the dream (and practice) of autonomous zones

“even if our goal is simply to hold a particular physical space, we have to prioritize carrying out offensive activities throughout society at large that can keep our adversaries on the defensive, while investing energy in the activities that nourish movements and spaces rather than focusing on defending particular boundaries. We should understand occupied spaces as an effect of our efforts, rather than as the central cause we rally around.

“a couple people suddenly decided that rather than deterring police from charging, the barricades were trapping us in. They would say things like “We need to make an escape route,” or “The barricades give the police an excuse to raid the park.” In reality, the police had every excuse they needed to evict the park, barricades or not, and NYPD has never waited for excuses to attack us. Barricades keep the police from rushing in to make random arrests.

“Regarding the question of escape routes, remember, every exit is also an entrance. Because the intended goal of the occupation is to hold space rather than to be mobile, it makes sense to have a strong perimeter on all sides.

“the larger the area occupied, the more police it will take to surround it. The sheer size of the City Hall Autonomous Zone is what enables a small group of people to defend overnight. It took police two hours to dismantle the unguarded barricades early Wednesday morning. Had the crowd chosen to leave the park while police were attacking, this would have been plenty of time to get everyone out through the other end.

“police were unable to get through the Northwest side as long as protesters were guarding it. police entered through the gap in the northeast and were able to make arrests. Fortunately, they were quickly pushed back to the outskirts, where they waited until early morning for our numbers to dwindle. In the early morning, they flooded in through the Northeast and pushed everyone back into the park. This shows how important the barricades are to holding the space and keeping us safe.”

The zone was not utopia. There were liberals/progressives. “If some tactics or ideas don’t catch on at one end of the park, there’s a good chance they will still work at the other end. The crowd dynamics are always changing. If you try something and it doesn’t get the reaction you were hoping, try something else—or just wait a bit and try it again.

“I’m standing with friends and strangers holding each other as we push against police shields. It’s the second night in a row that I’m nearly certain we’re all going to be arrested. Just the same, there’s really no other option but to stand our ground and endure. After hours of confrontation, pepper spray, and beatings, the police finally get the order to retreat.

“a stretch of the city in which the police cannot enforce law and order and with which they cannot negotiate.

“after a Black man was murdered

“The next day, the site was packed with people for most of the day; by sundown, the cops had been forced out of the area by people throwing bottles and attacking their cars.

“the only reason the crowd was able to attack the building in peace is because all the activists and NGO people were focused on the freeway....

“As the building went up, a cop tried to clear the streets in front of Area X by driving erratically through the street where dozens of people had been gathered. His objective was to open a route for fire trucks, but this failed as the police vehicle was repeatedly attacked with bricks. After a few laps in the street, he was forced to retreat.

“a large rowdy crowd split off to join a militant Black-led march headed to a nearby police precinct. The police had been tied up on the highway and elsewhere in the city that day, and now a new formation was headed to a nearby neighborhood, further dividing their attention. The march was guarded by barricaders and rock slingers who attacked police when they tried to drive by the crowd. police began firing tear gas and flash-bang grenades at the crowd and people responded with bottles, rocks, fireworks, and lasers.

“Many people in Area X have a very clear vision and they share that vision with those who ask. One of the first things we had to figure out as organized comrades was how to fight alongside the force that already exists here.

“every day since the shooting, ... blocking the streets with cars, watching sideshows, and so on. expropriated construction barricades to help secure the space.... At one point, for good reason, Area X did not allow any white people to enter the space.

“While rowdy marches of young front-liners and people from Area X battled with police at the nearby precinct on the first several nights, these eventually fizzled out.

“we invited them to participate in a squatted rave just around the corner from the occupation. This change of setting, expanding the uncontrollable areas near Area X, also added a new dimension to our friendships.

“I rushed over to pick up a smoking round with my leather glove and dunked it in my bucket of water and baking soda.

“if you can maintain the people and the energy until sunset, something good can happen.

“the laser and the loud music basically painted an audio-visual target for the police. Like most crowd tactics to resist police, lasers can provide increased safety if many people are using them, but if it’s only a few, they can increase the risk, especially to those employing them.

“Wear goggles and helmets y’all.” (tear gas)

“it felt glib to have music on while people were trying to get their bearings.” I appreciate turning off the music at times like this. “A good beat can go a long way to give a crowd a sense of ownership over a space.”

I feel like the author could have distinguished between vandalizing and the historic murders of a couple black people.

“my friend and I were the only white people there. People were joking around while throwing trashcans into the street, setting them on fire....

“I don’t seek to control territory. I seek to liberate it.

“a dumpster fire of epic proportions was happening at another intersection, with Black people around it telling everyone to enjoy themselves and not to put the fire out—to go somewhere else if it wasn’t their thing, reminding people that Minneapolis has just decided to defund their police force after many fires and refusing to protest the “right, legal way.””