The Other Black Bloc

Courstey Wiki Commons: Steve KaiserFor folks who have not been present at non-violent demonstrations it may be helpful to understand that the original black block is the riot police who come out and assault non-violent demonstrators in a wholesale fashion.

Some pretty peaceful and peace-loving folks have been assaulted by the police.

Some of you may know Dorli Rainey from Seattle who was pepper sprayed during Occupy events.

Dorli Rainey courtesy

Dorli was 82 years old when she got pepper sprayed. She is spry and spunky, but I think it’s a hard sell to convince a reasonable person that Dorli could look dangerous to a heavily armored police officer.

So this is the backdrop for the tactic known as the black bloc.  There are a lot of reasonable critiques of the black bloc.  The most persuasive to me is the potential for police infiltration, for agent provocateurs to join the black bloc and to then commit an act of property destruction that will trigger a violent peace riot.  There is also the opportunity for a genuine black bloc participant to choose unnecessary violence and/or property destruction that will trigger a violent street riot.

I will be facilitating a round table discussion regarding the Occupy movement and the domestic armies at the Olympia Occupy Social Forum this coming weekend.   Maybe I will see you there?

Click me please

Black Bloc 101

Chris Hedges made a few waves with his recent piece describing the black bloc as the cancer in occupy.

click me pleaseI  believe in diversity. I think diversity is a fundamental natural law of the universe.  But I understand that human beings have a tidiness gene that makes us think that we can organize and be more efficient through suppression of diversity, by rejection of the natural order and diversity that constantly arises and evaporates back in to the order of chaos.  Chaos is not merely disorder.  There may be a level of order benefit and diversity in chaos that is not easily observed and is under-appreciated.

The black bloc tactic is something that arises from police violence toward non-violent protest and the willingness of society to choose order over the bedrock right to peacefully assemble and petition for redress of grievance.

Diversity of tactics and tolerance of the diversity of tactics is something that I embrace whole-heartedly.  Things can go wrong.  I have seen that.  Things can go right.  I have seen that as well.   I am usually pleased to see a black bloc tactical option in a crowd of protesters.  I believe Hedges could not be more wrong about the black bloc tactic.

Here is an interesting and informative piece in response to Hedges cancer article.  I recommend that you read the piece if you don’t understand and appreciate the black bloc tactic or if you read the Hedges article and thought what he said made a lot of sense.

After you read the piece, you might want to look through the n + 1 zine that is carrying the piece.  Looks like a pretty informative vehicle.  A weapon of mass instruction.  I am down with that. Thanks to my friend Elliot Stoller for bringing this piece to my attention.

World Life Expectancy – Interesting Website Shared by My Friends at TC Pro-Net

The Thurston County Progressive Network are a great bunch of folks who work year-round to produce a more progressive community in the Olympia area.  In this week’s calendar they share a link to World Life Expectancy website and a cancer cluster map. 

It’s an interesting website from an epidemiology perspective.  The suggestion in the cancer cluster webpage is that environmental degradation can be tracked to a certain extent by cancer rates.  I think there are a lot of regional cultural issues, like diet, wealth/poverty that also contribute to the cancer clusters, but environmental degradation is probably part of the story.  If you live in one of the black (high cancer rate incidence) counties, you can weigh in with why you think your county might have high cancer rates.

I am in Lewis County, WA.  It’s a relatively low income per capita by WA standards, so we probably have a lower rate of preventive click me pleasemedical care, but we also have a couple of superfund cleanup sites, one for PCBs, and we have a coal mine (not operational today) and a coal-fired electricity plant, known locally as the Centralia Steam Plant.  We try not to mention coal here on either shore of Coal Creek, but the steam plant and the steam mine have been a large part of Lewis County economy over the decades.

This website also has an informative interactive world life expectancy map that includes gender life expectancy.  Pretty cool website.  Lots of information.

oh, friendship is good for longevity, according to these folks.  Sounds right to me.

Don’t miss this page if you are a budding epidemiologist.

Thursday News Report from the South Shore of the Salish Sea

Good day yesterday in Cascadia as the Washington State leglislature moved gay marriage forward through Senate vote.  The gov put her weight behind this legislation, apparently trying to establish some kind of legacy public policy.  I am completely supportive of the gay marriage legislation, but I have to wonder why the dems will only push one small part of a progressive agenda at a time.  The public is crying out for significant change in public policy and the dem party is such a timid organization.

In another section of the Senate, I believe the Washington Investment Trust remains stuck under the thumb of roadkill Senators Steve Hobbs and Mary Haugen.  Lots of good information about public banks at Banking in the Public Interest.  This is an idea whose time has come.  Banks for the 99%.  Please.  Let’s do that.

Want to let Steve Hobbs know what you think about his roadkill status?

How about Mary Haugen?

Steve Hobbs

Mary Haugen

Can we help these two get scooped out of the middle of the road where they are doing no discernible good?  Is there an election coming up?  Let’s help these folks join our neighbors who are out there looking for work, shall we?

Lean on the legislators folks.  They respond to two things, private money and public pressure.

Washington Investment Trust – The State Bank legislation



Why was North Dakota the only US State not affected by the banking crisis? (It’s not the oil.)

Because it was the ONLY State with its own Public Bank!The State Bank bills are down to the wire in the WA Legislature.   SB 6310 needs to move out of committee now or the bill is dead for this session.  You can read all about the legislation at WA Public Bank Project.

This would be a bank for the 99%.  North Dakota’s State Bank is the model.  We are not reinventing the wheel with this idea.

The Washington State Treasurer James McIntire has weighed in against the bill and the idea of the State Bank.   McIntire has shown himself to the be the Treasurer for the 1%.

Senators Steve Hobbs and Mary Haugen are the two primary votes in committee that are holding up the bill at this moment.

Steve Hobbs

Mary Haugen

Democracy is not a spectator sport.