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October 30, 2011

Don’t Think of an Anarchist

Unless you’re Jon Stewart, this is not the time to interject fancy into what happened at Occupy Denver on Saturday night. (There’s an even goofier version of this shot here.)

If this photo suggests some kind of parity, that’s not accurate. The robo-cops overran the Occupy Denver encampment on Saturday night using rubber bullets and pepper spray. If this photo suggests some kind of militant equivalency, that’s not true either. There’s a difference between a protective mask and the profile of the fully-equipped nihilist insurrectionist.

And yet, what this photo does do, under the guise of quirkiness — playing off the masks and fist and face-off — is begin refashioning a peaceful, citizens-driven 2012 “Occupy” into the anarchistic mold of Seattle ‘99.

(photo: Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post caption: Protester wearing gas masks confront police during the Occupy Denver protest in Denver, CO, Saturday, October 29, 2011. Occupy Denver protesters and law enforcement officers faced off on the steps of the state Capitol and Civic Center this afternoon after protesters marched through downtown Denver for the fourth week in a row.)

  • bks

    Happy Hallowe’en!


  • Thomas Gokey

    “Fully-equipped nihilists” is a perfectly accurate description of the police in this case.

    There are different kinds of anarchists. There are the principled, disciplined (it takes a tremendous amount of discipline to be free), non-violent anarchists like Tolstoy, Thoreau or Gandhi. If the protestors can correctly be called anarchists, they are these non-violent, constructive kind of anarchists. And indeed OWS has been inspired and organized by anarchists of this type, as well as many other people with different political philosophies.

    Look at the photos of the occupations, of the micro-societies that OWS has set up in cities across the country and world. These are highly organized, well ordered micro-societies, with kitchens that can prepare food for hundreds or thousands of people multiple times a day. These kitchens can accommodate allergies and vegans and gluten-free diets, they have medical stations, high-tech media stations, innovative solutions (bio-fuel generators, mesh-wifi, etc).

    One of the best things that OWS has done so far is created a model for a different kind of society, one in which each persons basic needs are met, one in which there is genuine care for one another. These model societies are not utopias. They exist in physical space, occupied space, held only with the moral force of non-violence. They are full of petty disputes, drum circles that won’t stop drumming no matter how reasonably the request is made, cases of theft, cases of harassment and intimidation, the occasional heated moment that boarders on violence. Yet it is a better world, in real life, than the one we have on the national and international scale. It is a model to use as we work for genuine revolution on the global scale.

    Now look at what this model city looked like after the police came the police came through in Denver:

    They trashed the place. In the name of security and sanitation they shot a bunch of unarmed people and trashed this micro-society.

    There are different kinds of anarchists, the police are the nihilistic destructive kind. They’re was nothing creative or constructive about the police action. They just destroyed.

    I know that the photographs above can be used for propaganda purposes, that the corporate media and the enemies of democracy everywhere are going to try to paint the protesters as the bad kind of anarchists. These lies are effective and can be powerful. But the protesters are going to make it hard for these lies to stick. We are molding non-violence democracy and are met with violent destruction. The lines in this struggle are bright and clear, non-violent resistance for global justice, and violent resistance for an unjust system. The police are on the wrong side. I have faith in my fellow citizens to see the difference between right and wrong.

    This is what winning looks like.

  • Anonymous

    That policeman, as armored as a knight of yore, is not modeling reason. His posture and his bearing say simply and loudly: Might makes right. Social society reserves a monopoly for itself on the permissible use of violence, choosing in this case to use it to enforce sections of the local sanitation code or something like that.

  • Charlotte

    If you flipped this through “cartoonize,” it would look like a Dr. Seuss illustration.

  • Anonymous

    Notice the ugly wound on the cheek of the unmasked man in the black hat behind the guy raising his gloved fist in the air. That says it all for me.

  • George Mokray

    Sand warriors versus Imperial Storm Troopers (black suit division).

  • aml_reads

    the gas mask actually heighten the sense of otherness between the cops and the occupier and make the cops appear almost cuddly in comparison.

  • 0merus

    Someone got the wrong notice.  The Star Trek convention was in Winnipeg this past week not Denver.
    I think someone wants a hug in this shot.

  • AC Missias

    maybe it speaks to anarchy, or maybe it captures a resilient defiance — you’re going to come at us with tear gas?  well, if we have to, we’ll be ready.  a bit dehumanizing to all concerned, but plays up the fascism/heavy-handedness of the police forces, for sure…

  • Nilven_ailand

    very nice shot : 
    this seems to be the friendly concern between the policy and demonstrants.

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