When Do We Call a Celebration a Riot? The SF Giants Win the World Series

When the final pitch was thrown and a strike out ensued, resulting in the San Francisco Giants once again becoming World Series champs, I was tempted to hop in my car and cross the bridge like I did 2 years ago to celebrate with the tens of thousands who were already out and about at local bars or at the Civic Center watching the game on a Jumbotron.

Everyone likes a winner and even more people like the celebrations and festivities that come along with winning. Everyone was upbeat last night and San Francisco was on Fire… It was on fire emotionally speaking, but within an hour of the Giants winning SF literally was on fire.. All over the city bonfires were being lit.. One was downtown on Market street. Another was on 19th and Mission. Another on 23rd and Mission.. Still another was near the police station on 16th and Valencia which was the scene of raucous Occupy protest a few weeks ago.. With each bonfire came people by the hundreds and wasn’t long before folks were tossing in everything they could get their hands on, couches, card board paint cans and other flammable which caused loud bomb-like explosions. Eventually a bus was lit on fire around 3rd and Market in the heart of downtown. We also saw a security truck flipped over with the driver in it..he got out unharmed.

This is the SF Chronicle headline..to describe last night’s vandalism

As each fire was lit and reported on by local newscasts, I couldn’t help but note the tone and wording used to describe the scene. We didn’t hear words like anarchist, outside agitators or thugs to describe those committing wanton acts of vandalism. Instead what we heard was local news outlets like NBC described what was happening as ‘instant street parties’. Others like ABC talked about how exuberant fans and overly joyous fans were celebrating in front of bonfires.

Reporters would utter the word vandalism in the most casual tone and downplay the smashing of bank and storefront windows, crowds chanting ‘F– Tha Police and cars being burned or flipped. The main focus by these local news outlets was about highlighting the excitement around this world series win.

It was hard not to contrast the sanitizing words used to described the destruction happening all over the city of San Francisco with how many of those same news outlets described Occupy, Oscar Grant and anti-war protests where far less damage and mayhem was caused. It was hard not to contrast the way many of those media outlets described spirited celebrations in neighboring Oakland ten years ago (2003) after the Raiders won the AFC Championship.

At that time, one car was flipped over on International Blvd and burned and the entire city was described as one that was in turmoil ‘out of control ‘and the scene of a riot. If you don’t believe me take a look at the picture that ran in the same SF Chronicle where the headline this morning reads ‘SF Giant fans Delirious With Joy‘. Again this is in spite of the fact that celebrating fans burned a city bus in the middle of downtown on top of flipping a car.. As you can see the SF Chronicle headline described the much smaller Oakland celebrations in much more stark ominous tones..using words like ‘Raider Rage‘ and ‘Street Mayhem‘.

This was the scene last night on Market street.. At the time this security truck was flipped over local news outlets described it as ‘over joyous fans celebrating and getting a little out of hand’.

We could spend more time making similar comparisons to the words used to describe more recent events especially since both Occupy Oakland and Occupy SF had one year anniversaries. If you look at the coverage of given to occupy you heard news casters talk about the menacing Black Bloc and how everyone should board up their windows and be prepared. As one Facebook poster jokingly noted on my page last night, its funny that media didn’t warn businesses to watch out for the marauding bands of Orange and Black bloc folks

Even the police when interviewed held measured tones. On ABC news, one of the SF Police captains talked about how his officers were doing all they could to keep everyone safe and the celebration going. In fact at one point, officers on motorcycles came to 19th and Mission while the bonfire was going and gently moved the crowd back vs outright dispersing them.

On one of the live streams monitoring the stuff on Market street, you saw Giant fans getting all up in the face of SFPD talking smack. The police exercised lots of patience not arresting folks or anything like that..Eventually they gave dispersal orders, but the demeanor and overall tone taken was way different from when people were out marching against banks and foreclosures or when folks were protesting the shooting deaths of Kenneth Harding or Charles Hill. The tone taken by SFPD was much harsher as protestors were demonized before they even started. The police message was one of immediate containment, shut down and dispersal. If folks recall we saw over 120 people arrested during an Oscar Grant protest where no bonfires or windows were broken.. We saw over 400 people arrested during an Occupy protest here in the Bay w/ no bon fires. Last night we saw SFPD literally make a walk way to one of the bon fires people lit in celebration of the Giants winning. Throughout most of the evening hardly anyone was arrested, before the night was over close to 40 people were arrested by SFPD.

