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what happens in Sheffield when war breaks out

pault | 21.03.2003 00:05 | Anti-militarism | Sheffield

Striking Sheffielder reflects on a day of stopping the traffic, being inspired by teenagers and dancing a lot.

Damn, it feels good to be on strike! Just got home after walking out of work 11 hours ago, with tired legs and no voice. It's really difficult to put this in any kind of order because so much of today was about spontaneity. Coppers were a little bewildered and decided to be "nice" to us for most of the day. I walked out of work feeling low, angry and upset. The bastards have started this unjustified slaughter. I've been overwhelmed all week with a strange mix of rage and sorrow. So what did we do? Amongst other things: Hundreds of school (and college) students (including my daughter, bless her) walked out at about 11 and walked into the city centre, reclaiming major roundabouts on the way. The school students (who've been an absolute inspiration for anyone who's been paying attention) were fantastic today -- absolutely up for it, angry, vocal and confident. Once again the Sheffield students have demonstrated their opposition to this monstrosity being committed in out names. Many of them did all this after being threatened by their schools with suspension or worse. Once assembled in town, we set off to try and acheived our stated aim: Stop Sheffield. We spent most of the next nine hours walking (and running (I thought coppers had some basic fitness test... not very apparent in some cases)) pretty much at will. We went on a lovely winding walk around Sheffield taking in such major attractions as a sit down outside the main police station, most of the major roundabouts and dual carriagesways, disrupting business for quite some time at a major petrol station, forcing BBC Sheffield to get off their arses and filming some of what was going on under their noses (and being prevented from getting in by police horses). After our afternoon stroll, we assembled back outside the Town Hall for an hour or so to allow more people to arrive, have a bit of a rest and take the piss out of the bored looking coppers. Sheffield Samba Band marching into the space in front of the Town Hall to keep the dancing going. It soon seemed time to go walkabout again, so the Samba Band lead us dancing down Fargate, stopping the buses and trams all the way down High Street and then onto Park Square. Park Square is a huge roundabout with five major roads (including the main route into town from the M1) all converging just at the edge of the centre. We'd already been there as one of our early visits on our afternoon walk. We stopped traffic for a good twenty minutes, having a pleasant sit down in the sun, chatting with friends and making new ones. This visit had a smaller number of folks, but the Samba Band were going strong, the chanting was loud and another sit down at the end of the Parkway was called for. Back into town only to meet the trollyd crew with a bunch of traffic disruptors. Coincidently this was outside McDonalds so we made some noise while the South Yorkshire Constabulary guarded the Golden Arches. So the Samba crowd did an about face and off we went to shut down the major roundabout in Sheffield for the third time in less than twelve hours. It took a long time to get round this time (funny how that happens some times). The boys in blue were getting a bit fractious by this time (I think it was because they were wanting some tea by this stage and we just wouldn't shut up and go home) and a bit of pushing and shoving took place. Nothing too serious though. After a nifty bit of wrong footing the cops we samba'd our way past the railway station. The band played a tune outside the main station taxi rauk to the rapturous applause of the Asian taxi drivers. A quick sit down at the next roundabout and back to the Peace Gardens. Samba Band at the front, trollyd towards the back and lots of dancing people all around. A magic moment. By this time, the band were shagged out (after drumming flat out for nigh on four hours), gracefully finished to yet another rousing cheer and trollyd took it up again. I left (to come and do this report) at about nine with a still sizeable crowd dancing and relaxing in the Peace Gardens to the sound of a Ronnie Reagan "Government is the problem..." sample colliding with Roni Size.

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  1. HTML apology — pault
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