old news but news Occupy San Francisco Anarchists

I am waaay behind on political posts, and most likely can’t really play catch-up, except, I saw this video by way of browsing and had to post. About a month ago, on the night before May Day in San Francisco, a group of about 50 or more “black bloc” anarchists broke away from an Occupy rally being held in Dolores Park and began to parade down Valencia Street in full battle gear — all in black with hoodies and faces covered. The mob began to smash windows of small businesses and cars — they splashed paint on windows and even attacked a police car (with a cop in it), smashing the windows and throwing a small dumpster at it before it pulled out from the curb lights flashing. Accounts of how many cars had windows smashed varies, but I hear from 17 to 30. I think the number may be in-between. Expensive Ashton Martins were smashed, and ordinary sedans — the rioters were indiscriminate. Valencia Street is home to everything from burrito and pizza joints to newer and more expensive restaurants, some of which I have enjoyed in more flush times, and — there are art galleries and clothing stores. These are all, by and large, small businesses and they have lifted Valencia Street from being a dangerous, edgy stretch of concrete, mechanic garages, punk performance spaces, independent bookstores and lesbian bars in the 80’s to a post 20th century mix of grit and upscale with plenty of hipsters, old school punks, artists, and queer people still in the mix. There are now signs of real money on the street. Even so, while not always cheap now (although there is still enough cheap because it is a mix of elements) — it is still a fun street, and the fact that it is getting more “dressed up” has not made me less happy to visit. Valencia is one of my favorite places in San Francisco — and has been my home on and off. I lived on Valencia Street for about five years, from 2004 to 2009. I loved it. In the 80’s I lived right off of it for about five years also, so it is home really. I have seen it change massively. There is a lot to do, and it is close to the park, in the sunny Mission district. In earlier times, there were quirky bookstores, and now few are left, but — even so, the street entertains and fascinates. It is becoming more “gentrified”, as they say, but there is still variety and — many of the new businesses, the restaurants and galleries, pubs, furniture stores and clothing stores are places where fine food, locally designed clothing, and quirky furniture are created, displayed and sold. There’s a bit of something for everyone really.

I can’t believe this happened. And, the police were right there, the police station doors were smashed as well. Where were they? What was going on? They were not able to arrest anyone as I remember, or — possibly only one person?

In my past, in my deepest youthful past as a kind of self-described “anarchist” myself, I might have applauded this, though I doubt I would have taken part. But, I did not understand systems, people, economics or — the value of these small businesses as I do now. This video was made by the anarchists I believe and they tack on some ridiculous claptrap at the end about “capitalism”.

I could’ve cried watching this. San Francisco is a beautiful place, one of the most beautiful places in the country — and they are lucky to live there. This is what they do to beauty.

Many live here, but some — are out of towners? Yes and no. I don’t know. I bet it is a mix. I hope I don’t know any personally, although, it is possible I do. Yes, it is very possible, that I do.

I’ve seen some crazy stuff, even a riot of two, but nothing like this. Not anything so wantonly destructive without any purpose other than to vent resentment and hate. Other riots I’ve seen have been at least touched off by acute injustice (the “white night riots” in 1979 when the killer of Harvey Milk and Mayor George Mascone was let off with manslaughter)but this? It feels very different. Just — envy, resentment, frustration and — a kind of insipid and idiotic venting, a limp rebellion meaning nothing, accomplishing nothing. Nihilism.

The lone man who tries to stop them from smashing windows is brave, and I hope there were others like him. Obviously, there were not many. Most watched, a few elderly looking diners waved (that restaurant did have its windows broken later – Tartine’s), and others walked past. I can’t really blame the older diners for waving, what could they do? The rioters look and sound to be mostly very young, although I am sure there were a few older people, even in their forties or fifties around too. I have no doubt that while most were young, a few aging anarchists ogled the excitement, maybe they raised a fist in “solidarity”. Maybe one or two braved it and stormed a window.

These slogans are getting a little old. So – 20th century? However, some dreams just don’t die off so easily. But, this is where they go, this is what that “dream” looks like.


vandalizing Valencia Street in San Francisco


I am hoping that this nonsense is not repeated again, but I have no doubt we are in for more — this particular part of Occupy wants nothing more than to foment social unrest. And, no- not all Occupy people are for this… I know they are not. Of course, this did bother a lot of folks in SF, even those who had been sympathetic to Occupy. There were, of course, those who cried that this was “not Occupy” but maybe even “cops” out to cause trouble. Well, watching this, I don’t think so. I also know that the Black Bloc really does want to cause this sort of mayhem and destruction, and will continue. Let’s hope we’re not just getting started here, but I do fear for the worst as the summer begins.



