Occupy Wall Street’s ‘Solidarity Sunday’: What Are ‘Black Bloc’ Protesters?

Occupy Wall Street's growing pains

occupythedream Occupy Wall Streets Solidarity Sunday: What Are Black Bloc Protesters?Journalist Tim Pool began live-streaming an Occupy Wall Street solidarity march for Occupy Oakland in Manhattan Sunday night. The march was intended to demonstrate support for the 400 or so Occupy Oakland protesters arrested in Oakland, California on Saturday and charged with breaking into a YMCA and Oakland’s City Hall in addition to resisting police.

Mr. Pool’s jittery stream provided a chaotic look at an Occupy action from the inside and also raised questions for many not that familiar with the Occupy movement and associated variations in protest actions. Questions such as: what does the ominous term “Black Bloc” mean and is it really part of the Occupy movement?

The question about “Black Bloc” protesters referred to Mr. Pool’s own (surprisingly coherent, considering he was constantly on the move) narrative of the march, in which he made a few references to “warnings” about “Black Block protesters” and prompted worried tweets and comments from viewers of his channel. Here is Wikipedia’s general answer as to the meaning of “Black Bloc“:

A black bloc is a tactic for protests and marches, whereby individuals wear black clothing, scarves, ski masks, motorcycle helmets with padding, or other face-concealing items.[…] The clothing is used to avoid being identified, and to, theoretically, appear as one large mass, promoting solidarity.

Black Bloc protests first came about in the 80s in Europe and were a part of the anti-World Trade Organization demonstrations in Seattle in 1999. Protest techniques are disruptive and volatile. They include rioting, vandalism and fighting as well as assistance to fellow protesters in fleeing police. These techniques are probably why many who casually mention Black Bloc protests online often include the word, “anarchists.”

In some instances Black Bloc protesters may actually be cops, as demonstrated by the Quebec police who went undercover during protests there in 2007.

Is Black Bloc protesting a part of OWS? The consensus from Twitter users who appear to support OWS is no. However the Occupy movement’s flagship website may have essentially invited Black Bloc-style protest with its announcement about today’s actions, titled “Solidarity Sunday–Wear Black Fight Back“:

Yesterday, Occupy Oakland moved to convert a vacant building into a community center to provide education, medical, and housing services for the 99%. Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, beanbag rounds and mass arrests. The state has compounded its policy of callous indifference with a ruthless display of violent repression. The Occupy movement will respond, as we have always reponded: with an overwhelming show of collective resistance. Today, we take to the streets. Across the country, we will demonstrate our resolve to overcome repression and continue to build a better world grounded in love and solidarity for one another. All eyes on all Occupies.

SOLIDARITY SUNDAY starts at 7 p.m. EST, Sunday, January 29. Check your local Occupation for convergence points.

Other solidarity protests were scheduled to occur in cities such as Boston, Philadelphia, DC, Chicago and Los Angeles, to name a few. Until 9:30 p.m. ET Sunday night the New York protest seemed relatively peaceful–right up to the moment Tim Pool was struck from behind and his camera knocked to the ground. Pool seemed uninjured and continued narrating the protest, calling the person who struck him a member of “an affinity group of anarchists,” which he did associate with what he’d heard about the Black Bloc.

[Timcast on UStream]


  1. Fuck Tim Pool says:

    Tim Pool is an idiot. One can not determine if an affinity groups is composed of anarchists unless they’re told that people the people who make up the group… I’m not surprised that Tim was attacked and I personally don’t feel it was undeserved. Tim is a known snitch and by live streaming people who have repeatedly asked him to stop he is making them more vulnerable to police than they wish to be. In addition Tim has demonstrated at the march that he feels okay snatching people’s faces and reporting them to the police, Tim Pool is a traitor to the movement and a police collaborator. Fuck Tim Pool!

  2. WTF says:

    Give me a fucking break. Tim is a phony. The guy has made 100,000 from occupy wall street, if not more, and there are homeless starving people. He has NO financial transparency. He is everything this movement is fighting against. 

  3. Jemspirit says:

    You had me up until you burned MY flag

  4. frog7877 says:

    Sales of black ski masks, clothes and helmets support the capitalistic.corporate market these guys seem to fight against.  Thanks for the profits OWS!

    1. Fuckyou says:

      Right on! They should all have hand sewn all their clothes or it’s not legit! Let’s take this “logic” and apply it everything made by corporations and next time you  complain about something, you can look in the mirror, see your sweatshop made clothes and realize how much of a piece of shit you are. 

  5. Anonymous says:

    Tim Pool (whom I know nothing qbout) is not the issue here.  Acountability is.  Oh, and not alienating 99 percent of the 99 percent.

  6. John Drefahl says:

    Listen, I witnessed the “Flag burning” and City Hall breaking after the Occupy Oakland arrests.  Let me set the record straight once and for all.  I was arrested on the street, but let go because I wasn’t near the YMCA.  I proceeded back to the Plaza where I witnessed a small group of NO MORE THEN 10 people break into City Hall.  2-3 people went in and did some damage.  Someone brought the flag out, and started it on fire.  It was a reaction to what had just happened.  Please understand, 400 people.  Friends, family, brothers, sisters, and just people in general where sitting under arrest by Oakland PD.  The streets were swarming with cops, it was chaos, and unfortunately the frustration of the moment was manifested in this activity by a very small group of people.

    My question is, why are you all concentrating on a burnt flag?  Isn’t it kind of weird to you that it took Oakland Police over 1 hour to respond to their CITY HALL being broken into?  It wasn’t like this was secret, I was tweeting it, and it was going over UStream from the very second it was happening.  OPD must have been monitoring the streams, or were they not.. or were they, and didn’t send anyone down right away to stop it because they WANTED THIS TO HAPPEN because they could spin it then in any way they would like.

    This being said, how much “response” do you think they would have had if someone was breaking into your house?  That’s thing.. Many citizens of Oakland will tell you.. the Police don’t help anyone.  They don’t serve, and they certainly don’t protect the people.. They only protect their own interests.

    Now we are here.. and you have all done exactly what they have asked.  You don’t realize you are being manipulated, but you are.. and you will soon awake and realize that what has started can not be stopped, and will not be stopped by anyone.  We have come to a point where there is not other way to go but revolution.  I didn’t decide this, you didn’t decide this.. our hand has been forced by the elites.  If you don’t realize this now, then I suppose you will realize when the truth about 9/11 comes out, and then maybe you will see the light.

    Stop believing what you read in the paper.. its only a shred of the truth.. start thinking for yourself.. start looking at the facts right in front of you.  This isn’t going away.. you should have expected this.