road protests 2001
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Date: Fri, 04 May 2001 16:54:43 +0100
From: "Jo Makepeace" (firstname.lastname@example.org) by way of ALLSORTS (email@example.com)
Subject: SchNEWS 303, Friday 4th May, 2001 [excellent Mayday round up]
URL - http://www.schnews.org.uk
SchNEWS Mayday Monopoly report
THREE THOUSAND CRAP ARRESTS
"The dice reflect the myth of the 'free market' within the Monopoly system - But this is an obvious lie; the dice are loaded from the start." - Mayday Monopoly Game Guide.
After all the media hype and threats of rubber bullets, about 5,000 anti-capitalist protestors turned out to play Mayday Monopoly in London. Police did what they do best, herding people and bashing skulls, but yer suicidal SchNEWS hacks were still there, dodging the video cameras and truncheon blows to bring you the true story.
"I say I've never seen anything like it - I lie. Back home in South Africa, we had something very similar once. It was called the State of Emergency, and that too allowed police total freedom to detain and arrest and harass and intimidate under some draconian 'special' anti-terrorist law. In Johannesburg, they used these laws to help people commit suicide out of police station buildings, miraculously losing their fingernails on the flight down - how long will it take for that to happen here?" - Cookie, one of those bloody protestors.
Some would say we didn't even need to turn up. Oxford Street had been boarded up and thousands of police replaced the shopaholics, while opinion polls revealed even normal people think multinationals have too much power and are uncaring. The Financial Times meanwhile lamented "Business needs to do more to demonstrate the benefits... Governments must defend globalisation more vigorously - Otherwise, [the protesters] may win the battle for public opinion."
"I was led to believe there was going to be absolute chaos and see lots of blood. But this is all very good natured." A bemused Canadian journalist to SchNEWS.
SchNEWS would never suggest that the media build up was over the top, contradictory and, predictably, rubbish. But apparently "Unorganised- but highly trained- anarchists are intent on causing trouble, under the command of 'hardcore anarchist ringleaders'. But they'll be difficult to control, as they haven't got any leaders. Police warned all those intent on criminality to stay away, while 'legitimate' protestors should also stay away because of all the violent thugs. Politicians fear a repeat of last year's violence when 150,000 anti-capitalists rampaged through the streets causing bloodshed. But then, anti-capitalists are not a threat 'cos there are only a couple of thousand of them." And so the media circus continued until the SchNEWS bullshitometer blew its fuses.
The police fed titbits of so-called intelligence to selected mainstream journalists to scare everyone away. On the day BBC journos had been instructed to search out violence and confrontation; they even had a helicopter up along with the three police choppers. Overseeing it all, was a command bunker in Scotland Yard with 24 screens on one wall, where top police chiefs could control everything in true Big Brother style.
"The day started peacefully enough..."- Critical mass cyclists and skaters were up early, picking up free veggie burger breakfasts outside McDonalds and more revellers along the way, with numbers swelling to 1,000 by 10am. Police used a tactic they would repeat all day, namely the 'kettle'. Pen people in for a few hours, and if they try to get out hit 'em over the head. By now actions had sprouted up all over the capital but as 2,000 people converged on Oxford Circus they were detained for nearly eight hours including bemused tourists vainly waving passports at police. Smaller groups met up and a samba procession snaked round, gathering a posse of over 1000, breaking a few police lines, but never quite getting to Oxford Circus. Police eventually hemmed them in too, but thankfully, for once we didn't need to worry too much about pissed idiots throwing bottles from the back of the crowd cos all the off licences were closed.
More successful at breaking police lines were the Wombles. Using re-inforced banners and kitted out with shields, padding, hard hats and white overalls for protection against the inevitable truncheon blows, they gathered a crowd and the first line of cops retreated in fear. The next police line tried to stop them, but the padding and shields stood up to the onslaught and the cops retreated to the jubilation of the crowd. Two more police lines were broken. These people are not super heroes or martial arts experts and none of them have been trained in guerrilla warfare in the U.S. but 30 Wombles made a big difference to May Day. Imagine if there was 300 or even 3000 Wombles at the next demo?
Advance to Go
We need to build a mass movement of people to ignore state scare tactics and get out on the streets. To do this we must try to get our message across a lot better. SchNEWS hasn't got any delusions about the mainstream media but our refusal to talk to the press this time mean't that academics and wannabe politicians whinging "We voted for Labour and they let us down" got airtime and are seen to represent us. When Justice? did the Squatters Estate Agents we had up to 10 people talking to the press which meant that no-one could be seen as the 'leader' and we got loads of ordinary people on side.
More importantly behind the media spectaculars, anarchists and and the like are busy working in their communities doing everything from turning empty buildings into social centres, organising kids events, setting up community gardens and co-ops, etc. Not always as sexy and adrenaline filled but essential none the less, and living, breathing anti-corporate examples of how we can show capitalism the door.
For wombling tips - http://www.wombleaction.mrnice.net
For chants - http://members.tripod.com/~MattWells/womblingsongs.htm
For a run down of Mayday events around the world -
Come and hear MayDay report backs next Tuesday (8th) -
at the 'London Underground', Arsenal Tavern, Blackstock Rd (Finsbury tube) 7pm
road protests 2001
| road protests (current)
| movement links