Yesterday I went down late to the G20 protests, missing the action at the Royal Bank of Scotland, to the Climate Camp pitched on Bishopsgate street near Liverpool Street Station. I’ve done one of these before a few years ago, when we all pitched tents in Trafalgar Square, to protest against the Iraq invasion. I remember it being very cold and noisy with local drunks constantly harassing us.
“What’s going to happen about Chris?” I asked.
“I think the university will quietly drop the whole thing once this protest is over. Chris is a chapel leader. They won’t want the hassle. But it must be said that anthropology (Chris’ dept) has only nine students this year. There used to be a hundred. It’s become too expensive to study any ‘non-essential’ subjects now. All the students want to study business.”(1)
I found the samba band, RoR, decked in their usual colours of pink and silver. Ms Canal Explorer had been outside the Royal Bank of Scotland when it was smashed and admitted that the samba band was in some way a catalyst for the protestors at that point. Ms CE and myself are both Space Hijackers (myself less frequently). They’d all been arrested outside News International with their tank ‘disguised’ as a riot squad van. (Facebook group: Free the SPA)
‘shame on you, shame on you’.
“I was just standing there when a policeman started hitting me with his baton”.
“It’s pointless all this. The MP’s can claim 40 grand expenses for second homes. The government can do what they want. We can’t. Nothing is going to change”.
And there we have it. Frustration and impotence. Anger and disgust. One set of rules for them, another for us.
Only waving tenners? Obviously a sign of their reduced circumstances….
I had a really nice text from my middle son "what a prediction father… the weather crew could certainly use you! Adz" which came about because I had been muttering about the 'banka bustin' that was going to happen this year (though I thought it was going to be last year so I am clearly myopic when it comes to being a visionary). I did also predict worse outcomes and more sinister social unrest particularly manifesting itself as racsim or indeed action against any readily identifiable social or cultural groups. My first instinct was a new wave of anti-semitism but it could equally be anti-islamic. Such actions are driven by fear, doubt and uncertainty and humans tend to irrational behaviour in response to fear. At its worst it is a basic biological reaction (fight or flight) and that reaction, or instinct if you like, is driven by a lack of blood to the brain. Having lived through the Miners Strike, Toxteth, Bristol and Brighton riots myself I think we are probably in for a long hot summer of direct positive action with more nefarious groups like the BNP legitimisating their xenophobic principles by fuelling mindless violence under the cover of legitimate protest. I hope I am wrong but fear I am right…
If you go and look at last Sundays lunchtime politics program on the BBC the collumnist they had on there was describing it as a riot not a protest ahead of time, and the host made no effort to correct him.
The Overton window is being pushed by the media to make protest unacceptable
Had to look that up http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window
Barking supported chris et al at the saturday march. They didnt go to the uni because there was no point. It was closed down and security was crawling all over it. Its also in the middle of nowhere and there was no one there on site to protest against.. bar hired thugs, security guards and a few spotty students..as all staff and governing bodies were away from the building.there were no lessons…no teachers..no admin staff..no media..no one..
There is much much more to the chris story than you seem to be aware of….! Some of barking were at the protests in the city..others turned up late and couldn't get into the cordoned off area where the rest of rythms and barking were…others like myself unfortunately had to go to work.
Perhaps you should ask members of barking personaly why they were unable or unwilling to attend before casting your 'surprise' …We are all individuals in Barking and people have the right to their own beliefs or views on this matter we do not live and think as one.. . I have known chris for 10 years and love him dearly..but maybe not everyone feels that way…which is their perogative…as I said…you don't know the whole story or each individuals history with chris..
Anyway other than all that malarky…nice blog Ms Marmite x
Thanks for the correction Ms ML – I do indeed think the band acts as a catalyst for feelings in the crowd, focussing energies and bringing people together. Whatever is there latent can be precipitated by the drumming – be that joy or rage.
The area between bank and the police line in threadneedle street was fairly empty, and several of us wanted to go on to climate camp. So we said "here's a space, lett's play here". Within half an hour there was a surging mass of protesters pushing back the police lines, and we were caught in the middle of it. We cannot predict what will come of the playing, except that it has potential to energise, and generally brings about some sort of development in the vibe.
It is disappointing that a tiny minority of protestors conformed to the stereotype, giving the media, police and government exactly what they wanted: a scare story of angry and dangerous riots; a mob of destructive anarchists.
The video you added above (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlJRi7YR1bU) is deeply upsetting, showing the true brutal nature of the riot police, even when protesters chant "peace not riot" and hold their hands aloft to show their peaceful stance.
I was right at the front, and was treated extremely roughly for no reason at all (admirably, none of the protestors retaliated to the police violence, strongly sticking to the non-violent principles). When bashed in the face with a riot shield, I asked the cop responsible "Do you like hitting girls, then?". "Yes, I do." he said!
There must be some action about this, it really shouldn't be allowed to go on. Police cannot just brutalise innocent people whenever they feel like it, with impunity. There are channels of complaint open to us.
I remember the Poll Tax riots. The police shoved my mate Timmy really hard and he wasn't even doing anything. we were over 100 yards away from the trouble.
The government have to demonize the protestors to make themselves look good! They want to be seen as the good guys, the "civilized" ones, fighting "anarchic hooligans". Sometimes the police put on disguises and inflitrate the actual demonstrators and start a fracas just to be sure!
TonyP: don't know if anti-semitism will result unless somehow that is connected with that whole David Icke rothschild/banking/reptilian theory.
Erzulie: Wld like to know more. Was merely wondering.I'm not a regular at Barking unfortunately so you are right I don't know the full background.
MsCE:Absolutely. It was pretty scary stuff.The Sun today talked about anarchists thugs and had a reporter embedded.Did he really write that or was it heavily edited? Surely he doesn't really believe what he writes? Can't he see that most anarchists are peace-loving hippies?
Ben: MsCanalExplorer and I were talking about that today.The guys who were happy to be photographed shoving stuff thru the RBS window.I don't recognize them. Who are they? Agent provocateurs? They didn't even look like activists. In Genoa, the police were filmed dressing up as black block anarchists as a smear tactic.
Nice report with lots of detail. The protestors were all very peaceful from what I could see, even when the RBS windows were put in… and I could see that happening although I wasn't that close, but it didn't feel violent from where I was coz no one was being threatened. I then went up to Bishopsgate which didn't seem that different from outside the Bank of England…. But I figured the police would blockade everyone in so I left in time to get a burrito in Whitecross Street just before the stall closed up mid-afternoon. It really felt like the authorities were cranking stuff up coz they wanted a riot… but the crowd wasn't hyped up for aggravation.
"They didn't even look like activists."
What do activists look like?
Four of them were in court today:
Thanks for that Bentham.
But you know what I mean don't you? There is actually a bit of an activist uniform.
So the girl was a 17 year down from Scotland, been involved in political activism since the age of 13.
Er, are we sure it wasn't my teen?