Masking up on demos

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madashell
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Jan 12 2009 15:04
Masking up on demos

From a discussion that started on this thread:

Bobby wrote:
raw wrote:
London's Gaza Demo Sat 10th: Pics of Anarchist / Anti-Authoritarian Solidarity Block



from IMC

Fuck I hate all this dressing in black business. Its ridiculous There is no point at all to it unless you plan to some serious damage.

.

raw wrote:
Maybe people were planning to do some serious damage, and maybe they thought there wouldn't be time to go and change if something did kick off.

Anyway, history repeats itself - we got on with the job of making anarchist ideas and politics visible and relevant in London. A multi-layered approach of building locally based anarchist and community initiatives across london, movement-wide co-ordination meetings, develop new anarchist infrastructure in London i.e. Freedom Anarchist Centre, and building up a larger street presence with G20 and Mayday in London

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madashell wrote:
Mmm, though I really don't like this thing of some anarchists showing up to everything masked up, it intimidates and alienates people that we should be trying to convince of our point of view.

At the Manchester anti-war demo in September, a number of people showed up rocking the ninja look, result, we spent the entire fucking demo trying to protect them from the cops and everybody else on the demo ended up thinking we were a bunch of nutters.

Devrim wrote:
[Is dressing up in black masks and looking for it to 'kick off' 'making anarchist ideas and politics visible and relevant in London'?

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Caiman del Barrio wrote:
To be fair, the ninja types were mainly skinny kids...the older, more tough ones were nowhere to be seen when the only sort of confrontation within a million miles of the anarchist bloc happened. I guess for them it's more of a ritualist pose.

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Django wrote:
I think Madashell's point was that dressing like ninjas stops us getting our perspective over, and preventing us from making our ideas relevant to anyone else (which to be honest is the reason we are there, raising a bit of consciousness amongst people who are rightly disgusted by events - we don't stand much of a chance of influencing the IDF through demos here no matter how much we 'kick off'). I was at the demo he was talking about, and the fact that the ninja business gave the police an excuse to prevent us engaging with anyone was incredibly frustrating, I wouldn't be surprised if anyone who saw us thought we were just there to ruck the police. And this was down to maybe 10 people out of a bloc of 200+. But even if it didn't I wouldn't be surprised if people dismissed us as weirdos if we were all blocked up.

So I think there needs to be a bit of thought about why we are at these things (and this is as someone who used to go for the 'anarchist uniform' approach)

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Jan 12 2009 15:06

Edited my OP to try and put gaps between the quote blocks. Is it really necessary to require approval from a mod for OP edits?

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Jan 12 2009 15:57

There's a singular red and black flag waving around up the front amongst a few socialist workers ones on the bbc footage.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7822222.stm

Caiman del Barrio
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Jan 12 2009 16:05

So there is...

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madashell
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Jan 12 2009 17:08

Ah, fair does.

raw
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Jan 12 2009 22:02

To be honest I saw every other person on that demo with some sort of palestinian scarf as a mask, or other such things. It was a very cold day so having a few comrades in black masks didn't go out of place. It didn't/wouldn't stop anyone from communicating with anyone they wanted to. I really don't understand what peoples problem is. Like someone had said it was around 15-20 people who had masks on - some people don't want to be ID by the cops so fair enuff.

There are more important issues at hand, more practical issues. For example, how comes no one has mentioned what we could have done on the day? What was lacking on the block i.e. a unified leaflet, loud speaker - at the end of the day it was an oportunity to offer an internationalist perspective, let people know that we exists. One older muslim guy pointed at the red and black flag and asked "which country is that from" :-0) I gave the response "no country" and explained who we were. Though another muslim guy thought we were from scientology :-0)

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Jan 12 2009 22:17
raw wrote:
To be honest I saw every other person on that demo with some sort of palestinian scarf as a mask, or other such things. It was a very cold day so having a few comrades in black masks didn't go out of place. It didn't/wouldn't stop anyone from communicating with anyone they wanted to. I really don't understand what peoples problem is. Like someone had said it was around 15-20 people who had masks on - some people don't want to be ID by the cops so fair enuff.

Hmm, I dunno, we did look pretty uninviting. I'm not sure people would have especially sought us out unless they were already interested. Also, I do think the masking up coz of the cops thing has a bit of self-importance attached to it. I mean, who gives a shit if the cops have photos of you? I don't think it really matters from a security point of view (it also seems like you're actually marking yourself out as 'trouble'.. we never dress like that for anti-fascist stuff and there's ten times the likelihood of trouble at those things...)

raw wrote:
There are more important issues at hand, more practical issues. For example, how comes no one has mentioned what we could have done on the day? What was lacking on the block i.e. a unified leaflet, loud speaker - at the end of the day it was an oportunity to offer an internationalist perspective, let people know that we exists.

