Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Swiss Leftist Riots Run Like Clockwork
Following up one of the many links from Bafweb's coverage of last weekend's war on the Swiss People's Party, we find this report on the make-up of the violent group behind the rioting and destruction over the weekend: Black Block.
Who are the Black Block that are surging throughout Switzerland? [my translation]
The rioters surging upon Switzerland’s four corners constitute an organized and hierarchical movement, whose number of members are constantly increasing.
They’ve made themselves talked about three times in seventy days. After passing through Geneva and Lausanne, the leftist rioters known as “Black Block” spread into Berne, last Saturday. Same scenes of combat, same equipment, same strategies: the gatherings of the rioters have become well-oiled rituals. Who hides beneath the hoods? Who is dressing themselves in black? “Soldiers” commanded by small groups of “old professional revolutionaries”, confirm intelligence service experts.
First lesson: the Black Block assaults are more often than not methodically organized. It doesn’t always appear so, but, backstage, prepare all well and good, the actions to be carried out. The Service of analysis and prevention (SAP) of the federal Office of police describes four hierarchical echelons of activists.
Leaders over 50 years of age
One “command” – made up of a dozen militants based in Zurich and regrouped within a movement called “Revolutionary Reconstruction” – preside as éminence grise [grey eminence, “the figure behind the throne”]. Longtime activists, over 50 years of age, they maintain links between several european terrorist groups. “They never take risks, always leaving the scenes of the riots when violence starts”, notes Jürg Bühler, second-in-command of the SAP.
The anti-OMC Coordiantion situated in Berne sometimes plays the role of directing the Black Blocks. Ideologues delegate to a “core” of hundreds of militants the organization of the deployment of the troops onto the field. These “operational cadres” pass on the adopted plans – the hour at which certain Black Blocks must find themselves facing the UDC’s procession, for example – by internet and by [instant messaging]. They are themselves in command of a “network of personal acquaintances”, divided into two categories of activists more or less politicized over all of Switzerland, often very young. “In general around 20 years of age, these activists serve as soldiers that are sent into the streets”, explain Jürg Bühler. Last May, the SAP estimated the number of potentially mobilized Black Blocks in Switzerland at 2,000. They were only 850 three years ago.
Who are these soldiers adept at Molotov cocktails and broken windows? That’s the second lesson: one finds a bit of everything within the ranks of the Black Blocks. “Today, all the groups – punks, anarchists, redskins [Not natives; slang for communist skinhead], squatters – are mixed together”, says "Sandro", 35 years old, a veteran of the Lausanne alternative rock scene.
A glance at the rioters’ mode of dress proves it. Behind a uniform appearance of jackets with black hoods, a litany of dress codes appears. The only common denominator for the majority of these violent leftists: an anti-racist, anti-fascist, if not anti-globalization, leitmotif. “But there are also youths that have nothing to do with politics”, hints "Juliane", an ex-squatter with several protests to her credit. A statement corroborated by bernese police.
“Between 50 and 60 rioters came without any political ideology, as if they were going into the forest to let off steam upon some trees”, observed officer Jürg Gabi. ...
In the future, the forces of law and order are prepared to deal with a greater and greater Black Block front. “Even if”, says the SAP deputy Jürg Bühler, “it is one that is not influential or powerful enough to menace swiss society.” Reassuring?