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Black bloc

A black bloc is a police resistance militia operating at a protest. Typical black blocs include members of union flying squads[?], anarchists, terrists, situationists, pagans, communists and other anti-racist, anti-capitalist groups. What defines a black bloc is not ideology but action in self-defense of the larger group of protesters. They are named for the typical black garb and mask they wear to avoid identification.

The tradition of black blocking grew out of the autonomen[?] movements in Germany in the 1980s; autonomen wore black during militant action in the process of squat defenses, and during solidarity-demonstrations for the Red Army Faction. One explanation for the autonomen's clothing choice is that black was the color of the leather jackets that squatters wore for warmth and to deflect blows from police batons, whereas ski masks were practical ways to filter out tear gas and to protect one's identity. Dubbed by the German media as the schwartzbloc, the tradition was first seen in the United States of America during protests against the Gulf War in Iraq, February 1991. Black as a color has historically been associated with anarchism, dating back to the black flags[?], which accompanied bread riots at the time leading up to the Paris Commune

Typical tasks of a black bloc are distracting police, misleading police about protester motions, 'unarresting' people already arrested by police, administering first aid to persons affected by tear gas in areas where protestors are barred from entering, disarming police, and unmasking police who pose as members of the black bloc (easily identified as they attack protestors). Some black bloc members also engage in vandalism and rioting.

Groups such as the WOMBLES and Wild Greens[?] advocate participating in black bloc activity, and have similar mandates.

At major protests in Seattle, Washington DC, Quebec City, Genoa, and other venues in late 1999 to mid-2001, black blocs were growing in size as part of the anti-globalization movement. When Carlo Giuliani a protester wearing a black ski mask, was shot dead in Genoa, the risks of participating in black bloc and other riot activity became obvious.

See also: anti-globalization movement, union flying squad[?]

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