Agree with this wholeheartedly. It was a shame we didn't get something together like Manc, Brighton and Belfast people.. something to keep in mind for next time...

raw wrote:
another muslim guy thought we were from scientology :-0)

Just goes to show how mental we looked wink

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Jan 12 2009 22:20
raw wrote:
I really don't understand what peoples problem is. Like someone had said it was around 15-20 people who had masks on

~

madashell wrote:
At the Manchester anti-war demo in September, a number of people showed up rocking the ninja look, result, we spent the entire fucking demo trying to protect them from the cops and everybody else on the demo ended up thinking we were a bunch of nutters.
Boris Badenov
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Jan 12 2009 22:43

It would be interesting to find out when exactly and for what reasons, anarchists starting "masking up," because despite popular clichees, I would venture to say that it's a pretty recent phenomenon.

Escarabajo
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Jan 12 2009 22:53

A few things:

Whether being masked up and all dressing alike alienates people or not, its still a good idea if theer's a chance you might be doing something a bit naughty. Also, in the context of the day (cold and the massive amount of headscarfs) I think masked up anarchos were firmly in line with a very general trend for once.

Being masked up for much of the time and with a red n black flag (though not dressed in black for a change), I actually found there was a lot of interest from people on the march who'd normally have nothing to do with or no exposure to any form of anarchism. Alot of curiosity and genuine interest was apparent and as such ws a good chance to explain what we were about. I don't think people were generally alienated, at least it didn't stop a good number quite happily approaching and asking straight up what the deal was. Have to admit that i think the general reaction was confusion (What, NO Gods?) but I certainly didn't get any impression of hostility. While I agree there's a time and place for this stuff, I think the whole public image/alienating people things is way overdone. I don't reckon people get freaked out quite that readily.

Oh and I can say for sure that there were anarchists involved in the ruck, although i have to say there was a distinct lack of them when we could've done with em.guess the call of the pub was too strong. obviously the muslim kiddies didn't have that temptation to battle...

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Jan 12 2009 23:32
raw wrote:
One older muslim guy pointed at the red and black flag and asked "which country is that from" :-0) I gave the response "no country" and explained who we were. Though another muslim guy thought we were from scientology :-0)

Rather bizarrely, one flag was passed to a family who simply wanted something to hold too.

I think the anarchist bloc was largely pointless. I had gone with the hope of picking up a bunch of the AF/Solfed leaflet, ended up with about 15 which I didn't even get round to distributing till afterwards. I mean, some insane ideas were thrown around (an attempt to "storm the Israeli embassy"...!!!!!!) but it was completely uncoordinated and had no proposals, probably due to its last minute assemblance.

I swore i wouldn't go to the next one but i guess it could be worthwhile if we take a massive bunch of leaflets.

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Jan 13 2009 00:02
Escarabajo wrote:
Whether being masked up and all dressing alike alienates people or not, its still a good idea if theer's a chance you might be doing something a bit naughty.

I really don't see why. If let's say things degenerate rather badly and the riot cops are sent in, you're still in a position of getting your ass kicked, mask or not.
This is probably why historically anarchists have not bothered with this sort of stuff. I don't remember reading anywhere that during say, the Haymarket riots, any of the anarchists who took part went to great extents to conceal their identities.

I

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Jan 13 2009 00:26

equally, haymarket didn't have CCTV and EG teams. but i'm still skeptical of the idea you have to be permanently dressed in anticipation for it "kicking off", as if a symbolic demo breaking some windows has any more material impact on the situation in Gaza than a pacifist one (however much it transforms the virgin participants). i think the best that can be achieved at these kind of things is getting propaganda to people who are broadly sympathetic - people were queuing up to take solfed leaflets at some points in Brighton on Sunday. now i'm not opposed to rioting, but it's rarely all that useful and certainly shouldn't be our barely-concealed desired outcome around which our demo attendence is based.

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Jan 13 2009 00:58
Joseph K. wrote:
equally, haymarket didn't have CCTV and EG teams.

fair enough. I'm not saying that it can't be useful to conceal your face given the technology available to the law enforcement organs in this day and age, but to see the ninja look at almost every demo, especially at peaceful protest marches, looks a bit like overkill sometimes.

I just noticed that some of the people in those pics are not actually wearing masks. So much for the "really fucking cold" theory.

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Jan 13 2009 00:59

oh yeah for sure. i've seen the coppers filming peoples shoes for future IDing anyway, so unless you're really uniform it's not necessarily that useful, and in any case nothing having a hoody and a mask in your bag couldn't prepare you for if you do insist on going everywhere in anticipation of it "kicking off."

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Jan 13 2009 01:47
Vlad336 wrote:
I just noticed that some of the people in those pics are not actually wearing masks. So much for the "really fucking cold" theory.

How? What the fuck? Do anarchists gotta check their fashion choices with every cunt or amateurass metereofuckinologist on the fucking internet now?

