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)


  1. There has actually been an unusually high amount of fair and balanced reporting on the protest. The Guardian kicked off with the headline that was something to the effect of ‘Overwhelmingly peaceful protest doesn’t detract from the issues. Some bad apples cause property damage’
    (which is what was going on if you talk to people who were there

  2. Violence usually brings on more violence. The police know that. I’d say they’ve got some questions to answer about how they handled the situation.

    1. Yeah – good luck with that! The police just about anywhere these days don’t seem to think they have to answer to anyone about anything.

      And our spineless governments seem to think this is just fine, for some strange reason.

      To serve and protect indeed – their own asses, that is.

  3. I don’t really know what the problem is here? What do you expect the police to do? As Penny states:
    “the shopfronts of major banks and tax-avoiding companies have been smashed and daubed with graffiti, and Oxford Street was occupied and turned into a mass street party”.
    You cant seriously claim that this doesn’t warrant a response? The police found who they believed was responsible and that individual resisted arrest…

      1. Yeah? from the article: “They move in to grab the young man, but his friends scrambled to prevent the arrest being made, dragging him away from the police by his legs”
        I’m not saying that the police shouldn’t strive to use the least amount of force in these circumstances. However it’s simply a social contract… if you break the law this is what happens.

        1. “if you break the law this is what happens.”

          Unfortunately, everyone at the protest can be considered lawbreakers when police have catchall terms like, disturbing the peace, disobeying an officer, insulting an officer, etc., basically the police get to decide who is breaking the law, and when, that’s not the contract I signed, er, gave consent via being born, I guess.

          1. Except in this case, even the New Statesman coverage admits that he was being arrested for smashing up a shop front, so its a little hard to argue that the police are using dubious laws. Breaking other people’s stuff is illegal most places…

          2. “Unfortunately, everyone at the protest can be considered lawbreakers when police have catchall terms like, disturbing the peace, disobeying an officer, insulting an officer, etc., basically the police get to decide who is breaking the law”

            None of those are offences under British law. The closest is “breach of the peace” which has a strict definition and people don’t often get arrested for it in a public order situation because it takes officers away from their serial unnecessarily. Saying that the police get to decide who is breaking the law doesn’t make any sense… if the officer believes an offence has been committed they can arrest for it, but they need an actual offence first. Sometimes there’s overlap between different offences, for example there can be quite a fine line between sections 5, 4a and 4 of the Public Order Act, and someone who gets arrested for one offence will be charged with another.

            There’s not some conspiracy on the police side to stitch people up, in fact you’ll often find that the majority of arrests are made later after CCTV and other evidence has been gathered, and that in a ‘riot’ situation police will actually stand by and watch offences being committed that in any other circumstances would result in immediate arrest of the offender.

            The automatic panning of the police as ‘robots of the state’ or ‘fascist footsoldiers’ is laughable. I’d like to see these self-righteous anarchist naifs spend a 14 hour shift dealing with rape, robbery and car accident victims, and seeing the worst of society, before believing that because they really passionately believe in something, it gives them the right to smash up other people’s stuff without a nasty brutal police officer taking them away to a police station where the worst that will happen to them is they’ll get a microwave meal that isn’t very good. Most countries in the world would DREAM of having a police force as accountable and professional as the Met.

            Rant over.

          3. Corporate crime costs society far more than petty crimes and property crimes (though serious and hurtful too), AND they do more damage to people and the environment. Yet, their penalties are disproportionally low or non-existent.

            Address poverty, onerous drug laws, encourage treatment and health care any most property crimes (and others) would go away. Corporate and white collar crime doesn’t seem to go away, no matter how well to do the perpetrators are. That is what greed, envy and addiction does.

            As far as the crimes you listed,(rape, robbery and car accident victims), are crimes the police often can’t or won’t prevent, but only respond to but under enforce and prosecute.

            Interviews and investigation of major civil protests where the please over-reacted do show patterns of physical and emotional abuse and over-application of disturbing the peace or disorderly conduct or incitement statutes.

            The laws against civil disobedience ARE purposely overly general and open to broad interpretation resulting in many inappropriate arrests as evidenced by the lack of prosecutions and releases without charge, well after the protest has passed. They are this way to give “legal” coverage to this wishing to quell these events.

