Death To Capitalism or New Life To Thugs? (A Response to Seattle Anarchists)

May 03

On May 1, small groups of self described “anarchists” disguised in black hoods broke loose from otherwise peaceful protest marches and created chaos on the streets of Seattle by throwing fire bombs and smoke bombs before attacking the windows of private businesses and cars on the streets with wooden clubs and spray paint. In the light of day. In the midst of large crowds on the busy streets filled with tourists, shoppers, and families going about their daily life. I mentioned “creating chaos”, but let’s call it what it really was – creating terror.

Before you dismiss that comment as “fear-baiting”, take a step back and watch this short clip of some of the action that day. Now, imagine it’s you behind the glass, looking up from the half-price rack as a firebomb hits the window followed by an angry mob of hooded thugs appearing out of nowhere, attacking the thin piece of glass that separates you with their clubs – as it shatters… Let’s be honest – it would have been terrifying! (Just watch the clip below and imagine yourself in this scene….)

If the anarchists in Seattle just wanted to make a point without creating terror, they would have vandalized properties under the cover of night, leaving their well-thought messages behind for the news crews to cover in the morning. But no, this was planned and deliberate. You can’t stop us. We are strong, you are weak. We’ll come out of nowhere, wreak our havoc, and disappear back into the crowd. The police are powerless to stop our attacks. You have no control over your safety, your lives… We own the city… We own you…

Well, they are right. They win. Their stunts will cost the city (and residents) of Seattle millions of dollars this summer, as thousands of families will choose a “safer” vacation option – away from the threat of an anarchy (terror) attack at a Mariners game (sponsored by capitalists), at the EMP museum (founded by capitalists), or on a ferry ride (which are full of capitalist commuters). These tourists will simply avoid Seattle all together (taking their money with them… (Who can blame them?)

Seattle Anarchy Was Hilarious (and ironic): In the midst of my fuming anger, I’ll admit that I laughed out loud at a couple of silly screw-ups at the hands of these hooded geniuses. Here are a few tips out of my own anarchy handbook:

  1. If you are going to dress up as hoodlums and smash the windows of the Nike Store – you might be taken more seriously if you aren’t wearing brand new Nikes to commit your crimes. (I mean, really… Did your mommy buy those for you so your feet wouldn’t hurt after your big long march?)
  2. If you want to get your message out, by spray painting “Death To Capitalism” on private windows, you might want to better coordinate with your cohorts who are trying to smash the windows at the same time. Not the best message longevity. (Plus, it’s just a waste of paint… Come on guys, coordinate, think green!)
  3. If you really want to get away with your crimes, maybe your shouldn’t go around the corner and change out of your clothes in plain view of hundreds of witnesses and their cell phones.

These screw-ups reminded me of the words of a family friend who was retiring after years as a circuit court judge. When I asked (in young awe) about the amazing cases he must have seen from the bench over the years, he replied, “It’s not like in the movies. 1% percent of the guys were criminal masterminds, the other 99% were just dumb @&*%s….” (There is a simple/good reason that anarchists won’t end up running our country…)

My questions to these masterminds are simple, What are you really trying to accomplish? What are the ends to your means? What are you ideas for positive change? Or, have you not thought that far ahead (as evidenced by the faux pas mentioned above…)?

The reason that I take this so personally is because while these feckless thugs were doing everything they could to harm a community and economy, my wife and I were on the road throughout Washington state, doing the exact opposite. We had a morning meeting with our partners in Olympia to develop better strategies for local businesses to remain relevant in the new economy. We then moved on to Longview to help organize a hope-filled cash mob for a business that has really been struggling. We then moved on to a local networking meeting where dozens of business owners got together to share ideas on everything from how to work together to build a children’s museum to how to best raise funds for a family reeling from the effects of cancer in their home.