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Jan 13 2009 02:01
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
I just noticed that some of the people in those pics are not actually wearing masks. So much for the "really fucking cold" theory.

How? What the fuck? Do anarchists gotta check their fashion choices with every cunt or amateurass metereofuckinologist on the fucking internet now?

the argument was that the people wearing masks had no choice, because it was really cold outside; however some people can be spotted wearing nothing but wind jackets, with no head or face gear. That means it probably wasn't that cold, and the people wearing masks had other, weather-unrelated, reasons.

Caiman del Barrio
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Jan 13 2009 02:10

You're completely ridiculous.

Boris Badenov
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Jan 13 2009 02:16
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
You're completely ridiculous.

unlike this thread...

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Jan 13 2009 02:20
revol68 wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
I just noticed that some of the people in those pics are not actually wearing masks. So much for the "really fucking cold" theory.

How? What the fuck? Do anarchists gotta check their fashion choices with every cunt or amateurass metereofuckinologist on the fucking internet now?

the argument was that the people wearing masks had no choice, because it was really cold outside; however some people can be spotted wearing nothing but wind jackets, with no head or face gear. That means it probably wasn't that cold, and the people wearing masks had other, weather-unrelated, reasons.

regardless of whether or not people masked up because of the cold or not that is someone awful reasoning on your part.

At any given football match there will be players wearing gloves and other players not, does that mean that those wearing gloves are wearing them for other non weather related reasons?

look, I did not know that this iz srs thread, although the point about whether it alienates people or not is potentially interesting.
But yeah, that is some bad reasoning on my part. Also badly placed/timed apparently.
Just to rectify, the sensation of cold IS a subjective thing, and I don't really fucking give a toss if people wear masks or not, because of the cold or as a political statement or as a means of self-protection; it's just that sometimes it becomes too much of a pose. I think most people could agree with that.

Bobby
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Jan 13 2009 10:50

Its posing for self-gratisfication.

Even if you were up for a bit of action, dressing in black actually puts you in a disadvantage right away as your easily singled out.

Dressing 'normally' and fitting in with the crowd offers much greater scope for action.

Yes, one would be extremely naive and quite dillusional to believe that dressing in black doesnt alienate and marginialise a already irrelevant movement.

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Jan 13 2009 12:32
weeler wrote:
Mask up for rioting, know beforehand whether you plan to engage in rioting on the demo. Don't do this half-assed brit/american thing of trying your luck on every demo but never really going for it.

To be fair, I'd rather people were more flexible in their attitudes...I'm generally quite sceptical of rucking for its own sake, I think that can be quite alienating.

Escarabajo's claims that masking up in Oaxacan demos is only really relevant in the Mexican context to be honest. In a city where a large proportion of the population considered it justified to man burning barricades and evict the government and police two summers ago, they're obviously gonna be more receptive to the idea of some guys masking up for their own protection or to do violent shit. Plus, they might just think you're all the graffiti kids/Zapatistas. Plus Mexicans in general love masks.

I don't think it was much of a problem on Saturday, for reasons already explained. there were much more fundamental problems with the conduct of those in the bloc than their fashion choices. Still, it's much easier to make comments you can later claim were tongue in cheek than attempt to formulate some kinda contribution to a debate over whether anarchists can have a positive influence on these demos, which I reckon will continue and could well grow.

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Jan 13 2009 13:02
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Still, it's much easier to make comments you can later claim were tongue in cheek than attempt to formulate some kinda contribution to a debate over whether anarchists can have a positive influence on these demos, which I reckon will continue and could well grow.

ffs Alan, take a fucking joke.
Obviously anarchists can have a positive influence on these demos, but as many here have already argued, singling yourself out by wearing black and/or a mask is not really conducive to a feeling of solidarity with "the people." The security thing aside, which is only relevant in a limited number of situations, there really is no fucking reason to dress like a ninja. Ever.

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Jan 13 2009 13:22
Vlad336 wrote:
The security thing aside, which is only relevant in a limited number of situations, there really is no fucking reason to dress like a ninja. Ever.

actually an anarchist i know, veteran of prague, genoa blac blocs etc got a part as an extra as a ninja in this, so that's another limited situation where it's acceptable wink

it does make me wonder if some anarchists orient their lives around finding opportunities to dress like ninjas though tongue

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Jan 13 2009 13:23
Vlad336 wrote:
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Still, it's much easier to make comments you can later claim were tongue in cheek than attempt to formulate some kinda contribution to a debate over whether anarchists can have a positive influence on these demos, which I reckon will continue and could well grow.

ffs Alan, take a fucking joke.

