Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

Black Blockades In Babylon

Report from day two of the mass actions on the streets of Washington DC against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund Summit, by SQUALL's Si Mitchell.

16th April 2000

"No justice, no peace, fuck the police!" America's infamous Black Bloc were once again out in force in the streets of the nation's capital today, April 16. A posse of around two hundred masked-up teenage ninja revolutionaries marched on the IMF and World Bank at around 7am under a sea of black and red flags and a twenty foot banner declaring them to be the "Revolutionary Anti Capitalist Bloc." They then set about running a wall-tagging, barricade-building, cop-baiting rampage. 'Fuck the Whorehouse' appeared on a Whitehouse outbuilding wall, The World Bank's door plaque now boasts a natty anarchy sign and a federal spook's motor lost a couple of windows.

Not yet up to speed with their Eugene counterparts - who reduced downtown Seattle to a sea of shattered glass and corporate hair tugging - the DC Bloc were big in numbers and young in years. Every disaffected youngster in the land of the 'free' is telling mom and pops to 'go hang' and running away and join the black bloc.

Four am alarm calls had woken a several thousand strong protest contingent on Sunday morning required to get their butts down to the first IMF and World Bank meetings of the 21st century. They dribbed and drabbed down to the meeting points dotted round downtown, but the old bill had been working overtime and had a fifty block area cordoned off. The mass of mostly twenty something, white American's (though a significant contingent of internationals were making their presence felt), pissed off with the destruction being wreaked on the planet's poorest nations by IMF and World Bank so-called development packages, locked on, linked arms and boogied about with giant puppets - as has become the hallmark of 'The mobilisation for Global Justice'.

Every law enforcement agency in Washington was on the streets, US Marshalls, City Police, Park, State and military cops mingled with comically badly 'disguised' FBI agents.

It soon became evident that the Bank and Fund meetings were going ahead. Big-business as usual, despite a gathered crowd of over twenty five thousand. The police reclaimed several blocks and City Police Chief Rainer banged on to anyone who would listen about how "chilled and restrained" his officers were being.

Billy clubs and pepper spray were brought in to quell violent er...... chanters. The ubiquitous badgeless cops manned the barricades. As well as the cops, the spread of protesters over such a large area made them a less affective force than that which stopped the WTO in November.

Attempts by police to extend their cordon area were held back by the kids on the streets with dumpsters, sticks and lots of: "Fuck you pig bastard," sort of stuff.

The extensive organisation for the event was badly hit as training and convergence buildings were evicted, Independent media cellphones were blocked and anyone who looked like a beatnik throwback got shook down and had their puppets, banners and lock-on gear confiscated. An entire eight hundred strong Free Mumia /US justice demo had been arrested and bussed out of town on Saturday night. They were held on the buses with the usual disregard for civil rights - no lawyers, water etc - brought into play. Half are still locked down.

Mid afternoon saw the majority of blockaders leaving the barricades to go down to The Ellipse - a large park just south of the Whitehouse - to join a 'permitted' anti-globalisation rally. Things seemed to be fumbling to an anti climax, until Park Police horsemen tried to storm into a five hundred strong bandannered partying posse. SWAT teams quickly came to the rescue of both horsemen and corporate media teams who were attracting the odd slap. Horse shit and sticks sent the police out of the park.

Buoyed by their mini victory, a significant contingent of activists headed back to the IMF to monster delegates coming out of their meeting. But police whisked them away in buses and most headed home to prepare for round two tomorrow - the last day of talks.

Around fifty arrests were made, one protester was hospitalised and activist legal teams are talking about bringing law suits against the police for brutality and violations of their first and sixth amendment rights.

As usual the mainstream media ignored the true story of structurally adjusted genocide and concentrated on the mythical violence of shouting and paint. As one Nigerian activist pointed out: "Puppets and songs don't kill children, bullets and poverty do."

Useful Links

Recommended Viewing
Capitals Ills - free to view online - a documentary filmed on the streets of Washington DC during the WB/IMF demonstrations, featuring Si Mitchell. (Guerillavision, 2001)

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