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Storming of the Palace

imc uk'ista | 17.10.2004 12:25 | European Social Forum

Saturday evening, around 250 to 300 grassroots activists made their own free entry to the official ESF and denounced the ESF organising process from the stage of the main plenary.

The intervention occurred during one of the main pleaneries, where Ken Livingstone was expected to speak. A decision to pull Livingstone out of presenting his speech on a panel had been taken only shorty before.

The activists took the stage and hung banners – 'Kens party, War Party' – 'ESF Another World is For Sale', to bring attention to the exclusive nature of the london esf, and to report the police intimidation of activists at autonomous centres this weekend.

speakers on the stage
speakers on the stage

During a later meeting of the Assembly of Social Movements Redmond O'Neil (of the GLA) condemned the intervention, saying that the activists, who had 'outed' the problems with democracy and communication in the ESF, and had attacked people and stolen phones! A table had gone over during the taking of the stage, but many on the stage assisted in looking for any lost items. After some initial confusion from delegates, many became vocal both denouncing the intervention but many more supporting the statements of Babales and others.

Delegates listened to around half an hour of statements from activists, often cheering the speakers whilst they exposed some of the problems within the ESF process [ Babels Statement ]. Afterwards, activists handed the plenary back over to the official speakers and left as one group chanting 'solidarity' with some delegates following.

Later those that left were exposed to police violence, with people pushed and punched, police with batons at the ready, and a small number of arrests were made. The activists continued back to the 'Beyond ESF space' occupying the road. The activists were followed all the way back by several police vans

See [ Timeline ]
Reports [ Livingstone AllyPally speech replaced by protest by grassroot activists | Storming the palace (report and pic) | Visual Report ]
Some [Analysis]

imc uk'ista


Hide the following 40 comments


17.10.2004 19:04

I hope these 'anarchists' are proud of themselves for breaking up an anti-fascist meeting.

Whose interests are you serving?

SWP' s Liberal bleating

17.10.2004 21:18

What a load of cock and bull in the 'Proud' comment...

Ken was due to speak after co-opting the ESF, so we organised a protest against him at the advertised time. There was mucho angst from the SWP in the day, wondering how they were going to deal with us.
FIRST - it was link arms to keep out the great unwashed cos they don't have £30/40 tickets;)

THEN the SWP wanted to get the police into deal with us, but this split the ESF and principled ESF participants, such as the CObas, let it be known they couldn't support that.

SO - you compromised and 'officially' agreed to invite us in - you then can't complain that we 'invaded' the meeting. We weren't just going to turn up and be seen off easily, cos we had been excluded by the hierarchical politics of this years ESF. AND we mean and do what we say, unlike the SWP who couldn't fight their way out of a paper bag.

THE 'oh so clever' leadership then PURPOSEFULLY put on that meeting SO they could make political capital out of our 'invasion' - what obviously sad bollocks these wankers come up with... BUT stuff you- anybody can see we turned up openly, took the stage, had our say, and left in a disciplined block - and then the meeting went ahead anyway. So stick it up your cadre.


Biased as hell

17.10.2004 21:59

You seem to have forgotten in your little article the facts of this meeting:

The Anarchists BROKE up an anti-fascist meeting by BREAKING into a forum.

The guy who was speaking when they broke in had his phone stolen as well as his adress book, and he was beaten BY THE ANARCHISTS. Well done lads, for beating a black guy at an anti-fascist meeting. How very anarchaic.

Im glad the police beat these guys up, they friggin deserved it. Dont forget the true story next time you report, these guys were a waste of space, anarcho-morons.

Red Rob

Disapointed but not surprised

17.10.2004 22:28

Breaking up anti-facist meetings, punching a black man to the floor and subsiquently him having his wallet and Mobile stolen seems a little extreme to me, but then again in Prague the black blok was infiltrated with police and fascists as arrest pictures at the time prove.

I think the best bet for the people who 'stormed' the palace would be to go home and think about who the real enemy is because if they think that its the SWP that strikes me as quite an inaccurite and sad analysis.

Also I don't remember anyone complaining at the esf last year when the event was part paid for by the City of Paris?

Know thy enemy and attack at the weakest link, it is a lack of political clarity and a lack of common sense "the Gramshi type" that leads to this kind of childish action. Shame that intelegent people should feel they have to resort to these tactics. And not only that but Ken wasn't eveen there!


disapionted but not surprised

17.10.2004 22:46

I read a rally good Anarchist newsletter at the esf unfortunately it seems that some in the movement cant quite get to grips with who the real enemy is.

The newsletter I read seemed to know, anarchist I speak to seem to know, so how come it's always the SWP who are the real enemy and the ones who call the cops despite the fact that Ally Pally was crawling with them.

