Anarchist Action In Vancouver
an insurrectionary anarchist analysis
Catalyzed by the growing popular resistance to the Liberal government in British Columbia, and in particular the Woodwards Squat, anarchist affinity groups have been organizing and intervening in the struggle in Vancouver in a visible and direct way.
On November 4, 2002, an affinity group of 8 anarchists dressed in black bloc made a presence felt at a demonstration against the B.C Restaurant and Food Association. The demonstration had been called by the Anti-Poverty Committee of Vancouver (APC) to expose the association of business groups that played a large part in the implementation of the $6 dollar and hour training wage. The anarchists waved black flags, chanted and pushed for demonstrators to take up more space on the road, to block both directions of traffic. Police made a pathetic attempt to curb the anarchists, with one motorcycle cop approaching the group and other cops announcing over and over again on a load speaker that the anarchists and other demonstrators should “move back for their own safety”. Once the cops realized that their petty intimidation was useless they gave up their attempts. Soon after the anarchists were approached by a different breed of pig; an irate APC member approached the group aggressively and demanded that they move away from the second lane. A shouting match ensued and a physical scuffle was barely avoided. The APC member repeated “This is an APC demo. I am telling you what to do.” Like the official cops, this self-appointed “leader” quickly realized that the group would not be intimidated or pushed around.
Mounted police then formed a line next to and then in behind the black bloc. Many within the group predicted that the police were preparing to charge the crowd. A stand-off resulted, and the anarchists shouted for the police to go home. The horse police eventually left, and as the demonstration dispersed the anarchist group chanted “Kill the rich, arm the poor, this is fucking class war!” adding a militant spirit to a symbolic display of “dissent”.
On Saturday, November 9, an autonomist group formed and attended two demonstrations in Vancouver. About 9 people with black flags and a banner that read “Time for revolution. Against Capital. Against the State.” Made their way to a protest called by the Bus Riders Union to call for a “People’s Agenda” for city hall, timed to coincide with upcoming city elections. 3 masked members of the group were detained briefly by police before the beginning of the demonstration but were released once others from the crowd confronted the cops. The affinity group then quickly moved on to a demonstration downtown against growing police repression. Residents of the Downtown Eastside, who live in the poorest neighbourhood in Canada, responded positively to the masked group, and yells of “Fuck the police!” were met with cheers. Agitators from the affinity group spoke out against police violence and in favour of militant community response. A young child from the group shouted through the megaphone “Pigs are assholes!” A member of the Marijuana Party warned the crowd of “agent provocateurs”, cops who mask up and break windows to justify police violence, and an argument and shouting match erupted. The group dispersed shortly after.
On November 17, an anti-capitalist contingent took part in a large march against the war on Iraq. Red flags, black flags, and a Palestinian flag flew side by side, as the group initiated militant chants like “George Bush, we hate you, and your fucking army too!” and “Stop! Stop the USA. Class war is the only way!”. The Anarchist Action Group – Vancouver distributed pamphlets against war, as well as capitalist “peace”.
On Sunday, December 1, an anarchist social night took place in Vancouver, and many new radicals met each other and made contacts for future organizing.
The anarchist movement in Vancouver appears to be growing and becoming more cohesive, opening up new possibilities for rebellion and revolt.