Imagine if this was an Occupy protest.. would the news outlets reporting this use such sanitizing words?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not pointing all this out because I want to see a police state nor am I condoning vandalism.. I’m also not naive, I realize that after most sports wins there are crazy celebrations that take place all over the world.

It was just last year we had folks going nuts in Vancouver after the Stanley Cup was won. I attended UC Berkeley and recall after damn near every Big Game between Cal and Stanford folks went nuts busting windows and setting fires.Heck I recall how folks flipped car and set fires after Penn Sate coach Joe Paterno was fired..

What I do want people to note is how and when media outlets and the police themselves turn up the ‘fear and danger’ ratchets and when they don’t . I want people to ask themselves and the people doing the reporting why they take particular tones. Last night I tweeted several requests to Bay Area ABC News publicly asking them what do they consider the difference between a riot and a celebration? I never got a response. What I concluded is they and other news outlets are quite deliberate in the tone that they set . More often than not that tone is attached to a political and economic agenda.

This is a scene from an Occupy Oakland demonstration. here the words anarchist, black bloc and outside agitators were used to describe the scene before police moved in in full riot gear w/ weapons drawn.

San Francisco is a tourist city and image is everything if it expects to attract visitors and businesses. The result of this is all hands are on deck to keep a smiling face on what many would consider unacceptable and outrageously dangerous conditions. Hence a riot in San Francisco when done by a whiter and more affluent crowd is just a few ‘delirious with joy fans celebrating a bit too hard‘. The police are restrained and they go all out to ‘protect and serve..

When its a protest challenging the police, unfair economic conditions or a mostly Black and Brown fan base in a city like Oakland ‘expressing their joy, than ‘celebrations‘ turn in ‘street mayhem over run by thugs‘.. Protestors are tarred as out of control anarchists etc. Police are no longer restrained but instead use the large crowds as an excuse to test out new weaponry and crowd control maneuvers. Its social engineering at its best..

Something to think about as we gear up for a big parade to celebrate the San Francisco Giants being World Series champs once again…

written by Davey D

The scene on 19th and Mission Last night after the Giants won and people began ‘celebrating photo: Jill Filipovic

Are Blac Block & Diversity of Tactics Hurting or Helping the Occupy Movement?

Are those who employ Blac Block tactics Hurting or Helping? Photo credit: Black Hour

Ever since the November 2 Oakland General Strike which brought out tens of thousands of people culminating in the shut down of the Port of Oakland, folks within the Occupy Movement have been talking about the usefulness of Blac Bloc style tactics.. In Oakland the debate was full steam and contentious around an issue called ‘diversity of tactics’ . This was the result of the disastrous outcome to a successful General Strike, when a group under the guise of diversity of tactics attempted to take over an abandoned building ran into police who pulled no punches. The end result was broken windows, fires in the streets, local businesses looted and graffiti all over downtown. The damage was courtesy of those who were initially and erroneously labeled ‘The Blac Block’.  Since then many of us have come to learn Blac Block is a tactic not a group or organization. We also know that its not the exclusive domain or tactic of folks who identify themselves as anarchists.

With that in mind, the tactic of breaking windows and kicking up dust to make a point is one that is being fiercely debated within and outside the Occupy Movement.  Some are saying if it wasn’t for the aggressive tactics, people would remain docile.. The movement would be ignore. Others are are emphatically claiming that the aggressive tactics are hurting the movement..  Below are two articles that address this issue…

The first is from veteran journalist and former NY Times columnist Chris Hedges... Its a stinging rebuke of those he says are associated with the ‘Blac Block.. He called it a Cancer of the Occupy Movement. It initially appeared in Truth Dig…

The Black Bloc anarchists, who have been active on the streets in Oakland and other cities, are the cancer of the Occupy movement. The presence of Black Bloc anarchists—so named because they dress in black, obscure their faces, move as a unified mass, seek physical confrontations with police and destroy property—is a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state. The Occupy encampments in various cities were shut down precisely because they were nonviolent. They were shut down because the state realized the potential of their broad appeal even to those within the systems of power. They were shut down because they articulated a truth about our economic and political system that cut across political and cultural lines. And they were shut down because they were places mothers and fathers with strollers felt safe.

