N16 from a black bloc perspective

“Organize, Fight Back! Rise Up, Rebel!" Five Days in the Life of a Female Black Bloc Anarchist
 Yertle the Turtle’s N16 Journal and Write-Up

Vocab: (thanks to the Cincinnati CityBeat for most of the definitions - I changed them a little)
Affinity Groups: Groups of 2-20 people who plan direct action against a political foe. They have
a group name and the members all have code names (usually) to protect their identities.
ARA: Anti-Racist Action
Black bloc: A technique used primarily by anarchists, usually dressed in black, committed to
direct action, not necessarily of the nonviolent kind.
CD: Civil disobedience, deliberately violating the law and risking arrest for the sake of a cause, a
tactic practiced by Henry David Thoreau, Mohandas Gandhi and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
CDAC: Cincinnati Direct Action Collective, a N16 group committed to nonviolent direct action.
CHE: Coalition for a Humane Economy, the Cincinnati Organization that’s sponsored workshops
and teach-ins on globalization over the past few months-is opposed to direct action and CD.
DA: Direct action, anything from blockading a conference so participants cannot enter or exit to
occupying vacant dwellings (squatting) and demanding housing for the homeless. NOT legal.
FNB: Food Not Bombs, a group started by anarchists that gives away food to the hungry and at
anti-capitalist events. Some of it is donated and some is harvested from restaurant trash bins
(dumpster diving).
Indy Media: An independent media project that was at all of the week’s events. provided the
best coverage of N16, and recruited protesters to serve as writers, photographers, and
interviewers. www.indymedia.org
N16: November 16th, 2000. Nickname for the anti-TABD demonstrations. www.n16.org
TABD: Transatlantic Business Dialogue, whose conference at the Omni Netherlands Hotel is the
reason for the mass demonstrations. Founded in 1995, the TABD is a group of 150 American and
European CEOs from the world’s largest corporation. This undemocratic group makes
“recommendations” which are usually adopted by the WTO-it weakens consumer protection,
environmental laws, and workers’ rights around the globe.
WTO: World Trade Organization, the international forum through which governments negotiate
trade agreements. TABD has been called the “Power Behind the WTO”. Protests against the
WTO meeting in Seattle last December inspired N16, which aims to make Cincinnati “the Seattle
of the Midwest”.

My affinity group consisted of myself, code name Yertle the Turtle; Gertrude McFuzz, age 17 - a
high school senior; SamIAm, age 22 - a senior at UK; and Pop, age 22. We fit the norm for
protesters there; many of the protesters were college-aged, white kids; not to say that there were
not African-Americans and older people there as well. We left Lexington on Wednesday,
November 15 at 5:30 and drove to Cincinnati where we found the warehouse that we and other
KSPN (Kentucky Student/Youth Progressive Network) were staying. We were the first group
there; the owner’s daughter arrived a few hours later. The four of us decided on an affinity group
name (The Dr. Seuss Flying Brigade) and our code names. The five of us were the only ones in
the warehouse that night.

November 16:
We just got back [to the warehouse] and I couldn’t tell you how happy I was to take off my shoes
and coat. We got up at 9am and walked 2-3 miles to Fountain Square, where we froze our asses
off and finally the rally started at noon. It lasted until 1 and FNB served lunch: lentils, bread,
oranges, and chai tea. At 1pm, 300-600 of us marched to the Kroger HQ to protest human rights
violation by Mt. Olive Pickles of migrant workers in North Carolina. There were 50-100 police in
riot gear and they blocked the entrance to Kroger. Two black men were there protesting police
brutality. Their friend was one of two black men shot by the Cincinnati Police last week. Three
men have been killed in police custody in Cincinnati in the last two weeks. Then the DSFB (Dr.
Seuss Flying Brigade) got stopped and harassed by police for wearing scarves: Cincy has a rarely
enforced mask ordinance that says they can ask you to show your face, at which point the law
says you can re-mask; this law was created to scare Ku Klux Klan members. However, the cops
asked for ID and took Polaroids of my friends (unconstitutional AND illegal). Pop’s foot got
stepped on by one of the horses and his big toe was crushed, he limped around the rest of the
weekend and didn’t complain at all. It was really disgusting. The medics at the info center taped it
up, and it was funny colors. After we left Kroger we caught the Metro (Cincy bus system) to
Eden Park and played a game of anarchist soccer. We stayed there until five, then we got our car
and drove to the Music Hall in Over-The-Rhine (a poor neighborhood known for its diversity and
controversy), where the TABD delegates were symphony-goers. First we ate across the park at
Nast Trinity Church where FNB was serving food (tofu soup, bread, oranges, and juice), then we
went to the Music Hall where a bunch of us gathered and chanted. An example of one of our
chants was: “That’s bullshit, get off it, the enemy is profit! Disease and starvation cannot be cured
by corporations!” The music hall was finally barricaded by riot cops, forcing many of us into the
street. A chant that was first used there and continued throughout the weekend was: “This is what
democracy looks like! That is what a police state looks like!”, which was all-too-true. It finally
lost its steam and we all drifted away. We went to the Info Center and filled out legal defense
forms so that we could participate in jail solidarity if arrested. We had to put our real names,
addresses, and phone numbers alongside our affinity group name and code name, so that if
arrested we could call the legal number (which we wrote on our skin in permanent marker and
give them our code name without letting the cops know who we really were. Jail solidarity has
worked well in the past at other protests. We told two college kids from Georgia that they could
stay with us because they didn’t have lodging for the protest. Pop went to Antioch to represent
our affinity group at the Black bloc meeting. We got back here and SamIAm’s sister, her friend,
and a couple more are here, so it looks like there’ll be ten or fifteen at the warehouse tonight. I’m
looking forward to tomorrow.

