New York Counter Inaugural Cluster Report from Inauguration Protests Thursday, January 27 2005 @ 02:55 PM PST Contributed by: Anonymous Views: 171The inauguration of 2005 was a $40 million spectacle that paid for incredible security measures such as 10 foot riot fences and well-fortified checkpoints, not to mention thousands of police officers from across the country. Despite these measures, an anarchist march several hundred strong marched in the streets without a permit, broke through police lines, made it to the fence at the parade route, and made successive charges nearly making it on. Reportback from NYCIC on the Inauguration: The inauguration of 2005 was a $40 million spectacle that paid for incredible security measures such as 10 foot riot fences and well-fortified checkpoints, not to mention thousands of police officers from across the country. Despite these measures, an anarchist march several hundred strong marched in the streets without a permit, broke through police lines, made it to the fence at the parade route, and made successive charges nearly making it on. This is an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses, what was done right and what mistakes were made. We are from the New York Counter Inaugural Cluster who made the call for this march and organized some of the infrastructure for it. We had constructed a reinforced banner that had an exoskeleton of pvc pipe with a banner stretched onto it. It was 5'3" high by 20' long. The center of the banner had a flaming skull with monkey wrench crossbones and circle-A eyes. The text read, "Right Wing Scum Your Time Has Come." It was modified so it hinged in the middle to form a 45 degree wedge for more leverage. It's size made it impossible for the police to see what was behind it (except lots and lots of boots) and it gave courage to us at the front who couldn't always see what was in front of us. We all thought it was pretty bad-ass and intimidating as fuck. In addition to the banner, we also had a communications network set up to not only filter the publicly released text-messages to those relevant to our march, but also to be in the streets keying us in to weak checkpoints, low-policed streets, etc. With these two components and the strength of hundreds of militants, we figured the possibility of forcing access to the parade route could be quite real and discussed what could be done after we were on it. The day did not begin without problems. Our banner was transported and ready in plenty of time for the 12:30 assembly time. We figured we would bring the banner to the meeting point at Logan Circle at 12:45 and leave at 1pm (the original meeting place was Franklin Square, but upon learning that this square was to be a police staging ground, DC Anarchist Resistance changed the location to Logan Circle). A few minutes before 12:30, we received a call saying that the march was beginning. We had to run with the banner to catch up to those who had begun to lead the crowd out of Logan Circle. We caught up to the march more than a block south of Logan Circle, missing a crucial first turn where we would have secured something that could have challenged the fences between us and Pennsylvania Ave. This early departure also left many behind, including our marching band - the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, who were on time or slightly late for the meeting time. A friend of ours reported that at 12:45, he met up with at least 40 anarchists back at Logan Circle who were wondering where the march was. Despite these early shortcomings, we were marching forcefully south, 5-700 strong chanting, "What's the Reaction? Direct Action!" Our comms informed us how to snake through the streets to avoid impassable barriers. At one point a line of motorcycle cops impeded our way. As the banner approached, menacing as it was, they backed off and we pushed through. As we neared the parade route, there was a slight delay in deciding upon a direction at one intersection. Then we finally got a report there was a weak point to the west, so we should turn right. As our comms shouted "Right!", others in the bloc shouted "Left!" drowning out our people and causing this turn which had disastrous effects. After snaking further toward the parade route, we came to D and 7th Sts., where a dense crowd of people street-wide were waiting to get through a checkpoint. We were a block from the parade route and we at the front had no idea if these were republicans or liberals (we later learned it was a mix of both). At any rate, it was no use trying to force through them. We tried to cut across the corner to confront the checkpoint, but a line of police attacked, ripping and stepping through the fabric of the banner, beating upon the pvc until it broke, and then in the ultimate irony, picked up the pieces of the banner itself and began beating us with it. We reassembled quickly, counted-down from ten, and made another charge. This was met with much pepper spray. By this time, reinforcements had arrived and we were forced to retreat north and west. Without the banner and somewhat dispersed, we resigned to reconvening at a previously decided time and place. At 7th and H, we met with about 100 other anarchists who were ready for another action. The time was shortly before 2:30. There was an impromptu spokescouncil happening and riot police were starting to appear from the west. As a crowd, we took the streets and started heading south. We snaked back down to a checkpoint, this time at E and 13th Sts. At this checkpoint we were at first repelled by undercovers who were threatening violence. We counted down from 20, and at zero, charged the fence. It did not budge and we received a incredible blast of pepper spray. Shortly thereafter, we regrouped on the other side of the checkpoint, forced an opening in the fence and received