Berkeley, “Porros” and Shock Doctrine

 

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Analysis by Reporting San Diego.

Feb 2, 2016 (San Diego) Forget the irony that Berkeley was at the heart of the free speech movement in the 1960s. In 1965 students demanded the rights to have freedom of political expression on campus. The protests were large, well attended and at times involved the police in not so friendly ways. The administration gave way, and the campus became a center of speech, all kinds of speech. Why it also became the heart of the Vietnam antiwar movement. In other words, Berkeley was the place where this offensive speech was tolerated. This includes incidentally, Milo Yiannopolous, who is a white supremacist. Yes, his speech should have gone on in the past, and the peaceful protests outside should have been held.

That was likely the original plan, or at least we hope so. Stoping speech you do not agree with is a betrayal of what the first amendment stands for.

However, that is not what happened. So let’s dissect what happened and why I used the word “porros.” This is how those who carry the disruption are called in Mexico. There are other names as well, but that one is as old as the October 1968 student repression in Mexico City. Governments know that one way to discredit any peaceful protest is to transform it into chaos.

How do you do that? Last night was a textbook example. How do we know? The video does not lie. We had a group of black-clad, masked young men going around starting fires, breaking windows and destroying a bank ATM or two. Did we mention the use of large firecrackers used on police? Or the fact that police fired back?

There is more. The authorities said this. Here, from a University statement:

The violence was instigated by a group of about 150 masked agitators who came onto campus and interrupted an otherwise non-violent protest.

The masked agitators came to campus eastbound on Bancroft Way, and fire damage and other destruction to the Stiles Hall construction site, where a new residence hall is planned, was reported. The group entered campus and immediately began throwing rocks at officers. In an effort to avoid injuries to innocent members of the surrounding crowd who might have been caught in the middle, police officers exercised restraint and did not respond with force.

Agitators also attacked some members of the crowd who were rescued by police. UCPD reported no major injuries and about a half dozen minor injuries. Mutual aid officers from the city of Oakland and from Alameda County arrived at Berkeley around 7:45 p.m. to assist UCPD and Berkeley city police.

No arrests had been made by UCPD as of 9:30 p.m.

Campus officials said they condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence and unlawful behavior that was on display and deeply regret that those tactics now overshadow the efforts of the majority to engage in legitimate and lawful protest against the performer’s presence at Berkeley and his perspectives.

 

These were outside agitators, known to the police in the Oakland area. Let that one sink in for a second. They are known, agitators. These were known anarchist, black bloc, who came to liven up the party and force the police to declare this an illegal assembly and to make the environment so unsafe that the event had to be canceled. All this was by design.

So who benefits? Well, the first to benefit is the nationalist right who was prevented from making a hate filled speech. Yes, that is the first advantage. It also helps to paint this school (liberal mind you) in a terrible light. When Yiannopolous says that this is self-defeating for the social justice left, he has a point. Listen to the man, he knows what he speaks off. Did we mention this tactic was also used in Nazi Germany to discredit all resistance from the left early on? These white supremacists are aware of that history. It is time you become extremely familiar with it and refuse to play along.

So what are protest organizers to do? First off, identify these people and separate them from your group. I know in the field that is easier said than done. DOCUMENT. DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT. Realize the police not stopping well-known agitators is putting you at unnecessary risk. Make noise, and point out what is happening. This is chaos by design, and it is meant to make any protest look violent and not going to. It also is designed to frighten people and in the end to force the state to clamp down and cancel free speech. Law and order is an effective trope for a reason.

Your neighbors south of the border know this tactic extremely well. Whenever there are protests in Mexico, we have people known as Porros, Halcones and other monikers for the same tactic. They are not always successful in pushing them out of the group and creating distance between those who are there for peaceful goals, or those who are there to create havoc. However, one thing march leaders and rally marshals always try to do is to separate themselves from these people. It is time for these same tactics in the United States. Do not tolerate their presence. They are not there to peacefully protest.

One more thing, sometimes it is best not to make yourself the target of these tactics. Given the history of Berkeley, the next time, and there will be a next time, that somebody you abhor shows up to give a speech, perhaps it is time to adopt the tactics of Ankara. What they are doing there now, since they face the same porrista problem, is just stand there, no signs, no bullhorns, just stone-faced silence.

Yes, you have a right to protest, but shock doctrine relies on your emotions being amped up and on agent provocateurs breaking the sound order of any march. They need you to get angry, and they need you to join in the breaking of things. So next time Yiannopolous shows up, or any of his friends… let them speak. No loud protests, no loud horns, not playing into the black bloc, and demanding the police keep this safe by preventing known outside agitators from well, agitating. Free speech does not include hammers, rocks, or fireworks.

If the police do not help you, do not engage anarchist. Do not talk to them. Do not fight them. Do not join them. Keep your distance from them. In other words, isolate them. These young, chiefly white men are not your allies.

Since I have alluded to media in the past, (and we love that exciting video incidentally), use that media to your advantage. Use those live feeds to actively denounce the black bloc, and point out that they are not your friends or allies. You share nothing with them. Once this happens enough, other tactics will be employed to discredit peaceful resistance. Chiefly, arm yourself with knowledge and understand how civil rights will be used against you. This has happened throughout the course of American history. Every generation needs to relearn how to do this.

For the moment, we know that President Donald Trump has threatened the state for this. No federal funds to California? Well then, perhaps it is time to take this the way no shock doctrine expects and to actually resist the threat. There is legislation already moving through the Assembly. Most of it will end up in the courts. But resistance will inevitably involve the courts. HIs threats are also textbook of an authoritarian engaging in shock doctrine.

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2 replies

  1. Excellent article.So — what’s the point of these agents provocateurs? Who are they? The main purposes are these:
    1. Discredit the movement (as mentioned) entirely and sow disapproval.
    2. Give the police a reason to crack down — really, really hard, usually– on the otherwise peaceful protesters
    3. And that helps keep other people from joining or participating in future protests
    4. If possible, splinter the group.

    Agents Provocateurs are such a constant in our civil life that I personally never, EVER think there’s anything else BUT agents provocateurs disrupting an otherwise peaceful protest when there’s news of that, and no one else should either. DO NOT automatically blame the protesters without being very sure there are no reports of these outside agitators that surface later.

    As pointed out, they are KNOWN to law enforcement and so are rarely if ever hurt, attacked or arrested. We’ve even seen them hustled through police lines and out of harm’s way at some protests.

    I think the advice for protesters in the article is excellent and important and hope people will help circulate the article for others to benefit, as I have.

  2. Excellent article.So — what’s the point of these agents provocateurs? Who are they? The main purposes are these:
    1. Discredit the movement (as mentioned) entirely and sow disapproval.
    2. Give the police a reason to crack down — really, really hard, usually– on the otherwise peaceful protesters
    3. And that helps keep other people from joining or participating in future protests
    4. If possible, splinter the group.

    Agents Provocateurs are such a constant in our civil life that I personally never, EVER think there’s anything else BUT agents provocateurs disrupting an otherwise peaceful protest when there’s news of that, and no one else should either. DO NOT automatically blame the protesters without being very sure there are no reports of these outside agitators that surface later.

    As pointed out, they are KNOWN to law enforcement and so are rarely if ever hurt, attacked or arrested. We’ve even seen them hustled through police lines and out of harm’s way at some protests.

    I think the advice for protesters in the article is excellent and important and hope people will help circulate the article for others to benefit, as I have.

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