Rather than give a traditional step-by-step report back of the events in Vancouver Washington, I’d much rather share some thoughts and reflections on the action, what was fucking awesome and inspiring, what sucked, and how we could better prepare for the future.
The Fucking Awesome Stuff
Originally published by Puget Sound Anarchsists
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As a whole, the event was really awesome and I think a lot of participants, myself included, came out feeling good, despite the hits we took. One of the awesome things was any time there was a scuffle with the cops people were really good about linking arms and pushing back on them and a lot of times (though sadly not every time) when people got snatched we managed to snatch them back. There were a lot of frustration tactics, like messing with their weak ass plastic fence which annoyed both the cops and the threeper security force.
Calling out cops by name had an effect and got a couple of them shook, also making intense eye contact with them, pointing at them, and pretending to talk into a radio freaks them out lol. There was a good attempt made to rush the stage when they left it open, I’ll talk about that a little later though. There was drumming which was great, a lot of good and solid chanting. Musical instruments are, I think, both a good morale booster, energy raiser, and especially good for a disrupting action. Also as I came into the park with my group, which was like 20-30 people, a good number of us sung Bella Ciao (I hope someone got that on video – why don’t we have our own media teams? That’s good propaganda right there.)
What Could Be Better
The de-arrests we did were really amazing and empowering and not to diminish that, but we did have 6 comrades get arrested. One thing I’ve noticed that works is if you’re behind people who are directly in front of the cops, have a hand or both on them so if the police grab them you can yank them back, and preferably don’t hang onto a backpack because they tend to slip off. Also keep an eye on the police at all times and know where they are and especially watch if they’re pointing (which they do with hands, heads or eyes), they could be singling out for arrest. It’s always good to know how your enemy is moving, plus when they notice you’re keeping tabs on them and shouting things like ‘police in the back’ when they move behind you it throws them off guard. Sometimes the police will accidentally give away info, we were able to inform a couple people they were pointed out by listening in on convos cops were having with each other (actually someone warned me I was pointed out by over hearing the police).
There were a lot of smoke bombs handed out that could maybe have been used better. Only 4 or 5 were used and there were at least 20 handed out. I don’t really have any bright ideas on how they could have been used (a smoke screen before we did something?), I tried to use mine to confuse and hinder the cops when they tried to arrest someone but someone just kicked it away. They were mostly lobbed into the rally area and lobbed out, and someone unmasked got arrested for throwing one back after it had been thrown into the rally area by someone else and thrown out by a trump supporter.
There was also the attempt to charge the stage. We were all informed about it and pushed that way but only 7 or 8 people attempted it (and almost made it). A lot of us, myself included, hesitated and three people got arrested. If all of us had backed that we would have without a doubt made it through. Just because something seems impossible, because I’m sure a lot of us thought getting into the actual rally area was pretty impossible between the cops and the threepers, doesn’t mean it is. Often I’ve found that the limits on what’s possible in an action is more self imposed rather than externally imposed. A little tactical thinking, good communication, and courage (or reckless abandon, whatever) can make the impossible, possible.
A few of us came to the park with flag poles but they were instantly confiscated. If all or more of us were able to bring flag poles or wooden dowels (which like 30 can fit into a duffel bag) I’m not sure the police would be able to confiscate them. Shields also would have been a good idea, even small ones just to have something between us and the police. Bags filled with good throwing rocks would have also been nice. What I’m saying here is we often come to demos and actions with empty hands and there’s not a lot we can do with that, but we 1-for-1’d the police and for most of the time the Trump rally too, if we really came ready to physically shut that shit down we could have.
Lastly, and this is mostly a critique of me and the people I came with, we didn’t have any legal support set up. Thankfully some awesome ass people had our backs and linked us up with their legal support when some of our comrades got nabbed, but this is something we need to start thinking of before every action. We can’t afford anymore to have only legal support per event, we need to start thinking about permanent anti-repression strategies especially with the way things are escalating.
Not getting caught isn’t a plan, it’s a prayer.
I want to leave with one last thought. I could be wrong here, but I think it’s safe to say that a lot of us, especially on the west coast, are really influenced by the European antifa. I am too, but lately I’ve been realizing just how different our context is, it’s almost assured here that every reactionary and fascist has a gun and for the most part that’s not something we are particularly prepared to fight.
It’s important to think hard about what that means both for mass antifa street battles as well as just for everyday life, especially for targeted peoples in our community. I don’t think militarizing antifa is the answer to this, as our struggle is as much social as it is physical, but perhaps it’s time to start utilizing guns as the tools they are because sticks and rocks are only going to keep us safe for so long.
Overall, it was a successful action, we thoroughly disrupted the rally and all attention was on us and we had plenty of those motherfuckers shaking in their boots! I hope this gives people something to think and reflect on! Much love to the comrades that came out, to those that were arrested, and to anarchists and antifascists world wide!
Death to fascism, white supremacy, and colonialism!
Peace to those that are willing to fight for it!
-An Anarchist (///)