The march was made up of many different blocs but they all had one thing in common – a genuine concern for the environment and the approaching disaster of global warming. Such a grave situation called for more than just a march from A to B. And so it proved to be, with a ten minute sit down in The Strand then off again to Parliament Square.
If you believe the Evening Standard and The Mail 5,000 people turned out for it. Ask anyone that was there and they will tell you minimum 20,000, probably more. We was in middle of the march and once we reached Parliament Square it continued to wind its way in for at least the next hour.
Many continued just past the square to listen to all the “inspiring” speeches by the usual celebrity activists but many others immediately occupied Parliament Square. It was good to see the Greater London Authority Red Caps wondering around the place genuinely having no chance of doing anything about it; there were simply too many people there.
There was a great diversity of activists there all connecting and enjoying the sun. A samba band played and the polar bears danced away, much to the delight of the crowd and photographers. A sound system banged out some tunes, people danced and laughed. As all the seasoned Occupy activists know, Parliament Square Gardens is covered by many by-laws which restrict just about anything that is any fun from happening on the green. Sure enough Police Liaison turned up and warned that the sound system was going to be removed unless it was taken off the grass. Plans were made to defend the sound system but this proved unnecessary as the crowd moved off towards Westminster Bridge. Before we left the tunes died down a siren wailed introducing Charlie Chaplin’s speech from the film The Dictator. People stopped and listened and at the end of the speech there was applause. With excellent timing “Baby I’m an Anarchist” started up and we all moved off.
About half way across the bridge an innocent dancing polar bear was targeted by the police. The TSG surrounded the arrest with their backs against a builder’s fence and they in turn were surrounded by sea of protestors and red and black flags. This was a sign of things to come. The cops were intent on causing trouble but they weren’t going to have it easy. Pushing and shoving ensued, the protestors trying for a de-arrest. The TSG drew batons which failed to placate the activists. People didn’t back down until it was obvious that de-arrest wasn’t possible and they continued across the bridge but not before a vitriol of verbal abuse and physical confrontation towards the police.
A left turn after the bridge down Belvedere Road and then a break away crowd headed down Chicheley Street whilst the majority of the crowd head straight to the destination which was the Shell building. The idea was to occupy it but this time it proved impossible. Attempts were made to break the police lines but the police were too well organised this time. However it did turn into a good rallying point.
It was decided to go back over the bridge and re occupy Parliament Square. The cops then started to ramp up the pressure at this point, driving their vans in a threating manner, banging on the sides from the inside when people walked past in some pathetic attempt at intimidation and stealing flags. Again in a good show of not standing for this bullshit a flag was reclaimed from some cops in a van and arrests resisted.
Arrest resistance took a particularly violent turn in the middle of the bridge on the return to Parliament Square. Another bullshit arrest had taken place and the people sat down in the road blocking the cop van from taking the arrestee away. The standoff lasted a good half hour with the people demanding the release of the arrestee before any chance of the bridge being unblocked. In the end the long arm of the law, or more precisely, the strong arm of the state pushed the people back but not without some good passive resistance. The cops weren’t quite so passive. Activists were pushed violently to the floor. More arrests were made. A female photojournalist was knocked to the ground by a white bearded TSG who then sought to pull her back up by the hair. For this aggressive act of having her hair pulled she was then quite reasonably arrested.
We returned to the square for a while connecting with people before heading off.
As far as I know Occupy had a meeting in the square later but I’m not sure of the upshot of this. Could someone post about this please so we can all stay in the loop. There are some vids of this that I will post but they are quite long so it would be good to get a summary of what was decided.
With the general elections coming up the police intimidation is going to get worse. The last thing that a Western Democracy wants during an election run up is people exercising their right to protest. They want passive lambs. Well I don’t think that is going to happen. There has been a steady increase in militant direct action and militant resistance against the cops. This is going to increase with worsening police harassment.
It really was great to see such a genuine air of defiance in the face of police violence. People pushed back when they were pushed. They tried to de-arrest when there were arrests. And they sat down in the road when told to move.
They wanted passive lambs but they got lions.
PS GBLC are asking arrestees and witnesses from the day to get in touch with them - https://twitter.com/GBCLegal/status/574580463769096194