            Look into the lawsuits and press releases that follow.

    1. Man, you see the same reports from every single protest. Something got broken somewhere. Police, who are expecting to be called in any moment to stop a riot, intervene excessively. People see the broken thing on the news and don’t care about the protesters, so they assume they did the right thing. Inquiry shows they didn’t, but nobody faces any consequences.

      The last is the important point. Protesters are kept in check by the police. The police reaction is never kept in check by anyone. The result is, slowly but steadily, that the response becomes less and less reasonable.

    2. They have security cameras everywhere and so should have known exactly who was responsible for any property damage. They are reported here as using truncheons on innocent citizens who were exercising their rights.
      It sounds to me as if they were just battering anyone who was in the way.

      Also I actually went on a peaceful protest in 2007 in my local city. I returned home to worried faces asking if I was ok in the rioting. There had been no trouble and everything had been peaceful and the media had reported on some trouble in another part of the city.

      The media get more revenue if there is trouble at a protest and the police and the “powers that be” profit by it and so I would not be at all surprised if a few people are sent in to stir things up a bit and create some chaos.

  4. Hmm. All you are getting there is a confused account of a single group of protesters, from someone who previously has bent the truth somewhat.

  5. Maybe those companies were avoiding taxes because they know it just funds these street parties.

  6. I would like to see a list of the names of those masked protesters that were arrested who were smashing windows and throwing smoke bombs. I would hazard a guess that they were NOT part of the actual protest but planted there to disrupt the peaceful protest. Actually a list would probably do no good as peaceful protesters were probably arrested to cover for those that actually did the damage and incited the violence. A better request might be to immediately remove the masks of those arrested and post their photos. Was that ever done? I don’t know, I just watch the TV news….

    If you are hired to go incite violence at a protest and you get arrested, nothing happens to you after you are taken away. A government official or someone higher up the food chain in command will “take over” and you are then released after “doing a good job.”

  7. From the US, all I’m seeing is the “violence from the protests in Trafalgar square” but not anything about what the protests are actually about. Took me a little googling to find the actual subject the march was all about etc. I hate the new politinews media. For those who wish to make a statement, make sure you guys relay the message, because it is being whitewashed by the media.

  8. She saw the protestors “organising themselves into a non-hierarchial consensus-building team.” Is this reporting or parody? Yes, let’s rely solely on the first person account from the New Statesman. By the way, why are those corporatist pigs trying to stop rioters from smashing windows? So ridiculous.

    1. re: “She saw the protestors “organising themselves into a non-hierarchial consensus-building team.” Is this reporting or parody?”

      This is common practice in these sorts of actions. That it sounds like parody to you reveals only how disconnected you are from the actuality of modern resistance movements. By and large, these are real, dimensional people, who, despite the continued attempts by police and corporate media to portray them all as mindless, opportunistic hooligans, actually care deeply about ethics. Whatever you may wish to believe, functional non-hierarchical self organization through consensus-building not only exists, but has become more practicable than ever thanks to the abundance of communication networks available to contemporary protestors.

      Such actions, even if they accomplish nothing else (a point I’m certainly not willing to concede) unquestionably serve to activate more people, giving them direct proof of the feasibility of non-hierarchical organization, and inspiring them with the transformative, incandescent, unforgettable feeling of equality and empowerment that such systems impart.

      This, perhaps more than anything else, is what Empire fears: Not that people will smash some windows or block an intersection. But that, by taking action, and experiencing for themselves the practicable, humanistic reality of anarchism, they will become irrevocably infected with a permanent hunger for true freedom, rather than the debased simulacrum that Empire shoves down our throats, and sells to us from every shop window and billboard.

      1. Yes, I am disconnected from ‘modern resistance movements.’ Very much like the middle class protesters in Trafalgar Square are disconnected from ‘modern resistance movements.’ Perhaps throw in real revolutionaries from Egypt or Libya into your example, and I might be able to follow you. And certainly the majority are peaceful, but those who ‘deeply care’ about ethics were also squatting on and/or destroying private property. So much for those ethics.

