A Fine Autumn Weekend In DC

A brief report on the latest scuffle with the forces of globalization and their security apparatus


Fifth Estate # 359, Winter, 2002-2003

Once again the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund scaled back big annual meetings in DC in the face of popular opposition. Folks from the DC Anti-Capitalist Convergence organized a People’s Strike for Friday, September 27th. The call was out for affinity groups to engage in- autonomous actions to disrupt business as usual for the ruling elites in DC. Many DC commuters stayed home, so traffic was light. There were probably 1000 radicals in the streets, and a large critical mass clogged up some traffic. However, the 3700 pigs were very well organized, and any time they caught up with a large group, they corralled protesters with bikes, motorcycles and armor clad storm troopers.

Mass preemptive arrests were the order of the day. There was an overwhelming naivete of let’s stick together in a big mass and we’ll be safe going around, when in fact, it was the big groups who got surrounded and popped, while smaller affinity groups got away, some even breaking through police lines to do so. Overall there were 649 arrests (including innocent morning commuters and mainstream media). While many reported on the empowerment of jail solidarity, many were bummed about losing gear and bikes to the state while having to give up IDs and cash to get free. The ACC did develop some good propaganda. A flier titled sorry for the inconvenience linked local DC issues of homelessness and poverty with corporate globalization in plain language. Many of these fliers made it into the hands of morning commuters stuck in traffic jams or walking past spirited protests.

The Mobilization for Global Justice organized a mass march for Saturday. There were maybe 10,000 folks from all over the world in the streets. The MGJ was trying to forge a broad coalition including radicals, liberals and progressives, so they got permits and their march was controlled by the cops once it started. At the World Bank HQ, folks blockaded key entrances and hung red caution tape as a symbolic quarantine against infectious corporate greed. The march included an Eco-Bloc, a very rowdy Black Bloc and Revolutionary Noise Brigade, and a sizable feeder march demanding access to free AIDS medication for the poor around the world.

All in all it was a good show of dissent, but there were not enough folks to completely pull off the desired action agenda of the organizers. The State is definitely learning from our tactics and evolving responses that they deem appropriate. Our global justice street movements need to do the same.

If our numbers are going to be low in the streets while folks are focused on stopping the war, maybe we should stay home, build the movement, and resume convergences when our numbers can overwhelm the pigs. There are plenty of ways to link local and global anti-capitalist struggles.

To do better in the streets, we need more trainings, local actions, pamphlets on street tactics, etc. Anarchists can create fertile training grounds for new comrades, build alliances and practice mutual aid at these events. They shouldn’t just be opportunities for the old left and the old new left to dominate coalitions and control the media messages.