Anarchists or agents provocateurs?

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at
Thu Dec 2 16:38:47 MST 1999

Louis Proyect <lnp3 at> said:

As I was standing there watching the dumpster get overturned, etc..
it's time to set the record straight.

  The "Anarchists" were part of a so-called "flying group" from the
original DAN action. There were approximately 12 or so set groups, and
around another 5 flying. The original groups had to agree to the
following to be a standard group.

1) We will use no violence, physical or verbal, towards any person.
(yelling at cops that they were ass-holes, agents of the state, then
would be out-MS)

2) We will carry no weapons.

3) We will not bring or use any alcohol or illegal drugs. (this was
observed to a very fine point- I've never been around so many hippies,
environmentalists, anrachists etc... without getting a single whiff of
4) We will not destroy property.

Thus many anarchists and others chose not to sign on to the DAN
official line. But the real questions that cut at me are the following:
Who was "looting"? A bunch of people who were in the slightest involved
in the group- i.e. not even the flying anarchists. The Anarchy started
in kind response to the police. Period. Watching it unfold was very
uplifting, I was sure that this demo was going to meekly subside when
the cops got more aggressive. I know anarchist thinking well: "The act
of destruction is in itself also an act of creation!" (M Bakunin). I
don't but this, I want to expropriate, not explode these shops.
Nonetheless, it was almost to the tee part of the overall anarchist

The media is trying to make some great divide between the "black hoods"
(with whom I fleetingly passed words) and the rest of the demo. Yes,
there were those in the crowd who spent their energy trying to stop the
anarchists and ignoring the cops. Mostly, people heard the sonic booms
or felt the tear gas, and ran over to the site of the conflict and
tried to defend the anarchists. The anarchists also knew their actions
were not those of the rest, twice when they were throwing back tear
gas, etc..., one or more of the other anarchists called out: "Get back
to the other side!", because when they headed across back and forth,
they were putting the whole crowd in the line of gas and rubber
   At any rate, the schism was far less between "irresponsible"
anarchists and the peaceful demonstrators as it was between the
anarchists (and others) who engaged in self-defense, and the frat boy
punks wearing the Gap shirts and gold necklaces who stole all the
stuff. I saw much vandalism, no looting. When I left, this was the
scene. When I watched the footage from much later in the night of the
looting, there was no one doing it who had been part of the Anarchist

What made me want to puke was listening to the "peaceful demonstrators"
who wanted to "help cleanup" the downtown core. Some people never

> NY Times, December 2, 1999
> Clenched Fists in Seattle Lead to Pointed Fingers
> SEATTLE -- It took only a few minutes for the people in the monarch
> butterfly costumes and union jackets to realize that what was planned
> the biggest American demonstration yet against global trade here had
> into a burst of window-breaking and looting late Tuesday afternoon.
> A surge of violence that ended in a civil emergency began when a knot
> people dressed in black broke away from the main demonstration and
> overturning trash containers, stoking fires and smashing windows of
> and restaurants. It died out with the image of a grinning young man
in a
> Gap sweatshirt trying to cart off a satellite dish from a Radio Shack
> How the thin line was crossed from nonviolent protest to urban
disorder was
> being dissected here Wednesday as the World Trade Organization got
down to
> business. The conclusion: the anarchists were organized.
> One person in black, who refused to identify himself, said anarchists
> planned all along to incite the crowd.
> Some blamed the police for mounting a show of force with rubber
pellets and
> tear gas against largely nonviolent protesters, and then backing off
> leave a lawless zone within the city's most gilded retail corridors.
> first, the protesters tried to police themselves -- something they
> they were incapable of doing once the more militant elements took
> Veteran demonstrators, who have logged years of protest against
> retail chains like Nike and Starbucks, suddenly found themselves
trying to
> defend them.
> "We turned at one point to protect Niketown, of all places, from these
> people who were trying to smash the storefront glass with metal
> boxes," said Ken Butigan, a professor of theology from Berkeley,
> "They turned on us and called us counterrevolutionaries."
> Butigan teaches protest tactics at Berkeley, he said. He and other
> demonstrators had expected -- and prepared for -- the police to make
> 1,000 arrests. But they made only a handful of arrests, relying on the
> stinging vapor of tear gas to disperse people who refused to allow
> delegates into the trade group's opening session.
> Young people in black masks, some of them speaking by two-way radios,
> the police reaction as a cue to go on a rampage. They sprayed a
symbol for
> anarchy -- a circled A -- on store walls, then quickly expanded to
> breaking and some looting. Some identified themselves as members of
> Clad Messengers, a self-proclaimed anarchist group. [Black Clad
> Oh sure.]

Macdonald Stainsby

check the "ten point platform" of Tao at:

"To give food aid to a country just because they are starving is a
pretty weak reason."
   Henry Kissinger, 1974
(former American Secretary of State)

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