This past Friday, a small but wily group of anarchists and other angries took to the streets in a show of solidarity with those facing state repression. The specific call out for the march was to express solidarity with Grand Jury resisters Matt, Maddy, and KteeO, to rally against the criminalizing of the homeless population in Bloomington, and to convey ongoing solidarity with those who still carry charges from the anti-prison noise demo last new years.
Music blared as we took the streets downtown, holding together in tight formation. Pairs and threes sporadically broke away from the group to hand out fliers, wheatpaste posters, put up stickers, confront journalists, or set off small fireworks. We made a quick stop to yell at the jail, and then made our way south, taking all three lanes of College Ave. At this point, undercover cops who had been zigzagging around town on foot tailing the march grabbed two comrades, one of whom was in the process of spray painting “BURN THE PRISONS” on a wall. The two were quickly de-arrested and made getaways, much to the chagrin of the burly undercovers. Unable to put any humans behind bars, they settled for snatching and destroying our sound cart.
Shaken but undeterred, the march quickly regrouped and lit torches. Confronted with flaming torches and angry chants, the undercover cops quickly retreated and were replaced by other police followed from a distance. A few bar-goers bolstered our spirits as they popped out to shout Fuck the police! Our voices held strong with chants and yells until we approached a punk venue, shouting The punks: up ’em! The pigs: fuck ’em! A crowd of excited punks greeted us as the door, many expressing sadness that they had missed out on the fun. Despite blaring sirens and the appearance of even more cops, we were able to safely disperse among the crowd waiting for the show outside.
Some analysis from a participant:
By most standards, this march was fairly small (around 50-60 people) and arguably inconsequential. However, certain aspects of it are noteworthy, and represent a windfall for those of us here who are continually dreaming of ways to challenge and subvert our daily existance. When our comrades were retrieved from the beefy arms of the state, everyone knew that this was the thing that should have happened. Not even a year ago, other participants in such a march would have contested spraypainting or de-arresting on the spot, with finger-pointing and cries of violence!
All improvements aside, we should have kept better tabs on the undercovers the whole time (as we were well aware of them from nearly the beginning) and we should have been aware enough of our surroundings to prevent our friends from being snatched in the first place. Buddy up!
We’d also like to take a moment to discuss the messaging of the march. Clearly we hate cops as much as anyone with a head on their shoulders, but we have some complicated feelings about the message on the front banner: Police are the absolute enemy. The police are an easy target for anarchists, but they’ve lastingly proven to be a foolish gang to pick a fight with. We understand police as an absolutely integral and clearly visible part of the system we position ourselves against, but we could just as easily position ourselves against those people and objects that also affect us and hold us captive on a daily basis: landlords, bosses, bureaucrats, abusive partners. And let’s not forget the way our physical world has been constructed to alienate and police us: security cameras everywhere, hideous public art and architecture, graffiti-proof paint on the train bridge, etc. Falling into a populist, lowest-common-denominator rhetoric of well, everyone hates the cops, right? is dangerous and doesn’t help sharpen an analysis that calls for the destruction of not only the cops but the entire system of laws and control that they uphold.
We’re aware that, in a singular way, demonstrations and marches like this will not change much, and that our pithy cries are oh-so-barely audible by those that they are intended for. However, the level of interpersonal trust and camaraderie that de-arresting our friends and sticking together required was truly impressive, and points to an extended process of building relationships toward a project of revolt and insurrection. It is only by learning how to struggle – with each other, in the streets – that we can ever hope to move toward the destruction of this society, which is inseperable from the destruction of the prisons that hold our friends, and so many others, captive.