November 17:
Today was the most exciting, fun, radical display of grassroots progressive action I’ve ever been a
part of. It was absolutely amazing! We all met up at Sawyer Point (by the river. There were
almost a couple thousand protesters there and it was snowing. We had a legal march to Fountain
Square, including once around the Omni Netherland Hotel. The Black Bloc stayed pretty tight and
led some pretty good (and controversial) chants on the way there. Once there, there was another
rally, which was pretty rad. A kid from Refuse and Resist (www.refuseandresist.org) spoke, two
Black Bloc kids spoke out against capitalism, and last but not least were the New Kids On The
Black Bloc (“oh-oh-oh-oh, no WTO! It’s not right, in our lives, you got the wrong stuff,
TABD...” etc.). After that, we were supposed to follow the friendly (yeah right) horsey cops back
to Sawyer Point, but us Black Bloc kids thought it’d be fun to turn left, so we all started running
the “wrong way”, taking back the streets. We slowed down, regrouped, and noticed that all the
rest of the protesters (not just Black Bloc) had followed us. We started chanting “Whose streets?
Our streets!” and marched toward the Omni Hotel. We pushed through any horse cops that tried
to stop us, and I almost got trampled by a skittish horse. When we got to the Omni there was a
thick blockade. We knocked down their barricades and carried some with us to keep the front of
the march safe from police. We walked through the Square once we stopped and realized that the
Omni was untouchable. We marched uncontrolled down the streets in a huge group. Many kids
had spray paint and were tagging obvious anti-capitalist targets (large corporate stores, banks,
etc.). One kid had a hammer and broke a bank window (it was duck-taped the next day). Many
blocks later the cops stopped us with a barricade to our right and straight ahead. To the left was
the risk of getting trapped by the river, behind us cops were starting to block us off. The police
had spray bottles of some kind of new mix between tear gas and pepper spray. Some were
spraying it directly into individuals eyes and/or mouths, and some were throwing canisters into the
crowd. I saw one boy go down, and three medics were assisting him, the cops had held him down
and sprayed the shit into his mouth and eyes. He was later hospitalized. People started running. I
stayed close to the middle of it trying to help others and get a group consensus on what to do,
until my right eye became one cop’s target. At this point I had been standing on the sidewalk,
causing no harm. The most I was guilty of the whole day is walking where we weren’t allowed (in
the streets, but whose streets are they?). I grabbed SamIAm and told him that I’d be okay, just get
me out of there. A medic doused my eye with water, and it wasn’t fatal to begin with of course.
After we left, three kids (one from the Louisville ARA) were beaten and arrested on charges of
rioting. They were guilty of the same exact thing as the other hundreds of us who escaped mostly
unscathed. SamIAm, Pop, and I went towards the river with about 20 other kids. Somewhere in
the mess we lost McFuzz, and Pop called legal to see if he had called in from jail. All of us
de-bloc-ed (tried to get rid of our all black, suspicious appearance) and found a communications
guy who told us that the cops had people trapped at Sawyer Point, and at 3rd and Main. After we
got word that Sawyer Point was cleared, we decided to head towards the other hot spot to create
a diversion and help them out. We got there right as the cops were leaving, and went back to
Fountain Square where everyone was supposedly gathering. There weren’t many there, so our
group went to the Info Center to see what was up (and warm up!). We stayed there until about
5pm and walked to Union Terminal, where the TABD delegates were dining and there was a
labor picket and FNB. It was cold, and since we weren’t with the labor groups, we didn’t do
much (although we sympathized with their cause). Luckily, we found McFuzz there safe from
harm. We got the car and met the Georgia kids (Wind and Water) by the river and drove to St.
George’s Church on Vine Street for the People’s Party. We ate food and left because we were
really tired. Pop went to Antioch again for another Black Bloc meeting. There are about 20-30

