From Twin Cities Indymedia
Sorry we’ve been too busy to write. We’ve got three more actions to catch up on…
On the afternoon of October 31st, 2009 — a night that would go down in Bash Back! TC history as “Halloqueen”– a crew of radical queers dressed in our most fabulous costumes and convened at the Lake Street light rail station. Scary costumes abounded, with folks dressed as clipboard-wielding HRC representatives, Hillary Clinton/Barrack Obama worshipping liberal lesbians, and camo-clad DADT military gays!
Once our posse assembled, we boarded a train bound for the most terrifying place in the Midwest -the Mall of America- the setting for a racistly named event called “Nick or Treat” put on annually by Rosie O’Donnells childrens media conglomerate Nickelodeon.
When we arrived, we found that we weren’t on the invite list and that this safe-haven of American capitalism was filled to capacity with mega corporations, consumers, assimilationists, tourists, & security. But that didn’t stop us. We pushed through the crowds avoiding security and found ourselves peering over the fifth floor balcony.
From there, we threw down thousands of fliers which condemned consumerism and outlined the link between capitalism and the oppression of trans people, people of color, womyn, and queer people to the massive assembly of people on the first floor. Thinking this was a “planned event” folks began pushing and shoving like greedy Wall Street bankers to get their hands on a flier. Here’s the text from one of the leaflets:
Queers continually have our desires, bodies, and genders policed in public spaces and privatized sites of capitalism. Queer and trans folks -especially queer and trans people of color- not only face queer-bashing but are also targeted and brutalized by police on a regular basis. Aside from targeting queers who are out in public, the state continues to raid gay bars and other queer spaces.
There are no safe spaces except those temporary sites of community that we struggle to create and defend for ourselves. This is one of those spaces.
Liberation Not Assimilation – Queers Bash Back!
It wasn’t long before a security guard got ahold of a flier and called over the radio for “heightened security, and that there be a “manhunt” (or transhunt, if you’d rather) for the individuals who threw this disgusting literature.”
But we had been braving heteronormative society for a lifetime and the bitter cold weather all night, so we weren’t going to let a bunch of mall cops get the best of us. Using our charm, our costumes, and our cunning to our advantage, we escaped security checks and boarded the train towards downtown.
Upon departure, we brought out a boombox and massive amounts of glitter, and convened a dance party. While it started off as just our queer crew dancing –and giving MetroTransit riders their money’s worth for once— things eventually spun out of control and turned into a full-fledged train party, as astonished passengers joined in, showing us their best dance moves. It wasn’t long before the train floor was covered in glitter confetti, the boom box was playing at full volume, folks were singing along, and passengers were hanging from the rails dancing.
When we arrived back at the Lake Street station, we parted from the worked up light rail passengers — who were still dancing, shook some of the glitter out of our hair, and said our goodbyes…
On Sunday Nov. 15th Bash Back! Twin Cities participated in our own way in a march and demonstration put on by Join The Impact Twin Cites – a reformist front group founded and controlled by straight folks from one of the local Trotskyist groups (Socialist Alternative). The rally and march was called “Legalize Love” and began with speakers in front of the government center and later marched to the Bedlam theatre for more speeches and slam poetry. Its fliers boasted “inspiring report backs from the National Equality March”, a questing asking readers if they are “Outraged by the vote to ban same sex marriage in Maine?”, and an appropriated quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. Being tired of the way gay marriage has co-opted our identities and utterly sick of this new trend to assimilate the Civil Rights Movement, we decided to attend to make it known that; Legalizing straight family models and having them reflected in our own families is NOT at all conclusive to gay rights.
We burst onto the scene in the middle of their pre-march rally in a pink and black bloc, and were immediately approached by one of the speakers who said they wanted us to make our point on the megaphone because the “movement is severely lacking the voices of womyn, people of color, & trannys”; when this speaker approached one of the straight organizers about that possibility – that organizer reportedly said we could not and called us fascists, and “a shame to ‘our’ movement”.
After the rally, people began assembling to march. As the march proceeded, and chants became increasingly assimilationist, we responded to their chants with our own such as “Smash the church, smash the state, don’t get married, fornicate!”, “Gay marriage/gay rights… Same Struggle? Not quite”, & “Queers who seek equality with straights lack ambition”.
While chanting “Queers don’t deny it, Stonewall was a fucking riot” one persyn turned around and screamed “shut the fuck up you backwards fucks, you’re hurting the cause!!!” at us.
The police were blaring their sirens at us and told the marshals that we could only take one lane. Bash Back! was told by the marshals to get out of the other lanes but we held our ground even as the police tried to herd us into one lane using their squad cars. As police presence grew we changed the chant to “Queers don’t deny it, stonewall was a police riot!.” We wish it was done in irony, but once the cops were trying harder to suppress the march the group started chanting “Show me what democracy looks like, This is what democracy looks like” to which we agreed later we should’ve responded “shut the fuck up you backwards fucks” but instead countered with “show me what a police state looks like, THIS is what a police state looks like.”
