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BY A SAMBISTA | 17.10.2004 01:02 | G8 2005 | European Social Forum | Ecology | London

"People need the G8 like a fish needs a bicycle"

Coming straight from the High Court for the Fairford trial, the sambistas gathered in the cafe of the Royal Festival Hall to have a chat over coffee. We were already joined by some of the police, but spirits were high and we were ready to visit some of the climate criminals haunts.

A big crowd started to form under the bridge, made up of fish on bikes, snokellers on drums, fishermen with banners and the like, trying to convey an image of London in the year 2050 if we don't do something about these big companies messing up our planet.
The band played and drew attention to the flyer wielders, and after a short speech, the walkers, drummers, dancers and cyclists headed east along the river.
After an accidental detour, we arrived at the first stop, Exxon Mobil. After a short explanation we were off to Trafalgar Square, the band playing all the way as the rain began to fall. We took a while to cross the road as we neared the Square and were met by the Carnival Forum on the biodiesel bus that went from London to Baghdad carrying the human shields. We made sure that the petrol users got a chance to hear our point!
We were outside the National Portrait Gallery, sponsored by BP (that's quite a blatant attempt of trying to find some positive stuff to tell the consumer. They reckon they can dupe us. Get your hands off the arts).
The speech outside the gallery left some tourists contemplating the news they heard. Then we could smell the food. The Hare Krishnas had come, and on an unscheduled stop, we restored our energy. The drums soon started up again and we headed round the corner to Canada House.
There were so many police - on bikes, in vans, on foot, with cameras. As the MCing started up from the Carnival bus, it felt vaguely reminiscient of the annual school photo; right in your face, unavoidable.
'Grabbed a camera for a few minutes - fancied being subversive in the spirit of carnival and all, but got barged around by the cops a lot and got a bit frustrated by it all. WE'RE JUST TRYING TO SAVE THIS BEAUTIFUL PLANET AND IT'S PEOPLE!
So, there we dispersed into the rain, 4 stops short, but hey, point made.
The biodiesel bus chugged off up to Ally Pally, it's perfume leaving us hungry. Critical Massers pedalled off. And the band..?
You'll hear us.
All that was left was a hoard of police with their vans looking rather like they'd just had sex without an orgasm - a bit unsatisfied and on edge.



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A pedestrian's eye view

26.10.2004 21:14

As one of the many grassroots events sprouting up around the European Social Forum, and to flag up the climate change-related resistance to the G8 that is building in the run-up to its visit to Scotland in 2005, London Rising Tide called a 'Carnival & Kritical Mass Tour of the G8 Climate Criminals'.

Publicised in part by a 'postcard from 2050' depicting Big Ben and other landmarks under many metres of water as well as the question 'Wish you were here?', this action planned to select from a shortlist one 'climate criminal' from each of the G8 countries, and visit it in order to proclaim its true activities and announce that it is now on a 'Wanted' list. While things didn't go entirely to plan, there was just about enough going on to make it worth bunking off from workshopland for the afternoon...

Having said that, there was a bit of a screw-up in the way there was a G8-related action programmed at the same time as an afternoon of discussion about G8-related action at the Beyond ESF event at Middlesex University. This was just bad luck as opposed to anything more sinister, demonstrating at worst a slight communication breakdown between the respective groups....

Some snapshots from the day:

Mermaids, masks, snorkels & a perfect pissed off penguin gather amongst the bikes, cafe-goers, film crews and second-hand books of the South Bank, heavily outnumbered by cops on bikes, cops with cameras, cops in vans and cops on foot...

Scrappy organisation and sporadic rain dampen the mostly continental samba band's spirits until we reach the cyclists at the first of the G8 climate criminals: ExxonMobil, which is warned it's on the people's Wanted list, with an A3 placard duly delivered (via a cop), then we're off again...

Increasingly hemmed in by police as we wander towards Trafalgar Square, where we unceremonially boo the National Gallery for taking BP sponsorship money...

A damp squib of a Canada House seems unattended, unless all its occupants are cowering silently behind its huge metal doors, but spirits are buoyed by free Hari Krishna dinners...

People are generally enthusiastic when they see the leaflet (2000 or so given out through the afternoon; memo to us: make sure we have a banner or similar announcing roughly who the hell we are in future!)...

We proceed in gorgeous traffic-blocking chaos following the Peace Not War/European Creative Forum no-battle bus (which recently drove all the way to Baghdad filled with peace activists) towards Regent Street. What's there? Lukoil - Russia's contribution to the Wanted list, which we somehow miss, ending up instead at BPs HQ in St. James' Square. Here we hear a passionate rant for real change not greenwashed cardboard cutout change, deliver noisy boos and catcalls and deliver another 'Wanted' poster, accepted in the absence of Lord Browne by leather-coated security chief...

Time is short - we have to cut the tour in half, missing Japan, Italy, France, Germany, so we head back to the BP-sponsored National Portrait Gallery for a 3.30 pre-announced but highly elusive finale. Here we hear another little speech and manage to avoid cop-assembled pen across the road. And that's yer lot - time for tea and a wind-down...

So...downside: low numbers, wobbly organisation, too many cops, lack of collective hard-hitting/theatrical/satirical activity at each target. Upside: much-liked 'postcard from 2050'; great costumes; much-needed action focus to stand alongside (Beyond) ESF stuff; raising flag of (climate-focussed) G8 resistance; mainstream media coverage in Guardian and (apparently) Sunday Telegraph; loads learnt for next time...

Love from Noisy Joe

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