November 18:
The shit hit the fan today. We slept in at the warehouse until about 10:30, then went downtown
for the Pig Rally. We had papier mache pigs to deliver to our targets (Kroger, Chiquita, Proctor
& Gamble, the GAP, and the TABD). The four of us were a little late to Fountain Square, and
about a block from there some kids told us that the police harassed and arrested their friends
because they refused to identify themselves (illegal AGAIN). They said that police were stopping
and even searching people that looked like protesters. They warned us to de-bloc and stay away
from the Square; also to rid ourselves of anything potentially arrest-worthy (like our rocks and
spray paint). Luckily at this point the march started and the police let us join it. We marched to
the Kroger Building, where we had a permit to picket in front of; however, the police had
barricaded it and we were unable to cross the street and stand where we had been told we could.
We filled in the sidewalk on the block across the street and were surrounded on the rear end by
riot cops. We had a chance to take the streets before they completely surrounded it, but most of
the Black Bloc was still at Antioch and the majority of demonstrators present were pacifists. A
few of us stood in the street, and the horse cops tried to push us back and threatened us. One of
them ran their horse into a young male activist. A woman got his badge number (like that’ll help).
After a bit, a foreign man begged us to stand with his people in solidarity and cooperate with the
police, so we complied. After peacekeepers spoke with the cops, we were allowed to continue on
our way to the Chiquita HQ. After we got there and delivered the pig, we were told to disperse.
Most of the crowd walked back to Fountain Square (on the sidewalk, no chanting or anything),
which was surprisingly barricaded and full of riot cops. After we saw more cops on their way, we
decided it would be unsafe for us to stay and headed to Washington Park to get lunch from FNB.
Here is the story we got about what happened at Fountain Square after we left: [it was backed up
in Sunday’s Enquirer] Riot cops surrounded a kid that was carrying a flag and arrested him
because the stick holding the flag was a “weapon”. His girlfriend protested and they arrested her
as well. Two photographers, one from the Cincinnati Enquirer, were pepper-sprayed for taking
pictures of the arrests. After lunch we walked to Lytle Park, where there was an unpermitted
“Don’t Beat Me” march against police brutality. There was a much smaller amount of people
there than expected, due to three things: 1, someone (police?) had started rumors that the march
had been canceled; 2, the march was started by someone (police infiltrators?) WAY too early; and
3, the Black bloc’s van carrying our banners and body armor had been detained in Antioch by
Yellow Springs police who were out of their jurisdiction on campus. The marchers were not given
enough time to organize and were led the wrong way into a police trap near the jail. The bloc had
been trying unsuccessfully to get organized and keep “fluffies” (non-Black bloc protesters) out of
our ranks. We ended up near the rear, which was another mistake we made. A television news
camera was present at the beginning, but received a phone call and left immediately (who called?),
right before we were blocked in. The police began tear-gassing people immediately. Keep in mind
that all we’d been doing is walking on the sidewalks, chanting. Roughly a third of the Black bloc
took off through an alley but we yelled at them to slow down and bloc up. Before we could all get
together and escape (we were SOOO close) riot cops with clubs and/or guns in hand blocked off
the escape route. They yelled at us to get on the ground. We ran back to the rest of the group
(panicking now) and got tear gas in our lungs immediately. After several beatings and arrests, they
began letting us out in groups of four. The Black bloc reorganized about two blocks away (a little
too close) and was again encircled. We were stuck in a fenced-in parking lot; a gap in the corner
was the only way out. SamIAm told me to run and I took off. I got out, but SamIAm, who was
right behind me, got blocked in. I was the last escapee. I was alone and freaking out. I started
bawling, I had been crying since they started beating my friends at the first trap. Luckily the
medics had been allowed out and they were standing there right next to me. They asked what was
wrong and I told them as calmly as possible that I was having a panic attack (not the first in my
life). They put a few drops of an herbal substance called Rescue Remedy on my tongue and got
my breathing back to normal (THANKS MEDICS-you guys rule, I know you’re out there!). One
boy, and two girls (including myself) were the only Black bloc kids who had gotten out. We
headed to the library, which is where the Black bloc was supposed to meet if anything like that
happened. There we found the kids that had been stuck in Antioch with all our really important
supplies, and who hadn’t been able to join the march. We all de-bloc-ed and the ones who
couldn’t went inside. I did an audio-only interview for Indy Media explaining what was going on
and then saw riot cops coming and ran inside. I hid on the ground between two bookshelves but
the kids in the lobby were forced to leave the library by cops in full riot gear (in a library?!?).
After the cops left I found one other kid who’d been able to hide successfully. We went outside
and the Indy Media folks told us that the police were escorting small groups of kids away from
the area and that anyone who looked like a protester (especially Black bloc) was in danger. Also,
that they were looking for a Black Bloc female wearing a scarf. The police had been overheard
saying “I want to get her” and “I want a fucking riot”. Me and the boy walked around the library
where I found my affinity group (how relieved we all were that all four of us were safe!). They
told me that the cops had indiscriminately sprayed and beaten the people in the parking lot, and
that five more Kentucky kids had been arrested. At least three of them had been at the warehouse
with us the night before. Our group was in the small section of Black bloc-ers who knew where
the alternate safe place was. We went there, ate, and had a long meeting in a back room. We
decided that the meetings at Antioch had been infiltrated by someone disguised as one of us. After
that some people, including Pop, went back to Antioch. We went back to the warehouse and hung
with the KSPN kids, who were definitely feeling disillusioned because they were all peaceful
protesters and hadn’t experienced or expected anything like this before. It seemed like they were
in shock.

