Convergence Coverage Appetizer


In the next week, we’ll have our own recollections and coverage from the just completed 2007 CrimethInc. Convergence. For now, here is a report from the Athens News :

An un-permitted parade of more than 150 costumed anarchists and their supporters filled North Court Street Saturday night. They barricaded the West State Street intersection and danced, chanted, climbed light poles, banged on objects and fire danced before police dispersed the crowd, using squad cars and pepper spray.

“We’re just having fun,” one marcher told a bystander who asked what they were protesting.

The parade participants were in Athens for the 2007 CrimethInc. Convergence. CrimethInc. is an international underground network made up of anarchists and other radicals.

After the crowd scattered, Athens Police made one arrest for disorderly conduct by intoxication, one for riot, and three for obstructing official business, according to a report released by Police Lt. Randy Gray. The identities of the individuals have not been released.

Gray reported that the Athens Police responded to a call made at 9:42 p.m. and arrived at the intersection to find a large group of people with flaming objects, stones, bricks and improvised drums blocking the street with road signs dragged from a construction site.

The flaming objects, known as “poi,” are professionally made chunks of burning rubber on chains used by fire dancers and circus performers for entertainment purposes. To extinguish the flame, poi artists turn from the audience and spin the burning chunks less rapidly while lowering them to the ground, according to one performer who attended the event.

According to the police report, Lt. Gray told one of the performers to extinguish the “burning objects.” The female said OK and turned away while continuing to twirl the poi. Gray tried to detain the person while another individual struck him in the back and grabbed his arm. Gray then used pepper spray to fend off other individuals who were converging on him, and further spray was used to disperse “what had become a violent and destructive crowd.”

The marchers claimed that the “parade” was intended to be peaceful fun, and police were unnecessarily violent in their reaction. Several people were pepper sprayed in the face from behind as they dispersed eastward, and one anonymous marcher claimed the mace almost hit an infant riding on a woman’s shoulder.

“I was standing by the BP talking to three people when Car 902 almost ran into us,” said Benjamin Ayer of Michigan. Ayer was documenting the incident from the sidewalk with his camera.

“It swiftly turned into the driveway without warning. Two people fell on me, they were just passersby, they were just asking me what was going on and almost got hit. After that I breathed in pepper gas,” said Ayer, who charged that police “gravely overreacted.”

After dispersing, many of the marchers gathered at The Wire Community Resource Center on Kern Street, which was promptly put under police surveillance. A local spokesperson for The Wire told police that the center was not involved in the event but was open for a music event and does not turn down people at its doors. (CrimethInc., however, did use The Wire’s “free space” as a redirect spot for out-of-towners looking for information on where the Convergence was being held.)

Police searched four cars outside The Wire with a K-9 unit after the event, but no arrests were made.

The parade was an impromptu activity organized by CrimethInc. The group’s Convergence was a communal campout that took place northeast of Athens since last Wednesday. The event offered collective workshops on topics ranging from “Nude Theory and Practice” to do-it-yourself shoemaking. Participants traveled from all over North America to attend the event, which was organized with the help of local volunteers.

According to CrimethInc.’s Web site, the group is an “underground network through which we work to realize our daydreams, to take the reigns of our lives and make our history rather than using the same energy to insist we are being made of it.”

The network is comprised of scattered collectives, travelers, music acts and publications that are invited to use the CrimethInc. label on their products and activities.

“There is no leader of CrimethInc.; it’s a movement on its own,” said a participant named Polly who traveled from North Carolina to attend the convergence. “It’s a movement comprised of fun and energy.”

Other participants said CrimethInc. is dedicated to creating alternative communities.

“I think it’s important to foster communities outside of the ‘real world,’” said Ben Croya of Illinois. Croya identifies has a “gender queer” and does not claim a specific gender or sexual orientation.

“Here individuals really have a say in there own lives,” Croya said.

There is no central location or headquarters for CrimethInc., and no one is quite sure when and where the network originated, though some speculate it has been around since the late 1980s. According to some participants, the ambiguous and decentralized nature of the organization enhances the romantic appeal of its existence and propaganda, which is popular among youth in the punk, anarchist and dropout cultures.

“They live more than the rest have ever dreamt to live,” said one participant who identified himself as Mad Fish the Norseman. “Follow those who only mumble, for they are already doing what doesn’t need to be said.”

CrimethInc. is responsible for several publications advocating an anti-capitalist lifestyle, including “Days of War Nights of Love,” “Fighting for Our Lives,” “Evasion” and a magazine titled Rolling Thunder, which chronicles the modern North American anarchist movement.