Is it cos the SWP are the biggest boys on the block so therefore an easy target and of corse disgruntled ex-SWP members make fine Anachists I know a few, so is that why?

Or is it just a simple lack of politics and a herding instinct, to me these thugs who stormed the stage just sound like the school boy gangs that pick on the easy target, more fools you rely its a shame.


What did you achieve

18.10.2004 09:07

Sorry if I have two posts but the server was being strange.

I would like to ask those morons who broke up an anti fascist meeting what they thought they achieved? The fact is Ken livingston opposed the war, he brought this event hear and is the chair of unite against fascism. I have no problem with the autonimouse zones and as anarchist groupes chose not to be part of the organising process then it makes sence that the are areas for this kind of achtiverty.

However essentialy this meeting was an anti fascist meeting which was chaired by a former ANL chair and now a member of UAF, now what did that achieve.

The ESF was accepting that the were seriouse problems with the world many of which are caused by global capitalism, we were their tryig to put some barryers to stop the march of US imperalism. This was supported by Livingstone. We were trying to challenge the neo libral adgenda. Unfortunatly some self indulgent middle class kids who call them selves "anarchists" decided they didn't want to be part of this and acted like the spoilt bratts they all are. Well done! pleas don't come next year!!

Joshua Fenton-Glynn
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eye witness

18.10.2004 10:41

I was there during the storming of the palace and I must say that it was a fantastic action.
I am disappointed that people on indymedia now try to denounce it. Even SWP activists should agree that not everything was great at this years ESF.

You denounce us because we BROKE IN the official ESF. Of course we broke in! That was the whole point of the action. It was a symbolic protest against the much too high entrance fee of the ESF. We did not want to be excluded from the ESF any longer, just because we did not have enough money to come in.

You denounce us because we were violent. In fact, the only violent people there were the speaker/moderater from the anti-racist plenary who believed we wanted to cancel the plenary and he called us fascists and pushed us around.

However, from the beginning we made clear that we only wanted to stay for 30 minutes to tell the delegates what we thought and that then the plenary could continue.

When we heard that someone's mobile was stolen or lost, we immediatly let an ESF volunteer make an anouncement about it and asked people to return the phone.

The action was explicitly not directed against the SWP. The party was not mentioned once in our speaches. It was also not directed against the anti-racist plenary.

The action was directed against a labour party member who is also head of London's police force. His police force, was filming us all day and even prevented some of us to attend seminars and workshops.

Speakers included a volunteer from Babels who said that many translaters from eastern Europe had been excluded from the ESF, an indymedia activist who denounce the corporate sponsorship of the ESF from the official media partner The Guardian. He also asked the Guardian the enquire into the indymedia server seize. There were also many individuals who said that they had not enough money to pay the entry fee, that for the first time there was no free accommodation at the ESF, that the bar staff at Alexandra Palace was working too long for too little pay and was being exploited by the ESF, that many migrants had been prevented from entering the UK, that speakers on the plenaries were payed, that Ken Livingstone would speak the next day at the Business Leaders summit and much more.

Most importantly, one girl said that we stormed the palace to demand that the ESF would never again be so commercialised and organised in such an undemocratic and hierarchical way. Our banner said ESF Another world is for sale!

Everyone, but a handful of delegates agreed with our speaches and cheered and applauded. Everyone who I met at the ESF agreed with our critique. We seriously hope that the next ESF organisers will take our critique into consideration.

Of course, we have disrupted the ESF for 30 minutes. But we did not see the delegates as our enemies. I don't understand why you have to denounce every action that is spontanious and comes from the people directly. Isn't that what you want your revolution to look like?

P.S. Police revenge came the day after, when around 70 police men and women prevented around 100 of us from taking part in the international demonstration (they encircled some 20 activists at Kings Cross for 1hours30 until the march was over and made circa 10 arrests throughout the day).


these cows are small, those are far away

18.10.2004 10:45

Worth keeping a sense of perspective on this Great Controversy. Those of us unable to attend the ESF were blissfully unaware of all this brouhaha, it never reached the news. In fact the ESF was barely mentioned at all, apart from the Stop The War demo.

Don't get me wrong, not dissing the ESF, it seems to have been an inspiring three days for all involved! But when you head home, don't assume everyone will have been discussing the great anarchist / Ken battle cause they won't know what you're on about. Whereas there is continuing debate on getting the troops out of Iraq.

Stop The War:


fascist 1 anto-fascist 0

18.10.2004 11:28

the black guy who you refer to is actually Weyman Bennet ,swp and UAF. why dont you join the police force, that way you can beat more black people up stop anti-fascist marches and meetings and use the state to stop up SWP.

