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One view of the DSEI Protest

Matt S | 11.09.2001 22:28 | Fiesta for Life | Anti-militarism | London

My personal day at Disarm DSEI - good parts and bad.

My day in Canning Town started off easily enough; no problems at the Tube station at about 11.20 pm, and we were soon at the assembly point in Tidal Basin Road. Unfortunately, nothing at all seemed to be occuring there, apart from a long speech about Trident Ploughshares (no offence, Ploughshares people!), so we soon trundled off with a few more people towards the place we had heard the pink/silver bloc were gathering. Of course, along the way we had the obligatory police-van speed up to us and search us under Section 60 (ho hum, but we were soon at Silverton Road (I think that was the name), only to find the 200 to 300 protestors in the pink/silver group blocked off by three or four police vans, and a ****load of police. After a frustrating wait, however, they did start to move at a snails pace down the road towards us.

It was then that someone in that little group formulated a cunning plan...instead of following the main march and getting Section 60ed again, why not go through the estate and try to actually get to the Conference Centre? Off we went then, unfortunately only followed by about 50 other protestors, but we had a fun time roaming around the Canning Town estate, trying to outwit the police with our trusty A-Zs. We actually almost managed to get into the Custom House DLR station (the Conference Centre was protected by a railway line on one side and a river on the other, so the only way to it was over bridges or through stations), but were denied at the last moment by a few vanloads of police....gutted.

After several hours drumming, shouting at besuited people who may or may not have been conference delegates, and talking to local people, I wandered off to the Christian Community Cafe, which seemed to be doing a wonderful job offering tea, news and advice to those confused over the WTC affair in America. Unfortunately that was the end of my day due to circumstances I couldn't control, but it hadn't been all bad. True, we hadn't ended the arms trade, but I saw a lot of support from local people, which was really heartening, and there was no doubt that the delegates all knew that we were there. On the bad side were the constant police searches and the lack of a coherent plan on our side....but theres still three days to go of the Conference, so who knows what can still happen. Good luck to all of you who are attending actions...we can still Disarm DSEI!

Matt S
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