Thursday, January 06, 2011

From the archives: The Anti-Capitalist Hustle

The following is one of my reports from July 2005 from Edinburgh during the G8 GlenEagles protests. The rather fun film Kung Foo Hustle was showing in cinemas at the time (just to explain the title's context).

The Scottish Socialist Voice front page summed it up when it said "They came in intimidating dark colours with accents that marked them out as outsiders, armed and intent on violence. The Metropolitan Police, the West Yorkshire Police, the Humberside Police." The press has been whipping up the fears of the Scottish people for over a fortnight now and, as the way it goes now, the media first makes people afraid and then interviews them about their fear.

If they were to be believed, scenes of anti-capitalist protests would be more like scenes from the film Kung Fu Hustle. Also, those naughty, naughty embedded journalists from the BBC had been telling the world that the protests had been cancelled. Tut, tut, that's not very neutral - or factual. It's interesting, if not surprising, that the BBC was happy to broadcast news that there was no evidence for, simply in order to try to do the G8 a favour and turn protesters back from the demonstrations.

Today has been a day when the anti-capitalist movement has fought a good battle on many fronts and the disruption that they've caused to the G8 summit is not one tiny fraction of the disruption and devastation that the policies of the G8 countries create. The day began with anarchists, in true Che Guevara style, taking to the hills in order to rain chaos down upon the forces of their law and order.

Early morning road blockades and skirmishes with riot police resulted in a real headache for them and only a handful of activists arrested. One set of such activists at the Dissent rural convergence centre in Stirling were confronted by police the moment they attempted to leave their encampment. But they were still able to block a key road, preventing bowler-hatted apparatchiks getting to the summit on time. Other black-clad activists were able to disrupt Dunblane train station preventing other G8 summit goers getting to their appointments.

By this time G8 Alternatives had organised numerous coaches from all over Scotland and were attempting to converge on the pretty village of Auchterarder. The police had been practising their tactics of disrupting transport yesterday at the Dungavel protest and they did their best to prevent activists even attending the demonstrations. This made a mockery of police assurances that they would comply with the Scottish Parliament decision to allow the protests to take place.

Many coaches were detained outside of Stirling at the Broxden roundabout. Protesters became more and more frustrated but as their numbers built up the police found it far more difficult to contain their potential anger. They were given an ultimatum: let us protest at Gleneagles or we protest here, cutting off western road links for the whole of Scotland.

The police had tried various tactics to explain why they thought it necessary to detain the coaches, claiming that the anarchists had blocked off the road leading into Gleneagles. This was completely untrue and a blatant attempt by the boys in blue to create divisions within our ranks. At last the coaches were allowed to set off but only with a police escort chugging along at ten miles an hour.

Meanwhile in Edinburgh, thousands of protesters had been prevented from even getting on their coaches and in frustration a vigorous blockade of Princes Street took place with 2000 angry anti-capitalists. The police moved in and arrested the stewards because there's nothing they hate more than an orderly demonstration.

At Auchterarder, the several thousand protesters who had managed to make their way through earlier in the day, despite the police preventing anyone getting off at the train station, were soon joined by the really impressive convoy of coaches released from the police blockade. There must have been around fifty coaches, including double-deckers, parading through the village. The villagers' response was heart-warming to say the least. Smiling, waving, with thumbs up, time and again the villagers showed they had not bought into the bullshit.

Thousands of protesters then assembled and marched down towards Gleneagles. One of the protest organisers, Chris Nineham of Globalise Resistance, estimated that there were 10,000 protesters at the scene and we marched down to the steel fences that surrounded the conference centre. Some protesters took themselves into a nearby field as they were watched by rows of well-armed mounted police.

The scene was that of a well fortified encampment with lines of police and watchtowers with searchlights and Chinook helicopters circling overhead. The protesters rattled the fences and some, though not many, breached the outer defenses, if only momentarily. Police then set dogs loose into the fields and the mounted police beat some demonstrators back with brutal force. Police at the back of the demonstration, unbeknownst to the rest of us, harassed and intimidated and in some cases detained protesters. Whilst we were not able to get any further, we were within spitting distance of the world leaders.

What do these demonstrations prove? That the movement's very diversity is our strength. Whether we're black-clad, red-clad or white-clad, we all have a positive contribution to make. But it also shows that, in a sane society, the rings of police surrounding the conference centre would not have been facing outwards, opposing the demonstrators for peace and social justice, but would have been facing inwards, smashing up the meeting of those responsible for the impoverishment and murder of countless thousands of people around the globe.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Join the Bank Run, on Revenge Wednesday, 26 Jan 2011.

Thousands of people across the UK will be attempting to hit the banks where it hurts, by starting a bank run. Everyone is welcome to take part and to encourage others to take part. This action is totally legal.

For details, click here.

Please spread this news by any means possible.


On Wednesday 26 January 2011, thousands of people in the UK will try to cause a bank run by withdrawing money from their bank accounts, in person, at high street bank branches.

The hope is that the movement will snowball.

Everyone is welcome. Just print out the form below, fill in your details, and take it to your bank, preferably around lunchtime, e.g. about 1pm. Even better, print out multiple copies and hand them round. Use email, Twitter, Facebook too.

When the first bank branch says it won't pay out people's money, let everyone know, using every means possible. Take photos. Use mobile phones, send tweets, get the journalists in on the picture. This movement is decentralised. It is what you and we make it.

Note that this idea was tried last December, after being suggested by Eric Cantona. Unfortunately it didn't go very far, mainly because the organisers asked people to "sign up" online. We're not asking you to sign up to anything. In particular, you do NOT have to give any personal details to anyone. The form below is just for giving to your BANK.

If you can only afford to withdraw 10 pounds, please do it. If you can afford to withdraw thousands of pounds, do that too. EVERY LITTLE HELPS. Banks cannot withstand everyone withdrawing even a tenth of what they've got in the bank. LET'S SEND THESE PARASITES A MESSAGE THEY'LL NEVER FORGET. It's an open secret that they're holding the country to ransom. Let's kick 'em where it hurts.

This is the financial system's MAJOR WEAK SPOT. That's why the Dutch government is considering making it illegal to call for a bank run. Because they're SCARED. In 2009 there was a bank run against a Dutch bank. This was considered to be a particularly unpleasant bank, which had been encouraging millions od Dutch people to get into debt who couldn't afford it. People did a run against it, and it went bankrupt. How sad.

In Britain, you'd be hard pushed to name a bank which DIDN'T try to get people into massive debt they can't really afford.

Here's the bottom line: THE BANKS HAVE GOT IT COMING TO THEM.

So please take part. Spread the news. Distribute this leaflet. Print your own. Just do a little bit to help, and we'll be strong and we'll blast the damn banks like they've never been blasted before.

Please print the following, complete the details, and hand it to your bank around 1pm on 26 Jan 2011.

NAME: __________________________
ACCOUNT NUMBER: ___________________
SORT CODE:______________________
NAME OF BANK:_____________________

To: the Branch Manager
Dear Sir,
I wish to withdraw ____________ pounds from my account in cash, immediately.
Yours sincerely,
__________________ (signed)