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Mayday: personal report
By Brew, posted to the urban75 bulletin boards, 6th May, 2001
I've been mulling over how I feel about the events that took place on Mayday and think that despite the overwhelming press coverage of a win for the police, we have cause to feel pleased with ourselves.
I arrived at KingsX at about 9.30am to meet with the Critical Mass Cyclists. An amazing sight to see two separate masses come together outside the station at exactly the same time. Samba Band arrives from a side street and it looks like it's going to be a good day.
We walk, ride and skate down Euston Road receiving waves of support as we pass the Friends House, before we stop on the Melton St. Junction out side Euston Station. Police begin to swarm and the crowd walks down Melton St. towards the Rail Track offices.
Our first mistake of the day was allowing ourselves to be hemmed in for a few hours here. The funny thing was that I left the crowd to go for a pee and then rejoined it just before the police locked the area down (doh!).
Samba band kept spirits up and our naked dancing friend valiantly held his own on the dance floor, chilling the crowd with his funky style.
The only way out of this was to be Section 60 searched (search for offensive weapons) and photographed. Please remember that they only do this to gather details about you.
If you are Section 60'd you do not have to give any details. No name, no address, and no date of birth. You only have to give these details if you are actually arrested. You also do not have to submit to a photograph.
You can't cover their camera but you can turn your back. You can also ask for a record of the search that should include the searching officer's name and number.
On the ground though it's a different matter. Those that resisted having their photo taken were assaulted. Face coverings were confiscated and not returned and those that declined to give their details were told that they had to.
Some of those asking for a search record were told that the police didn't have to give one and if you received one in the past it was because of a trail scheme! This is a lie, but it can be hard to know your rights when you're surrounded by hundred of cops telling you otherwise.
Released and reassembled with my mates, we head towards a disappointingly empty Elephant and Castle. Seems as though we missed the sound system then. Next stop Charing Cross for a peep at Trafalgar Square. Hmmm… Lots of police, vans and barriers. Looks like a big holding pen to me.
By the smell of the pork (and a radio) we realise that Oxford St. is kicking off a little (Already! It's only 2pm!). Saunter down towards Oxford Circus via Regents St. where it's obvious that the Circus is locked down.
Kick our heels for a bit and move around to the other side of Oxford St by judicious use of Soho side streets (more about them later). Bump into a group of Wombles with crowd in toe, which is where the fun begins.
As a group we move north off of Oxford St and around Oxford Circus, out flanking riot cops at every turn. Back on to Oxford St. and begin to worry about being locked in again. Police begin to make their move and a side street into Soho was found.
Walking through Soho with little police presence was an unexpected victory. Wherever they thought we were going to move next we appeared somewhere else. There were thousands of us.
Police riot squads try to filter us towards Trafalgar Square and get panicky when it doesn't work. We are leading them, not the other way round.
Pass a completely unguarded McD's on our way east, but despite reports to the contrary, the Wombles aren't a group hell bent on destruction and the windows were left untouched. It's called restraint, not constraint.
Running begins as we play a little cat and mouse with the cops. A worried Brew wonders if the crowd wants to stop at Charing Cross on the luverly big junction with Shaftesbury Av. Luckily not, as this would mean another lock down and a push toward Trafalgar Sq.
Onwards and upwards along Shaftesbury Av. And into Holborn where several thousand exhausted ppl managed to disappear into thin air.
Found a great pub close to Oxford Circus (seemed to be in the middle of a war zone though), and watched the poor lot that had been stuck behind police lines for hours on sky news.
Apparently the Vampires (specialist night-time trouble makers) come out after dark. At least according to the tv. No, I've never heard of them either! All I saw after dark were riot squads running down back streets dispensing justice to those who thought that they were at liberty to walk in London at night.
Silly them. Received a small clonk on the head for my troubles.
Back into the pub and wait for the fuss outside to die down, then home...
Report by Brew. See also Mayday: analysis
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