November 19:
There were 47 arrests made yesterday, which makes 54 total Thursday-Saturday. Today we went
down to the jail and showed support for our friends. They watched us out their tiny windows and
we drummed and held signs for them. We made a circle A (anarchy) out of people. SamIAm,
McFuzz, and I left around 2pm to come home. I feel bad for the kids that got arrested. They did
the same stuff as the rest of us, some of them did less. A lot of kids are staying in Cincy until their
friends get out. I think N16 was a great first large-scale action experience for me and the other
inexperienced activists. For McFuzz, SamIAm, and I, it was our first Black bloc. The
consequences weren’t as bad as Philly or LA, and we accomplished a lot with a lot less people. I
plan on continuing with the Black bloc and being a pretty militant anarchist, also with staying
involved in FNB and the ARA. And if I ever hear anyone doubting police brutality, I can think
back to this weekend and tell them how I was run into by horses and pepper sprayed repeatedly.
Also the cops’ apathetic looks when I was crying, and asked “Don’t you men have any children?”
One even said “Yeah, but they have a hell of a lot more sense than you guys” (and continued
pepper-spraying and beating kids for standing on the sidewalk). And how my friends were beaten,
and my affinity group was forced to walk into traffic because their police escort wouldn’t let them
stop, and even said he hoped they got hit by a car. And everything else about N16. I learned a hell
of a lot, and I think we all did, as a movement and as individuals.

Love, Yertle the Turtle
Recommended follow-ups:
At Indy Media you can find video footage, photographs, and information on our young POW”s.
Here you can find the phone number to call and demand the immediate release of those still in jail.
These are YOUR children and they are innocent!

Stay tuned for the protests in Quebec City, Canada, the weekend of April 15th.

Questions? Comments? Don’t be afraid to ask your friendly neighborhood anarchist.

“Ain’t no power like the power of the people cuz the power of the people don’t stop!!!!”
“The rich will never help the poor, the only solution is class war!”
“Fight power, not people.”
“We don’t see a riot here, take off that stupid gear!”
“One, two, three, four, stop the war on the poor! Five, six, seven, eight, organize and smash the
“What do we want? ANARCHY! When do we want it? NOW!”
“Congress and big business, sitting in a tree, fucking up our country. First comes money, then
comes greed, then come the people rising up off our knees!”
“Globalize liberation, not corporations”
“Let my people go!”