        1. You do realize that the “real revolutionaries from Egypt or Libya” that you cite also use the same techniques of self-organization, don’t you?

          And as for your defense of private property, perhaps take a moment to consider how functional or ethical it is to apply the same notion of property rights that we grant individuals (quite sensibly and comprehensibly, for the most part) to vast, multinational corporate entities who, unlike individuals, have no direct accountability for their ravenous, capitalism-driven sociopathy.

          Forgive me if, until corporations are held as accountable for stealing millions as a mugger is for stealing £50, I am inclined to accept an equal disparity in people’s respect of “corporate property rights”.

          1. That’s exactly my problem. Only I’d rather hold the corporation to the fire rather than declare open season on peoples’ property. The thing about corporations is that they represent the collective property of many people, it has just always been in vogue to trash their holdings because the actual owners are that one step further away.

    2. She saw the protestors “organising themselves into a non-hierarchial consensus-building team.”

      Here is a problem for protesters: we reject the use of violence, but we’ve been taught to ridicule the language of peace.

  9. I think there’s not much to complain about the BBC coverage – it has tried pretty hard throughout yesterday to portray the main story as being the 250k union-lead protests, with small amounts of violence as a side note. I would imagine the organisers were pretty happy with that. Of course, protesters won’t like the Daily Mail approach of reporting all the protest in the context of the limited violence, but what do you expect from the Mail? By the same token, this is really a first person piece from a protester pretending to be an unbiased journalist – but then again, what do you expect from the New Statesman?

    I wouldn’t suggest this being the only account you read, any more than I would the Mail.

  10. I’ve been disappointed in the mainstream coverage that puts the actions of a couple of hundred thugs at the forefront and ignore hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters. That being said, there’s a certain amount of spin in this linked article as well. I’ve tired of the dogmatic language of young anarchists – there’s a real lack of critical thinking reflected in the repetition of phrases, the likes of which Allesklar laughs at above.

    The melee this writer describes started when a guy resisted arrest and his pals pulled him away from the police. That will never go over well. Police don’t stop trying to arrest someone because he resists and a mob forms around him to defend him. I’ve seen exactly that situation twice in New Orleans this past year, and both times it’s been the precipitating factor in a beatdown from the cops. Make your case in court, but don’t resist arrest.

    This writer repeats the old anarchist defense of crimes against property. Hurting people is wrong, the dogma goes (meaning don’t physically restrain protesters while trying to stop them from harming property – that’s the subtext) but harming property is just fine. And so, with that argument, the peaceful protesters empower the fringe “hooligans” in their campaign of property damage. That campaign inevitably turns to violence when someone, police or property owners, steps in to stop the mob.

    The same anti-property logic leads to bombs being planted in buildings at night when they’re “empty” – but buildings are rarely empty. There are janitors, and security guards, or late-night researchers and workers. But in the anarchist dogma they’re all working for the man, and if they’d just join the revolution then they wouldn’t be in harm’s way, and we only intended to blow up the building, so don’t be such a drag, man.

    The hundreds of thousands who marched deserve much better from the press, and from their own comrades. I support the protesters, but I don’t weep at all when the violence anarchist thugs are dragged off to jail.

    1. I’d reconsidered my final sentence and edited this – I didn’t mean to submit it twice, and if the moderator would delete it, that would be appreciated.

  11. No mainstream political party in the UK is against spending cuts per se and the majority of the electorate supports the present plan or even bigger cuts (src:

    So we have a democracy in the UK and the majority of people do not support the agenda of the demonstrators yesterday.

    More people marched in the Countryside Alliance march in 2002 but we haven’t brought fox hunting back.

  12. BethNOLA: where in the text did you see the writing making the “old anarchist defence” you talk of? The part where she qoutes MLK? When accuse her of being “anti-property” you blur out the lines between peaceful civil disobedience, like what UK Uncut courageously did today, and actions that risk physical harms to humans. Like setting fire to a building. Or being a corporate culprit in the capitalist machine that has wrecked the economy and the lives of so many people these last years. How many people do you estimate have died these last years from lack of access to health care, suicide, or by the hands of people turning to violence out of economic desperation caused by the capitalist generated financial crisis? What are YOU doing about it, except scorn protesters?