The BNP would be proud of you.

red letter

we laughed and laughed and laughed

18.10.2004 11:32

I wish I'd bet money on it. All the Marxists and anarchists in Europe gather in one place, what's going to happen? Guaranteed, they all attack each other, of course!

'Another World Is Possible' you all insist, and are baffled as to why so few people seem interested in it? Perhaps because this other world would clearly consist of lots of mobs of people in balaclavas throwing tables at each other. Mmm, sounds great, sign me up!

At least you're having fun. Leaves the rest of us free to make something of our lives.


Highlight of the ESF

18.10.2004 12:02

"so how come it's always the SWP who are the real enemy"

The anti-capitalist movement is a pro democracy movement. The SWP are against democracy at every level from local politics to national politics like the ESF and the STWC. This is a very deep and fundamental political difference so its really no surprise that people see them as the enemy.

Time and time again they try to subvert and control emerging democratic organisations and movements. Bussing in extra SWP members to vote at grassroots meetings is a common tactic they have been using for years all over the country. These attempts to control everyone and everything is really no different from the political system we are under now. And yes that is what we are against.

Its also accurate to say that the SWP is a completely corrupt organisation too. Why are they colluding with Ken Livingstone, who supported the Kosovo War and ran a full page ad in the newspapers denouncing Mayday 2001?

The storming of the palace was probably the highlight of the whole ESF. It's real politics, action not empty words.

But sorry about the guy who got his phone nicked and hit (if true). That's a shame but it would be interesting to hear it directly from witnesses. I saw most of what happened on the stage apart from the very start. I didn't see anything like that. It did get a bit heated at times and there was the odd bit of argy bargy. At one time I saw someone grabbing someone else's jacket collar.

However the Unite Against Fascism folk seemed far more aggressive to me. I sat calmly on the stage for while and a woman came up and started bawling at me about the take over. Fair enough she was pretty angry about it all so I let her finish. But when I tried to calmly reply she just walked away - not interested in what I had to say. Not interested any kind of dialogue. That kind of attitude is the seed of fascism so it was pretty ironic to see someone supposedly against fascism behaving that way.

A short while later another guy came up and started shouting questions at me. Everytime I tried to answer he cut me off with another irrelvent question "Who are you!", "What have you done for the movement?", "What organisations do you belong to?". These suggested he believed in an unstated hierarchy which put him above me. I would have like to have told him that we could create a space where we both get to speak along with anyone else. But he went off before I had the chance to answer.


Scum of the Earth

18.10.2004 12:14

I did not think I would see a day when anarchists bought shame on themselves more than they did in Genoa when they played into the hands of the Fascists. But this may just be a new low.

Assaulting and robbing the black deputy chairperson of Unite! Could it get any worse?

Scum of the Earth.


ESF Volunteer

18.10.2004 12:24

I was volunteering at the ESF this weekend. On Sat I was at the general Information point, right at the entrance, so I saw exactly how it happened.
First, I want to make clear that myself I wasnt very happy with many issues around this year's ESF (Sponsorship by Mayor/Guardian, etc., expensive price for entry, dome entry money going to a private corporation, ETC). I was therefore quite happy to know that there was an alternative ESF going on ("beyond ESF") and thought that there was room enough for both forums, and that this what it was all about: there should be space for all voices on the left.
Ha! Guess I was being too naif..
I was happily helping out some French guys who had nowhere to stay when suddenly this huge banner appeared out of nowhere, coming directly towards us! Thought they'd stop, but they didnt.. Then they made their way in to the plenary..pushing me and these French guys and all the rest of volunteers that were around the Info point at that moment (there were about 6 of us... after the "irruption" it was only me!).
Now, as usual, I am afraid to say that some very good points that should have been opened up for discussion (about the nature and organisation of this year's official ESF) were hidden behind this kind of action. What I am saying is that loads of people like myself who agreed with the "beyond esf" bunch were now plainly angry and disgusted at their action.
Sorry, but I think there are plenty of places to storm into that would score higher in my list rather than a forum of social movements that is having an anti-fascist speech at that moment.
And yes, it was a violent action. You pushed me, you pushed other people, and at that very second you didnt care much about how much damage you might have caused to the Info stall (to name one). This stall had been run by VOLUNTEERS doing sometimes more than 8 hours shifts and getting nothing in return. When you've been working really hard to make something happen it is extremely dissapointing to see things like these.. Again, I thought there would be plenty of places that deserved a protest rather than the ESF.. but silly me.. didnt count with the never-bloody-ending fragmentation of the left..

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The exception rather than the rule...

18.10.2004 13:47

Only two sessions were disrupted by 'infighting', as far as I can see.

I think that's pretty good, capitalist.

And if you'd been there, you would have realised that the vibe was bloody beautiful. Fair brought a tear to my eye, y'know.