It was a positive day, it was an emotional day, it was a productive day – all because of the people who chose to put their best foot forward on behalf of building better live for themselves and their neighbors. So yes, it infuriates me to juxtapose this sense of cooperation and community with the constructed chaos that was unfolding at the same time, at the hands of these selfish fools on the streets of Seattle just a few miles to the north…

I really feel for mayor Mick McGinn, the Seattle Police Department, and the citizens of one of my favorite cities on earth. On one hand, you have an agitated public who is wary of police action – stemming back to the WTO riots. On the other hand, you have violent hooded idiots roaming the streets – throwing rocks through the windows of the mayor’s own house, leaving 6th Ave looking like a battleground, and terrifying the public. Part of me wants to see the cops arrest these thugs with brutal force, the other part knows that will only escalate a new breed of anarchists… Who will be the first to die in this nonsense? A cop getting in the way of a bat? An anarchist who’s incendiary device explodes in his own face? A tourist who is scared/confused/angry and gets in the way of a hurling rock? Who will get blamed?

Seattle Anarchy Was Terrifying, Don’t Let It Repeat: This may all look like a horrifying scene from something you see on TV from the middle east. Well, it should – it’s not a far cry from it. However, we can’t let these kinds of senseless, selfish acts become an accepted “new norm” of “activism” on the streets of our cities. So, how do we keep this type of “shock and awe” terror from running rampant in our streets? I say round ’em up, lock ’em up, they have proven that they have nothing to contribute to a society that is already struggling.

If I were part of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, I would be horrified, quickly denouncing the actions of this gang of thugs. Instead, all I hear and see is that “peaceful protestors” cheering on the acts of violent vandalism (especially in the courthouse and bank footage). To what end? Shouldn’t it scare OWS’ers? (I mean, if their own mayor isn’t safe – who’s going to protect them from their own splinter cells?)

Don’t mind me. I’ll just keep doing what I do every day – looking for ways to create more opportunities for positive growth in communities like Seattle. Looking for ways to leave the world a little better place than I found it. Hopefully the “99%” will join me in picking up a hammer, instead of picking up a club.

It’s hard work, but it’s gotta beat putting on a black hood and Nikes – only to have your wimpy back-swing documented and mocked by a city that hates you…

Steve Ramsey
co-Founder of RelyLocal

Side Note: I try not to use this blog has an avenue to voice my personal opinions very often, and these thoughts are certainly not those of RelyLocal as an organization – but I’m mad as hell (and you should be, too)!


  1. Rob LaMontagne /

    Steve, I have a feeling your activities on May 1st had a far greater impact than these so called anarchists, whose sole purpose and intention is destruction. The solution is to 10X all the constructive, creative activities by the rest of us. The true percentages are more like 80% of society (rich, middle class or poor)-trying to build it up while the other 20% (made up of all classes) either actively (or apathetically) tearing it down…. And what do they hate more than anything?…when good people flourish and prosper – so nice job to you and everyone you help do so!

  2. Teresa /

    To clarify… it was not the #occupyseattle protestors that participated in the vandalism & terrorism, it was a gang of street punks that call themselves Black Bloc. They are not a part of Occupy.

  3. Sandy /

    Teresa – I understand what you are saying, but at the same time, let’s me just ask a couple of questions:

    1. Were the Back Bloc folks marching with the Occupy protesters on May 1?
    2. Did the Occupy protesters do anything to stop the Back Blokkers?

    From the video footage I’ve seen of the bank, niketown, and especially the courthouse, the Black Blok folks were marching hand-in-hand with the Occupiers before breaking out to inflict their harm, while the vast majority of the crowd cheered them on.

    I think that was Steve’s point – that the anarchists were doing much more harm than good for OWS, and if OWS didn’t want any part of them, they shouldn’t have let them march together, and they shouldn’t have cheered them on…

    Group mentality is group mentality, a riot is a riot. I’m just glad that things didn’t escalate any further. And, I’m glad to have seen a number of OWS folks come out after the fact, denouncing the fools. But, it also shows one of the underlying problems with OWS that there isn’t any leadership in place to communicate on behalf of the entire movement….

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