After seeing the footage of the vandalism and attack at the Whole Foods Market Oakland on Wednesday November second during the Occupy Oakland march both from the NBC helicopter and from footage taken by protesters on the ground, I do not believe that this group of approximately 30 men in black were anarchists or had anything to do with occupy. I will present my evidence and logic and you can decide for yourself.
If you watch the NBC video, you will see a group of approximately thirty men all dressed in black, with black hoodies and black scarves over their faces, vandalize the Whole Foods in Oakland by throwing paint bombs, and by taking the tables and chairs from the outside patio and throwing them at the building and windows. They also attack and neutralize many of the protesters who desperately try to stop them.
Here are a few facts that do not quite add up about this group of 30 men in black:
• There are no women (at least with female presentation). The anarchist black bloc always has a few women. Where are they here? This is a big red flag.
• These males have no normal body size variation as all anarchist groups (or any other group of normal people) do. If you ever see the anarchist black block at a protest, there will be fat people, thin people, big people, and small people. This group is made up of entirely fit average-to-large men.
• All of their scarves are solid black. At all past events I have always seen anarchist with checkered and different colored scarves.
• All of the men had new hoodies that look the same. Anarchists are in general without much money. Most have old and faded hoodies. Also, the fact that they all look the same is suspicious.
As an activist, I have worked with the Anarchist Black Bloc at events over the past 12 years. I have been present for negotiations between the Black Bloc and other ad hoc coalition members at more than one protest. The subject was usually regarding whether or not property destruction was a sound protest tactic.
In the past, at every protest meeting I have been to, the Black Bloc has agreed to not participate in property destruction during the peaceful large protest - so that the public does not get a mixed message. Also, I have never seen or heard of an anarchist attacking a fellow protester, as we see happen several times on these videos. They might attack police but not other protesters en mass. Even if this has happened before, it seems highly unlikely that it would happen multiple times within just a few minutes.
It is true that anarchists do participate in property destruction as a tactic. However, they generally agree to not do this at peaceful protests. Also, it is impossible for me to believe that so many anarchists would violently attack other protestors. Maybe one or two, but this many does not seem right. In my experience this would be totally out of character. Also, anarchists that I have known may support property destruction as a useful tactic but are on the whole nonviolent.
Watching the NBC helicopter video of this group of men in black, they look somehow professional. The bottom line is that anarchists are still civilians with normal variation and for the most part no military training. This group of men looks trained. In one video, a man in black takes a protester to the ground without hitting them but with the use of some kind of hold. They all seem too fit, too tough. Also, they are milling around in an unnatural way. Like people who are not sure how to act not as a group. In addition, the men in black seem to have a leader who directs them. On one of the videos, when a couple of protesters - including a young man in a helmet - try to stop the men in black, the leader barks orders at the crowd. Whoever this group of men is they seem to have overlooked the fact that one of the main tenants of anarchism is that there are no leaders! From my personal experience the men in this group do not seem like anarchists or like any other type of protester for that matter.
This group also seems eerily familiar to the groups of thugs that appeared in Tahrir square in Cairo during the Arab spring. They appeared, violently attacked the crowed, and then disappeared.
Add to this that the police often put plain cloths cops into the crowd to commit vandalism and start violence. Sometimes they do this to give the police an excuse to attack the crowd. I have personally seen plainclothes cops start violence on several occasions. We also know that last Tuesday the police were using this same tactic. That said, this is just an observation but this group of men in black do not seem like police.
It seems clear that this group of men are not anarchists or Occupy but some kind of paid professionals or agent provocateurs. Who is it that would pay these men to vandalize businesses and attack protesters? It must be some organization that is threatened by peaceful protest and that would like to see or would benefit from the situation becoming violent. I will leave it to you to speculate on who this might be.
The mainstream media has taken this opportunity to try to make these peaceful protests look as violent as possible - by only showing violent images and rarely showing the more common scene of people that are happy or dancing and singing. I think that it is important that the majority of the public does not perceive the Occupy movement as anything other than the peaceful group of average citizens that it is. The majority of the General Strike in Oakland was completely peaceful. And the few incidents were caused by groups not affiliated with the Occupy movement or the General Strike.
For the record, the morning after these incidents, Occupy movement volunteers cleaned the paint off of all the businesses and paid the business for the damage out of their meager resources (after all, many people participating in Occupy are unemployed).
After publishing a first draft of this article and getting feedback from Occupy members and communicating with many people on and off line it has become clear that many people involved with Occupy understand that people dressed in all black at protests who destroy property are police or agents of some kind. The most common belief seems to be that they are the police. However, there is a smaller group that believes these men in black to be some kind of mercenaries. The most common tactic of government agents is to find a small fringe group then infiltrate it with so many agents that the agents become the majority of the group and then vote for violent actions that can then be used to discredit what the organization stands for.
There is also a strong precedent for our government infiltration peaceful groups to make them appear to be violent. The most public example of this domestically is the environmental organization Earth First! To this day Earth First! has a false reputation for violence that was solely due to FBI infiltration and manipulation. Famously the FBI led by FBI agent provocateur Michael Fain planted a bomb in the car of Judi Bari in an attempt to both assassinate her and discredit the organization as terrorists. This information became public record after a civil suit was filed by Earth First! years later. The FBI also infiltrated Earth First in 1989 and did whatever they could to push a radical agenda which eventually resulted in 4 members being charged and jailed for conspiracy to cut down a power line. Three of the five people in this so-called “terrorist operation” where FBI agents. The CIA has used similar overwhelming infiltration tactics with groups like The Mujahideen and The Taliban. It is possible that this may be what we have here--agents infiltrating a group to such a degree that they outnumber the non-agent members of the group and thus the group now becomes, in effect, part of whichever government organization infiltrated it.
The important point to take away from all this is that people in groups dressed in black that act violently and destroy property at protests are paid by our government to make peaceful protests look violent. This is pretty clearly part of the propaganda mechanism. Occupy as an organization and a movement is not violent and does not destroy property. Occupy is peaceful.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that the Occupy movement is not something that was designed, but is a natural outgrowth of our times. Occupy is not some other. Occupy is you and me. It is all of us. If you want to vote at the General Assembly, just go down to your local occupy and cast your vote. All are welcome. You can also vote online if it is difficult for you to be there in person. We are all free and, in fact, strongly encouraged to participate in this our movement. Occupy is all of us. We are the 99%.
Whole foods: http://www.nbcbayarea.com/...
Whole foods: http://www.youtube.com/...
Real Occupy at docs: http://www.youtube.com/...
Earth First! Judi Bari FBI attempted assassination: http://www.judibari.org/...
Earth First! Foreman: http://greenmuckraker.com/...
US funding of Taliban: http://www.cato.org/...
US Funding of Mujahideen: http://en.wikipedia.org/...