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News ::
Viva la anarquia! a north american anarchists experiences in Barcelona anti-EU
22 Mar 2002
A north american anarchists experiences in the biggest anti-capitalist-globalization demonstration in our history.
Snufkin Moomintroll at snufkin9 (at)
a member of Daybreak Anarchist Collective

The Barcelona anti-EU Manifestation!

It´s difficult to sum up in one statement all the stuff that´s been happening in Barcelona during the last week of mobilizations that led to Sundays manifestation of 500,000 people, the largest anti-globalization march in our movements history. The momentum has been noticably building for a month; posters and graffiti spontaneously appearing, newspapers buzzing of police plans and presence, media threats that dangerous foreign agitators are coming to Barcelona (that´s us!), and much more. In the last week before the summit the police presence of 8,500 smothered the city, and later in the week shut down major streets, transportation, and neighborhoods in order to safeguard the summit (yes, again they had to meet in an occupied zone). Homeless people were cleared out of sight, young people were cleaned from the streets and plazas, and some parts of inner barcelona became a surreal playground of militarized police and tourists in bad shirts. Yes, the name Franco was mentioned more then once.

The activist side was also mobilizing. Independent newspapers popped up helpfully informing us of the myraid of event taking place during the week. Convergence and work space was set up at the university, housing was arranged for thousands, and a constant stream of people poured into the city.

The week of mobilizations started with a Reclaim the Streets dance party on Saturday the 9th, wound through a week of forums and movies, into the Friday Day of Decentralized actions, and then the conference on alternatives and giant march of Saturday the 16th.

THE ACTIONS Here we go!

The reclaim the streets went well. 2000 people danced, spray painted, andpostered from Placa Universidad to La Rambla and all the way around to Colom. We left a wonderful trail of funny graffiti even though the police presence was quite stifling as they marched alongside us the entire route. The only real confrontation was when a couple of us turned down a side street and the van followed. Police tripped over themselves trying to block us and some little scuffles broke out. It looked like a standoff so I was happily eyeing the well placed dumpster of toys (bricks, ladders, wire, fence. Yes the garbage-people in Barcelona must be anarchists!)but our sound
truck reversed and we continued down the main street. The party broke up at the end of La Rambla, the sound van starting to move, hauling in the speakers, ripping off the signs covering the license plates, and zooming out of sight. We milled around for an hour in an intersection while police figured out what to do. I think everyone left of their own volition.

Sunday a tranquil 300,000 person manifestation against the governments new water plan took place. The plan calls for privitazation of water and building of all these new reservoirs as well as a whole bunch of other shit that is bad for the environment and people (and good for golf courses).

The forums during the weekdays dealt with a variety of things; from women and anti-globalization, to the new economic order, to the all-important precedent of Genoa the film of which kinda sucked because of all the pacifist rhetoric and because it included that infuriating obligatory sequence of hippies gving flowers to police. C´mon, anarchists need flowers too!)


The Friday Day of Decentralized Action started out with an anti-lobby
action too early in the morning for me to wake up. It was attended by 3000 people, had a couple arrests, and I´m sure, struck fear into the hearts of lobbyist slime all across the continent. Also not attended by me but to give you an idea how much was happening was; a Zapatista mural painting, action for release of Basque political prisoners, a blockade on the border to protest the refusal of entry to 5,000 radicals (for money borders come down, for us they get tighter), a manifesation of 2000 in solidarity with Latin America, some sabotage against deserving targets, and some boring marxist and catalan nationalist stuff.

My first action of the day was at the reasonable hour of 1pm, however, it didn´t get going until 2 hours later. It was the anti-capitalist demo, organized by anarchists, ok, not really organized, called for. It was named ¨The Rich also Cry¨. When I first walked by the meeting place the police were searching people on La Rambla so I scooted around until the crowd thickened and I was able to dive safely into the middle. Cops were lined up all down the street sorrounding the growing crowd of 1000. For 2 hour nothing happened but suddenly the crowd swayed in one direction, smashes were heard, and it stampeded back in the other direction. I was doing the
usual thing of ¨don´t run¨ etc when some handily placed steel chairs were placed through the windows of nearby police vans and at the riot cops next to me. Now the crowd really panics, the police near me leap into their vans and try to escape only to find them sorrounded by manifestantes fleeing the narrow street. I find myself sorrounded by evil looking cops on all sides and decide to get to safety, I cross in front of a van half expecting to get run down just as the cops exit clubs a-swinging, one of them sees me at the last moment and grabs me but I shake loose, then I run. I get into a street with about 50 other people, we lose track of the rest of the action
as cops are quickly spreading throughout Barrio Gotic. I de-mask and
getting into tourist disguise slip past lines of cops and eventually back to La Rambla where I see the telltale smoke signs and am greeted by the warm welcome of burning barricades. I follow a trail of firey barricades through El Raval but can´t find the manifestation so I hope back to La Rambla to find a couple hundred people back at the meeting point. We´re dispersed with only a couple arrests I think. Police actually closed all of La Rambla for the afternoon which made the march a victory against the capitalist domination that reigns on that street.

