Updated June 5 : See below…
Anarchists ready for APEC violence
June 4, 2007
The group, called Mutiny, has reportedly convinced the group organising the main APEC protest, the Stop Bush Coalition, to remove a reference to “peaceful protest” from its advertising materials.
Organisers of the G20 protests in November last year identified Mutiny members as perpetrators of violence at the summit, along with another anarchist group, Arterial Bloc.
- JOSIE TAYLOR: Who were the people responsible for that violence?
MARCUS GREVILLE [DSP/Socialist Alliance]: The names of the groups are Arterial Bloc and a group called Mutiny. Above and beyond that, we don’t have any information, because they organised externally to us.
~ Josie Taylor, ‘Police hunt for violent G20 protesters’, ABC Radio’s PM, November 20, 2006
Sydney’s streets will be locked down and police given increased powers during September’s APEC summit, which will be attended by world leaders including George Bush and Vladimir Putin.
The Stop Bush Coalition has organised a major APEC protest for September 8, which thousands of people are expected to attend.
Mutiny has issued an open letter that opposes billing the protest as “peaceful”. “To insist on a ‘peaceful protest’ seems to be either naive or dangerously cynical — and it aligns with the repression of dissent,” the letter says.
The letter blames police for violence at G20, saying protesters there were “terrorised” by “unfounded arrests”. It argues for a “diversity of tactics” at APEC, which could include violent action.
“Our fear is that an assertion made now that the protests will be explicitly ‘peaceful’ will shut down the discussions that need to be had; that people will argue only that the protests should be ‘peaceful’ instead of accepting that people will organise in diverse ways,” the letter says.
The group says it has not yet planned violent protests for APEC, but has not ruled out organising such actions at a later date.
“We write in the hope that we or groups with politics similar to ours would be able to organise for APEC alongside others, in the hope that a diversity of tactics will be possible,” the group’s letter says.
A report in radical newspaper Green Left Weekly says Mutiny won a motion at a meeting of the Stop Bush Coalition to remove the words “peaceful protest” from advertising material.
- The article referred to here is ‘What tactics for the Stop Bush protest at APEC?’ by Simon Cunich, which appeared in the May 11, 2007 edition of the paper (a publication of the neo-Leninist Democratic Socialist Perspective). Davis deliberately omits the fact that members of Mutiny were reportedly joined by two other groups in supporting the motion: “At the April 30 Stop Bush Coalition meeting, members of the anarchist group Mutiny, the student-based Solidarity group and the International Socialist Organisation argued for, and won, a motion to remove the line “Join the peaceful protest against these warmongers” from a poster advertising the rally. The same meeting also reaffirmed that the Stop Bush Coalition was organising a peaceful mass rally.
Stop Bush Coalition media spokesman Alex Bainbridge [DSP] would not comment on Mutiny’s involvement in his group’s planning meetings.
He said the Stop Bush Coalition was still planning a peaceful protest.
“We are worried if anything about the possibility of violence from police,” Mr Bainbridge said.
“It’s important that people come out on the streets and make their views heard.”
He could not say if overseas protesters were planning to come to Australia for APEC, or what specific measures the group would take to prevent violent groups from hijacking the protests.
Eleven people were arrested at the G20 protests in September last year, after rioters in white hooded suits and bandanas smashed a police car and injured a number of officers. Police officers have since been accused of responding to the protesters with excessive force.
Organisers of the G20 protest told the media that members of Mutiny and Arterial Bloc were responsible for the violence.
Violent protests have also erupted at this week’s G8 summit in Germany, where masked rioters throwing rocks and beer bottles injured almost 150 police.
