Front-line report from Trafalgar Square paints a radically different picture


Forget what you've seen on the BBC and Sky about yesterday's protest/"riot" in Trafalgar Square; the New Statesman's Laurie Penny was on the barricades (and apparently, there was a moment when the barricades were on her), and she's seen something altogether different from what the mainstream coverage depicts. If you read only one account of the protests, make it this one (and you should really read more than one!).
Minutes after the fights begin in Trafalgar square, so does the backlash. Radio broadcasters imply that anyone who left the pre-ordained march route is a hooligan, and police chiefs rush to assure the public that this "mindless violence" has "nothing to do with protest."

The young people being battered in Trafalgar square, however, are neither mindless nor violent. In front of the lines, a teenage girl is crying and shaking after being shoved to the ground. "I'm not moving, I'm not moving," she mutters, her face smeared with tears and makeup. "I've been on every protest, I won't let this government destroy our future without a fight. I won't stand back, I'm not moving." A police officer charges, smacking her with his baton as she flings up her hands.

The cops cram us further back into the square, pushing people off the plinths where they have tried to scramble for safety. By now there are about 150 young people left in the square, and only one trained medic, who has just been batoned in the face; his friends hold him up as he blacks out, and carry him to the police lines, but they won't let him leave. By the makeshift fire, I meet the young man whose attempted arrest started all this. "I feel responsible," he said, "I never wanted any of this. None of us did"

What really happened in Trafalgar Square

(Image: March for the Alternative, Nelson's Column Occupation, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from blahflowers's photostream)

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