As we approached the Bedlam, police began blaring their sirens, and cutting into our march. At this point the main marshal (one of the straight organizers from the Trotskyist group) ran to the front and diverted the march from the street over a curbed shortcut which left a queer persyn in a wheelchair attending alone with Bash Back! in the streets to go the long way around, not only leaving that persyn behind but leaving them vulnerable to cars and arrest in the street. Near the end, police came up to us in the streets and told us that back a ways someone’s knee had given out and they needed help getting up and getting to the train station. The police officer, then looked at one white persyn and said “you should hurry, this is a rough neighborhood, she might get robbed” (referring to Minneapolis’ largest Somali neighborhood), at this point some Bash Back!ers began calling the officer and his comments racist and classist. Unsurprisingly, liberal gays attempted to interrupt us by saying “he’s on our side.”
Once at the Bedlam we walked inside to find a white persyn on stage repeating “We shall overcome, We shall overcome.” At that point we decided we couldn’t take any more of this “Gay is the new Black” cultural misappropriation bullshit, and left.
During and after the march, a few liberals tried to start criticizing our views by starting with the premise that “we have the same goals”, and that “although marriage is a terrible institution, expanding it is a step in the right direction”. We also argued with them that productive dialogue does not take place in the streets while being surrounded and “supported” by cops. We passed out some literature explaining our views which some people (mostly organizers) tore up and threw on the ground but most people read eagerly and with interest…
We’ve thought it necessary to take our collective rage to the streets more than once in the past few months. On Wednesday, December 2nd, hundreds of individuals convened on Loring Park in Minneapolis in response to Barack Obama’s announcement of a troop surge in Afghanistan. Autonomous queerz from Bash Back! Twin Cities along with other individuals representing various groups then marched middle of rush hour traffic, chanting and dancing and ignoring the honks from angry drivers. Hundreds of people took over the streets of downtown Minneapolis to disrupt “business as usual” and to oppose escalation of war. Bash Back! Twin Cities put out an anti-authoritarian bloc callout to “Bring Sexy Back”:
We’re Bringing Sexy Back: A Call for an Anti-Authoritarian Bloc at the March Against the Troop Surge
The Anti-War movement in the U.S. today is a pathetic and polite plea to the rulers of the nation to listen to their conscience and pray for peace. Enough pandering to liberal politicians who talk about change and hope but then uphold the status quo once they are elected. Enough standing on the sidewalk in orderly rallies waving peace signs.
Enough permitted marches that do nothing but express opinions that those in power ignore. We are five years into this war and the same old tactics are not getting us anywhere. People have dropped out of the movement in droves because of the ineffectiveness of these tactics. If we want to build an effective movement that could actually end the wars and infuse some life and energy into the corpse of the U.S. Anti-War movement, we have to get more creative, disruptive, and empowering. Enough is Enough!
In order to end the war, we have to act from the premise that corporations and politicians do not give a shit whether we want the war or not. The only way the war will end is if we – not the politicians and corporations– decide to end it. Politicians and corporations care about two things: power and money. History is quite clear; those in power will end the war only when it becomes unviable due to public unrest and direct action. We have the power to end the wars as soon as we come together to exercise that power.
We at Bash Back! are still optimistic about the opportunities for queers to bring down the military (and the state and capitalism along with it…) from the inside out (see Bash Back! Communiqué #666), but we are not content to sit back and wait for the cumming insurrection.
We are asking our fellow anti-authoritarians in the Twin Cities to come together to build community in the streets and bash back against all systems of oppression. Let’s up the sexy, fun, mischievous militancy in this town and the anti-war movement in general.
No war but the social war.
We also brought a mobile sound system called the Funk Mobile, which kicked out some amazing beats like Testament’s remix of “Run This Town”. Bash Back! Twin Cities had a militant presence in the march, interrupting liberal chants with revolutionary classics like “Bring the War Home!” and other radical chants and cheers. We helped keep folks together, calm and collected, taking up as much of the streets as we could despite police trying to break up the crowd and herd us over with police horses. We were somewhat on edge because of police provocateurs in the black block (among other things, the provocateurs detoured the march and asked us if we had hammers and encouraged us to go break bank windows) but we kept their interference to a minimum and made sure that others were aware of them and didn’t say or do anything that would be obviously incriminating.
As the march came to 3rd Avenue and 10th Street, several dozen individuals formed a “soft blockade” by sitting in the intersection and unfurling a banner. Eleven people were arrested and the march continued in different directions. No one affiliated with Bash Back! was arrested. Bash Back! played a crucial role in making jail solidarity happen that night for those arrested. We put out a call for jail support and went to get food, drinks, and warm clothes and then we waited outside for our friends to be released as it began to snow. 9 of the 11 folks arrested were released that night were charged with misdemeanor unlawful assembly and released on bail. The other 2 were released the following day. Aside from having their cuffs on too tight and one persyn having their chin slammed in the pavement during their arrest and the police interrogating folks individually for being anarchists, all those arrested were ok and are doing fine now…
BB! Twin Cities