"Whose Streets? OUR STREETS! Whose Bridge? OUR BRIDGE!"
by The BOLD PRINT Editorial Collective
Tuesday November 19, 2002 at 01:28 AM
As the permitted Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition (NOAC) march started to cross the Detroit Superior Bridge, members of the radical "Stop the War, Fight the System" Bloc strayed beyond the permit area, and with the help of other march participants, took control of the entire bridge. As marchers seized the bridge chanting "Whose Streets? OUR STREETS! Whose Bridge? OUR BRIDGE!," Cleveland Police were forced to close the bridge, limiting access to downtown Cleveland
As the permitted Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition (NOAC) march started to cross the Detroit Superior Bridge, members of the radical "Stop the War, Fight the System" Bloc strayed beyond the permit area, and with the help of other march participants, took control of the entire bridge. As marchers seized the bridge chanting "Whose Streets? OUR STREETS! Whose Bridge? OUR BRIDGE!," Cleveland Police were forced to close the bridge, limiting access to downtown Cleveland.
On the morning of November 16th, approximately 30 radicals responded to a call put out by the Cleveland-based Burning River Revolutionary Anarchist Collective for a revolutionary anti-war feeder march with the theme "Stop the War, Fight the System." The idea behind the march, which gathered in a residential area at West 44th and Lorain, was to raise awareness and involve the community. In addition, the feeder march was held to express the view that it is not enough to just oppose the war, but one must oppose the entire capitalist and imperialist system that causes such wars.
At 11:30AM, the march began and immediately took to the streets. Winding through side streets, marchers handed out literature explaining their position and reason for being there. Chanting energetically, the relatively small Bloc eventually returned to Lorain, a major street in that community, and remained in control of the streets for the rest of the march. As the feeder march neared 25th, where it was to meet up with the NOAC march, the police presence increased. Participants thought the police were going to block the feeder march, but instead they shut down the entire street and escorted the march the remaining distance. As a show of strength, and against police orders, feeder march participants blocked the intersection of 25th and Lorain. Their numbers were increased when people present for the permitted march decided to join them in solidarity, against the liberal leadership's wishes.
After several minutes of disrupting traffic, the main march stepped off. Although there was much solidarity between NOAC and feeder march participants, NOAC marshalls continually attempted to herd everyone back into one lane of traffic. The marshalls failed, as everyone present was more than happy to show the police, and the so-called leaders, who the streets really belonged to: the people.
Curiosity was high as feeder march participants continually fielded questions regarding their all black dress and masks, as well as the meaning behind the black and red flags. Radical march participants were more than happy to answer these questions, and it was obvious that people were supportive of their cause, and interested in participating in future actions with them. For instance, someone acting as a NOAC marshall even ended up joining with other marchers as they seized the bridge with Bloc participants.
"It made my day when a young woman came over and told me that her and her friends had been wondering what we were all about, and expressed that we were 'awesome' and that she liked what we were about, and was going to tell all her friends about us. Things like that are one of the reasons we participate in marches like this," said Oren Schwartz, a "Stop the War, Fight the System" feeder march participant and a member of a local Anti-Racist Action chapter.
After crossing the bridge and arriving in downtown, the march continued for several blocks until it ended in Public Square, where a rally was scheduled to take place. With over a thousand people, the Square quickly filled up, with many people overflowing into the surrounding area, climbing walls just to get a better view. Once most people found a place to stand, the speeches began. Speakers represented many different groups all working to prevent the upcoming escalation of the War in Iraq and to stop U.S. imperialism.
When he spoke, Jay Upryse, of the Burning River Revolutionary Anarchist Collective, echoed the statement his group was distributing earlier.
"At the same time as the Bush administration is threatening war on Iraq, it has already bombed
Afghanistan, stripped Muslims, Arabs, and South Asian immigrants of any semblance of civil liberties, passed policies nearing police state-like measures, and rained batons and bullets on the urban warzones of our communities. We say that we not only need to stop this war but we need to fight the entire system that is pushing it!" he said.
Other radical speakers included Jason Stinnett, a representative from CATLYST at Case Western Reserve University, as well as Serenity from Kent State Anti-Racist Action and Laura from the Kent State Anti-War Committee.
Following the rally, the Radical Anti-Imperialist Network (RAIN) held its second meeting at the Ohio City Bike Co-Op. With many new participants, this meeting was a success. Discussions about upcoming actions and how people can actually make a difference in stopping the war were held, and a draft version of RAIN's Statement of Formation was written. Those interested in learning more about RAIN, or in participating in any upcoming events, please subscribe to RAIN's general listserv: