Anarchists the world over have long promulgated a symbol as iconic as any corporate logo: a messy “A,” bursting through a circle, a visual embodiment of disorder and nonconformity. But the rough-and-sloppy spray-paint classic now has some competition on District walls. In Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, and other neighborhoods, the new face of anarchism is a meticulously drawn “A” neatly inscribed within the circle. “It’s no longer about the kids with mohawks that are drunk and spray-painting,” says Jesse, 21, a Mount Pleasant resident who tags the new, neat-and-clean logo downtown. “Now it’s more of an intellectual and political movement….It’s about positive social change, not nihilistic destruction of property.” Radical-bookstore employee Ben Thomas says the slapdash symbol has fallen out of favor as it’s been co-opted by mainstream culture, such as mall-boutique chain Hot Topic. The neater version is a nod to its earliest incarnations, such as a version used in the Spanish Civil War. “I think the radical underground are reclaiming the circle-A,” he says.

—Constantine Caloudas

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