2011-08-08 "ALEC Conference Protested in New Orleans, 1 Arrest"
So, ALEC came to town [http://www.democracynow.org/2011/8/5/secretive_corporate_legislative_group_alec_holds].
Anarchists decided it was worth going to [http://nolaanarcha.blogspot.com/2011/07/why-anarchists-should-protest-alec.html], even though their is some group of rich conservatives or businesspeople meeting in our city every week, and ALEC is no worse than other lobbyist activity to us. The difference between lobbying and ALEC that got liberals excited to protest it was that their unions and progressive lobbying groups are not allowed a seat at the table inside ALEC. They want equal access, naieve to the reality of increasing corporate money, and therefore power, that makes the liberals easy to push aside.
Flier handed out at the ALEC march.
Anarchists came with fliers in hand and flags waving in the air to protest the very existence of politicians and corporations in our world, not to beg for seat at their table. The protest organizers [http://protestalec.org/], almost exclusively out of town liberals and member of the academic and non-profit class, created guidelines only a few days before the march which demanded everyone stay on the sidewalk, not be confrontational, and listen to the "peace marshals" in orange shirts. Things didn't go exactly as the way they planned from afar.
There are several problems with the guidelines the organizers set forth. First of all, New Orleans has a centuries-long tradition of people taking to the streets for jazz funerals, parades, secondlines, and Mardi Gras Indian events. This tradition has been fiercely defended by protest groups from civil rights organizers to the anti-war movement. To ask a New Orleanian to stay on the sidewalk while at a protest is to ask us to give up a freedom we've secured over time. And when you don't use your freedoms, as liberals probably know from bumper stickers, you can easily lose them.
So naturally, we took the streets during the march. Someone even managed to spraypaint a couple circle-As on the front of the Mariott while stunned ALEC delegates stood mere feet away. A smoke bomb was also lit off in the streets as the march wound it's way around the hotel. Unfortunately, the police did make one arrest for the graffiti. Anarchists stood protesting in front of the hotel, where delegates could hear and see us, while the organizers led people in circles around the building, afraid of being told to stop loitering, I guess, passing empty alleyways and hotel loading docks over and over.
And as far as the "peace marshals" go, we aren't living in a peaceful society. Maybe college educated middle class liberals don't experience the violence of this society first hand very often, but the threat of a police officers gun being pointed at your head is very real if one refuses to submit to the unfair rules that keep the rich in power. If they wanted to ensure "peace," maybe they could have asked the NOPD officers in attendance to go put their guns back at the police station, or they could have stopped some Sheriffs from evicting a family who couldn't pay a mortgage to Bank of America. The threat of massive violence is all around us every day; it is the only way this society keeps functioning as it is. How about stopping some of that? Instead of trying to discourage the people who are victims of it to stand up against such threats, threats manufactured into laws by groups like ALEC and enforced by the police and court system, why don't the "peace marshals"confront the on-going institutional violence all around us?
The out of town organizers' fliers even had a map with the wrong locations on it that didn't include the streets the march was going to go down. And, the people handing them out had no idea where the Marriott Hotel even was on the map! They also disrespected a veteran anti-police organizer in the city by calling him "Michael Suber" instead of his name, Malcolm Suber, while introducing him to speak at the rally. Despite their own fumbling around, some of them are blaming anarchists for "ruining" their protest [http://www.prwatch.org/news/2011/08/10948/protesters-spotlight-corporate-influence-state-politics-alec-annual-meeting]. Ha, they didn't need any help! (And just for the record, in the linked article it says the arrestee has something to do with Nola Anarcha. This is not true, we don't know him, but he was our hero for the day for his brave actions! Yet another excellent example of "journalism" by slimy non-profiteers)
This march gave anarchists the rare chance in our city to feel united and in solidarity on the streets together. The feeling was wonderful, hopeful, and strong. It felt really good. Hopefully we'll see more local anarchists the next time we stand up to those who've stolen so much from us, so we can build those special bonds that come from confronting our oppressors together and create a stronger community of resistance.
caption: This is what violence looks like. Spray-painting an anarchy symbol on the Mariott Hotel is not violence. When one considers that half their rooms are empty every night while 100 homeless people sleep under the bridge by the New Orleans Mission, you could say the with-holding of a safe place to sleep for corporate profit is institutional violence committed by Mariott every single day. Not to mention their hosting of ALEC, which writes laws that result in massive violence against people of color, immigrants, women, and the poor. Where are the "peace marshals"?