A REPORT OF THE DEMONSTRATION AGAINST REPRESSION, LONDON, SATURDAY 10TH JUNE.
The demo was to meet at Bank Tube Station at 7.30. Those who predicted Bank would be empty were wrong; we were joined by a fare few men and women dressed in lovely fluorescent yellow jackets. However, with two cunningly placed friends and hurriedly produced maps, we managed to convey the message to most that the demo was actually to start at 8.30pm at Golden Square, Soho. These underhand shenanigans was to avoid the attentions of the cops, and it worked surprisingly well. However, these cloak-and-dagger tactics seemed to work a little too well, as we now understand that we left 10 comrades (including people from the Anarchist Federation amongst others) at Bank complete with banners placards and cops, not knowing where to go. To these people we extend our thanks for their effort to be there and sincere apologies for the breakdown in communication. We hope to understand why this happened and how we can get it better next time.
Meanwhile, after some brief confusion over pubs and drinks in Golden Square, a group of about 20 of us set off - enough for a fairly visible demo. We unfurled the banners (one reading ‘Against Repression’ and the other reading ‘The State is the Only Terrorist’) in Brewer Street, and marched through the VERY busy streets of Soho, eventually taking Tottenham Court Road briefly before ending in Soho Square. The whole march took a very short amount of time and went off without a hitch. We avoided the attention of the plod and managed to give out loads of leaflets without being harrassed along the route and in Soho Square. Due to the number of pubs, restaurants and clubs we marched passed, we got many bemused looks from passers by, but we also received a lot of shouts of support (one guy, who after understanding what we were marching about felt compelled to shout out “Fuck Bush, Fuck Blair!” before being dragged away by his friends). Indeed, the whole march was carried out in a very friendly, generally supportive atmosphere. One guy in Soho Square even asked us if we did this often, because he’d like to get involved. Over the course of this demo, we handed out about 500 leaflets (this is just those printed by Rage detailing recent examples of state repression of social movements around the world ; there were others circulating as well), made some new friends and built on some old ones, had a visible anti-authoritarian presence and hopefully raised some awareness about worldwide repression in a small section of the public. All in all, it did the trick and was an ok (if small) demo. One of the most encouraging things, we feel, was the relative ease with which we gave the police the slip (as already said, there was no police presence at any point along the actual march).
Having said that, there are some points for consideration. As said, we were pleased with the general march itself, and with the way we avoided police attention. However, in avoiding police attention, we managed to leave 10 comrades behind, in a potentially dangerous situation (i.e. surrounded by police in Bank, wondering where everyone else was). As mentioned, we’re not sure how this happened. However, the main point we took from this mistake was the need for both participants and organisers to get to actions on time.
The other point for consideration is the relative lack of numbers. One of the reasons we called for this in London is the fact that it easily accessible by all. Other reasons for holding it there rather than our home town of Reading are the fact that the 'activist scene' in London is much larger than the equivalent in Reading and the fact that on the same day there was the Climate Camp meeting being held in London. Although we consulted the Climate Camp facilitation group (who we thank for their support!) when sending out the callout, and as a result were aware that some people may not come following a long meeting, we will admit to being disappointed by the lack of participation by those who had attended the Climate Camp meeting, particularly as one of the main reasons for holding the demo was as part of “a global weekend of resistance against the green-scare” in the U.S which should be of importance to environmental activists. We understand people were tired and hungry, but at the same time, so were members of Rage Collective who attended both the Climate Camp meetings and this demonstration. As a side-note, we feel that the fact that there was a large-ish gathering of activists in London that weekend, should have probably resulted in some form of collective action. We argue that gatherings like this should result in some optimism and desire for collective action that manifests itself on the streets, be it spontaneous protests that just come together due to the discussions held during the day, or a more organised protest such as that which was held on Saturday.
Sorry to end on a slight downer, this is not meant to be a rant or guilt trip, rather a gentle nudge for all of us who truly believe in better worlds and a new tomorrow. Rage have been discussing these things (and these problems) within our own context and wanted to open this discussion up to others. We would like to say thank you to everyone who made the effort to be with us on Saturday, say thank you to those who offered their support but couldn’t make it in person, offer apologies to those we left behind and hopefully start a discussion which leads to collective actions, demonstration etc (which increase our visibility and the spread of information) taking place much more regularly. easily and spontaneously than they do now.
Our Passion For Freedom Is Stronger Than Their Prisons!
Love, peace and fury
The Rage Collective.