2 thoughts on “old news but news Occupy San Francisco Anarchists

  1. Ali Punk June 20, 2012 / 12:15 am

    I live in a city that, though I will not name it, is mislabeled by the New York Times as the nouveau East Coast. It is not. It is utterly Midwestern in social customs, politics, gender roles, and economic patterns. We have an Occupy movement here, which I have not joined. Its leader, for my neighborhood, is a white, well-off, 20-year-old male college student who has, via selected quotes from Dworkin’s Intercourse, informed me that I am patriarchally oppressing myself with my own sexuality! As a queer woman, no less! He is angry that the “old farts” (Gen-Xers, who’ve now hit the life stage where we’re expected to roll over and die) like me haven’t joined up. Well, the problem is, there’s no room for debate in his movement. You have to be against all capitalism, and I am not. I would actually like lower taxes on the small-business owners and entrepreneurs, which both sides say they want, but put out policy suggesting the opposite. I’d like a lower city tax too – as it stands, it’s one of the highest in the nation, and once businesses bloom here, they leave, even to California Uber-Alles. With one exception, I have worked exclusively for businesses of under 50 employees, and they are the economic growth engine of this country. Yet it seems politicians on both sides do not recognize this, as they continue to give no-strings-attached deals to the companies that are cutting American jobs.

    Where I may disagree with you – and I’m not sure, since it’s hardly efficient to spell every political thought out on a blog (unless you’re a rad-fem and then it’s easy nowadays: “We’re constantly in danger of being raped, so eliminate transpeople. The end”) – is around the intersection of gender and economic opportunity. As a woman in high-tech, I have gone above and beyond in my career, from the 16-hour days to the working weekends and holidays, to the bringing in millions during a recession and turning around failing teams, to the constantly building skills and taking classes. Sadly, I’ve learned that all this effort doesn’t much matter. The gender binary, and all its assorted stereotypes, is ingrained so deeply in the minds of most hiring managers that they still don’t quite believe my dedication to my career. This has resulted in my staying unemployed far longer than male peers with far fewer accomplishments and skills and less experience, and it’s also resulted in 10-20K being de facto skimmed off the top of my starting salary in what I call the “[risk of] pregnancy tax.”

    My city bears the unique distinction of having the worst gender wage-gap and most gender-segregated job market in the country, and I guess that if women aren’t chomping at the bit to get pregnant and leave the working world for good, they don’t know what to do with us. I, being upper-middle class and an exceedingly frugal saver, have the choice to leave for greener markets if I want – but many of my peers don’t. Legislation won’t remedy this though – only the eradication of 1950s gender roles will. Women like me, who shrink in horror at a baby’s cry or the thought of pregnancy, who love earning money, who find much to agree with in Camille Paglia’s work, and who relate to your persona post-transition more than pre-transition do exist, but unfortunately, even in 2012, we’re punished for transgressing outside of the liberal big cities. And while we can fight against Rick Santorum’s government-mandated pregnancies (though his like-minded peers have upped the ante, attempting fetal personhood and miscarriage criminalization bills – the diametrical opposite of liberty if you ask me), we still haven’t managed to dismantle fundamental stereotypes about our kind where it really hurts: in the wallet. But my marching on Occupy won’t change this fact. Only time, and the willingness of more women like me to speak up without fear of retaliation or censure will.

    • libertywolf June 20, 2012 / 5:00 am

      Thanks for your comment! I do agree with you about the facile obtuseness of certain rad Dworkin-influenced feminists, and actually, while I have not written about it — I have gotten the impression that women in tech * are * indeed discriminated against. Women being asked to take notes at meetings, when they are engineers, or — women somehow never making it into development, even if they are qualified. I have seen this happen to friends of mine, and it is a reality. In spite of the fact that indeed, there have been enormous strides made for women – but yes, there can be more. No doubt.

      I’m also a Paglia fan! I should write about her on the blog sometime. So much of what she wrote about has become more widely accepted wisdom, or at least – considered. I love her view of art, sexuality and — conflict as being central to the formation of identity.

      Yes, Occupy doesn’t appear to hold much hope for people who are not raving far leftists or – naive posers. There are some good and well intended people in the movement, I know one or two, and while I disagree with their politics, I can recognize that they are not off on the deep end. But, most unfortunately, the loony left and the violent and nihilist anarchists (they dream of a better world but I don’t want the world they dream of) — are dominating and will continue to do so. So, the genuine civil rights grievances of those such as yourself will not be advanced. Or, needs for further cultural change…

      Thank you for reading and commenting! I guess word of this little blog is getting out. I use it as a kind of notebook and hope to continue to do so for some time. Come back!

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