50,000 protesters leave from midtown to the convention center on a march route approved by police months ago. Giant puppets poke their heads out of the crowd as masked kids spray paint some corporations and pump up the energy with drumming. As the crowd approaches the convention center, cop lines block off the route. They try to move around the cops, only to find themselves pushed back away from the convention. A smaller group of black-clad kids breaks off and rushes through a police line. Overturning dumpsters and smashing Starbucks, they continue on towards the convention center. A few blocks later, the police mass on the group, firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Billy clubs and blood fly. Hundreds are arrested, dozens hospitalized, and six people just “disappear”. Inside, the Republican National Convention continues without interruption.
Think this is just a nightmare fantasy about New York? Look at Sacramento. Look at Miami. Timoney will be back, and this time he’ll probably have more than $8 million to bust heads. The police have changed their tactics in the past few years and gotten a lot tougher. The black bloc isn’t effective anymore. We can’t just fight the cops head on and win. We’ve got to change our tactics or we’ll be smeared on the pavement.
Sun Tzu’s classic book, The Art of War,offers a strategy for effective confrotation:
- In defense, don’t commit to a form. When the enemy probes, they can’t find any weakness.
- In offense, be ready to attack anywhere when an advantage appears.
- To force the enemy to commit and expose their weaknesses, you can entice them with a tempting target. Be prepared to sacrifice the target to win the battle.
In general, make it impossible for the enemy to predict your actions. The theory is to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Don’t group together in well-known places; constantly shift positions. The element of chaos will keep them confused. Offer up decoys, wait for them to commit, probe their weaknesses, then attack where you can assure victory. Always be ready to dissolve again to avoid a counter-attack. If there is an obvious target, especially a purely symbolic one like a palace of a fence, be very wary – most likely, they’re prepared to defend it.
Taking Sun Tzu’s ideas and mixing in modern ideas of coordinated chaos and swarming, we get a whole new approach – one where we can beat the cops. The radical and militant elements shouldn’t all group together – not at the convergence space and not in the marches as a black bloc. Stay in small bands and try to blend into the city as much as possible. Don’t focus on the target they want us to attack, the whole city is fair game. From defense contractors to the mayor’s house, from changing billboards to blocking roads, there are literally thousands of targets and actions that can make a big impact. You love the images of ninjas and pirates? Well, it’s time to start acting like them and get invisible.
Show up a few weeks in advance, before all the cops start working overtime. Work in small bands of tight friends. Spread out over the whole city. And there will be no way the cops can stop us. If they guard a few spots, hit whatever’s unprotected. If they spread thin to cover everything, group up with some other crews and hit them where they’re weak. We thrive on chaos, unpredictability, and hundreds of things happening at once – the exact things that overwhelm their centralized control. This summer, we play by our rules, and turn the whole city into a giant symbol of resistance. This summer New York is ours! I’ll be there… will you?
The Republication National Convention will be August 29 – September 4 in NYC. For more info, contact. www.rncnotwelcome.org.