“Some men just want to watch the world burn.” – Alfred Pennyworth (The Dark Knight)
When one looks at the violence taking place in the recent leftist protests, there is a temptaion to believe that these are random, spur-of-the-moment outbursts. It is easy to assume that these are just situations where anger boiled over into chaos.
While this is sometimes accurate, there are many instances where the chaos was the result of the careful implementation of an anarchist organization. This organization is called the Black Bloc.
The Black Bloc is an organization that is known for its violent activities during protests. However, the name “Black Bloc” doesn’t just refer to the organization; it also refers to the tactics they use. Typically, Black Bloc activists will join protests wearing their characteristic black clothing and ski masks. This is done in order to conceal their identities while still being able to identify one another. Throughout the course of a protest, the activists will attack cars, buildings, and in some cases, people. They will break windows of buildings and vehicles and set fires in order to create an atmosphere of pandemonium.
These aren’t just a ragtag assembly of ne’er do wells. They are an organized outfit whose objective is to spread violence and fear at protests.
In an interview with the Washington Post, former senior FBI counterterrorism official David Gomez describes them as “anti-capitalists” who like to “destroy or damage businesses that reflect their view of the world order.” This is done to gain attention for their “cause” and also to provoke a response from the police. Recently, they have been active in the Occupy Wall Streets protests, Black Lives Matter riots, and the Presidential inauguration protests.
The Black Bloc originated in the 1980’s in Germany. The original Black Bloc was a group of people who protested by using rent strikes and taking over buildings. These buildings were then used for their political activities. In one instance, Black Bloc activists kept the police from taking over the Hafenstrasse squat.
Black Bloc ideas eventually spread to the United States. The organization’s first major movement in the U.S. was in 1991 during a rally protesting the Persian Gulf war, when they attacked the World Bank building, breaking its windows.
Black Bloc activists tend to be people who hold regular day jobs: students, teachers, and labor organizers. A large number of them work for activist non-profit corporations.
While many members of the Black Bloc are on the front lines of the group’s violent activities, there are other members whose roles are more administrative and fulfill more support-based functions. These can include legal support, transportation, media contacts, and even the provision of food and supplies. The more supportive roles are usually filled by people with previous arrest records, health problems, and people with questionable immigration status.
Last week, Black Bloc activists joined a protest against Breitbart Editor Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley. In a piece for USA Today, Sean Rossman writes, “The group tossed smoke bombs, set fires and started fights on the University of California – Berkeley campus where Yiannopoulos was slated to speak.” As a result of the violence, Yiannopoulos was not able to give his speech.
The actions of Black Bloc caused over $100,000 in damage. They also pepper-sprayed a woman they believed to be a Trump supporter and attacked Republican students. In a piece written for CNN, Madison Park and Kyung Lah write, “Two Berkeley College Republicans ‘were attacked while conducting an interview’ on the campus on Thursday, UC Berkeley also said in a prepared statement.”
The Black Bloc also caused mayhem at a recent event at New York University where former Fox News personality Gavin McIness gave a speech, even attempting to attack McIness himself.
The Black Bloc is yet another example of the left’s predilection for violence to further their political views. Their actions are fueled by an anti-capitalist, anti-conservative ideology. And they are well organized. When a protest is expected, the organization’s members carefully map out their “plan of attack.” The group even has a website that helps them carry out their attacks more effectively.
If this organization is allowed to grow, it could result in more than just broken windows. It could cost someone their life. Movements like these also threaten to cause great damage to the ways we engage in our political conversations.
Their methods represent fascism, plain and simple. These are the types of tactics that totalitarian groups use to impose their will on the rest of the populace. To be fair, not all leftist protesters engage in violence. Many of them protest peacefully. But groups like these are a clear threat to our first amendment.
Free speech is one of the most essential principles upon which our nation was founded. As Americans of both the left and right, we must work to repudiate and dismantle this pernicious movement. We must safeguard our right to express our point of view, for when any group seeks to prohibit free expression, they are attacking the very thing that defines America.