Brighton Reclaim the Streets
urban75 report from the Brighton Reclaim the Streets party, Brighton 24th August, 1996
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RECLAIM THE STREETS - Brighton, 24th August 1996
Urban75 goes to Brighton and feels the Force....
What should have been a peaceful street party was turned into an aggressive show of force by over 250 police, many in riot gear, who utilised massive resources (including a helicopter and dogs) to stop the party going ahead.
Instead, the police did their best to elicit a violent reaction from the good natured crowd, with confrontation seemingly their primary objective (perhaps they needed the arrests to justify such a ridiculously high presence).
If this show of force was intend to stifle the demonstration or coerce the protestors into giving up, it failed miserably as the protest went mobile instead, blocking off several major streets including the promenade.
The crowd clapped and sang along to those darn 'repetitive beats' supplied by several of Brighton's famous beach drummers until the police decided to react with an unprovoked and astonishing show of aggression.
Suddenly, lines of police dressed in full riot gear charged their way into the crowd and began to drag the drummers to the ground and arrest them (what for? drumming?).
Things quickly turned very ugly. Officers were wielding long-arm truncheons as protestors (of all ages) scrambled to get away from this unprovoked violence. I was sickened and depressed. Why do they feel the need to do this?
The crowd eventually moved on round the back streets of Brighton, where I saw one of the most senseless, stupid and downright dangerous acts I've ever witnessed.
Suddenly, a gold Rolls Royce drove straight at the body of the protestors as they walked along the quiet road. Driving into the crowd at over thirty miles an hour, people had to literally jump for their lives as he swerved and weaved his way past the terrified onlookers.
It is truly nothing short of a miracle that no-one was killed - and what did the police do? They let him through of course....
We tried complaining and asking why they hadn't arrested him after endangering so many lives and they simply replied that 'they couldn't care less'.
When we left the demo, we felt sufficiently demoralised by the whole affair. They could have let them have a party in the town where people could have had a good time, danced to some music and made their political point peacefully.
Instead, we witnessed an afternoon of aggression and confrontation which quite probably resulted in far worse street congestion.
Later on, we took a stroll up the windswept pier and watched in horror as we saw some half drunk lad one starting to drown in the heavy seas. Before we could react we saw a white haired fifty year old man risk his life to pull out the drowning lad, and quite probably saved his life.
He'd come straight off the demo, and returned afterwards. Said it all really....
Report by urban75 1996.
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