Baby Bloc gets them started early
By Liz Worth
“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”
This baby’s cry is the chant that some activists hope protestors will take up next time they take action.
Baby Bloc, a Vancouver-based organization, wants to help parents involve their children in radical political pursuits. The term “baby bloc” is a jab at the anarchist extremist actions called black blocs, which have been known to promote violence and destruction in protests. While Baby Bloc hopes to knock some sense into the establishment, the aim is to get kids involved while providing them with a safe, protective environment at protests, marches and rallies.
The organization’s website, www.babybloc.org, cites several incidences in which children have been pepper sprayed and shot at, and makes reference to “at least one woman” who miscarried after a WTO protest in 1999. Believing that babies are born anarchists, Baby Bloc’s founders Laurel Dykstra and Papa Bruce want to see a shift in police priorities, so that the kids are being looked out for, and so they can see a show of solidarity of parents and kids coming out to support each other as radical families.
Since many of us are entirely apolitical until we at least reach our teen years, it’s hard to argue against parents who want to raise awareness in their children and get them actively involved in local and global issues. Afterall, children are just as impacted by war, environmental decay, homelessness, abuse, and globalization as adults are, and yet the only power we give them until they are 18 is purchasing power as consumers. It’s true that protesters should reasonably be able to expect that the event they are attending will be safe. A peace march, for example, would be counter-productive if it was anything but peaceful.
Realistically, however, some protests, and certainly some activist groups, are notorious for their clashes with police. The WTO protests, for example, are notorious for their news-broadcast images of tear-gassed activists and riot gear. Depending on the nature of the event, police don’t tend to trust protestors, and their presence alone can be enough to cause tension among the crowd.
Baby Bloc has a vision of hand puppets and coloured banners, of enjoying safe areas and snack time while calling out for social justice. It’s an incredible ideal to reach for, and surely the innocent and logical thinking of a child’s mind can probably come up with a much more creative approach to getting a message out there than an adult who is rampaging against anything in its path. But does a baby bloc have a place at a protest that can’t be guaranteed to be safe? The statement made by putting children in danger while calling for a better world does not add up.
Even if babies are born anarchists, do their parents have the right to make them into martyrs?