    1. Anon, I don’t scorn the protestors. I’m firmly on the side of the hundreds of thousands who protested without throwing things through windows. And no one quoted MLK defending damage to property, because he never did so. Where I get that “old defense” from is hearing it personally, verbally and in blogging, from anarchists defending their destruction of stuff that belongs to other people.

      1. “…thousands who protested without throwing things through windows.”

        Reporting on the incident (and equally interest surrounding it) attributes about 5% of its coverage to this majority. They walk calmly holding signs that only people within 10 feet can read. Their actions are near-pointless.

        Unfortunately the ones breaking windows are the ones getting peoples attention. We’re a short-attention span society that likes explosions and a story to get our teeth into.

        Ironically the peaceful protesters are doing literally NOTHING for their cause; whereas the handful of disconnected ‘hooligans’ have generated more PR for the campaign than money could buy.

        I saw a group of about 15 people protesting the education cuts outside of a University the other day, and just thought to myself “what do they actually expect to achieve?”. The government don’t even listen when the majority of the nation speak out against an action, do people think that because a handful of angry voters complain that the government will simply reverse a solidified fiscal plan? Give me a break. Don;t get me wrong – it’s a terrible state of affairs that people actually have to turn into savages for anyone to pay attention to their opinion, but that’s the way it is.

        Don’t get me wrong, some of the PR generated is negative as well as positive. But if they are ‘Agents Provocateur’ then the police are even more stupid than I thought.

  13. Most rioting at protests is instigated by an Agent Provocateur. Its a media event, and in this instance observe the large number of photographers waiting for those photogenic moments they were promised… by whom, surely not by real anarchists.

  14. Thebes, don’t real anarchists want their photos taken to? ;)

    I was there, in the vast peaceful protest, using Sukey to check that the route ahead was trouble-free. It was.

    We passed scenes of vandalism: the Ritz was the stand-out. IMO, the police did well in showing restraint while that was happening with a gajillion marchers coming up behind — a big ol’ kettle in the main march would have been dumb and provocative.

    Liberty had a hundred observers along the route. I suspect they had something to do with it.

  15. By the end of Sat night, the BBC had at least made a good stab at separating the different incidents (thus they worked out that the UK Uncut actions were not actually causing any significant trouble) and that very little happened anyway.

    It was a fabulous day. Not perhaps as staggering as the Iraq protest, but damn close.

  16. Mass protests just don’t cut it any more – we saw that with the anti-war marches in the US and Britain – sometimes huge in size and certainly a morale booster for antiwar folks but other than that – ineffective in swaying the opinion of the larger public or the political leadership. The media finds them boring – even the staid government run media like the BBC or NPR – large protests in the context of the US and Britain are likely a waste of resources.

    We can test this – right before the Saturday protest march the reliably left wing Guardian showed polling that 57% of the public supported current cuts or wanted even more cuts – lets see in a months time whether those numbers have moved significantly.

    This isn’t about me taking a stand for or against one side or another – in the 90s a couple hundred thousand people who like to kill foxes marched in London – most of them were Tory scum – the fox hunt ban was passed and polling unchanged – same goes for marches by anti-abortion folks, the big Beck rally, etc. –

  17. So sad to see the haste with which people are inclined to side with the police when commenting on stories like this.

    What a masterful deception Empire has achieved, when its subjects reflexively defend the agents of the state—soldiers whose increasingly unconcealed function is chiefly to prevent the disenfranchised from ever reclaiming their fair share from the plutocrats that are so shamelessly exploiting them—rather than siding with their sisters and brothers, the real human beings of the working class.

    It is as if we all suffer from the delusion that one day, we too might be rich, we too might win the lottery, or somehow magically ascend into our imagined rightful place among the ruling classes, and, having clung to this delusion so desperately and for so long, can do nothing else but make choices that support and defend these imagined future selves, rather than choices that accept and genuinely improve the reality of our present.

    Such sociopathic self-deception is toxic for us all. Wake up! Life is the reality of your here and now, not some nostalgic fantasy of an idealized past, or a desperate mystical entitlement to a better tomorrow. It is this, now, and only this. Look around you. If your life is not as you wish it to be, if your society is unjust, take action to change it today!

