Oh, but there was one very organized group present: The Revolutionary Communist Party had maybe a dozen members marching (which may have been the entire local membership of that particular group, which has been on the margins of the American left for many years). The RCP members had T-Shirts, newspapers, people designated to speak to the media, handouts with an office phone number -- all the stuff that made lazy reporters' lives easier. So when the story broke, both locally and nationally, the first paragraph read:
"Revolutionary Communists protestested yesterday in San Francisco ...." And the whole point of the War Chest Tour, which my friends had worked on for months, was lost.
Those of us who have been around awhile knew, and know, that the RCP is always with us. There may only be a handful of them still around, but they show up for everything -- and don't seem to care if they undermine the message that event organizers are trying to put out.
The Black Bloc -- the "big A" Anarchists who broke windows in Oakland -- are becoming part of the same tradition. It's a relatively small group, but it's always around. The marches against the War in Iraq were huge, with tens of thousands of people, and entirely peaceful -- except for a few Black Bloc-ers who broke windows and set fires.
Now: I'm not here to blast the Anarchists, or even the RCP. The Maoist/Bob Avakian types have become almost a parody of themselves in recent years, but if that's what you're into, go for it. I'm not even going to get into the argument over whether property damage counts as violence; been there, done that, got the circle-A T-shirt. Destroying stuff and causing mayhem can be a powerful political statement, and there have certainly been times when it was appropriate, effective and considered more than acceptable.