Trump Survival Tips No. 8: Black Bloc, Part 2
I’m assuming you’re reading this immediately after reading Tip 7, so we’ll jump right in. You know what a black bloc is and why it’s important. So, how do you bloc? Pretty simple. We’ll go top to bottom.
Your face should, of course, be covered. Bandannas, black scarves, balaclavas, or a wrapped T-shirt can provide effective masks. Your mask should cover your face fully, be breathable and comfortable, not come off when you move around, and be quick to don; practicing masking up at home is definitely something you should do. Your hair should also be covered. Wear a hood or hat.
Avoid wearing clothes with visible labels, patches, or other designs; they’ll make you stand out, and provide a convenient target for police to settle crosshairs on. Wear your shirt inside out if you have to. Clothes should fully cover your arms and legs, for physical protection as well as anonymity. A black hoodie and pants should do the trick. Cover your hands as well; cheap knit gloves are more than sufficient, and don’t leave fingerprints. Remember, cover as much skin as you can. Leaving anything exposed endangers racialized peeps, and can also expose identifying tattoos.
Shoes can be tricky, and the most easily-identifiable part of your outfit. Communicate with your affinity group to determine what everyone’s wearing. Personally, I’m usually split between cheap sneakers (Vans or Converse work), and combat boots. Sneakers have the advantage of being common, and therefore make you hard to identify both during and after the bloc, but boots are much more durable for both kicking Nazi teeth and protection against rubber bullets or tear gas canisters. Stay in contact with your affinity group; if you’re all wearing boots, go nuts.
I’d recommend bringing a backpack. Like the rest of your clothing, it should be plain black, without identifying labels, markers, or designs. Being in a black bloc implies that you’re there for direct action, and it’s good to bring stuff along for that; bags can also cover designs on the back of your hoodie. Stuff to bring in said bag includes, but isn’t limited to, a respirator (here’s one for $35, if you’re willing to buy Israeli; no ethical consumption under capitalism, remember), extra masks for someone new to bloc, enough snacks and water to keep you going, a change of clothes and shoes, and whatever supplies you need for your action. If it’s an antifa counter-demo, bring a baton or a cut-down baseball bat; if it’s an anti-capitalist demo, bring spray paint for graffiti and painting over camera lenses; if you’re a street medic, bring a first-aid kit. If you bring your phone, take the battery out; cops can track your phone, and even use the microphone, without you turning it on. This goes for planning as well as during the bloc.
Knowing when to bloc and de-bloc is important as well. Don’t leave your house masked up and don’t leave the demo masked up; either makes it easy to target you. Mask up at the demo, preferably out of sight of police or cameras, under a banner, smoke cover, crowd cover, or as you’re walking in. (Layers are super good for this. Wearing a jacket over your hoodie and carrying your rucksack in a separate bag will do the trick.) Same goes for de-masking; do it somewhere you’re not being watched, or under smoke or crowd cover. Basically, don’t be the only one in or out of bloc. Anonymity at the demo is no good if you’re not anonymous going in and out. Smoke grenades are legal to buy in the US, no restrictions, so it might be worth getting one or two and putting in your bag. Talk to your affinity group.
After the march, be careful as well. Don’t go home alone if you can avoid it, and don’t ever post anything specific on Snitchbook. It’s fine to share photos that someone else took, or to express support, but the last thing you want to do is announce that you were there on Facebook.
Finally, be wary of cops in your bloc. Black bloc’s greatest strength can also be its greatest weakness; it’s relatively easy for undercover cops or journos to be as anonymous as you are in bloc. From there, they can try to entrap folks, try to start violence or make the demo seem like a riot on camera, or even try to snatch someone. Know your folks, and if you think someone’s a cop, make folks aware! Distance yourself from agents provocateurs, and make sure other folks do the same.
Remember folks: when we fight, we win, so know how to fight!