Earlier this week I covered the recent black bloc arrests based on information provided by informants and undercover law enforcement, subsequently some interesting footage leaked from the inside of a Seattle black bloc. This footage was apparently filmed on April 16, and while it doesn’t show any violent acts the frank discussions and thought processes captured are worthy of further review and analysis.
Main takeaways from the above video:
Ages, demographics, and clothes/equipment are correct for a PNW black bloc.
Speech patterns and vocabulary are consistent with young urban leftists, and the correct leftist ideological terms are used without sounding forced, awkward, or self-conscious.
Consensus, collaborative decision making is apparent during the critique.
A staged right wing video would have hammed up conservative stereotypes, with people doing things like addressing each other by rank in a clear hierarchal relationship or passing out fake Soros checks.
In our monograph on antifa we covered the three different bloc styles and their strengths and weaknesses: open, closed, and semi-open. This was a semi-open bloc, assessing from the evidence.
At least one core affinity group is present, judging from the way several of them interact and how the debrief is guided without explicit leadership being imposed on the rest.
At one point the presence of unfamiliar new people is acknowledged, which necessarily implies that there are regular attendees there that the speaker does recognize.
basic guidance was given on security culture, deblocing, event calendars, and burner phones for new people.
The videographer is likely not part of the core affinity group, because if so the person would have been outed once the footage was released. The members of a closed bloc would have gotten together to compare notes on who stood where and who spoke and who was silent after this video was released, all but assuring the mole was exposed under those circumstances.
Mutual Aid and Community Self Defense
At one point a female street clothes protestor comes up to the bloc and asks for an escort back to her car parked several blocks away, the bloc agrees to this request. This illustrates the concept of “community self defense” as well as the basic community relations principle of “be useful” that leftist groups leverage to make inroads and build a broader base of support.
Ways to keep track of upcoming events in mentioned, such as links to google docs and online calendars, as well as various social media accounts to monitor.
Intermediate asks for passive allies are discussed, such as creating a plainclothes protestor bloc that allows onlookers not in black bloc to join. The problem with the “out of your house and into the street” chant, as noted in the video, is that asking people in their homes to dress in black and mask up to join a black bloc of strangers about to commit crimes is a much more difficult bar to clear than just asking them to wear street clothes and join people probably not going to do anything really that controversial.
Diversity of tactics like illustrates how much easier it is to get someone to go from the proverbial 0-30 mph, then from 30-60mph and possibly 60-100mph once they feel comfortable, than it is to ask them then jump to 100mph in one go. Make it easy for people to take a small step with minor collaboration, then radicalize them later once they’re committed.
The discussion around using members of the black bloc to create a nucleus street clothes bloc working alongside them, illustrates the type of collaboration that often happens between apparent “peaceful protestors” and black bloc members performing criminal acts.
The march video doesn't show any violence, but does contain some more interesting discussion.
Note the bicycle mounted “corker” blocking the intersection as well as the bloc members using umbrellas to obscure sight lines from onlookers attempting to get a closer look at the individual marchers. These are all things I covered in my Grant Park analysis.
There is discussion of switching from semi-open blocs (which are announced and allow onlookers to join if dressed appropriately, yet keep the planning and objectives limited to the core affinity groups) to closed blocs, which are much more secretive and don’t allow others to join in mid-action.
These closed blocs are mentioned in context where it’s clear the intent is to operate in conjunction with -yet separate from- street clothes mainstream protests, so that police are distracted and cannot shift resources as easily to respond to the closed bloc as it completes its objective.
Part of the discussion is clearly about violence and vandalism as propaganda of the deed and less as an act in itself, which is an important leftist concept with which to familiarize yourself.
Center For Security Policy Brief on Recent Events
Kyle Shideler at Center For Security Policy has a nice writeup covering many recent events and the rise in tensions amongst leftist groups in response to these issues:
There is also continued tension between anarchists and some representatives of Black Lives Matter groups. In Portland, the Police Abolitionist group Rising PDX called out Portland-based BLM groups for seeking to hijack and watering down protests calling them “liberal swoopers,” meaning they “swoop” in and dominate protests planned by other groups.
In Minneapolis, Antifa social media accounts called out a black armed group known as Minnesota Freedom Fighters, accusing them of working with law enforcement to prevent attacks on police at Brooklyn Center protests.
The Minnesota Freedom Fighters (MFF), who have provided armed security for BLM protests, describe themselves as an “elite security unit dedicated to protect the citizens and businesses of the Minneapolis urban areas” and say they act as a bridge between local police and the community. Anarchist groups accuse the MFF of “peace policing,” which means acting to prevent violent tactics at protests. This violates the radical principle of “diversity of tactics” which calls for non-violent protestors not to criticize or interfere with violent ones. They also allege MFF has received funds from the city of Minneapolis to influence protests to remain peaceful.
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