rikki | 01.05.2005 18:32 | Indymedia
Shoppers and staff reacted very well to the stunt, as a large banner was unfurled "YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR CHAINSTORES". A protester with megaphone urged shoppers to take back something from Tesco's (who announced £2 billion profits recently).
The pink sambaistas entered the store openly as a group, and started playing before security even noticed them. The manager asked them to leave, without success, and a scarily large security guy tried to block their progress, but the vibe was so good, that even he gave up and even jiggled a little. Meanwhile other activists had arrived and tried to unfurl the banner at the checkouts. At first, the security tried to stop them and there was a bit of scuffling, but as two community support officers and two police arrived the focus was on the band and the banner got unfurled.
After around fifteen minutes, the cavalry arrived (bigtime!!!). F.I.T. officers soon arrived with police photographers and the police heavies flooded in. Bystanders expressed shock and outrage at the over the top and heavy handed police tactics. Protesters comprised over around twenty sambaistas, a few dancers, and maybe another twenty or thirty activists involved. Seven vanloads of police stormed in and pushed the pink clad anti-capitalists out of the shop. I witnessed two quite violent arrests, with one person being pushed face down onto the ground. The protesters maintained their calm and non-violent tactics, regrouped in the carpark, held up the long banner, and danced awhile handing out leaflets before taking to the streets.
As they danced along Morning Lane, even more police reinforcements arrived. I counted twenty four vans, plus some ancillary vehicles including three top brass rangerovers. Two police photographers and the helicopter overhead witnessed the sight of all these cops pushing the (maximum 50) activists onto the pavement quite violently and corraling them in time-honoured fashion. Some people were pushed into the corral, and any remaining onlookers were kept away by further police lines. Shocked Hackneyites couldn't believe the over-reaction to what they saw as a harmless protest on a sunny afternoon.
As one small group was pushed away, there were further arrests.
The band were held in a small area on the pavement for a couple of hours. Fortunately, someone appeared on the roof of the 'SCOPE' shop and threw some bottles of water down to the band.
After some negotiation, it was agreed they would be escorted to London Fields, and a massive police operation ensued to keep the small number of protesters enclosed as they did this. The lines of vans and huge numbers of cops effectively brought all local roads to a standstill.
On the way to the park and at the park, minor scuffles broke out, and further arrests were made, bringing the total for the day to ten.