18.10.2004 15:08

You nasty nasty nasty people frightening the SWP like that! Sounds like great fun though. Now who is the Judean Peoples Front and who is the Peoples Front of Judea?

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The necessity of being critical...

18.10.2004 15:19

First of all I have to say that I am not an anarchist and so I can understand that some people would never agree with the storming of the meeting of livingstone but I was in the ESF to think about another world but it was for me difficult cause of many contradictions.
Indeed how can we accept that Coca-Cola and Nestle are on sale on the site, that security guys work 12 hours in a row for the minimum wage, that no fair trade food was on sale, that there were no recycling bins for papers, that homeless people, unemployed and people from east of europe have to pay to attend the forum...
I think that we have to be critical about ourselveves. In a way, how can we do what we condamn ?
This storming was for be necesssary because it has allowed an opening reflexion about the organization of the forum and I think that a part of the forum should be dedicated to the organization allowing people to think all together and not by being 5 or 10 around a table.
However I would like to thank the organization and the volunteers for all their devotion which has allowed us all sharing our ideas.
I hope that all that will be taken in consideration because I think that our ideas and the organization must be in adequation.
Much hope for Athens.....

please excuse my english cause I am French..

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Disrespect creates disrespect

18.10.2004 15:38

I took part in the autonomous ESF. I didn't go to the palace, not becuase I didn't think it reasonable for people with no money to demand entry, but becuase I didn't really see the point of it. The outcome was fairly predictable:
SWP members screaming about terrible anarchists and the other way round too.

I don't believe the SWP members reports of what happened. I have been in too many situations when they have directly lied about what has gone on.

I remember when Weymann Bennett was young students member of the SWP talking about how in a revolutionary situation it might be necessary to shoot anarchists - so lets be clear there is no love lost.

The SWP have treated other people with no respect for years. Disrespect breeds disrespect - what do they expect.


Saturday night's actions: an attack on the democracy of the ESF

18.10.2004 15:48

The actions of the small minority of people who chose violence and intimidation as a means to express their disagreements stand on the opposite side to the democracy of the ESF. Whilst using the rhetoric of 'democratic deficit', their actions of forcing themselves onto a stage - even though they were invited in and were going to be able to express their views - and physically assault one of the only black people on stage is precisely against the spirit of Porto Allegre and the principles of the World Social Forum. Physical violence at the ESF or WSF cannot be justified under any circumstances, when those perpetrating it are claiming they are part of the movement.

How can anyone justify the disruption of one of the most important sessions at the ESF, fighting fascism and the far right? The seriousness of the assault on a black person on the platform really puts into question where these anarchists stand on the question of the fight against fascism and the far right.

The ESF and WSF are spaces, open and democratic for a diverse, sometimes contradictory debate to take place. It is simply not true that people have been excluded from this process, or that, as the Babels statement suggests, the event was entirely state sponsored. All the meetings of the ESF process were open to anyone who wanted to attend them. No one was ever excluded from attending a meeting or expressing their views and many did over the nine months it took to organise the ESF. Social movements such as trade unions made a substantial contribution to the holding of the event, using their members subscriptions to enable such a fantastic event to come to Britain.

The people who attacked the plenary simply wanted to impose their minority views on the majority, through the use of violence and intimidation. This is the opposite of democracy and utterly alien to the experiences of the progressive movements in Britain.

Milena Buyum

In response to those who complain about the left ‘infighting’.

18.10.2004 15:58

We need to develop an intelligent critique of our movement and clarification of our struggle – both the means and the ends. Many people can claim to be on the ‘left’, including the warmonger Tony Blair. We need to draw the line somewhere and examine people’s real actions and roles.

Historically many of the so-called ‘comrades’ have sabotaged real social struggles – e.g. Kronstadt, Spain or the Assembly movement in Argentina. Hierarchical parties lead to hierarchal societies. Power corrupts and time and again those ‘lefties’ who gain power start to use it to crush any further spontaneous social movements. Anything that is not under their control they perceive as a threat and use the same tactics as the state – calling the police, spreading defamation in the media.


a lot of work to do b4 athens

18.10.2004 16:26

I agree with a lot of the comments posted by roublard.
as a volunteer I got loads of people complaining about the waste of paper everywhere, the fact that the food was crap and expensive (as all the volunteers suffered), the fact that they closed down at registry at about 6pm, leaving many people without tickets that had come all the way to alex palace for the forum with no alternative than to risk entering without being noticed by the security guys...or going back home... and many many other issues. In loads of ways, we at the info point didnt have much info ourselves of what was going on!
Basically, there are A LOT of things that need to be carefully planned before the next esf. I think everybody would agree on that. So yeah, there are a lot of issues to be addressed. Storming and interrupting people talking is not the way I believe it should be done, though. I've read a lot about "real debate" around here today. I agree that we could have done with a lot more debate in the esf. But come on! What is more anti-debate than interrupting a guy who is giving a speech!! What about waiting for the "Q&A" time? (which yes, should have been longer in all the seminars & conferences).