- See also : Trot Guide
Update : The ideological state apparatus, as part of the massive public relations campaign surrounding the upcoming APEC Summit in Sydney, has neatly side-stepped the ‘issue’ of 30,000 Children Dying In Extreme Poverty Every Day™ (which fact naturally occasions much hand-wringing by priests and pop stars), to narrow its focus on the threat to Western Civilization represented by a mob called ‘Mutiny’. Sensing, perhaps, a small degree of success in the campaign to focus public concern over the possibility of ‘violence’ directed at, and not inflicted by, the thousands of police guarding the APEC Summit — nicely augmented, of course, by the recent, typically garbled, accounts of ‘anarchist violence’ in Rostock — as well as the need to respond to the same public’s antipathy towards evacuating a major city simply for the sake of allowing an outgoing PM to realise some photo opportunities with an outgoing President, the usual suspects have decided to re-focus attention on the possibility of more militant forms of dissent embodied, apparently, by an anarchist group. As indicated above, Mutiny — in conjunction with the ad hoc formation known as ‘Arterial Bloc’ — was publically blamed by G20 ‘protest organiser’ and DSP member / ‘anti-capitalist revolutionary’ Marcus Greville for the ‘violence’ at last November’s G20 protests in Melbourne. “Several people were arrested and 10 police officers treated for injuries following violent clashes in Melbourne during the G20 summit last November”, according to today’s Herald Sun (‘Violent APEC protests not tolerated – police chief’, June 5). Unmentioned in the report is the fact that the only serious injury sustained by police was a suspected broken wrist; the main offence, of course, lying not in the injuries sustained to police bodies but rather that inflicted upon police authority. That — and the spectacle of a police van with broken windows — added up to an embarrassing public relations failure for State and Federal Governments regarding their joint capacity to ensure social pacification.
Aside from the inevitable denunciations, especially from the ‘left’, which the fallout this relatively minor event produced — of which the most vulgarly spectacular was vomited forth by Mick Armstrong of the student-based Trotskyist groupuscule Socialist Alternative; one which revealed a bizarre preoccupation with tracing the heroic activities of Forty Kiwi Anarchists (most recently spotted directing traffic in Rostock) — a spooked state has decided to up the ante by introducing new, highly repressive legislation explicitly justified as constituting a necessary (if slightly regrettable) measure intended to prevent Bad People like Mutiny from doing Bad Things (like throwing empty plastic bottles at police lines). In particular: “Of the many temporary powers, police will have special provisions when using police animals, including horses and dogs. Certain individuals predetermined by police to be a serious threat to security will be prevented from entering declared security zones under the proposed legislation. And anyone found assaulting police or causing damage can be refused bail during the APEC summit. The proposed legislation will apply from August 30 to September 12 only.”
Police will thus be protected from having to justify in a court of law actions such as the following:
Picture this. You’re in the city. There’s a fair bit of commotion because of the [APEC] summit, but you’re not interested in that. You’re in town with a friend. You stop at a small supermarket on [X Street] to pick up a drink. As you walk to the counter, three to six big men approach. Suddenly, and without warning, they surround you and say threateningly, “We’ve been looking for you”. You say you haven’t done anything, but they grab you and drag you outside. You start calling for help. There is a white van outside. Your friend runs out and asks what’s going on. The men tell him, “Get the f— out of here.” They throw you in the van and close the doors. The men are not wearing uniforms and their van is unmarked. They force you to the floor of the van, hold your legs behind your back, handcuff you and sit on your head. You can hardly breathe. They cut your backpack off your back. They are swearing at you and abusing you. They refuse to answer your questions about who they are. The van drives for about 10 minutes before it stops and someone tells you that they are police officers…
“A letter attributed to Mutiny appears on the website A-Infos, which claims to be “a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists”. The letter said Mutiny does not want a repeat of what happened at the G20 in Melbourne but favours less-than-peaceful protests at APEC…”
(en) Australia, Sydney, An open letter from Mutiny* to people thinking about organising protests at APEC
Date : Sun, 06 May 2007 20:45:29 +0300
Some people have said that they don’t want APEC to be another G20. Neither do we. We don’t want to see ‘protest organisers’ publicly denouncing other protesters. We don’t want to see groups responding to a climate of police aggression by distancing themselves from those being targeted. We don’t want to see groups so busy scrambling for crumbs of media ‘legitimacy’ that they willingly play into media hysteria about ‘violence’ and false and dangerous dichotomies between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ protesters. We believe that in this climate it would be all too easy for any of us to find ourselves classed as ‘bad protesters’. So we’re concerned to hear that the Sydney Stop Bush Coalition has decided to produce posters saying ‘join the peaceful protest.’
