David Graeber has been involved with Occupy Wall Street since the early days of September, when he partook in the first ad hoc general assemblies in New York City and helped articulate the movements' nonviolent ethos. He is also a self-professed anarchist and Black Bloc supporter.
In response to Chris Hedges Feb 6 article on Truthdig.com, The Cancer in Occupy, Graeber drafted the following open letter challenging the Pulitzer Prize winning authors’ characterization of the Black Bloc and the movement itself.
I am writing this on the premise that you are a well-meaning person who wishes Occupy Wall Street to succeed. I am also writing as someone who was deeply involved in the early stages of planning Occupy in New York.
I am also an anarchist who has participated in many Black Blocs. While I have never personally engaged in acts of property destruction, I have on more than one occasion taken part in Blocs where property damage has occurred. (I have taken part in even more Blocs that did not engage in such tactics. It is a common fallacy that this is what Black Blocs are all about. It isn’t.)
I was hardly the only Black Bloc veteran who took part in planning the initial strategy for Occupy Wall Street. In fact, anarchists like myself were the real core of the group that came up with the idea of occupying Zuccotti Park, the “99%” slogan, the General Assembly process, and, in fact, who collectively decided that we would adopt a strategy of Gandhian non-violence and eschew acts of property damage. Many of us had taken part in Black Blocs. We just didn’t feel that was an appropriate tactic for the situation we were in.