As a policing strategy, its efficacy was dubious. Did law enforcement focus on petty, quality of life offenses really eradicate the more serious social erosion that gave rise to crime, or did it put cops in poor and minority neighborhoods looking to make their stats on the back of the most trivial offense? Or worse, just invent offenses to make the number? So Broken Windows, the theory and the strategy, came under under fire and fell into disfavor.
And, ironically, because of the strategy of another group.
Last night, while our comrades battled the police in the street, some anarchists targeted multiple Whole Food stores as well as Starbucks in a synchronized attack, just as the clock struck midnight. The cops have made public statements addressing how they are not responding to 911 calls due to their focus on brutally attacking and arresting protesters. Using this to our advantage, we spread out around the city with the intention of sending two messages:
Anarchists have computers too, you know, and they’re not afraid to use them to spread the word.
First, to our comrades: The past 100 days with you have been inspiring, wild, traumatic, and everything in between. Our collective strength in the streets has surpassed everything we ever expected to come out of this city. For 100 nights we have fought the police – but the police are not (and should not) be our only target. Capitalism feeds the police state.
So while the cops were spread thin between the protests and not doing much in particular, they decided to smash the windows of Whole Foods because, well, capitalism.
But even if the cops did their jobs, it wouldn’t matter, because broken windows.
Secondly, to the police: You are powerless in suppressing small cell autonomous actions, and as the inspiration and experience of our accomplices grows, you will learn that. You cannot patrol the entire city. We will find the places you are not, and we will attack them.
They have a point, and their point is only getting stronger with the demonization of police combined with the “Abolish” calls that are being taken up by some local governments. Granted, some cops do as much as possible to further their vilification, providing cause on video for many to see the very conduct that demands outrage and condemnation. This is the conduct, attitude and culture that has long needed to be eradicated from policing. And yet, the conflation is between cops being bad and cops doing the job they exist to do, but properly and with respect for others and the Constitution.
But the Puget Sound Anarchists are only getting started.
Whole Foods represents everything we despite about this world. Owned by the richest man in the world, and selling products made by the slave labor of prisoners. Every cop is a target. Every capitalist is a target. Every bank, every precinct, every courthouse, every condo, every yuppie haven.
“Yuppie haven” sounds remarkably like, say, Starbucks. Do you go to Starbucks? You’re a target, as is your mocha frappucino. As you sip your $7 beverage, others are planning its, and your, demise.
It is our hope that others take advantage of the windowless and doorless Whole Foods around the city to feed themselves, their families, their friends and their communities. We should not have to pay for food to survive, and yet you beat, tase, arrest and sometimes murder those who take food for free. You protect the capitalists at the expense of our lives.
In the scheme of social justice, the police exist not to protect against crime and violence, but to preserve the status quo of white supremacy and capitalism. They target black neighborhoods not because that’s where the crime is, but because that’s where they’re sent to keep the minorities from stealing bread from Whole Foods to feed their hungry children and using the bathrooms at Starbucks so that Karen can’t put on her lipstick in peace.
On the one hand, they seem both a bit angry and completely batshit crazy. On the other, they’re not entirely wrong. Putting aside the baseless belief that the police are busy slaughtering black men in the street daily, they are treating black and Hispanic citizens like dirt, like subhuman scum to be tossed against walls at their leisure, whether out of anger, for kicks or just to make their numbers when the sarge tells them to bring home five new busts that shift.
At the same time, opportunity to engage in a productive, remunerative and law-abiding life is hard to find in certain neighborhoods. It may not be that anyone forces anyone else to engage in crime, but it may well be that the opportunity to succeed, maybe even survive, isn’t readily available either. Do the math and it’s not hard to understand why the harsh treatment and the lack of opportunity give rise to discontent.
One day, hopefully soon, we will dance amongst the soft glow of a burning empire, while you both drown in the stagnant pond of your pathetic, miserable lives. Good fucking riddance.
But what’s needed, what’s wanted, isn’t to watch the “soft glow of a burning empire,” but a fair chance to grab a piece of that empire too. The more windows broken, the more expensive the food, the fewer stores in their neighborhoods selling it and fewer opportunities available for those denied the chance to enjoy the privileges society has to offer and they want, just like anyone else.
Anarchists say “good fucking riddance,” and their plan is to break windows, if not burn it all down. These may be the folks who turn the “mostly peaceful” protests into riots. They may torch a store without asking whether it’s the culmination of a black family’s life’s work or some hated capitalist evilcorp’s greed, not that it should matter.
There is a great deal of serious work remaining to effectively address the detriments endured by minorities and the poor so they, too, can enjoy as much privilege as they can amass. But these brave, bold anarchists aren’t helping by breaking windows.