    Or at the very least, don’t demonize those who have the bravery to try.

  18. I was there when it all kicked off. Laurie Penny’s account is exactly how it was. It is unbiased and accurate.

  19. Front line report from where, you say?

    (haven’t heard a peep about any protests here in L.A.)

    I applaud focus on tax-avoiding corporations. Let’s collect the fair share from these legal “persons”. Make multi-nationals stand in line at DMV too.

  20. The thing about this article is that it could have been written about almost any major protest at any time in the last 150 years.
    1. Thousands of people gather together to march and/or rally
    2. The overwhelming majority have no interest in engaging in either property destruction or violence against other people
    3. A very small number of people engage in some acts of property destruction, OR, there is no property destruction
    4. The police swarm the protesters in order to snatch “vandals” or “ringleaders”
    5. Some of the protesters try to defend themselves
    6. The police use this as an excuse to attack the protesters en masse

    It’s not novel, it happens dozens of times a year, all over the world. As someone who’s been on the wrong side of a police cordon a few times, I have found it ever more tiresome to read armchair psychopaths gloating over whatever violence the police committed. If you really love the idea of protesters being beat down so much, why don’t you do it yourself? “Sooner throttle a baby in its crib than nurse unacted desires,” eh?

    At the same time, I’m getting bored with the willingness of people in protest movements to set themselves up, over and over again, to be knocked down like so many bowling pins by the forces of repression. If we’re going to win these fights, we have to figure out ways to disrupt that tired old script I’ve enumerated above. Mass peaceful demonstrations are fine for some things, but they’re never going to convince a resolute government to change its policies. You can use them to test the resolve of a government, sometimes to very good effect, but no president or prime minister ever looked down on a throng of protesters and thought to him or herself “Gosh, I guess they’re right! I’m going to change that policy immediately!”

    Ultimately, the thing that changes society is direct action. Sometimes that’s going to include destroying some property, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes, as in the case of the people who ran the Underground Railroad, it’s going to be destroying property by denying its status as property, and raising it up to the status of a human being. As we move into an ever-more mediated world, where reification mounts to levels that Marx and Bakunin could hardly have imagined, I think we’re going to have to be doing a lot more of that good old Abolitionist-style direct action, without waiting for the government and the corporations to come around via moral suasion.

    1. At the same time, I’m getting bored with the willingness of people in protest movements to set themselves up, over and over again, to be knocked down like so many bowling pins.

      Exactly. Iraq war ? Protest fail. Tuition fees? Protest fail. And on and on…

      Modern protest movements in “western countries” inevitably involve a very small percentage of the electorate, often composed by people who wouldn’t have voted for the ruling parties anyway. Any sufficiently determined government can safely ignore them, or even better discredit them and then double-down on the policies.

      This is a major problem for post-1990 leftist movements.

      1. The category mistake here is in thinking that protests are expected to have instant results. In general they aren’t. They work best when they are part of a long campaign that includes more than just public demonstrations, although they are important. It’s about changing the public perception of an issue – and that’s like trying to change the path of a oil-tanker.

        So, for example, I expect UK Uncut to become a significant organisation now, because this protest provided a fantastic catalyst to encourage people to get involved in something, in a way that the Iraq War protest failed to do. And it’s groups like UK Uncut who can then become effective lobbyists – and it’s lobbyists who ultimately end up changing public perceptions and government policies.

  21. I’m ashamed to have read some of the comments underneath the article. Talk of public servants as failures, that people need to conform, that protesting is a lazy leftist tactic. I’m just ashamed.

  22. “Mob, disperse!”

    “Mob? Who’s a mob? I don’t see a mod here.”

    “You are. You are all a mob!”

    “A mob? I thought we were a a non-hierarchal consensus-building team.”

    “Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”

  23. Sadly some very, very ignorant responses here on BB. A pity.

    Without excusing dustbins thrown through windows or the horrendous image – I’ll probably never be able to shake myself free of this – of a cuts-opposing lady unable to buy her fresh marshmallows in Fortnums, perhaps the most important point this enthusiastic young journalist is trying to get to is the perception amongst so many of the futility of peaceful protest. We were 300,000 on Saturday: a pretty good showing, particularly by this lamentably inert country’s standards. And we were well over twice that back in 2003 and went to war anyway.

