reclaim the streets
>> 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
MY DAY OUT
Firstly, having attended the Catford Beer Festival the previous day, I wasn't exactly in a carnival mood Friday morning. I probably wouldn't have gone to the City if I hadn't seen on the lunchtime news that up until then the event had been trouble-free and people seemed to be having a good time.
I got to Bank station just as it was being closed, I guess around 2.30pm, and wandered off in the wrong direction for 10 or 15 minutes before finding my way to the junction of London Wall and Moorgate. There were a few hundred people here and at the junction with Coleman St there was a fire engine and a couple of police vans surrounded by riot police. I walked around a bit without getting a clear idea of what was going on then went down Moorgate to the junction with Lothbury where another group of people were enjoying some music. After a slight detour along Gresham St where nothing seemed to be happening I came back along London Wall and as people seemed to be slowly moving off down Moorgate I decided to tag along.
This particular 'movement' of people went down Prince's Street, King William St, then round the corner (at which point someone shinned up a CCTV post and stuck a sticker over the camera) and down Cannon Street. I was surprised to see that the Cannon St McDonald's had no police protection and that McDonald's themselves had taken no precautions. The doors and windows were being smashed as I passed by (although not by 10 men in carnival masks as the Independent would have it). There were a couple of driverless cars which were still intact at this point although they did have people dancing on their roofs. There was a police van and a few buses.
At the side of Cannon St Station - Dowgate Hill apparently - I could see lots of banners and a huge fountain at Upper Thames Street so I headed down there, past some women who were dancing to some rock and roll music, past a very small entrance which seemd to be attracting a lot of people's attention for some reason and on to Upper Thames Street. This seemed to be where the carnival was: there was a van with a sound system, people with kids, people with dogs, fire jugglers, jugglers of skittle-type things, freesbee throwers, people in costumes, the Nude Protest man, a group playing music which reminded me of punk but I'm sure it's called something else these days.
As I'd arranged to meet someone - a kind of "see you at the Carnival" arrangement - I wandered off again and ended up coming down King William St and Cannon St a second time. By this time McDonalds was completely trashed and one of the cars was a bit smashed up. I don't recall noticing the second car. The buses were still there though. I went back down Dowgate Hill, past the rock and rolling women and just got to the very small entrance as people started to go into it. It transpired that this was the London International Futures and Options Exchange. The Guardian reports that several hundred people broke into the LIFFE, the Mail says 100. My guess would be between 20 and 50. I was tempted to go in myself and have a look but while I was thinking about it people started coming out so I didn't.
Instead I went and stood in the spray from the fountain in Upper Thames St (I think this was from a fire hydrant but I couldn't see clearly through all the spray) and watched to see if the police were going to do anything to clear people from the LIFFE entrance.
Almost inevitably they did and not very politely either. I suppose you can't expect someone dressed up as a riot cop to say: "All right, move along there please". Once they had partially cleared the street they presented a much easier target for those (20 -50) people who were disposed to throw things at them. Things thrown seemed to be mostly empty(ish) plastic bottles, some glass bottles and one or two sticks and poles.
From then on, the carnival was over (cue the Seekers). Experience told me that people who throw things aren't necessarily all that good at it and are just as likely to hit unprotected fellow protesters as they are the heavily protected riot police. So I moved out of harm's way to the junction at Queens St and Southwark Bridge. There was still something of a party going on here, but it became clear that the police were intent on moving us along Upper Thames St towards Blackfriars and away from the city. Unfortunately, as well as moving the van with a sound system, people with kids, people with dogs, fire jugglers, jugglers of skittle-type things, freesbee throwers, people in costumes, the Nude Protest man, a group playing music which reminded me of punk but I'm sure it's called something else these days, they also moved the people who wanted to break things and in doing so moved them past things they coudn't resist trying to break. Or set fire to.
Anyway, by this time I was getting thirsty, having neglected to bring any water with me, so I crossed over one of the footbridges on Upper Thames Street and walked back round to Cannon St Station and bought a couple of bottles of Vitel (I did say this was going to be boring!) then back the way I'd come, back over the footbridge to Upper Thames Street. The police were in the process of pushing everyone down Upper Thames Street and through the tunnel between Southwark and Blackfriars bridges. At this point I began to think about heading home in time to see it all on the evening news so I nipped down Queenhithe to the riverfront intending to walk round and emerge at Southwark Bridge. Unfortunately, the steps at Southwark Bridge were barred by a very unsympathetic riot cop who was only letting respectable-looking people through or people who had a satisfactory answer to the question: "Where have you been all day?" ("At the Carnival against Capitalism" wasn't among the answers deemed satisfactory.)
By this time the riot police and horses had moved on down Upper Thames Street, leaving a small contigent at the entrance to Queenhithe preventing the 20 or so people who'd had the same idea as me (or who'd just been sitting by the river front) from leaving. Apparently a car had caught fire just round the corner near or underneath some posh flats. We couldn't see the fire but it was getting a bit smokey. Then a very cross man came along and warned us all to stop smiling because he lived in the flats and we'd set fire to them. He was obviously very upset so everyone said it was nothing to do with them and I certainly didn't smile because I thought he'd probably hit me.
The police who were preventing us from leaving moved back a bit and then couldn't decide whether they wanted us to stay there or not. If you asked them, they shouted at you to get back but if you ignored them and just walked off to the side they didn't do anything. So I ignored them, crossed a footbridge over Upper Thames Street and then crossed Queen Victoria St. Part of the carnival seemed to be here, on its way towards Blackfriars but the police were already in between me and it and they were also blocking Cannon Street which was my preferred route home. So I went along St Paul's Churchyard and found a way around in front of the carnival on Queen Victoria Street. By this time my legs were beginning to ache so I decided to call it a day and headed home across Blackfriars Bridge.