The "Atlantica" Riot: Perspective from a "Black Bloc" Participant
"Atlantica" Riot: Perspective from a "Black Bloc" Participant
Saturday, June 23 2007 @ 12:39 PM PDT - Infoshop News
I’m writing this account to try and capture some of the beauty I experienced in the streets of Halifax that corporate and indymedia can’t seem to articulate. Corporate press is calling us violent criminals while indymedia is focusing on the arrests and not so shocking brutality of the police. Neither show the brief period where people took their lives back and stepped out of the accepted norms of dissent.
On June 15th a few friends and I who had formed an affinity group went to the starting rally to join others who came to act as a bloc. I chose to act in a bloc so that I could remain anonymous and have relative safety to engage the state and its proposed free trade initiative. The Black Bloc also made it so we could show a strong visual presence and put our anarchist politics front and center and not hide our real dreams of a new world. At the rally I was met by seventy others who chose to act in a bloc under the banner “G8 to Atlantica: Resistance is Global”.
The mood was tense as we began to march through the downtown streets, cops on either side of the bloc as we passed through Halifax’s main shopping district without incident. At one point the whole march paused briefly and from the bloc you could here “We are! We are! We are beautiful together, we are powerful together” being shouted. As the march approached Parade Square the end point of the demo you could feel the excitement as the bloc prepared to split off and head to the convention center. Half a block before the split garbage bags were removed that were hiding shields made from garbage can lids and people removed flags from sticks and readied projectiles to be used against whatever tried to stop our dissent. Just as the bloc started to split a group of folks threw down the banner and started to run up hill towards the convention center. The rest of the bloc shouted for people not to run and stay together, this set the mood for the rest of the march.
As our bloc got reformed we approached the scattered line of cops guarding the convention center and a smoke bomb was thrown at their line and a cop van was hit with paint bombs as it drove from behind through the bloc. A group at the front carrying shields started advancing at the cops but the rest of the bloc was hesitant (It was found out later people thought the smoke bomb was teargas) so those at the front turned around and started marching back to the shopping district we marched through earlier. On our way back corporate media was targeted with paint bombs and shouted at for their lies and misrepresentation of the effects of free trade policies. Our bloc was not there to be a media spectacle but to empower people and inspire action.
Once entering the shopping district a bloc participant stepped out from the crowd and splattered the front window of a police van in paint, this is when things got started. We kept moving and the next target was TD Bank which lost three windows as it was hit with rocks and paint bombs. We continued until we came to an intersection where BMO (Bank of Montreal, sponsor of the Atlantica iniative) was hit with a paint bomb and then the police reacted and attacked the crowd. The bloc could have pushed through this attack which was unorganized and outnumbered but people retreated and turned around down the street marching the way we just came. As we marched back TD Bank lost another window and was hit with more paint. We continued on for half a block but then a small split in the bloc happened as some turned around again towards police who had made arrests while others encouraged the crowd to keep moving as the police were gaining the upper hand. This is the point when police moved in and clashes erupted as people de-arrested their friends and fought to escape arrest. I can’t comment on the rest of the march because at this point I became isolated and needed to make my escape but I can say the bloc made one final paint bomb attack on the hotel where delegates were staying before being dispersed.
At the end of the day twenty one people had been arrested and one block member and two police sustained serious injuries. I’ve heard much criticism about what took place, some justified and some not but I still left that action feeling more empowered then I’ve been in a long time and hope others are too. The Black Bloc that took place during that action was unprecedented for Halifax and much of Canada and I hope it’s a sign that people’s frustration with pointless marches where we shout demands at empty buildings and politicians who don’t give a fuck has come to a boiling point.
Our planet is dying, Indigenous land is being stolen, state repression increasingly present and destructive trade concepts like “Atlantica” are being pushed through with ease. In North America we can no longer sit idly by or be counted as numbers in the streets while our comrades across the globe directly confront the state and global capitalism. It is time to step up and confront this system whether that be in the militant street actions that took place in Halifax and Germany this summer or in the dead of the night when they least expect us.
Freedom, Love, Anarchy.