#1 it's not a funny or original joke...in fact, it's been made on here since it was called enrager.net, get some new material

#2 you've been making it for like 5 posts on this thread now while everyone else has been trying to talk seriously

#3 you've been undermining discussion with your idiotic interventions which have no idea of context, you aren't reading anyone else's posts

#4 it's not Libcommunity

Bobby
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Jan 13 2009 13:26

Its not as if we are living in Nazi Germany or Franco Spain is it?

Bobby
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Jan 13 2009 13:29
weeler wrote:
Mask up for rioting, know beforehand whether you plan to engage in rioting on the demo. Don't do this half-assed brit/american thing of trying your luck on every demo but never really going for it.

like Dublin 2004? I can fondly remember yourselves dressing up as a ninja. Do you remember the glory days? I also tried but knew it wasnt for me and could still get away with doing shit dressed up 'normally'

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Jan 13 2009 13:36
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
#2 you've been making it for like 5 posts on this thread now while everyone else has been trying to talk seriously

Actually I have made a serious point about the fact that masking up seems to be a fairly recent development for the anarchist movement, and was wondering how and why exactly it came about. I did read up on everyone's posts here, and ultimately it is a relevant discussion, but I don't see how exactly I ruined the thread by making a silly comment about the demonstrators supposed low resistance to harsh weather.
Sorry if I managed to get under your tits for some reason, I really don't know what did it, but I think you're just being excessively harsh and unreasonable here.

Quote:
#3 you've been undermining discussion with your idiotic interventions which have no idea of context, you aren't reading anyone else's posts

my idiotic interventions have been few so far (in this thread and in general). I doubt that anyone, except you, sees my posts as a major impediment to productive discussion. Plus, the weather comment aside, all my other remarks have been perfectly on-topic and in good faith.

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Jan 13 2009 13:54
Bobby wrote:
Its not as if we are living in Nazi Germany or Franco Spain is it?

And if we were, could any of us hope to make a public appearance as an anarchist (masked or not) and hope to survive?
This kind of identity protection is really only relevant in states that are not fascist; I do wonder however what exactly is the likelihood of someone being identified as an "anarchist troublemaker" at a protest due to lack of facegear, and subsequently arrested and/or fired?
Has that happened to anyone here?

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Jan 13 2009 13:59
raw wrote:
To be honest I saw every other person on that demo with some sort of palestinian scarf as a mask, or other such things. It was a very cold day so having a few comrades in black masks didn't go out of place. It didn't/wouldn't stop anyone from communicating with anyone they wanted to. I really don't understand what peoples problem is. Like someone had said it was around 15-20 people who had masks on - some people don't want to be ID by the cops so fair enuff.

Do you really think the police are going to successfully arrest all those people who were rucking without a mask at the end of the demo? It's a fucking paranoid fantasy on the part of a few activists who want to believe that the Man is trying to take them down personally.

Quote:
There are more important issues at hand, more practical issues. For example, how comes no one has mentioned what we could have done on the day? What was lacking on the block i.e. a unified leaflet, loud speaker - at the end of the day it was an oportunity to offer an internationalist perspective, let people know that we exists.

And do you think that having people clad entirely in black with their faces covered is the best way to do this? Besides anything else, people respond better when they can see a person's face, somebody with their face uncovered in "normal" street clothes will have much more success in getting people to take leaflets or engage in discussion than somebody in black bloc gear. This kind of stuff matters if you want people to be open to your perspective.

Bobby
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Jan 13 2009 14:08
madashell wrote:
raw wrote:
To be honest I saw every other person on that demo with some sort of palestinian scarf as a mask, or other such things. It was a very cold day so having a few comrades in black masks didn't go out of place. It didn't/wouldn't stop anyone from communicating with anyone they wanted to. I really don't understand what peoples problem is. Like someone had said it was around 15-20 people who had masks on - some people don't want to be ID by the cops so fair enuff.

Do you really think the police are going to successfully arrest all those people who were rucking without a mask at the end of the demo? It's a fucking paranoid fantasy on the part of a few activists who want to believe that the Man is trying to take them down personally.

Quote:
There are more important issues at hand, more practical issues. For example, how comes no one has mentioned what we could have done on the day? What was lacking on the block i.e. a unified leaflet, loud speaker - at the end of the day it was an oportunity to offer an internationalist perspective, let people know that we exists.

And do you think that having people clad entirely in black with their faces covered is the best way to do this? Besides anything else, people respond better when they can see a person's face, somebody with their face uncovered in "normal" street clothes will have much more success in getting people to take leaflets or engage in discussion than somebody in black bloc gear. This kind of stuff matters if you want people to be open to your perspective.

exactly, most people is all aspects of life like to know the face behind the leaflet, article or whatever. Its basic social skills ffs. If we cant get over this this basic hurdle we might as well forget it about making a difference. Otherwise you will always been irrelevant as a movement.

Some people might be ashamed to be an 'anarchist'? Its not as if we are movements are banned and publications censored in the UK.