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If it's free, it's not allowed! - Oxford party closed down

Angry of Oxford | 21.06.2004 16:51 | Free Spaces | Oxford

On Saturday night a wonderful free party on the outskirts of Oxford was closed by police.

The location was spectacular: a wide-spaced, well-canopied wood near Forest Hill on the A40, with no neighbours to disturb. The rain had stayed away, and the wonderful sound system crews were doing their uncoiling, cabling and generating stuff to create a party where people did not have to pay to get in, could bring their own booze and stuff to share, and where we could each make an individual adult decision when we wanted to go home, rather than be cast out onto the street by an expensive nightclub. We were so ready to dance!
But, with an awful sense of inevitability in authoritarian, neo-liberal, Blairite Britain, the party-goers weren't the only people there. When we arrived the police had already brought several vehicles and were threatening that this was an "illegal gathering" in an offensive way. Remember that in contemporary Britain, if you don't pay for your fun, you'll be treated as scum. A helicopter circled pointlessly, and most absurdly of all two fire engines stood guard, their lamps piercing the forest gloom with a quite appropriate disco-light effect. When I asked a fire officer where the fire was, he pointed to the small bonfire below. Was he serious? Members of the FBU, I've supported you in your fight for better wages and conditions, so please don't do just any crap thing the police ask you to do. I guess you like to party too? You probably have a lot more in common with us than the killjoy police. Anyway, after a while you went away. But I've got another question: how much did this whole operation cost? I think Oxfordshire tax-payers have a right to know how much money is being wasted stopping a few people having a good time. And isn't it unsafe to take fire engines away from frontline duty?
The sound system started up and played for a brief but glorious half-hour, before the arm of the law was made longer by confiscating generators and carrying them out of the wood. The somewhat embarassed ordinary coppers said they were only following orders (be careful with this line, guys, I think it's been used somewhere before), and seemed to have no idea why they were doing it. I wonder if, when they first joined the force, they imagined that this is what they would end up doing? Or perhaps they're just sad Daily-Mail-reading bastards who do it out of envy.
Anyway, how should we respond? How can we assert the right to do that most fundamental of human activities - to party? The state fears it because it can liberate us from its control. The capitalists fear it because it's free, and so much better than what they provide. How do we take them on??

Angry of Oxford


Display the following 7 comments

  1. simple... — xxx
  2. yeah and — party goer
  3. it's easy...[humour!!!] — Captain Wardrobe
  4. Not really really scared — villan
  5. Rights or wrongs? — Fred
  6. Thames Valley — Ex-Oxford
  7. FAO: Angry of Oxford — Matt S