Anyway.. So it was chaos.. but it was beatiful chaos. I have never worked so hard in my life, yet so happily.
We have to sit down and be critical aobut the esf, but we also should allow ourselves some "satisfactory feeling" about it all.. at least myself I came back from the experience feeling really happy.. the atmosphere was great! let's not forget this!

ps. Sorry bout the English, am Spanish!


@ ESF volunteer

18.10.2004 16:27

Unfortunatly, you repeat the general assumption of many volunteers and socialists at the ESF: That the ESF is "our" event, and Beyond ESF is "yours". So, anarchists, grassroots and horizontals, as well as migrants, refugees, eastern europeans and the poor should have stayed at "their" event and out of the "socialist" ESF. Sad.


no illusions

18.10.2004 17:28

Firstly no-one was assaulted or robbed so let's stop with these gossips and malicious lies. Secondly, as we are not racist we classify people based on their actions, political points of view and position of power – not on the colour of their skin.

By using the name ‘social forum’, those at Alexandra Palace are claiming to represent a social movement. We have been struggling against capitalism and developing non-hierarchal forms of organisation for years. The unions and political parties now try to hijack this movement.
These groups already have many forums for their voice to be heard and hold real power in society. For example the Trade Unions Congress, party conferences, and Parliament. They also constantly negotiate with the very people who represent Capital – e.g. businesses and governments (usually claiming to represent us and then selling us out).
We were attempting to speak for ourselves and make our critique – and now are called the ‘trouble makers’. What was that about giving everyone a voice? Or does that just go for the ‘representatives’. Who chose who could speak at the ESF anyway?
We wanted to participate in the preparation for ESF in order to make the processes more open – for example the basic principle of the meetings being controlled by the floor. Those of us who wanted to be there to ensure that the London ESF followed the charter of principles of SF were excluded. For example Indymedia. London ESF called for the arrest of an Indymedia journalist at the rally and has not spoken out against the shocking seizure by the FBI of the servers hosting Indymedia website.

ESF is corrupt, hierarchical and includes those who are the enemy of the class. In answer to the comment about the Paris ESF – our response is that it is a shame we did not take similar action as long ago as the Florence ESF in 2002 when the official list of speakers included representatives of the ‘JUL’ party of Milosevic’s wife, Mira Markovic – the party that participated in the Yugoslav Government responsible for war crimes and genocide.

The ESF representatives again showed themselves to be on the wrong side of the barricade at Trafalgar Square. We wanted to inform the gathering of real oppression that took place two hours before, a few miles away at Kings Cross Station. However, when we wanted to make the rally at Trafalgar Square more participative - we faced a 2-meter fence and security guards protecting the ESF stage, exactly as face at other congresses of those in power. We are fighting for a world without borders, without fences. We trust that the people can act together without the need for such fences and will deal with any problems collectively - including removing walls that we face – at ESF as in Palestine.

Kings Cross story:

jelena and ziggy

RE @ESF Volunteer

18.10.2004 17:55

No, no, no!
If I gave the impression that I considered myself & rest of ESF volunteers & socialists on one side and the "beyond ESF" on another, I really regret it.
Two points, actually:
ONE.- I do not know why you include the socialists in "my group", btw. As long as I am aware of, the ESF is a forum for social movements.. not the socialist workers forum (or any other socialist group for that matter). If a lot of them decide to come and sell their papers everywhere in the fourm, i cannot see how can the ESF be held responsible for it. What are we -and i say "we" as an ESF volunteer- suppose to do? Throw them away just in case people think that the ESF is a socialist forum? Really? The forum -as long as I am aware of- is a platform for the different voices of the left to be heard. If some take advantage of this and "invade" this platform "shouting louder" than the rest.. well, cannot see how "the platform" is to be held responsible.
(I might not be making much sense.. again.. sorry bout the it's getting late!)
SECOND.- I can hardly see how you can accuse me of making distinctions.. the division was made, I believe, when some decided to do a "Beyond ESF" forum (and considering some of the points they were making, perhaps this division was even needed. But that's a different story). If I used the term "we" when referring to the official ESF it was because that is where I volunteered in, therefore, I considered myself part of it.
I think there were a lot of problems with this official ESF, and I as a volunteer was not aware of many of them until the ESF started. Also, I never knew there were "2 forums" going on.. had heard of the "COmmunication Rights Forum" but thought it was the same thing. But I do not think that storming into a place is the best way to provoke debate to try to solve these problems.
Really, I cannot see how you can say that I am the one creating a division.. I was happily doing my job when I got pushed over by a bunch of people from an "alternative forum" which up until then I thought it had been making very valid points.

