Around 100 people gathered in Vancouver on Sunday, July 3rd to protest the condemnation of black bloc tactics following the Toronto G20 summit. Organizers invited the public to wear black clothes and bandanas in order to express their solidarity with the controversial tactic.
In a speech given at the beginning of the march, one of the speakers explained the rationale of the event by quoting German Pastor Martin Niemöller. “They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists...”
Although often associated with anarchism, participants in black bloc tactics come from diverse ideological backgrounds. “[By targeting black bloc tactics], they are not just threatening the anarchists, they’re threatening all types of protesters” the speaker continued.
Black bloc tactics, which have received considerable media attention during the G20 summit in Toronto, are a form of protest in which protesters wear black clothing and often hide their face, making it almost impossible for the police to identify them individually. They have been heavily criticized for having taking part in the burning of three police cars during the G20 protests and the destruction property.
“All the big businesses, like Starbucks, the banks, big media property, they’re just tools of corporate capitalism, so of course we’re gonna smash them!” said Todd from punk band The Rebel Spell, who was in Toronto during the G20 to play a concert that eventually got cancelled.
As the small crowd started marching onto the street, a protester in his 50s who somewhat kept himself at some distance to the core of the rally, expressed mixed feelings towards the event.
“I came because I think the mass arrest of people who were in Toronto is an outrage”, he said. He then paused for a moment, choosing his words, and added, “I share the same anger with other people at this rally, but I’m not so sure that the destruction of property is the most viable tactic.”
A second rally is being held on July 17th by another group to denounce the police response to the G20 protests in Toronto. Its organizers have taken a clear stance in condemning violent protesting. According to the Georgia Straight, the July 17 march will include marshals who will ask anyone who wears a mask to take it off.