Brixton Reclaim the Streets
urban75 report from the Brixton Reclaim the Streets party, Saturday 6th June 98
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RECLAIM THE STREETS - Brixton, Saturday 6th June 98
High Street party!
The main street in Brixton was successfully reclaimed from 2pm after protesters sealed off the main street after staging 2 fake car crashes at either end of the main shopping area.
As orange smoke billowed out from the cars, up to 3-5,000 protesters poured in to take over the street in a peaceful demonstration against the dominance of car culture.
Banners were unfurled off the top of lamp posts proclaiming, "Cars my arse!" and "Under this tarmac flows a river - dig up the Effra!" (a reference to the ancient River Effra which now lays several feet below Brixton, redirected through conduits)
Reggae and Techno sound systems got the protesters grooving in the sun whilst children played in sand pits and paddling pools that were set up in street.
Free food was cooked up, the sun shone all day and Eco-Trip handed out bin liners at the end of the day to help clear up the mess. Respect all round.
The police were incredibly restrained throughout the day - even letting one guy shin up to the top of a CCTV camera to cover up the camera with a bin liner!
Meanwhile, the second RTS party kicked off peacefully in Tottenham where an estimated 4-6,000 took police by surprise and blocked off Tottenham High Road, setting up sound systems and reclaiming the streets.
Report by urban75 1998.
BACKGROUND TO THE PROTEST:
This leaflet was distributed before and during the Reclaim the Streets party in Brixton, South London in June 1998.
Reclaim the streets for children
The streets used to be a place where children could run around, play and hang out with their friends. Today children are taught that the streets are dangerous and that they should keep off them.
More and more children are being brought up like battery chickens - living most of their lives indoors, except when they are being driven around in their parent's car between home, school, the supermarket and short bursts of supervised play.
The biggest problem is that the streets are dominated by cars. In the UK, the number of vehicles on the road has increased from 8 million in 1960 to 24 million and rising today. When a fast moving lump of metal hits a child's body there's no contest.
In the last 20 years, 200,000 children have been killed or seriously injured by cars, two-thirds of them while walking or cycling. Instead of removing this danger from our children, we remove our children from the danger - by keeping them at home. Cars are choking children
South London suffers the worst pollution in the UK, and it is having a major impact on children's health. Vehicle pollutants like nitrogen dioxide can trigger asthma attacks and other breathing problems, while others can cause cancer and heart problems.
Noise-related stress builds up for the thousands of children living next to busy roads. Driving children everywhere is no protection - pollution levels are often higher inside cars, and of course there is still the risk of a crash.
Faced with this dictatorship of the car, it is not surprising that parents and carers want to keep their children at home. This in turn can create other problems with children's physical, social and emotional development. Many children get less exercise than they need, because they rarely walk or cycle very far.
They are also denied the chance to learn to do things for themselves by mixing with other children without being constantly watched over by adults. Curfews for children
As the streets empty of children, and increasingly of adults too, they become seen as an alien and threatening place. Fears of crime and of strangers become exaggerated out of all proportion.
Where children do continue to hang out on the streets they are portrayed as a problem. In some places, police have already enforced curfews for children, giving them the power to drive kids off the streets even if they aren't doing anything illegal.
New Labour's Crime and Disorder Bill will extend this power to police across the country. Reclaim the streets
If we want to break this cycle we've got to start reclaiming the streets. Reclaim the Streets parties are about taking a piece of car-infested tarmac and turning it into a free space where we can dance, play and for once live and breathe easily. They show what life could be like if people had control over our streets and over our lives.
Come along to the South London party on June 6th 1998 - bring your kids, your friends, your friends' kids... There will be a children's play space as well as sound systems and live music.
Reclaim the Streets South London Street Party, June 6th 1998
Meet Noon outside the Ritzy cinema, corner of Coldharbour Lane and Brixton Road, Brixton. We will be moving from there to the party location, somewhere south of the river.
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