This text itself is minor, but it suggests worrying tendencies (which are not confined to a particular group.) To insist on ‘peaceful protest’ seems to be either naïve or dangerously cynical — and it aligns with the repression of dissent.
It’s naïve if anyone who was at the recent demonstrations against Cheney didn’t learn from them. No protester went there planning ‘violence’ — but the assembly decided to defy police and tried to push through police lines. This choice meant that it was not a ‘peaceful protest’ by many definitions (and certainly not by that of the corporate media.) Yet, the course of action taken was how the group felt it had to be done. To try to march, people chose to confront the police — and it was a confrontation in which many of us suffered violence and arrest.
The next day was equally instructive: an entirely passive crowd was terrorised by police snatch squads making utterly unfounded arrests. If people believe that negotiating with police will ensure a ‘peaceful protest’ then they don’t seem to be living in the same city as us.
Obviously it’s important to encourage large-scale defiance in which people can feel safe and brave whatever their level of involvement. The cops are clearly trying to make anyone who might think about protesting feel scared and we have to fight that. But insisting on the image of ‘peaceful protest’ only amplifies the wedge politics of the police and media: and it doesn’t stop police violence. It seems downright irresponsible to promise — or demand — peace. Obedience will not make us safer.
In this context, it seems likely that, whatever the desire of the organisers, people will choose to attend the protest prepared for self-defence or other disobedient actions. Is the call for ‘peaceful protest’ an attempt by the small group producing the poster to say that such tactics and politics are not welcome at the protest? Of course anyone taking any action must take responsibility for it and the effects they might have on others. However, those who call a protest are not the boss or police of everyone who attends and cannot assume to control it. Is this group a coalition through which diverse events can be organised, or is it a collective planning a single march? (We assume it’s the former; if not there is clearly a need for a broader group as well.)
If any groups were planning confrontational actions it would of course be essential that they worked with respect alongside others so that those who did not want to be involved wouldn’t be drawn in against their will, and so that other actions were not interfered with. While communication was imperfect, this seemed to be fairly well done at the G20 – many people went on a march and went home, while those who overturned barricades etc were streets away. It’s important to continue to improve communication, not shut it down.
Our fear is that an assertion made now that the protests will be explicitly ‘peaceful’ will shut down the discussions that need to be had; that people will argue only that the protests should be ‘peaceful’ instead of accepting that people will organise in diverse ways; that a small group will attempt to define what is ‘legitimate’ for the entire protest rather than working to ensure mutual autonomy, safety and effectiveness.
This letter was not written because we’re planning so-called ‘violent protest’ or know of some secret plans. We have no idea. Preparing for APEC protests has not been a priority for us as a group. The police preparations seem to strengthen the arguments against summit protest, especially doubts about the value of challenging the state on their terrain and when they are most prepared. On the other hand, they also strengthen feelings that it is important to defy police attempts to frighten us. This ambivalence is why we haven’t been at meetings making these arguments; we hope this will [not serve] as reason to dismiss our thoughts. We write in the hope that we or groups with politics similar to ours would be able to organise for APEC alongside others – in the hope that a diversity of tactics will be possible and the spaces for discussion and action will not be shut down.
The Mutiny collective
(mutineers at graffiti dot net)
* Mutiny is an anarchist collective from sydney, smeared by the corporate media and much of the left for action at the g20 summit last november