Taking the atmosphere of a traditional 'Mayfayre' celebration, up to 15.000 people celebrated a sunny Mayday 2002 all over downtown London. From Mayfair's exclusive avenues to Soho's red-hot backstreets, crowds thronged the streets and enjoyed themselves in what was described by most as a successful and beautiful day. Carnival, movement and music were the themes of the day.
Critical Mass bike rides started Mayday simultaneously in north and south London, bringing much of the capital's traffic to a halt. Many paused for an impromptu breakfast at Horseferry Road Magistrates Court in solidarity with the Wombles Seven, who are currently subject to a show trial. While the trade union march departed from Clerkenwell at midday, several groups of up to 1,000 Mayday revellers started to move about Mayfair, Oxford Street and Picadilly, many dressed in carnivalesque costumes. By moving continuously people thwarted several attempts by police to cordon them in. Scuffles broke out in the afternoon when police tried to stop several thousand Mayday celebrators from joining the 10,000 strong trade union march at Trafalgar Square, using heavy-handed tactics, but the situation soon calmed down. Meanwhile 2-3000 people played football and others conga-ed down Oxford Street.
Carnival took Soho by storm as the street party called for by the Sex Workers Union began at 5pm. For several hours up to two thousand people danced to the rhythms of a Samba band, moving around in the small backstreets of the downtown neighbourhood. Despite the festive and peaceful atmosphere, riot police started to mass in the area and finally surrounded the samba crowd at 7.30pm, in what was the only Section 60 detention imposed that day. Inside the Section 60 people were baton-charged, had their photos forcibly taken and were only let out individually after several hours. According to the Legal defense and Monitoring Group, 50 people were arrested on the day. LDMG report
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More Mayday events took place in Glasgow, where everything was 'relaxed and chill', in Leicester, where free cake was given out, in Bristol, 300 cyclists brought the centre to a halt with a lively critical mass - see the report and video on the Bristol.indymedia.org site, and also a small but traditional event in Greenwich.