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from it's going down:
As the anti-war movement waned and protest activity lulled in 2006-2007, the “anybody but Bush” coalition turned their sights to the next presidential election. The Obama campaign successfully appropriated most of the energy that had been directed into grassroots social movements previously, leaving anarchists largely alone in dissenting from the rhetoric of electoral “hope and change.” However, as the Obama campaign crested, the emerging economic crisis prompted a new wave of resistance, as anarchists roused themselves to organize anti-capitalist marches and participate in eviction defenses. Using a model of decentralized, coordinated consultas to build momentum around the country, anti-authoritarians mobilized extensively to protest both the Democratic and Republican conventions in 2008 through the Unconventional Action network, which persisted in some areas as a foundation for future resistance. With Obama triumphant, how would anarchists respond to the inauguration?

Unfortunately, anarchists collectively failed to take a strong stand by undertaking visible and confrontational protest at the inauguration. In the weeks after Obama’s victory, considerable debate erupted over whether or how to protest. Would a protest by a (majority white) group of anarchists against the first Black president be perceived as a slap in the face to Black communities? Or even be mistaken for white supremacists, who were rumored to be planning protests as well? While some constructive conversations about strategy, messaging, and white supremacy did take place, it became clear that many anarchists would forego counter-inaugural activity altogether.

One effort to salvage some anarchist presence amidst the ambivalence led to a dismaying statement of anarchist liberalism and compromise. Cindy Milstein and other anarchists authored a call titled “Hope From People,” calling for an unmasked “presence rather than protest” in the form of a “Celebrate People’s History and Popular Power Bloc.” This convergence was intended to form links with the “true rainbow coalition” of pro-Obama attendees by artistically celebrating forms of popular resistance. Contrasting “breaking things” with serious movement building and meaningful anti-racist work, the “Hope From People” call acknowledged that although anarchists oppose all presidents, “not all heads of state are alike, and if we fail to recognize both the historical meaning and power of this particular moment, we will ensure our own irrelevance.” That barely a dozen anarchists turned out to distribute flyers to the jubilant crowd reflected the true irrelevance of this approach. Yet the call attracted the signatures of dozens of prominent anarchists and radicals from Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn to groups such as Unconventional Denver and Wooden Shoe Books. By diverting experienced organizers into an equivocal non-event, the “Hope From People” mishap splintered any chance of concerted anarchist resistance to Obama’s inauguration.