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May Day - a taste of freedom

Freespirit | 02.05.2003 16:13

A personal account

As the crowd grew on High Holborn, those anxious to avoid being penned in (Yes police were heavy-handed even at that early stage of 2pm)moved further and further out onto the road and south.

A fine group of radical cheerleaders - female AND male - with deep green garb and huge home-made pompoms recited a powerful message. I couldn't get what the letters spelt out but I liked the angy in-yer-face way they recited 'you're evil', 'you're greedy'.

There was some commotion by police up towards the theatre, it looked like some people broke way from the police, and we suddenly and spiritedly set off down south, with the samba band behind, immediately to see Critical coming up the other way - amidst huge cheers.

The crowd was colourful, joyful, vibrant and confident in reclaiming our space. There was a group with old military jackets (flack jackets(?) like Adam Ant's) and face paint; several suited 'business men' with travel luggage on wheels; people with drums, saucepans and sound systems; silver dancers; pink samba; and assorted carnival characters, all dancing and playing along amidst the rhythms of resistance.

We wove down through Cambridge Circus and up again to Southampton Row, with police every so often putting a brake on everything and appearing to pen people, only to push them on after a while (presumably towards Trafalgar Square).

In the Strand we were penned again. Everything was increasingly contained and divided. Those on the Strand who were unpenned were uncertain whether to wait for new arrivals at the convergence point or risk being penned on Trafalgar Square or find other sections. (At that point maybe bicycle messengers could have relayed information about what was happening).

There were a few people being literally escorted everywhere by several police men.

We were not allowed to demonstrated anywhere near the Shell building - but only in Trafalgar Square (in squeezed contained spaces) and this is supposed to be a democracy.

This doesn't seem to be purely about 'control' (after all they had enough police positioned outside the Shell Building to ensure that nobody got anywhere near it) but also about dividing us up and making our throng invisible. After all, they wouldn't want that spontaneous, good-humoured, musical, colourful and life-affirming crowd of players to give anyone else a taste of freedom...

Still, we still had that taste of freedom and communicated it for a while.

Meantime, as one placard put it,
'CAPITALISM SUCKS the life of the planet'