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European Social Forum Reports

IMC UK | 17.10.2004 12:36 | European Social Forum | Free Spaces | Globalisation | Social Struggles

Latest Contributions:
Arrests Update
IMC Solidarity Missing From ESF Assembly of Social Movements Declaration!
Guardian Letter: Ken Livingstone's Special Advisor Accuses White Anarchists of Racial Violence!
Anti-Racist Groups Accuse Lee Jasper of Playing 'Race Card' re ESF

The repression at King’s Cross station.
The main ESF demo
Indymedia Banners on ESF demo
The storming of the ESF
The repression after the invasion
[picture report] Samba against war in london
O17 London: A protestor's eye view (report and pics)
Photos from the anti-war march at the end of the ESF

The European Social Forum has ended on Sunday, with a large demonstration and a number of autonomous actions (Clowns actions and Pro-capitalist block). The demonstration had a clear anti-war character and attracted a large number of people who did not attend the ESF. Reports and photos [1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6].

A group of activists from the anti-capitalist block were detained at King's cross station in an attempt to prevent them from joining the march [1 | 2 | 3 | Global Project]. They were eventually allowed to leave and when they finally arrived at Trafalgar Square some tried to get to the stage in what some describe as storming the stage. The police possibly in cooperation with the organisers made several arrests including an Indymedia volunteer and member of the ESF organizing body.

Solidarity actions were called, and a number of Clowns invaded Charing Cross police station (Video). Those arrested including a Greek activist are due in court on Monday. The ESF organisation, and the events during the demonstration, have been the subject of a lot of controvesy [In depth: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Previous: 1 | 2 | 3]. Some also resented the lack of coverage of actual ESF events [1] on Indymedia and the mainstream media [1 | 2 | Don't hate the media - just publish on indymedia].

[More: Timeline | All UK ESF reports | ESF daily coverage: Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Other languages: German | Dutch | Dutch and French | Català | Castellano 2 3| Hungarian | Portugese | Russian]

Previous Days Reports: Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday

All ESF Features on the ESF topic page

Feature Translation: Spanish

Breaking Reports

22:40 Five persons of the group from which earlier the 4 persons were arrested at King's Cross were arrested at Trafalgar Square. In reaction some activists wanted to get on stage immediately to announce this. A group pushed into the stage area, and then the police came. Reportedly, the organisers tried to get the police out of the backstage area, but at least two violent arrests were made there (as reported earlier).

21:20 The release of at least two people is delayed. Apparently the police say they cannot release them if there are too many people outside the station.

21:00 Some 500 people attended the concert on Trafalgar Square. After it finished, about 200 stayed and made a fire from leftover posters and sticks, singing and dancing around it. The police were trying to stop it, and encircled a group of activists at some stage, but were encircled themselves by other activists. The cops retreated, and shortly afterwards the people left as well.

19:15 Reports of a demonstration in Charing Cross Police Station, including clowns.

18:15 An ESF spokesperson said they were not going to enquire with the police right away about the arrest of the person on their co-ordination committee. He said he saw them being lead away, but was sure they will have legal help. There was no official comment about the arrests at this time. They also did not know how many people have been arrested.
On the newswire [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 ]

18:00 Most people leaving Trafalgar Square in the rain.

16:45 There have been arrests in Trafalgar Square, including one Indymedia reporter (and member of the ESF co-ordinating committee) who was violently arrested. Another Indymedia photographer was knocked to the ground by police as he took photos.

16:40 Reports are coming in that a group of people have tried to get on the stage at Trafalgar Square, probably to make a statement. They are now being held back by a steward of the "stop the war coallition", there is pushing and shoving going on as they try to get through the fence around the stage area.

16:00 Some of the march, including the crew detained at Kings Cross, has now arrived at Trafalgar Square. Samba bands are playing, speeches are going on and the atmosphere is good. Some of the march is still crossing the bridge next to parliament. The police estimate of the number of people involved is 15,000 to 20,000.
Meanwhile some members of the Italian Forum have had their banners confiscated by the police at Russell Square.

Earlier today police were harassing a group of 15 or 20 activists on their way to the march. First they were held at Seven Sisters station for a while. Then when emerging from Kings Cross they were surrounded by a large number of police and a Section 60 was issued. Four people were arrested including two Italian and one Greek activist.
[ More Information | Pictures ]

A "pro-capitalist" march met up with the ESF march, but police are keeping the two marches separate for a while, imposing a Section 14. The pro-capitalists have banners saying "Bring Back The Slave Trade" and "Bombs not Bread". They were shouting "get a job, get a job" at the ESF marchers.

13:00 The main ESF demonstration is today. Thousands are gathering in Russell Square to march to Trafalgar Square in a celebration of diversity and expressing the many campaigns and viewpoints gathered here from across Europe.
By 16:00 figures on the demonstration were being estimated at 70,000 people on the demo (ESF Spokesperson), 15-20,000 people (Scotland Yard Spokesperson), 100,000 (BBC website quoting Stop the War Coalition).

Storming the Palace

Recriminations continue after yesterday's invasion of the Alexandra Palace ESF. Summary Feature.

Beyond ESF

[ Wombles - Beyond ESF ]



Hide the following 5 comments

Stop encouraging physical attacks on the movement

18.10.2004 10:37

The people who physically attacked the anti facist meeting 0n Saturday night at the ESF have crossed the line can no longer be seen as part of the movement.

Indymedia needs to consider it's role in the attack on the anti facist movement and the ESF.


Lower than Genoa

19.10.2004 16:45

Its official. A new low has been achieved by individuals suffering from Anarchism.

This action might just be lower than providing the police their cover in Genoa.

Thanks again guys, you are the vommit of our movement.


