The Magical Mystery Tour of the Fake Black Bloc in Genoa
by Wu Ming 1 (22 July 2001)
I was in Genoa, I came back worn out, angry, disappointed and feverish, with the ligaments of my knees destroyed and completely out of voice, and I say: do not go hunting anarchists, do not criminalize the international Black Bloc. It is our duty to draw distinctions between the Black Bloc and what happened in Genoa. It is our duty not to charge with being a carabiniere in disguise anyone who took direct action in Genoa. Pogroms and paranoid conspiracy theories do not belong to our culture.
Last friday in Genoa were some German anarchists of the Schwartze Block. They hit such precise targets as banks and big corporate offices. They had no intention to attack other demonstrators. On Saturday a Dutch journalist of Vrij Neederland magazine met them while they were packing and maybe going back to Germany. They told him they were pissed-off because of what other "men in black" had done. In fact what went on saturday had very little to do with the BB's modus operandi: the BB has a method. One may disagree with them, and yet they have a method and go their own way without interfering with other forms of action. On the contrary, in Genoa the carabinieri escorted the trashers all day long, and never charged them, not because they were too fast and informal, as someone commented. No, they had all the time to go inside banks, trash them accurately and set them on fire, an operation which requires more than a quarter of an hour. In the meanwhile, the carabinieri hanged on in the street, _waiting for them_. When the trashers went out, the magical mystery tour went on. The carabinieri quietly accompanied the trashers to the places where many other people (belonging to the GSF) were demonstrating in other ways, as if they were walking their dogs. There are hundreds of testimonies. All along the path the men in black attacked small shops, set fire to cars that certainly didn't belong to millionaires, destroyed very little gas stations and so on. Then they were unchained in the square where hundreds of members of the Lilliput network were doing a sit-in. The carabinieri followed them and beat up women and children, boy scouts, peaceful demonstrators.
Then carabinieri and trashers left again and went to the convergence center in Piazza Kennedy. The carabinieri assaulted the place, then the merry party directed to Brignole station and bumped into the demonstration by the civil disobedience bloc, which was still far from the Red Zone. The carabinieri charged the demonstrators. In the meanwhile, some of those fake Black Blocsters broke into the ranks of the white overalls and assaulted some comrades. A very big comrade from Venice-based squat "Rivolta" was knocked down by a guy that surely was a very well trained martial artist. After that, the carabinieri kept attacking the demo for seven hours, while people were trying to go back to Carlini Stadium. The last attack took place less than 600 yards from the camping. The men in black had completely disappeared.
This has nothing to do with the praxis of the Black Bloc. In fact many people saw these fake black blocsters coming out of carabinieri vans, putting on the balaklava and starting to raise hell, trashers discussing plans with marshalls, carabinieri giving crowbars to fake black blocsters etc.
The press is reporting these stories, and the national TV is showing shocking footage.
On June 19th, after Gothenburg, the White Overalls of Bologna and the Wu Ming collective put into circulation a document titled "Stop the Encirclement of the Black Bloc". Here it is:"The Black Bloc is no bullshit. It should not be trivially associated with vandalism and irrational devastation. It is an informal network of affinity groups, mostly - but not exclusively - anarchist ones, and it extends all over North America and continental Europe. They've been active for years, elaborate strategies and tactics and are willing to transform them in relation to contexts, alliances and aims. It should be clear that so far the Black Bloc hasn't manifested itself in Italy.
As the recent history of the movement proves, the Black Bloc are not static and can adopt different tactis and seek "cross-fertilization" like they did in Quebec City during the anti-FTAA mobilisation. In those days they acted in full respect of the town and its inhabitants, and concentrated all efforts in tearing down the "Wall of Shame". They even chose to use symbols and practices devised by the white overalls (pads, shields, position holding etc.) and co-operated with other affinity groups in the street.
In Gothenburg the Black Bloc talked with the white overalls and decided to take action in a common frame including more peaceful protesters. Troubles started when the vast majority of spokespersons and coordinators were "preventively" arrested during the thursday night raid. The morning after, the cops cut in half the demo and isolated a section of it, which was labelled as "Black Bloc". These demonstrators could only defend themselves by throwing stones, and a few shop windows were broken [...] The peak of police violence was reached at an apparently peaceful moment: on friday night, when the cops surrounded a park where hundreds of youth had organized a rave party. They attacked the ravers, which tried to resist unbecomingly [well, you can't always be stylish], then the police fired. Certainly the rave was not organized by the Black Bloc.
Black Blocsters are political activists, we may disagree with their praxis and theory, but we don't deem them as brainless Pavlov dogs foaming at the sight of truncheons.
Moreover, they are more fanciful than people think: a few months ago Black Blocsters split off a demo in Buffalo, entered a destitute neighborhood and picked up garbage. When journalists asked what the fuck they were doing, they answered: "You wrote that we would trash the town, we decided to pick up the trash!".
We're witnessing a very serious attempt at criminalizing this section of the movement. We refuse to save our ass to the detriment of the Black Bloc, we regard them as a fully legitimate part of the movement and refuse any distinction between "good protesters" and "bad protesters".
White Overalls of Bologna / Wu Ming"
My opinion is not even an opinion, for it is fully supported by testimonies and video documentation: last friday six or seven infiltrated carabinieri channeled and directed the (just, albeit blind) anger of hundreds of anarchist kids who should have known better. The same thing may have taken place saturday. Reluctantly, we decided to keep people with clubs or stones out of our demo. We certainly rejected several real provocators who called us "cops" and probably were cops themselves. Most likely we happened to beat up the occasional wrong guy, who knows? If that happened we're very sorry, but we had to defend our affinity group and prevent infiltrations and aggressions. A Black Blocster told my fellow comrade Wu Ming 5: "You like to give orders, uh? You communist!". Well, that hurts. I can assure you that we DO NOT like to give orders.
Instead of starting a witch hunt, we should keep in mind that not all anarchists are black blocsters and not all black blocsters are cops in disguise. On the other hand, it is necessary to re-think a tactic that can be infiltrated and deviated so easily. This is up to the people who adopt that tactic, but it also concerns those who suffer the consequences of such permeability.