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Notts Uncut: Emergency Operation (Class Worrier) | 04.06.2011 00:55

On Saturday 28th May, Notts Uncut organised an "emergency operation" in Nottingham city centre. They visited banks and tax dodging corporations to campaign in defence of the NHS. The protest was part of a national day of action called by UK Uncut.

People met from 12 noon outside the entrance to the Victoria Centre Boots on Parliament Street. Victoria Centre's security were out and about in force, but they were never on the list of targets and around 40 of us headed off towards Market Square via Clumber Street.

We were a diverse group with people in surgical masks and others in costumes. There were several banners with a range of demands including calls to both "tax the rich" and "eat the rich" (but not at the same time presumably).

The police presence was heavier than it's been at any previous Notts Uncut events. There were a team of around 8, including an evidence gatherer (distinguished by an orange square with the letters EG), who followed us around town throughout. In addition, there was a police guard on almost every likely target (Vodafone, HSBC, Lloyds etc.) in the city centre. At the end of the day, when many of us ensconced ourselves in he pub, the police even appeared to leave a couple of officers outside to make sure we didn't go back for another bite of the cherry.

Despite this over the top level of policing, we were still able to cause a fair amount of disruption. After a brief stop at Lush to deliver a thank you card (I was as bemused by this as the staff seemed to be) we visited Natwest on Market Square. This was shut when we arrived and remained so throughout the performance of a piece of street theatre about the threat to the NHS posed by the Health and Social Care Bill.

There was a pantomime villain Andrew Lansley (complete with devil horns and a tail), while other protesters took the roles of bankers, patients, doctors and nurses.

I'm not a huge fan of street theatre and it is not an ideal medium for conveying complicated messages. For my tastes, the performance focussed to heavily on the (very real) personal failings of the Secretary of State for Health at the expense of the wider ideological and economic forces which have brought us to the current situation. Nevertheless, I wouldn't have done any better and those involved put in their all.

From Natwest we moved onto the Topshop on the junction of Lister Gate and Low Pavement. The street theatre was repeated again, with the shop closed throughout. The performance was then repeated outside the BHS in Broadmarsh Centre (causing disruption to the Boots next door as well) and then outside Barclays on the junction of High Street and Victoria Street. Protesters made no attempt to get into the bank, but their security shut it until they were sure we'd left, leading to a large queue forming outside.

To my mind four performances was too many. It was notable that our numbers dwindled as we went on. Hopefully this is something that the group will take on board for any future actions. No doubt there's a lot to think about. It is clear that Notts Police have decided they aren't going to stand by and let people occupy shops as has happened in the past. How this impacts on future organising remains to be seen. (Class Worrier)