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Open for Discussion

18.10.2004 18:49

You object that "some very good points that should have been opened up for discussion (about the nature and organisation of this year's official ESF) were hidden behind this kind of action," but how and when would they have become a topic of conversation without this action? Are you suggesting such points WOULD have been opened for discussion by some other official means, perhaps by Ken in his next meeting with the GLA? Though I was not present for the interruption, and therefore do not discount any possible violence involved, it would appear to me that the interruption did indeed serve its purpose of highlighting and opening for discussion the very good points which need to be in the open.

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Disrupte the war not the esf

18.10.2004 19:09

I did not witness the disruption and violence on Saturday night so won’t comment on that but a few more general points. Firstly the Beyond ESF existed so if people wanted to go there, for free, they could but in fact most chose to come to the ESF. So what gives you the right to disrupt it? If people wanted to criticise then they could speak from the floor- hand leaflets out etc. Yes the food was awful, corporate and the labour exploited, despite the presence of Green Party members on the GLA and Jenny Jones speaking as Ken’s food supremo. I wish I had made this point at a meeting she spoke at. Secondly the money: the same people complained about Kens support and about the entrance fee. If we had not had Ken’s support the fee would have been even higher or the event impossible. I don’t like Ken, but it is impossible to run an event of this size in London without the support of ‘left wing’ unions and official politicians. It would not have been a success to have just had a much smaller purer conference. And serious effort was made by those involved in refugee work to sponsor refugees to attend (who already paid a reduced rate), so this probably had far more of the most oppressed people attending than previous social forums – my union branch gave 200 pounds (I do wonder if BESF really did better at getting the poor and most exploited there?). Thirdly why not try a bit more direct action against the state rather than against the ESF? Forgive me if I missed it but I did not see any group try and get past the quite small number of police by Downing Street. Even a non violent attempt at throwing paint on Downing street would have probably got more media attention than the tiny coverage given to the demo.


The struggle continues

18.10.2004 21:41

The usual SWP/Trot lies about anarchists were clearly going to be used against us NO MATTER WHAT WE DID... Either we are agent provocateurs/violent/racist/criminals... take your pick - this is the usual means by which we are slandered and we are very used to it...

Let's be clear about this - Bennet is lying about his phone being taken. 15 minutes later they announced his wallet had been taken too... This stinks worse than Watergate. You had agreed to let us into the meeting, so you then can't say we stormed in... True we got to the stage with a surge, where your hysterical leaders got shirty cos they are used to getting massive respect (sic) from their lick spittle followers... [Callinicos loved getting protected on the Sunday by lines of stewards while you got anarchists arrested too...] Overall, I saw nothing that could be described as violence, only massive over reaction from 'official speakers' who couldn't even give us our 30 mins...

This was part of the SWP strategy to vilify the anarchists. Plus, it's really rich to carp on about SWP anti fascist credentials, because you kicked out what became Red Action for using direct action from your Manchester branch... Similarly, those who use real direct action against fascists are also called 'gangsters' or some such tosh, when this really disguises the ineptitude of the SWP version of fighting fascism.

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RE: Open for discussion

19.10.2004 13:38

Of course all of this topics should be open for discussion. But surely, interrupting a meeting, pushing people around, and sitting on a stage for half an hour does not create the perfect conditions for discussion! There was not a debate there, there was people taking a stage and telling the audience what THEY thought. That is not a discussion, as long as I am aware of.
Now, that there should have been space for a real discussion about the nature, sponsorship, organisation, etc. of the ESF before, during and after the forum.. yeah, I am with you all the way on this.
I just cannot see how what happened on Sat opened up a space for discussion. In fact from what I saw it had more to do with shutting people up.. (but at least it got us all talking and thinking about it here..I guess that is a positive thing.)

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Pathetic Lies By Minority Anarchists'

19.10.2004 13:45

Callinocos "protected by lines of stewards"? The truth is even more hysterical.

Callinicos joined other ESF speakers at the front of the demonstration on Sunday holding the ESF banner. One guy that I recognised from the stage storming incident decides to invite himself to hold the banner and squeezes in between a Palestinia representative and Paul Mackney from NATFE. Now whats going on in his mind this time I wonder? Whats his plan? What is he up to? Why is he there? Understandably one (female) steward asks the guy to go back and line up with the rest ofthe demo. He refuses. People are generally relaxed about it but the guy makes it clear he is not going to go. So what do you do?

Callinicos is holding the banner directly to his left two places up. They stand face to face, eye to eye and Callinicos says "You be very careful". The guy mouths off something about having support, counter summit, blah blah. Callinicos says something about Weyman Bennett being punched in the mouth. I was too far away to hear the complete interchange but I got that much.

