the same way George W Bush did…by waiting for the stopped clock to be right twice a day.

    Further…the arrests aren't really about punishing the guilty…they're about data collection. Getting names down and entered into the system. It's about building and maintaining a database of activists and their causes so that the information can be used for law enforcement and to prevent protesters from traveling. This isn't the fantasy land of conspiracy theories…this is standard, by-the-book, modern law enforcement. Once we understand that, we can start moving forward and working on effective means to counter these tactics.

  6. Guesty_McGuest_Guest | Jun 28, 2010 at 7:45 pm |

    Allow me to let you in on a little secret…

    Black Bloc = CSIS/CIA/RCMP/Undisclosed Covert Agency infiltrators engaging in deliberate acts of vandalism, all the while posing as a militant, 'fringe' group of protesters. The actions of these people are implicitly designed to pull unsuspecting protesters into the contrived conflicts.
    In doing this, the police groups and government bodies are then able to justify their extraordinary budgets and the actions of their over-zealous, over-time-earning, timbit-eating constables.
    It's nothing but a dog and pony show. Do not be fooled.

    Now, how do you fix this? How do you really hit these idiots where it hurts?
    Next time there is a big summit scheduled….don't go.
    The powers that be will have a very hard time explaining their ridiculous waste of tax dollars if they are left guarding empty streets.

    Or….keep picking fights with a group of armed, armored, egotistical, militant bad-asses who are better organized, better trained, and are given nearly limitless power to detain and/or arrest you….oh, and give you a police record of your very own.
    Your call.

  7. Yep, you got to live in Canada to know this, what RR Accost is saying is very true.

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