Educational materials from your friendly neighborhood anti-fascist

7 August 2020

Blocing Up for Portlanders Transcript

Cover Page:

TITLE: Blocking Up for Portlanders Vol II

FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD ANTIFASCIST (FNAF): “Why you should consider dressing in black with your closest pals.”

Complete with tips and tricks and unsolicited advice!

Warning: highly condensed history. Consider diluting with further reading.

Page One:

[ID: FNAF is shown waving at the reader. Half of their body is wearing black bloc including a black shirt, mask, hat and a respirator around their neck. Their other half is wearing a shirt featuring the pdx airport carpet design. They are wearing heat proof gloves and holding a helmet. A black backpack with an umbrella in the pocket sits at their feet.]

FNAF: “Nice to see you again! I’m your friendly neighborhood anti-facist, here to talk to you about bloc. Black bloc is a strategy to avoid police surveillance by dressing in generic black.”

Bloc: Cover face and hair. Cover tattoos and piercings. Carry a black bag.

Tips: Use black tape to cover visible logos. No plain black shirt? Turn one inside out. Try a t-shirt balaclava (but wear a mask underneath to protect against COVID-19). Change up your bloc often– including bag.

Debloc: wearing bloc in transit makes you a target. Find a safe place without cameras to bloc up and debloc (1). Colorful mask and shirt (aim for irony). Stow all gear. Don’t bring anything you’re not willing to lose.

Page Two:

[ID: three boxes show snapshots depicting moments in the history of black bloc. FNAF walks around them, as if the reader is seeing them from above and narrates. The top of pages two and three read: “History and Purpose of Black Bloc]

Black bloc originated in the Automen movement in West Berlin from 1980-81 when, facing a housing crisis thousands of people squatted in abandoned buildings (2). Over the next decade, bloc became common in Germany and then spread to the rest of the world.

[ID: the first snapshot shows three masked people sitting on the side of an abandoned building in West Berlin (3)]

FNAF: “Black blocs are most often utilized to combat surveillance technology (4). It’s often associated with anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anarchist movements–but since its popularization it has been used by diverse movements including Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters (5).”

Berlin 1988: eighty thousand protesters, eight thousand black bloc, disrupt IMF/WB congress (8).

[ID: the next snapshot shows several anonymous protesters in block balaclavas (7)]

FNAF: “Blocs are known for employing a diversity of tactics including resisting police dispersal and property damage (6).”

Seattle 1999: anti WTO protest mark first large black bloc in North America; national media attention (10).

[ID: The last snapshot shows a street full of protesters. Two protesters in the foreground are wearing hats to make them look like turtles. A large sign over the street reads: “MARKET CENTER” (10)]

Page Three:

[ID: Page three shows two snapshots of black bloc in action, again the FNAF walks around them, narrating.]

Egypt 2013: Following revolution, black bloc formed to protect large anti-government protests and shut down public transit (12).

[ID: The first snapshot shows a group of Egyptian protesters in black bloc (11).]

FNAF: “So why should you consider blocking up? To avoid surveillance and remain anonymous. Even if you don’t think you’re breaking any laws, police are arresting people for no more than their presence at protests. To protect others: if you look the same as vulnerable people (eg, people on the front lines, people who are more marginalized) it’s harder to identify them. It encourages widespread participation: anyone can wear black. It promotes unity and solidarity (13).”

Hong Kong 2019: Huge black blocs battle with police, vandalize shopping malls and more in pro-democracy protest, a direct result of proposed extradition bill (15).

[ID: second snapshot shows a huge crowd of protesters on a street with big office buildings, in the foreground one protester standing above the crowd wearing a backpack, goggles and a respirator points up and to the right (14).]

Page Four:

[ID: pages four and five show protesters standing in front of the Fence ™ which runs along the back of the page. Signs are attached to the fence, forming the title which reads: “BLOC AT PDX PROTESTS”. On Page four, four people in different kinds of black bloc stand. One wears a gas mask, two wear hats and buffs pulled up over their faces with goggles, one wears a bike helmet and ski goggles. Two more protesters sit on the sidewalk, learning against each other.]

Classic black bloc: the bloc has no singular leadership, but it does have tactical strategy (16). Anyone can be part of the black bloc. Much of the black bloc is very young. In Portland (and, general, the US) blocs are most often made up of discrete affinity groups. Affinity groups are based on trusted friendships. Groups come together to form a large, decentralized bloc that can accomplish goals.

Page Five:

[ID: A protester in full black bloc holds up a sign which reads “BLACK LIVES MATTER” an old fashioned light post separates them from three more protesters. One dad bloc protester wears a backwards baseball cap and carries a leaf blower, his shirt is orange. A mom bloc protester wears an orange shirt.]

Mom and dad loc are both forms of non-anonymous bloc. Other examples include chef bloc and lawyer bloc; these forms of bloc use the wearer’s identity to send a public message, and the uniformity of bloc to show unity.

Disadvantages: Small groups of people in bloc can be targets for police. Bloc works best in environments where bloc members have a place to slip away and debloc (ie it works better in a city than a field). And it works better at actions you can leave. These are some of the reasons why bloc isn’t used at every action (17). Media tends to portray bloc negatively– using bloc to reach the public through these channels is difficult.

Heads up: anyone can wear bloc. Don’t assume someone’s race, risk level, or anything else about a person in bloc.

Page Six:

TITLE: So You’re at a Portland Protest

[ID: The heads of four riot cops are visible at the top of the page. Their bodies are obscured by clouds of teargas. Two cops hold batons and one holds a gun. At the bottom of the page three protesters in black bloc are slowly backing away from the cops, one holds an umbrella as a shield.]