So here we have one of the guys that stormed the stage, he is at least 5'10 in height and under 40, in a face-off with a +50 professor who could not punch his way out of a paper bag.

And guess what, the guy blinks first and skulks off. Is that piss weak or what?????????????????????

And to those who say he was intimidated by stewards - there was not one single steward involved. Would they have got involved if he had have thrown a punch? I guess so. I hope so. I would have jumped on the guy myself. I don't care who he was attacking even if it was an anarchist professor like Chomsky I would still defend him from that sort of rubbish. Jesus Christ.


As an eyewitness...

19.10.2004 16:00

Just wanted to say something as someone who witnessed the events of Saturday night, but is not up on the history of the various factions and groups and their animosities towards one another.

When the protestors first entered the hall and unfurled their 'Another World Is For $ale' banner while lining up on one side, they won my support. When they walked over to stand in front of the stage and started putting up other banners on the scaffolding, they still had my support. They lost my support, however, when I quite clearly saw one of the people who stormed the stage kick the table over and into the faces of some of the speakers, with no provocation. Ken Livingstone was nowhere to be seen at this point, in case that needs pointing out.

It's also misleading to suggest that the majority of the crowd were "in support" of the action: initially, most people seemed confused more than anything else. Opinion amongst those who felt one way or another seemed divided: there were cries of "let them speak!" but also "who are you?" (not necessarily an elitist accusation, more a genuine question), and chants of "off, off, off!".

I have extremely mixed feelings about Livingstone and have done ever since I was one of the people barricaded in Oxford Circus for 8 hours back on Mayday 2001. I'm also inherently suspicious of the tendency to split activists into the two divides of "good, non-violent" and "bad, violent" when it comes to direct action aimed at the symbols and structures of capitalism and corporations (as this often relies on ignoring the hidden violence inherent in capitalism, etc etc). I also agreed with many of the points raised by those who spoke once the stage had been stormed (particularly re: translators, the high cost of the ESF, Indymedia v. the Guardian). In the end, however, I couldn't help but feel that they were at least as compromised as the ESF, if not more so, by associating with people who preferred tactics appeared to rely in part on bullying and intimidation rather than debate. (Did anyone imagine that Livingstone would have received only or even mainly positive feedback during the debate, had he arrived?)

And zero points to the man who smugly announced "Well at least we got rid of Ken!" - er, except that he wasn't there anyway, mate.

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John Brown

19.10.2004 16:51

Lets reverse the situation and lets say 200 black youth stormed the stage and punched a white chair at a meeting talking about racism - would the white left find this worthy of comment? Of course they would . I see our man Jasper has been accused of ' playing the race card ' as a consequence of his letter in the Guardian pointing out the disgracefull and politcally unacceptable nature of this stupid attack. Well, well well nothing new there then...mmmm when did I last hear the accusation ' playing the race card ' Tory party, the BNP assorted racists.

No comrades, the attack was wrong, violence in the context of the ESF is wrong, failing to understand the raciall dynamic is wrong and shooting the messenger compounds this critical failing.

John Brown

John Brown

Re: as an eyewitness...

19.10.2004 22:31

Thanks Joe for your balanced and heartfelt comments, rather than the frothing at the mouth of many above! Try not to dismiss whole groups of diverse people because of out-of-order actions of one (like tipping of table), though it can be hard (rotten apples in barrels etc).

I spent most of my time at Beyond ESF, some at ESF and some at demos. Pity most of the postings seem to be sectarian ranting and accusations, rather than reports from meetings, chance happenings, etc etc.


again please

20.10.2004 00:11

"No comrades, the attack was wrong, violence in the context of the ESF is wrong, failing to understand the raciall dynamic is wrong and shooting the messenger compounds this critical failing. "

-failing to understand the radical dynamic-


20 goto 10

A Black Mans Perspective

21.10.2004 17:10

Thursday October 21, 2004
The Guardian

I was the chair of the anti-fascist plenary at the European Social Forum. I would like to clarify the incident referred to in your leader (October 18). Shortly after the meeting began, around 100 people marched into the hall and stormed the stage. Despite the fact that I allowed the intruders to make a statement, I was hit in the face and pushed off the table. My wallet and mobile phone were snatched.
As a black activist, I have been involved in the movement for many years. I have only ever been attacked in this way by racists. It is outrageous that an anti-fascist meeting organised by black and Jewish people should be attacked for any reason.

The ESF was the biggest gathering of global justice activists ever seen in Britain. It should be remembered for that. But we need also to be clear that this kind of behaviour should never be repeated in our movement.

