Saturday, September 06, 2008

Rebutting Lies and Misconceptions About Anarchists and the DNC/RNC Protests

by Infoshop News and our comrades September 5, 2008

Over the past two weeks in Denver and St. Paul, thousands of anarchists and other folks have come together to protest the conventions being held by the two wings of the Corporate Party. These protests were the culmination of almost two years of organizing. Organizers arranged not just protests, but many other events as well. Their efforts were met with severe and significant police repression, with over 800 people being violently arrested by the authorities and many others being violently attacked and terrorized. In response to these events, the police, the corporate media, and others have said many things about anarchists involved in these protests. While many of the comments on numerous Internet discussion boards have been supportive of anarchists and critical of the police, there have also been many lies and misconceptions said and written about anarchists. This FAQ is an effort to address and rebut those anti-anarchist words.

Lie/misconception: The anarchists are a small bunch of outsiders who came to spoil the protests of others.

In fact, the protests in Denver and St. Paul were mostly organized by anarchists locally and around the country, a culmination of a year and a half of planning. Anarchists have been working with non-anarchist activists and community members to organize the protests and other events. Like previous anti-convention and anti-summit protests, anarchists have helped organize logistics for the counter-convention events including food, housing, communications, first aid, child care, jail solidarity, and media. Anarchists are not only not outsiders, they've played an integral role in the organizing of the counter-convention events.

Lie/misconception: The anarchists and many of the protesters are outsiders who don't live in St. Paul or Minneapolis or Denver.

The counter-convention protests were organized by local community members who put more than a year of organizing work into their events. Many of the protesters come from out-of-town, but then most of the delegates to the DNC and RNC conventions come from out-of-town! These political conventions are national and international events, so they will draw people who want to have their say and protest these violent political groups which affect their daily lives.

Lie/misconception: Anarchists are violent _________

Anarchists are people, like anybody else. Anarchists themselves have long disagreed about violence and nonviolence as political tactics. There are many anarchists who are pacifists and those who adhere to a strict code of nonviolence. Many anarchists aren't violent people, but support violence as a tactic, especially when it is used in self-defense against state violence.

Lie/misconception: Anarchists planned to kidnap delegates at the convention.

This lie was concocted by the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office to justify their violent raids and to prejudice the public against anarchists. This is simply ridiculous. Anarchists would never do something like this.

Lie/misconception: Anarchists are smelly hippies who need to take showers.

This accusation is really a giveaway that the person saying this is over 45, since "dirty hippy" is a tired insult from the 1960s. People who say this don't understand that most anarchists aren't hippies, thus we don't see this as an insult. Truth be told, many of us may smell during the protests, but that's because we've been on the road, sleeping on couches and can't get access to a shower when we are staying at somebody's house. Anarchists are mostly poor, working class people--we aren't staying in nice hotels like the convention delegates.

Lie/misconception: The DNC/RNC protests are another example of "activistism," an example of people who like to protest for the sake of protest.

We can't pretend to know the motivations of everybody who participates in protest. There are probably a few people involved who fit this description--there are these types in every protest. But this accusation misses the fact that almost everybody protesting the RNC and DNC are protesting for political reasons. For many, they are rejecting the one party corporate system that runs the U.S. and much of the world. Many protesters are concerned about issues of worker rights, social justice,the environment, capitalism, gentrification, racism, indigenous rights, prisons and prisoners, and many other issues. Many of the people involved see the protests as a step towards a movement or situation that leads to bigger social change, perhaps even a revolution. When the protests end, many of these people will stay active in various causes and movements. Most of them will read books, even theory, and will discuss, argue and analyze the effect of these protests.

Infoshop News invites other anarchists, especially those involved with the past two weeks of protests, to add to this list or make suggestions.

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