    1. “the most important point this enthusiastic young journalist is trying to get to is the perception amongst so many of the futility of peaceful protest”

      I must have missed that bit, probably due to the 2200 words of fluff around it.

      1. @ cybergibbons

        I know… what a terrible bore it is, trying to get the facts. One allmost wonders what the point is.

  24. All sounds terrible but I don;t know enough to comment directly on this issue unfortunately.

    What I did find ‘amusing’ was reading in the paper this morning reports from the ‘peaceful march people’, that they just wanted a happy, peaceful march, shake some hands with police and have a jolly good time, and that all the violence ‘blots’ their cause.

    Do these nincompoops not realise that without the violence no one would even know that there was a march?

    I’m not directly condoning violence and rioting during protest; but lets be honest, it’s very effective at grabbing attention (albeit sometimes negative), whereas genuinely peaceful protest only really gathers the support of the handful of people that bare witness to it.

    Makes me think that the rioters are the ones that actually want things to change; and those on the police sanctioned, media void march’s are just looking for something to do on a sunny weekend.

  25. Maybe a cartoon can help those of you who can’t seem to ‘get’ what’s going on.

    “Police said 211 people were arrested for offences including using threatening or insulting words or behaviour, criminal damage, aggravated trespass, violent disorder and for going equipped with intent to cause criminal damage.”

    Of those approximately 200 arrested, only 149 have been charged. So it seems a quarter of those arrested shouldn’t have been and many of those being charged may well include people accused of using “threatening or insulting words or behaviour”… that could include someone telling an officer to fuck off for smacking them in the head with a truncheon.

    Until we have full disclosure on the nature of the role of plainclothes provocateurs in the crowd ( I think we should tone down the pro-State frothing.

  26. I was part of the protest in Washington DC when GW Bush was inaugurated for the first time. There were thousands and thousands of people protesting peacefully in the streets. Very few of the people were there to celebrate his “election”. Yet the media coverage barely recognized the fact that the protests were even happening. Liberal media, indeed….

  27. The BBC’s coverage was good. Basically, a few hundred thousand people went on an organised protest and a thousand or so idiots went on a rampage through oxford street.

    The problem with both protests is that they lacked direction. The main protest was just, “hey, stop the cuts”, without any attempt to propose an alternative. Ed Milliband’s speech was cringe-inducing, attempting to compare his call for a reduced rate in cuts funded by longer-term debt repayments to the protests by Martin Luther King, Neslon Mandela and the Suffragettes. I bet he disowns the violence too, despite 2 of his 3 inspirations using violent protest to pursuer their aims. Lightweight.

    The alternative protesters were even worse. They targeted Fortnum & Masons. What? That’s like attacking Whole Foods. They have nothing to do with the cuts at all. Maybe Philip Greene once bought a bottle of wine there?
    They also attacked branches of Santander and Barclays. What do these 2 banks have in common? Well done fact fans, they needed no bailout money from the government!
    They did do a protest at TopShop, which was about the only action that seemed sensible (it’s owner Philip Greene pays his multi-million salary to his wife in Monaco to avoid tax while simultaneously working as a government advisor on cost-cutting).

    BBC News 24 covered the protests live all day, with lots of helicopter shots showing the size and activities of the main protest (OMFG HUEG! Peaceful) and alternative protests (a few hundred guys dressed in black knocking over bins and being surrounded 10:1 by press photographers if they look like hurling a brick through a window).

    1. “The alternative protesters were even worse. They targeted Fortnum & Masons. What? That’s like attacking Whole Foods. They have nothing to do with the cuts at all. Maybe Philip Greene once bought a bottle of wine there?”

      If you were in the slightest bit interested in why UK Uncut targeted Fortnum & Mason a quick search will help you no end.

      “UK Uncut, the anti-cuts direct action group, are currently occupying Fortnum & Mason over the tax dodge of over 40 million by its owners Whittington Investments which have a 54% stake in Associated British Foods who produce Ryvita, Kingsmill and others and own Primark. ABF have dodged over £40 million in tax.”