During a dispersal, it’s easy to panic. Don’t panic.

Running is a natural response to dispersal, but it leaves people behind and can lead to trampling.

It’s important to keep in touch with your affinity group and protest buddies.

For all these reasons:

FNAF: “Walk don’t run (18)”

(and don’t turn your back on the riot cops)

PROTESTER: “Walk don’t run”

Page Seven:

TITLE: Dos and Don’ts

[ID: The page is filled with boxes, each box has a DO or a Don’t written in it.]

DON’T introduce yourself with your real name

DO come up with an easy to hear nickname to use in bloc (19).

PROTESTER: “Hi, I’m…” [ID: text boxes obscures name]

FNAF: “Howdy– I’m FNAF”

DO spread accurate information on your social media [ID: an instagram style picture reads “2NITE 7:00 PM”]

DON’T post pics or videos of protests (best case: disrespectful, worst: dangerous) [ID: instagram style picture shows a person in bloc standing next to graffiti which reads “ACAB”]

DON’T talk to your non-protesting friends and families about specific protest activities.

DON’T bring your phone to protests– or at least turn off face/fingerprint unlocking [ID: picture shows several people in bloc staring at phones in front of a fence.]

DO write the National Lawyers Guild PDX jail line on your body before you head out: 971-247-1072 (on 8/7/20) or better yet memorize the number

DO talk to friends and family about abolition, protests, racism… [ID: four protesters in bloc stand in a circle]

DO have a protest buddy [ID: two protesters in bloc link arms.]

Do establish clearly defined limits with them: are you comfortable defying lawful orders? Being tear gassed? Getting arrested?

DON’T livestream protesters’ actions or faces. PPB uses streams for intel. [ID: annoyed protester covers their face and says “hey!” while a livestreamer’s phone is visible filming them.]

DO point your phone at the cops. Consider delaying our stream by about 3- mins to complicate their response. [ID: a phone films cops in riot gear.]

[ID: There is a strip of four panels at the bottom of the page depicting a protester and a cop]

DON’T TALK TO COPS: an illustrated guide

PROTESTER: “I would like a lawyer. I am invoking my right to remain silent.”

[ID: in the second box the protester invokes their right to remain silent, in the third and fourth boxes the protester sits silently, staring past the cop at the reader.]

Page Eight:

[ID: At the top of the page FNAF climbs back into the box, and then waves at the reader. At the bottom of the page FNAF sleeps with their head on their hands, lightly snoring.]

FNAF: “Bloc is a valuable tool for protecting yourself and others.”

FNAF: “It’s one of a number of techniques you can employ to live to fight another day. (20)”

FNAF: “Stay safe out there, and I’ll see you next time.”

Action Items: After a stressful protest, a narrow escape, or a daring action, you’ll have some emotions to unpack. .Being attacked by police is traumatic; talk to your protest partner and affinity group. Help each other process. Doing so will make you more effective in the long run. As advertised: unsolicited advice: Spend time with people outside of the context of actions. Take breaks. Quest Center is offering free mental health services and acupuncture for BIPOC protestors (as of June 19, 2020) quest-center.org. Rosehip Medic Collective has a collection of local resources at rosehipmedics.org/links-and-resources/local-community-resources

Bloc curious? For a lot [emphasis added] more info on how to do bloc right, check out the zine “Blocs, Black and Otherwise” (see citations)


  1. CrimethInk, “Blocs, Black and Otherwise,” accessed August 5, 2020,
  2. Autonomous Resistance, “Can’t Stop Kaos: A Brief History of the Black Bloc,” accessed August 5, 2020,
  3. T. Ordelman, Squatters in Kreuzberg, 1981, Wikimedia Commons
  4. Autonomous Resistance, “Can’t Stop Kaos: A Brief History of the Black Bloc,”
  5. Vitalist International, “Summer in Smoke Report from the World’s Biggest Black Bloc,” 325 RSS, December 10, 2019,
  6. CrimethInk, “Blocs, Black and Otherwise,”
  7. Autonomous Resistance, “Can’t Stop Kaos: A Brief History of the Black Bloc,”
  8. Autonomous Resistance, “Can’t Stop Kaos: A Brief History of the Black Bloc,”
  9. B. Keiser, Demonstrators don sea turtle costumes, 1999
  10. Autonomous Resistance, “Can’t Stop Kaos: A Brief History of the Black Bloc,”
  11. K. Desouki, 2013, Getty Images
  12. Wael Eskandar, “The Black Bloc: Evolution of the Revolution,” Middle East Institute, April 25, 2013,
  13. CrimethInk, “Blocs, Black and Otherwise,”
  14. A. Kwan, Hong Kongers Protest, June 12 2019, Getty Images
  15. Vitalist International, “Summer in Smoke Report from the World’s Biggest Black Bloc,”
  16. CrimethInk, “Blocs, Black and Otherwise,”
  17. CrimethInk, “Blocs, Black and Otherwise,”
  18. CrimethInk, “Blocs, Black and Otherwise,”
  19. CrimethInk, “Blocs, Black and Otherwise,”
  20. CrimethInk, “Blocs, Black and Otherwise,”

Notice any patterns? If you want to learn a lot more about the history, implementation, and impact of bloc, check out the two zines: “Blocs, Black and Otherwise” (CrimethInk) and “Can’t Stop Kaos: A Brief History of the Black Bloc” (Autonomous Resistance). Both of which are a quick google away.

Back Cover:

Print your own from zines.headingnorther.com ! instagram @headingnorther


August 7th 2020

From southeastman and headingnorther

tags: transcript