My next action that day was against bio-engineering, and was quite
uneventful and routine except for a couple confrontations with police that the organizers kept trying to deflect. Though I did learn the kickass chant ¨Police tools of the system¨ and they actually looked ashamed. That march winded down to the plaza where the Imperio Circus would be taking place. It was organized by squatters and was really kickass including jugglers, acrobats, clowns, plays, and chair lifters with their teeth. And all against capitalism, the type of really great that we should do more of.

About 11pm I climbed the big hill by my houses and attended a memorial of about 200 people on Carrer Genova for Carlo Giuliani. Candles, spray painted slogans, and an indescribably beautiful mural painted onto the concrete. (Though I was a little dismayed that no one mentioned the non first world people who have died in anti-globalization demonstrations).


The next day was a music festival and then the big-everyone-march. There were 2 main groups organizing it from what I´ve gathered, 1) the Platforma Catalana, catalan socialist nationalists (ever heard that combination of words before). They were definitely represented at the weeks actions even bringing catalan flags to the memorial before being shouted down to put them away. I understand it´s more about cultural determination but it´s a bit strange for me to see people waving the same flags that the cops attacking us have
on their lapels. But from what I heard they didn´t make a very big showing at the actions. And 2) Contra la Europa de Capital that was the main organizer.

I got there to find a see of people later estimated to be 500,000, the
largest anti-capitalist-globalization manifestation yet. I spent 45 minutes wading through the crowd only to find a couple little anarchist flags. However, by the time that march left we had grown to 5,000 people (squatters, autonomists, CNT, dangerous youth, just normal anarchists and a couple insurection-ationists in disguise) of red and black flags, banners, masks, and my dream chant of ¨¡Viva Anarquia!¨. At first the march was pretty tranquil but within a half hour we heard smashing noises behind us and the crowd (including anarchists decked out in all the latest style of dangerous
agitaters) trampled over each other trying to escape as a handful of cops defending a jewlery store were rained with debri and bottles. The
manifestation marshalls came over and started yelling and accusing and we began to move on. Our block was becoming a bit more agressive, when we passed the police station it was greeted with a larger hail of debri. Much of which exploded among the ¨marshalls¨ lined in front of the station or came to close to hitting those of us in the manifestation. Again, this was accompanied by the mad panicked stampede of hardcore revolutionaries trying to escape. Reckless and stupid, when my friend was almost bludgeoned by a bottle we moved up a little past the banner to the flock of more experienced looking flags. Within a couple minutes the rest of the block had fallen a bit behind our contingent. Just as we stopped to go back we heard more noise, and a herd of media and marshalls come stampeding towards us. Police are being attacked, and banks being vandalized, but the rest of our people are being sorrounded. We hear the echo of rubber bullets and take refuge behind an ice cream cart as smoke bombs go off. Just as we make plans with other anarchists around us to go squeeze out the police between us the block breaks free, and with a vengeance sets to vandalizing every target in sight. Tearing up the street to get rocks as police push from behind. We see tons of cop vans forming at La Rambla and see ourselves being boxed in, we´re herded down to the Port and eventually escape down the dark port street, coming back up to Colom only to find the police doing
cleaning operations and the manifestantes dispersing.


All in all it was a victory. A week of inspiring actions culminating in our biggest mobilization ever. But it did have a few disturbing trends but let me first say. KICKASS JOB! to all the anarchists, all the organizers who worked so hard, all the dancers rioters and singers! To everyone who participated and supported! Great and inspiring action! It was beautiful to see that there really are so many of us. As the Manu Chau concert that night was named, ´There are millions of us and the world is still not ours¨. ok my concerns.

A lack of direct action with the big march. If our movement comes to be defined by symbolic marches we lose the thing that makes us dangerous and a threat. Even the media senses this, they effectively glossed over any of the stuff I saw. Politicians complimented us on our well behaved pacifistic march (while also emphasizing that ¨this new Economy can not be reversed¨). There´s the danger that we´ll be co-opted by the system, a socialist politician actually gave his cautious endorsement to this (and socialists ARE politicians, no doubt). We need to avoid at all costs being connected to the sleazy loyal opposition, and our tactics need to reflect that we´re
not in any way buying into their values. Direct action and direct democracy are the bugspray for these political hacks.

To do this we need to, as anarchists, be more open to getting new people involved who aren´t part of our scenes and cliques. I think also, that we need start doing some damage control on what we´re really about because it´s not all about property destruction or attacking cops. Here in Europe the Black Block has much less support among other radicals because it´s been so loose here and easy to infiltrate by cops (unlike where we got tight marches in North America). It might even be a good idea to do what we did in A16 after Seattle and have a meeting beforehand to decide what things we wanna do, and then play a role that compliments other demonstraters while still displaying our ideals and beliefs (during A16 it won us North American anarchists numerous supporters who previously thought
we were just thugs, and made anarchism more appealing that we could carry out these kickass actions organizing as anarchists and look damn fine doin it). It also wouldn´t hurt for us to organize a god damn training on ¨how to riot¨ just giving basic information on good strategies so people don´t fucking hit each other with bottles or panic every time a cop comes. These are just thoughts, of course, there´s more options. The next action will be bigger, we will be more experienced. Fanstastic! Until the final victory!
¡Viva La Crisis De La Autoridad! ¡Viva la Anarquia!

Snufkin Moomintroll at snufkin9 (at)

a member of Daybreak Anarchist Collective
PO Box 14007 Minneapolis MN 55404
daybreak (at)
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