Indy Reporter

19.10.2004 17:26

I am writing this in light of what seems to be such a real dearth of commentary in follow up to last weekend’s greatly anticipated 2004 european social forum. It’s almost a surreal, eerie silence across the media that has made me question if the event really happened at all! An official sponsor, the UK Guardian newspaper, has had little or no follow up coverage to it. The UK indymedia site has in turn fallen silent on the topic. I suppose I expected the esf to spark debate and activity, and to be a catalyst for action. This must surely be the aim of activists following so much theory and debate. But unfortunately if that was a central aim of the esf, then it has plainly fallen short of that goal. It just shows the gap that can emerge between expectation and reality.

I arrived at the esf in Alexander palace on Saturday afternoon fresh off a Ryanair flight from Dublin. My purpose for going was three-fold. Firstly, having been involved in the anti-war movement in Ireland I saw the esf as a potential site for advancing this cause. Secondly, as Noam Chomsky has pointed out in recent writings, the “second world super power” (after the US) is now the global community. The esf, as a subset of the world social forum, has at least the potential to mobilise that community to play a constructive role in resetting the global agenda in the interest of all of humanity, and not just in the interests of narrow private elites. Finally, I came to the esf in London because I wanted a concrete, lived experience of resistance, solidarity and liberation, to learn through action. Whether I found that or not I didn’t know in advance. But I guessed this might be a good place to look.

Well, I was both rewarded and disappointed. I was rewarded mainly because the esf has potential, not because of what the esf is today, but rather what it could become. The main venue, Alexander palace, was overflowing with information stands representing a broad spectrum of NGOs, left parties, and trade unions. That all these groups are gathered under one roof in 2004 is both significant and necessary if we are serious about advancing social and environmental change that benefits the majority of the world’s people. And there is a convergence of ideas and interests emerging here. I don’t wish to seem to be papering over the cracks between reformists and revolutionaries in all their shades; real and substantive ideological differences exist. But if these differences are to be thrashed out then this must surely be the kind of place to advance that work constructively.

I was disappointed mainly because although there was a very diverse and inclusive polyphony of voices and perspectives available in London last weekend, the cross pollination and engagement of ideas and policy leading to actions seemed to be lacking. The event was wonderfully decentered, but it was at the same time rendered benign and inert in a way that I don’t believe the organisers wanted it to be. After all, those of us involved in activism want to see constructive, consensual action arising out of an event like this.

It is ironic that the French philosopher Derrida should have died last week. His work very powerfully decentered the hither-to authoritative narrative of western civilisation. This has opened us up to otherness, difference and fringe narratives in new and fruitful ways that we are still exploring and we are indebted to him for this. However, as one writer on his obituary pointed out, Derrida’s radical philosophy left him no basis for grounding a political philosophy that could lead to action. Between Derrida and the esf we need to engage with each other and our world and somehow hammer out some common political philosophy. The elites that are driving neo-liberalism and a global war fought at various levels on ordinary people openly have a pragmatic political philosophy and engagement with the world. And it is becoming more and more patently clear that this is not in global communities interests. We’ve gotten this far, we now need to move towards the next step; full engagement of ideas and debate, and a willingness to participate in joint power and action.

Otherwise the esf will become just another talking shop. It will become another pressure valve in the system, useful for blowing off steam and dissipating dissent with disappointment, and not actually doing what it was set up for: to challenge illegitimate power, injustice and narrow short-term interest where ever it is found.

But I believe the esf merits winding up on a high note. The esf is young. It might be flawed, but it is in existence and it might not be but for the difficult organising work put into it to date. It has gotten us to a point where a spectrum of diverse groups working for social change are found under one roof, and are being (at least minimally) civil to one another. It has potential to be robust enough to contain diversity, tolerance and change; it must have this robustness. This, I believe, will be crucial in the years ahead. The best thing we can do now is look calmly at the european social forum as it is now, take stock, and build the wsf/esf to be the change we want to see in the time ahead.

ESF was a vibrant event, disputes will be soon forgotten

20.10.2004 09:07

Agree with that. With respect to all authors, too much IndyMedia coverage has focussed on the horizontal/vertical dispute, rather than reporting the wealth of wonderful events, speeches, debates, and experiences.

Splits may fascinate the embedded but they look silly from outside. We need to communicate the positive energy and ideas for changing the world.

One example: brilliant speeches from Arundhati Roy:
(have to link to Socialist Worker for these, sorry but that's where they are)

Public power in the Age of Empire:

Hazard Warning:

Beautiful or Bloody?:

ESF website:


ESF was fantastic, don't let splits overshadow it

20.10.2004 13:48

People, let's get a grip here! Take a deep breath and look at the background of this website. See? The legendary 15 Feb demo. Why is this chosen? Why is it such an iconic image? Because there you see thousands upon thousands of people of all backgrounds and views united in common cause to speak out against the war. Anyone who was there will tell you how inspiring it was.

And here with the ESF (and yes, also the Beyond ESF events) we have another gathering of thousands of diverse people looking for ways to another world. And again anyone who attended will tell you how inspiring it was, the great events, meetings, speakers, the chance to exchange ideas and make links across Europe and the world.

It'd be tragedy to overshadow all this with a battle between horizontals and verticals. Let's be honest, neither group can claim to represent a majority even of activists, most of whom would rather avoid the whole fight.

And also keep perspective. As someone said, most people who weren't at ESF may possible have seen sketchy reports if they read the Guardian, otherwise will only maybe have seen coverage of the anti-war demo on the news.

Not belittling ESF but just saying if we get caught up arguing about it for weeks/months, we miss the bigger picture of the need to kick-start the anti-war movement again. There is widespread unrest about the latest troop deployments, and service families are starting to speak out for troop withdrawal. The time is ripe. Let's not be replaying past battles while the rest of the world goes by!