      “We are told that the only way to reduce the deficit is to cut to public services. This is certainly not the case. There are alternatives, but the government chooses to ignore them, highlighting the fact that the cuts are based on ideology, not necessity.

      * One alternative is to clamp down on tax dodging by corporations and the rich, estimated to cost the state £95bn a year
      * Another is to make the banks pay for a crisis they created: last year they paid out over £7bn in bonuses and just four banks made £24bn in profit

      The tax avoided and evaded in a single year could pay for the £81bn, four-year cuts programme.”

  28. The BBC reporters in Trafalgar Square were wearing helmets. The BBC reporters in Tahrir Square a few weeks back were not. That is a commentary on the British People, and not an equivalence of the two protests.

  29. TRY TO FIND a fair and detailed account, if any, of this MASSIVE PROTEST in your local US papers or news outlets. They are already nearly gone. Try your Google seatch skills you are so proud of. Not that useful, unless you know exactly what to search for, right?

    Did your local news address “What does this march mean?” and “Why does it matter??? “Is this a growing movement with previous events (YES!)?

    The news headlines are often misleading or minimizing, and the body never fails to mention the relative small incidences of violence (in an otherwise very peaceful, organized event).

    And what about the peaceful but effective UK Uncut??

    Fortunately there is The Guardian and The Independent of London and You Tube. I couldn’t find the story in SFGate/SF Chronicle (an often highly selective and corporate tilted publication oft dependent on tilted AP). Unfortunately MOST people do not regularly use the internet to get detailed news from around the world.

    The London protest, march, demonstration, rally, (notice all the names), on Saturday was one of the largest there ever–500,000. It is about rejection of “austerity” measures and disgust with their government, and far exceeded one of the organizers, Trade Union Congress, expectations.

    The March for the Alternative protest last Saturday March 26 WAS A KEYSTONE EVENT OF MASSIVE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL IMPORTANCE–a sign of what is coming to the US and what is happening around the globe, yet it is so poorly covered overall, with few exceptions. Where is the Who, What, When, Where and WHY??

    More people would have attended, but transportation couldn’t handle the crowds. BUT like any large protest that is in the majority of the average person’s interest involving civil rights, or fair labor practice, or anti-war, it is buried in a variety of ways.

    Contrast this with the billionaire Koch corporate, right wing backed, media loving Tea Party type rallies, which had extensive coverage (even though coverage often failed to express the deeper justified frustrations that most political stripes share, but rather marginalized attendees as extremists or whackos or bigots, often rightly, but not always).

  30. For those interested in the direction Western countries are moving regarding large civil demonstrations, watch this brief investigative program.

    In general, it is about whether and how Canadian police over-reacted to protesters or marchers, many/most of whom were quite peaceful and innocent. This is a rare type televised analysis of this protest incident.

    G20: The Untold Stories -You Should Have Stayed At Home

    The take home story isn’t just about the trend of unpleasantries committed by Canada (Haiti unrest,indigenous peoples abuse, tar sans of Alberta, onerous Olympics cost trade-off, involvement in oil-wars), so much as it is about suppression of civil disobedience and globalization vs anti-gloablization.

    It’s about abuse by authority and loss of civil rights, “Kill it before it grows” as Bob Marley lamented in song. “It” in this case being the the fifth estate & its transformation from apathy to opposition.

    The police and accompanying enforcers presence was the largest in Canadian history and what happened around the G20 event will likely change your impression of “peaceful” Canada.

    I am sure many Canadians are or would be ashamed of how this protest was managed.

    I really like the Canadians I’ve met, and admire them and their country for many reasons, mostly, but advise Americans to re-consider that maple leaf flag on your globetrotting backpack.

    G20: The Untold Stories You Should Have Stayed At Home – the fifth estate

  31. This makes me wish I had telepathy, so I could tell what the people in charge are really thinking behind their smiling masks.

  32. This is the hostile corporate takeover of our societies, the enlightenment of the inhuman mind of capital, the id of western civilization demanding we satisfy its surplus of desire. It was always about market freedom.

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