reclaim the streets
>> shaky stuff
my day out
oh to be an Anarchist!
my day out (2)
suits you sir!
so why the city?
more to come?
Lovely day in the sun
I feel a bit shaky because today's events were very strange and really just a little too intense so I'm going to write it all out the way I saw it. Sometimes it feels like writing to newsgroups is like sending out a message in a bottle - you don't know who will see your message and it's entirely possible it will never been read by the people you want to read it, but you have to work on the general principle that at least somebody out there who cares or is interested.
One of the best things about today, though, was that I realised for the nth time (and I hope the time it takes before I inevitably forget it again is shorter) is that there are *plenty* of people in the world who care enough about life to want to try and change things, and that in some loose sense they are all looking out for you. Cheesy sentiments but I saw a lot of beauty today and I'm not talking about flesh. (Oh well alright that too, but I really meant inner beauty ;]) My single regret is that I had to see a lot of crap as well.
First I've got messages for three distinct groups of people:
To all the people I saw today who contributed to the great atmosphere and maybe, just maybe, made at least part of the world a slightly wiser and happier place in a physically measurable way: fucking brilliant. I love you all. No, really.
To the police: you *stupid* wankers. If you treat people like mindless animals, you don't need a fucking GCSE in psychology to realise that some of them are going to act that way. And if you're too fucking stupid to tell the difference between happy harmless people and people that need to be smashed out of the way with fast-moving riot vans, fuck off back to school until you've got a fucking clue what you're doing.
To the tiny minority (what was it, fifty? twenty? out of ten thousandish) who decided that the most effective way of demonstrating the growing need for people to reconsider the consequences of corporate culture and mass ecological destruction was to get tanked up and then start throwing sharp and heavy objects around: gee thanks, you fucking amoebae. What the fuck did you think you were going to achieve?
The only blood I saw today was pouring out the head of a guy *who came to make a peaceful protest*, some bloke who came out to state their case and have a good time while they were at it. He'd been hit by a flying piece of glass. I don't *need* to see that much blood coming out of someone. Hell, we don't even need the pigs to beat us up, we can do it ourselves. And who needs pundits to put a sneering spin on our politics when we can completely fuck up our own agenda off our own backs?
You probably chucked any chance of us being listened to straight down the gutter, and you managed to set off a riot that had horribly beweaponed authority-freaks charging screaming straight at me when all I wanted to do was have a bit of a chill and a bit of a dance and a bit of a chat and maybe cost a few yuppies a yacht or two. Nice one, dickheads. For fuck's sake, stay at home next time. We don't need that shit.
I came home around 6pm because I needed some peace and quiet. Switched on the news and watched the Lord Mayor of London talking total bollocks about things he didn't see, the kind of stock anti-protest propaganda (aka barefaced lies) that was already stale in the Suffragette's era.
The way he told it, you'd have thought some deranged woman threw herself under the King's racehorse, as opposed to what actually happened which is that several vanloads of riot police suddenly decided to try and drive over people for absolutely no good reason whatsoever. Maybe they just panicked - the people I'm presuming started the violence later on were doing a lot of taunting - but if that's true they've chosen the wrong fucking career.
One minute everyone was smiling, I'd just met people I knew who I hadn't seen for ages, the atmosphere was brilliant and I was starting to feel more relaxed and more summer-ish than I had done in ages, the next minute I'm diving out of the way of a maybe 25-30mph van that actually swerved to drive straight at us and next thing I know I'm clutching a complete stranger ten metres from where I was a few seconds ago and everyone I was with that I knew had vanished. (I found them again soon afterwards.)
Utterly needless. I found out later that at pretty much the same time, they'd run someone over slightly further up the street. This was at London Wall, near Liverpool Street station. The lying fuck of a Mayor also tried to claim that it was the protestors who stopped the ambulance from getting to her - bollocks. The pigs did a better job of jamming up the roads than we did. If you park twenty riot vans in streets designed for sixteenth century vehicles, you can expect a bit of blockage, but I guess they're too pig ignorant to realise that.
Later in the day I didn't see a single ambulance or fire engine denied access to anywhere. And if they'd policed it the way they did the Brixton RTS last year instead of turning up tooled to the max and obviously itching to erect their telescopic penises in our faces and then panicking like a bunch of toddlers because someone said a few bad words, the ambulance wouldn't have been needed in the first place, would it.
The beginning of the march in Liverpool Street Station was great, the place was filled up completely and some pukka drummers got the vibes going. Mad costumes, suddenly out of nowhere everyone had carnival masks on, some really funny banners ("Ignore Us" was my favourite).
Cautious grins breaking out everywhere followed by loads of cheering and "capitalism sucks" confetti, the suits all looked a bit amazed and I was glad to see that most passers by had smiles on their faces. We then sloooowly moved out of the station and wiggled around it off out into town. At this stage my hangover (caused by a combination of too much beer and too much of DJ Tsuyoshi's weird drumandbasstrancetechnohouse at the Annexe the night before) was nearly gone and everything was getting better and better, until we got to London Wall and the events above occurred.
Everyone was a bit shellshocked after the vans incident. A lot of people sat down in the square at the end of London Wall, can't remember what it's called. The atmosphere was shattered. More riot vans turned up with loudspeakers, "Please make way, we are delivering urgently needed medical attention". Strange, I don't recall paramedic's standard equipment being riot shields, telescopic truncheons and CS gas cannisters. Lying bastards. They were generally ignored.
Having refuelled, we ambled off towards Bank and the atmosphere lightened a bit, some genuinely fun people were making people laugh with juggling and jokes. There was no general direction to it any more, several junctions in all directions seemed blocked, the police seemed to have fucked off, and gradually I realised that most of the City was grinding to a halt. Awesome feeling!
After much wandering over the next few hours and being called a wanker by no less than four different motorcycle couriers, we ended up near Cannon Street and *finally* ran into a sound system installed into a wierd rickshaw thing, nice one geezers, shame the thug element both in uniform and out of it spoiled the dancing. That's when the bottles started getting lobbed around, some water main or something like it got opened and send a fifty foot geyser of water into the air, and then it got nasty again - I'll spare you from further detail - and we basically ran away. Chatted to a few more people but couldn't relax any more so decided enough was enough and we were going home.
Phew. I really didn't expect it to be like this. Heartfelt thanks to everyone who tried to make it what I thought it was going to be. Better luck next time. *Something* will change.
Report by Matt Brown