even more of the pepper spray that most of us tasted that day. By this time, the motorcade had made its way to the capitol and further actions did not manifest until late into the evening. We had made our presence known, but surely things could have gone better. One of the main problems leading up to the action was that there were two calls for militant marches on that day. We were in contact with people in the DC area and we were told that a call for an Anti-Fundamentalist bloc (read black bloc) was going to be made by the Baltimore Anarchist Union one week after the DC general call to action for the inauguration. Two weeks later, this call was retracted before it was ever publicly released due to "lack of interest." Already preparing for the inaugural actions, we decided it was upon us to write a call for an Anti-Authoritarian bloc. After drafting it, we sought endorsements, but received few responses. Six days before the inauguration, a call for an "Anti-Fascist Contingent" was made by Baltimore ARA (Anti-Racist Action). This was to be a militant faction of the liberal DAWN march and was endorsed by ARA chapters up and down the east coast who never endorsed our call for the Anti-Authoritarian bloc. This came as a total surprise to us and quite a blow that they would not try to coordinate or communicate with us in any way before the call was made. After much critique of the timing of this call and the seeming divisiveness, the authors claimed that their intention was to break away from the DAWN march to meet the Anti-Authoritarian bloc. As events unfolded, it became clear that the authors of the Anti-Fascist contingent wanted the Anti-Authoritarian march to forego our objective of gaining access to the parade route and instead provide support and a diversion for an action they had planned. The late call for a militant march before ours, the departure of the march before people were assembled and we were there, the shouting of "Left!" by unknowns at the front (the weak point we were trying to exploit was to the west, their target to the east), and the attempted hijacking of the reconvergence to support their Plan B showed that whether purposely or not, the Baltimore crew was undermining the coordinated plans of NYC and DC anarchists and putting everyone in the streets at unnecessary risk to make their own actions feasible (which never materialized). Our purpose here is not to shit-talk other activists or blame others for our shortcomings, but to draw attention to a pattern that we think is counter to anarchist process and principles. A public call was made for one objective - to make it on the parade route. Everyone there, it would be assumed, was there to support that objective and we took a lot of the responsibility to provide the infrastructure and materials to make it plausible. It was very frustrating to have so much in place that either did not get used, or was not exploited to its fullest. It will never be known if we would have made it on the route if we had re-reinforced our banner on the way and acted on information from our comms to the Achilles Heel of our homeland's security, but it couldn't have been less effective than our actions that afternoon. For tactics, we think the reinforced banner and our comms network were important facets to the action. Though the banner did not last long against police violence, it did get us that far without much impediment. A stronger banner could be made out of different material such as insulation boards, and we could have used better fasteners than plastic zip ties, which we used because they were quicker and thought they would last. As for comms, we would like to have more people in the bloc who were empowered to interpret information from comms and determine direction. We at the front could have also been more patient and held our position since we were for the most part in no immediate threat. Instead, we always felt compelled to keep moving. Either of these precautions could have prevented marching toward the Navy Memorial, which was taken by the anarchist march last inauguration and was the most heavily fortified area this time around. Finally, when meeting resistance from the police, we found that the use of countdowns are very effective for our morale at mass actions. When we made our charges, we would count down from 10 or 20 depending on the situation. This had an incredible effect of steeling our courage and banding us all together and getting us ready for what we all knew we were going to do. When all we could hear is people shouting, "4, 3, 2, 1," we felt nothing could stop us. And one day, they won't be able to. While we never met our objective of accessing the parade route, we are not dissatisfied with our show as a vibrant, growing militant anarchist movement. In an environment of domestic war and increasing repression of dissent, we came and confronted the power of the state and dared to act for what we dream. This was the first successful unpermitted mass action since 9/11 reinvigorating a culture of direct action and moving away from liberal coalitions that are content with sign-waving in pig-pens. Despite the gallons of pepper spray and repressive tactics of the state, most participants came away from the action feeling positive about it. We also solidified connections within our cluster and between groups from other states strengthening all our resolve to bring this system down. We proved to ourselves that the state is not all powerful and we have the power to challenge it. Finally, the actions later that night showed that militants here will not be intimidated and that we are thinking clearly when we target corporations and institutions of power that drive imperialism and oppress us all. The anarchist movement is alive, kicking, and growing with every mobilization and in-between - the kids are alright.