Weyman Bennett
Unite Against Fascism

John Brown

Reply to SWP rubbish

22.10.2004 15:50

The bloke from the stage who said 'we got rid of Ken' was right - Ken was advertised to speak, and he didn't because there was advertised direct action, and the police couldn't guarentee his safety. SO, Ken was seen off... As for Bennet, the whinging toe rag... Many other black groups such as Newham Monitoring project and National civil rights movement have said the action was not racist... And still the likes of the bourgeois politician Lee Jaspar (£111,000 per year for doing fuck all) and SWP scum are putting it about that anarchists are criminals, violent, racist etc... I laugh at your fumblings... this is just traditional smears that have historically come from Trots (a re-run of propaganda against the anarchist insurgents in the Ukraine during the Russian Revolution...) The crap from this weekend, and getting anarchists nicked at Trafalgar square has not and will not be forgotten by the European movement. In short, the SWP have fucked up bigtime with this...

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Schnews on SWP stupidity

22.10.2004 16:01

Crap Arrest Of The Week

For trying to report crap arrests...
At the end of the ESF demo on Sunday in Trafalgar Square an
Indymedia activist wanted to make an announcement on the stage
about a demo in solidarity with the four people who were arrested
and beaten up at Kings Cross earlier in the day to the assembled
70,000 activists. The SWP stewards prevented him from doing so and
called the cops who promptly arrested and beat two more people as

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An off duty volunteer...

24.10.2004 04:00

>>It is outrageous that an anti-fascist meeting organised by black and Jewish people should be attacked for any reason.<<

That's a pretty odd statement, mostly because I don't understand why you need to emphasise that it was organised by black and Jewish people- an anti-fascist meeting organised by anyone regardless of race shouldn't be attacked, I think your words suggest that you think an anti-fascist meeting held by a white christian is in some way of less value when clearly that person might have as valid a reason and might hold as effective a meeting (remember the Polish Catholics herded in to Siberian internment camps during WW2).

The attack last Saturday was outrageous because Ken Livingstone was meant to be there in his capacity as chair of UAF and it's coincidental that he's also the London Mayor. If the meeting had been interrupted for a reason that directly related to his purpose on stage than I might have supported the interruption, as it is I ended up yelling at the stage and finally watched the meeting when it began again (and it was really good despite the lack of notes). Though the ESF is a voice for grassroots organisations there should be a space for organisations like Unite Against Fascism because there should be a space for opposition to non-grassroots fascist organisations. I don't like Livingstone's political position at all, he's a Labour party member for christ's sake but I have no doubt that he does have some interesting points on the far right in Europe and that was the entire point of the plenary so hell, maybe I'd like to hear it.

The invaders had some good things to say but nothing that the majority of the audience wasn't already aware of and frankly they lost my support when the guy in the black mask kicked the table over, wearing a black mask and committing a useless act of violence during an anti-fascist meeting is just... idiocy.


Evidence of the anti fascist and anti racist nature of the action

24.10.2004 19:37

Here's a video clip which destroys the SWP crap about us being all 'white balaclava wearing racists';

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RE:An off duty volunteer...

26.10.2004 09:53

The reson it is important that the meeting was black and jewish run is because anti racist groups are now moving away from this regressive imperialist stand point that white middle class people best know how to deal with issues which face the black community every day.

Self organisation for minority communitys is key to fighting racism and is something that I in SAAR will always be commited to. If we are to tackel instertutional racism as well as the overt kind it is best to work with people who expireance it. So as much as it is important that white people address these issues, it is also important that the black community and the asian community who are often apathetic on these issues also tackle them.

Joshua Fenton-Glynn
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it wasn't racist or fascist, just fucking pathetic

26.10.2004 10:11

I agree the stage storming wasn't racist or fascist.

It was just pathetic.

Honestly, is this what the anarchist/autonomist movement is reduced to? Our rulers wage a genocidal war, exterminating entire cities for their imperial order. Our response? Storming military bases? Blocking troop transports? Besieging Parliament?

No. Flouncing into a meeting of Trot college lecturers, right-on students and baffled refugees, kicking over a table (ooh, hard) and shouting the odds at them like their packing of the ESF is all we care about in the world, worse than war or police states.

Makhno must be sobbing in his grave.

what happened to serious anarchism?

reply to the utopian into 'serious anarchism'

26.10.2004 20:54

Ha haa ha - oh, the chortles I've had at the dick who asked whatever 'happened' to serious anarchism. I think you'll find that it was the most radical event of the whole ESF experience (or definately among them)... The serious anarchist groups were all represented there, in an 'unholy alliance', united by anger at the elitist nature of the ESF at Ally Pally. Rather than ponitificate as you have just done, without saying how your ideas/group are better, is just bullshit because you don't reciprocally apply your critique. You're so precious, too good to get organised;) he he he

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