Black Bloc adherents detest those of us on the organized left and seek, quite consciously, to take away our tools of empowerment. They confuse acts of petty vandalism and a repellent cynicism with revolution. The real enemies, they argue, are not the corporate capitalists, but their collaborators among the unions, workers’ movements, radical intellectuals, environmental activists and populist movements such as the Zapatistas. Any group that seeks to rebuild social structures, especially through nonviolent acts of civil disobedience, rather than physically destroy, becomes, in the eyes of Black Bloc anarchists, the enemy. Black Bloc anarchists spend most of their fury not on the architects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or globalism, but on those, such as the Zapatistas, who respond to the problem. It is a grotesque inversion of value systems.

Continue reading this article at:  Truth Dig

The next article is a slamming response to Chris Hedges article by Don Gato. Its a titled:  To Be Fair, He is A Journalist: A short Response to Chris Hedges on the Black Bloc …Among the things that stand out is the author correcting the blatant mislabeling Blac Block/ Anarchist etc…Its also noted that in Hedges critique he never once mentioned the over the top brutality delivered by OPD on unarmed peaceful demonstrators..

Here’s some of what Don Gato wrote…

First, we need to clear up some definitional problems. Now, as a journalist, I really don’t expect Hedges to be able to “research,”—it does seem to go against the prime directives of the profession, but let’s be clear: There’s no such thing as “The Black Bloc movement.” The black bloc is a tactic. It’s also not just a tactic used by anarchists, so “black bloc anarchists” is a bit of a misnomer—particularly because Hedges doesn’t know the identities of the people under those sexy, black masks. In fact, it was autonomists in the 80s who came up with the (often quite brilliant) idea in Germany. Protecting themselves against the repression of what Hedges calls “the security and surveillance state,” squatters, protesters, and other rabble rousers would dress in all black, covering up tattoos, their faces, and any other identifying features so they could act against this miserable world and, with some smarts and a sharp style, not get pinched by the pigs. This was true of resisters who were protecting marches (because the state never needs an excuse to incite violence and police are wont to riot and attack people), destroying property, or sometimes just marching en masse. That is, the black bloc has all kinds of uses. And in Oakland, where Hedges seems particularly upset by people actually having the gall to defend themselves against insane violent police thugs instead of just sit there idly by getting beaten, on Move-In Day the bloc looked mostly defensive—shielding themselves and other protesters from flash grenades and police mob violence with make-shift shields (and even one armchair). So, to be clear: The black bloc is a tactic used by lots of people, not just anarchists, and it has all kinds of uses. It’s not a “movement.”

We urge folks to read the article in its entirety as its very insightful at: Facing Reality

Another article of interests that responds to Chris Hedges is one written by Diane Gee its titled: Perspectives on Hedges Cancer in Occupy… She pens the following:

Other than ONE window and one Flag, which mind you, is property damage not violence per se; not one act of violence has been recorded by Occupy or the Black Bloc he wishes to malign that has not been the result of DEFENSIVE maneuvers.  When attacked?  They have thrown a few stones, have tossed back a few tear gas canisters; mostly what these young men and women have done is offer their bodies up as a defense line, and taken the hits so that the weaker are saved: the women, children, old people may run to safety while they defend them with meager trash can shields.

The injuries and unfair arrests, the abuses of law by the Police however, have been widespread, vast, recorded, and yet barely spoken to by the MSM.

Yet?  To Hedges?  These few acts of defiance by angry young men are enough to bring the movement itself to ruination.  Let us not forget that since the beginning of time it is always the elders who cool the heated blood of the youth and try and direct their tactics to a more effective use of their energies.  Old warriors know when to wait.  In some ways, though?  It is good for the powers that be to know, via a small warning shot of a broken window or burned flag, that we are deadly serious.  There has been no wide-scale violence except that done by the Police.  There have been no riots or burning cities.  No 1%er or defender of the 1% have been killed.

What Hedges has done here, presumably without intent, is work to divide Occupy.

Today many of us woke up to seeing a video posted by folks from Anonymous warning those who employ Blac Block to chill out..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LD8UohyYPWA

Let Us know your thoughts on all this??