Saturday, May 2, 2009

Manufacturing Mayday violence

Happy Mayday all. I joined a May Day protest/dance party in Hamburg, which was really a bit of a blast. Named "Krisenfest" we (looked to be a couple of thousand) danced our way to Hafencity and back along the waterfront to the Fischmarkt. Hafencity is a massive yuppie accommodation and business project which makes Canary Wharf in London look small. Specially commissioned apartment blocks, a philharmonic hall and many, many other buildings are built on former container and warehouse land. One would think with the crisis in full swing building would have slowed to a halt, as has the port traffic in Hamburg Port. But no, its full steam ahead on projects for the rich whereas workers elsewhere are being thrown out of work and social cuts loom. The krisenfest highlighted the disparity - plenty of money for banks and architecture firms and none for the rest of us. The philharmonic hall was 'shoed', banks water pistolled and generally a good time was had by all.

The cops were mostly hands off, except for one incident where the protest trucks/sound systems had to separate from the protestors for a short while( they went down a street and most of us over a footbridge). The cops took the opportunity to stop the trucks and harass the occupants. A potentially ugly scene was avoided when the cops backed down under the hard stares of the rest of the crowd.

There were a number of other (smaller) Hamburg Mayday demos which had a much heavier police 'footprint'. About 700 anticap/anarchists marched through St Pauli to Rote Flora, and there were a smaller number of antifa protestors in Barmbek later on. It was a pity that our forces were so divided, but I guess that reflects real differences in how to go about protesting

Elsewhere, Berlin cops who had whipped themselves into a frenzy about potential violence, managed to provoke it themselves when they raided a peaceful dance party. There is a rather good report on the Berlin activities here. In Istanbul the violence was again caused by the cops who wouldnt even allow free assembly. The mantra from media was predictable: 'violent protestors around the world' - blah!

Here's a report from Reuters trying to figure out the violence in Berlin,

Rioting on the May 1 Labor Day holiday, which since it started in 1987 has caused extensive damage to parts of the city, had been on the wane in the last three years after police shifted tactics from battling rioters to de-escalation. [...] Police in Berlin expect further violence when members of far-right parties, labor unions and leftists march. The trouble in Berlin on Friday began at the end of an otherwise peaceful gathering of about 2,000 people, police said. Demonstrators threw bottles and stones at trams and cars. Glass windows at bus stops were also destroyed by rioters.

Now I'm not a specialist in cop logic, but I would have thought that if you had less riots with a policy of 'de-escalation' - then its probably anti-logical to convince yourself that there was going to be violence and then act in such a way as to ensure that it was going to happen. Unless of course your role as cop is not keeping the peace but bringing to bear the means of violence against anyone with ideas of changing the status quo.

There is of course a pressing social concern for the powers that be. In the context of a German economy forecast to contract by 6 percent in 2009, with unemployment likely to rise to nearly five million,

Michael Sommer, president of the German Unions' Federation, has warned that 'if business corporations react to the crisis with mass layoff of workers, it is very likely that social revolt take place.' Sommer said this was not a threat, but a comment on the prevailing atmosphere.

Instead of formulating policies to defuse the social crisis, the ruling class prefers to set loose its attack dogs

"Whoever throws a stone or wears a mask must be immediately taken out of play," [Rainer Wendt, chairman of one of Germany's national police unions] told the Neuen Osnabruecker Zeitung newspaper.

And of course the cops/ruling class know there is a potential revolutionary in every disgruntled worker. So they raid peaceful events, kill a protestor in London, provoke more anger and all the time calling for an expansion of police numbers. So there you have a vicious circle of cop logic: more police=more violence=still more police.

But this is an old fight and an old enemy and in the best spirit of the day, there is always 1000s on the street willing to resist.


  1. I know you said the cops manufactured the violence, but this is ridiculous...

    Police Officer Arrested for Joining Berlin's May Day Riot"During the May Day protests last week, Berlin police clashed with nearly every kind of demonstrator imaginable -- including one of their own. An off-duty police officer from Frankfurt has been arrested for stone-throwing during riots which left over 450 of his colleagues injured.",1518,623723,00.html

  2. fatal mistake - agent provacateuring without orders
    or perhaps a black bloc double agent(or is that triple agent? :S)

  3. Lol...I don't think he was freelancing in a professional sense, just part of the kneejerk violent reaction his time in the force inculcated him with.