It was recently reported on the Hayride that the anarchist Iron Rail Gang had resurfaced under the guise of protesting higher education budget cuts through the national anarchist group Occupy. It was determined that Occupy Louisiana was involved in inciting protests at UNO involving the occupation of Milneburg Hall. The involvement of Occupy Louisiana and Occupy UNO was reported today by The Advocate:
In early September, student protests at UNO resulted in the temporary occupation of two buildings, a scuffle with campus police and a few student arrests. Occupy Louisiana was involved.
Dylan Barr, the man behind the Iron Rail anarchist commune, was one of the participants in the violent occupation of Milneburg Hall in September. He was quoted in a Times Picayune article:
Although Barr, a senior geography major, called for a march on the State Capitol, neither he nor his fellow organizers on Wednesday had scheduled future activities. Nevertheless, Barr said, lawmakers are “going to have to start listening to us, instead of the people who give campaign contributions.”
Barr told the crowd at the amphitheater, “The more they hear about us, the more they’ll think twice about cutting our budget.”
It appears as though the call for this march on the capital has begun to take shape in the form of Wednesday’s Rally for Higher Education. Initiating as a rally organized by a UNO student group, the event has escalated to include more than 6 state colleges and hundreds of student protesters.
However, unlike the brutal aftermath of the protests at last year’s SRLC, the state is anticipating the violent actions of these anarchist groups:
State Police Col. Mike Edmonson said Monday afternoon that a strong police presence also will exist out of concerns that some anarchist fringe groups could attempt to disrupt a peaceful protest.
Edmonson also cited a fracas that broke out in April in New Orleans in association with the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, where some groups with anarchist ties protested.
Even the students have admitted to the presence of the anarchist organization. Max Gaudin is a leader of the Save UNO Coalition, which is suspected to have been closely involved with Occupy Louisiana in the past. The Advocate reported today that Gaudin spoke with organizers of Occupy Louisiana and that no violence is expected.
However, a large group is not required to incite unruly proceedings. Looking back at the brutality of the Iron Rail at the SRLC, it is clear that this protest began as a peaceful, if slightly wild, affair. It was in the aftermath of the protest that a small group of individuals stalked Allee Bautsch and her boyfriend, beating them mercilessly out of sight of the public eye. So, while the state police claims that “there are some groups — some small groups — that would like to come out and cause some problems,” history shows that it does not require the involvement of large organization to cause immense damage.
Given the presence of the state police, it is unlikely that these groups will attempt any such violence during the proceedings of the rally. However, I think it would be irresponsible to conclude that the threat of violence is not present. We would do well to remember that the beatings of the SRLC occurred in the aftermath of the protests. If the anarchists plan on causing havoc, it will not be at the rally itself, especially considering the alertness of state officials. That has never been their MO anyway. I would hope that the police are alert in areas all around the state capitol, but I would assume that the officers will most likely turn to cleaning up after the protesters at the conclusion of the event. However, it is a good sign that police are alerted to the danger of these groups. Perhaps, that alone will be enough to deter any potential attacks.