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reflections on sack parliament

Concerned Anarchists | 11.10.2006 13:00 | SOCPA | Social Struggles | London

The following is a summary of what me, and the group i was with at sack parliament felt about the day

For a start, congratualtions to 'bring the war home' for even suggesting suck an audacious action, better luck next time, and you can count on our support again. We have seen sevreral comments along the lines of 'i knew the numbers would be crap, so i didn't turn up', which sucks, as we should all be prepared to demonstrate injustice wether there are 1,000,000 of us, or just 1.

The main point of this post is to ask some questions about the tactics of the 'anti authoritarian' bloc in parliament square.
For those of you that wernt there, the bloc (comprising about 25 people) turned up and immediatley launched into the police lines. With consultation with other protesters, this could have been a (partial) sucess, but instead it was nothing more than a 30 second scuffle. The media scrum around the bloc outnumbered bloc participants, which some seemed pleased with, making lame attempts to block camera shots and saying 'no journos'. as the bloc was retreating, one member was overheard saying 'we just did it for the cameras'.
The blocs action resulted in the cops penning us in, exept for the anti-authoritarian bloc, most members of which disapeared, and were not seen for the rest of the day.
We are all for black blocs, anti-authoritarian and anarchist blocs (being anarchists ourselves), but the point of this one seemed dubious. As a group who are willing to confront police, we have always seen it as our responsibility to shield peaceful protesters from police brutality, but on the day, the bloc escalated the situation, then the majority left, leaving protesters who had not instigated the situtation penned in for several hours trying to force our way out, and defend against police attacks alone.
We are in favour of confronting the police, but believe that people who are going to do so are willing to bear the brunt of thier actions, not allow other people (many of whom did not intend to end up in a confrontational situation to pay the price of your actions.
We hope to see confrontational politics and anti-authoritarian blocs on demos in the future, and 100% agree with the need for confrontation and direct action, but next time we hope the bloc wont ditch fellow protesters (especially, as was mentioned earlier, that one of the stated aims of almost all confronational anarchist groups of recent times has been to defend non-confrontational activists from police brutality).

We hope to see you all soon at a much bigger and succesful action.

Concerned Anarchists



11.10.2006 14:27

We came all the way from the South West for this we got followed half way from the embankment station then photographed as we came round the corner by parliament. We (the 4 of us) where then surrounded by a group of cops who tryed to take our names ect. We then continued towards the protest where a large group of cops circuled us and told us they would arrest us if we didnt leave right then. By this time it seemed clear that we where completly outnumberd and the police where all over this event. We started to walk away from the demo and where again threatend with arrest even though we where walking away. If anything the way the police delt with us on the day only made me more angry and to attend more things like this.


For those at the demo...

11.10.2006 15:24

When I turned up to do this demo, I brought my banner that had been made at our commune. (Government is Tyranny) The other Anarchists at our commune were gonna turn up later, The others at the protest wanted to get behind the banner. So I granted there request. Then on come the scarves over faces and try and shite up the police and play up for the cameras. I think a few of the first wave of ppl who got nicked were just kids that were looking for a bit of trouble and to annoy the police. If ur gonna play wiv fire your gonna get burned. If it wernt for them being irrisponsable and trying to smash through police lines. I would not be on bail for the SOCPA Act. These kids seriously dont understand what anarchy is about. Achieving Anarchy through peaceful means! mind you its also the Met who is to blame, dragging anyone who was remotly looking like they were into punk or a 'hippy' and chucking them in the pen. Then the police started rounding us all up like sheep. I was quite dissapointed that I was arrested so soon into the protest and my banner didnt last longer. Thanks to the actions of some irresponible ppl (however if there was a large number of us like in the hundreds) we could have easily liberated ourselves and achieve our aims peacefully) a lot of ppl have been tarred with the same brush. I hope the next demo I go on is a bit more sucessfull


police powers

11.10.2006 17:39

some comments above show the need to gen up on the law and police powers before you arrive at these sort of events.

the socpa act bans 'unauthorised' demonstrations, so in court, the police would have to prove without any reasonable doubt that you were actually a participant in such a demo and that you knew it was unauthorised.

if you were just walking towards the demo in the vicinity, the police have absolutely no power to move you away from the area, and most of them were briefed of that (one of the briefings was overheard). they also have no power to ask demand your name and address, even if they search you under 'stop and search' laws. so it's best to face them off and tell them that if they are sure you are committing a crime, then they should arrest you, otherwise they should step aside and allow you to continue your lawful business. try and get independent witnesses if the police continue to harrass you or impede your route, and make a complaint to the ipcc against their unlawful behaviour. it really is necessary to challenge them in this way.

they were telling a lot of lies that day, and were using brute force in legally indefensible actions. the worrying thing was that most people didn't challenge them. even journalists ended up giving names and addresses and getting reported under socpa - this is ludicrous and in the unlikely event it went to court on summons, they'd get off in an instant, but why go along with this harrassment and unlawful activity?


view from one person

11.10.2006 18:19

I was part of the bloc on Monday and this is a personal reflection into the criticisms listed here.

Firstly, yes, we did arrive masked up because we didn't want to be recognised and/or have our photos taken by the FIT team. We did try and get into the road which unfortunately wasn't very successful due to the huge numbers of police. I see nothing wrong with this. The demonstration was called to "Sack Parliament" with the purpose of stopping MPs getting to the opening of parliament. Given that the police are obviously going to try and stop people from doing this there was always going to be some level of confrontation.

After the initial push several of us chose to run back into Parliament Square to avoid being penned. There were also a number of people who actually shouted to let people know that a cordon was being formed and that people should move if they didn't want to get penned in. As stated, given that the aim of the demonstration was, in my understanding, was to stop parliament opening, these kind of police tactics were always likely.

The bloc wasn't brilliant by any stretch of the imagination and I was pissed off at the amount of posing for the press that went on. However I don't think it should be criticised for actually trying to do more than stand inside the Square.

I was arrested fairly early on so I don't know what happened with the bloc although I would guess that at least half ended up in the back of police vans. It's a bit churlish to blame an arrest on the actions of the group - after all it was an illegal demonstration - there was always the risk of arrest.

There were also training days that people could have gone to to learn more about public order policing. Critiqing the bloc is fair enough, but I think it'd also be nice if people had a bit more solidarity for a group of people who were actually trying to do something.
In terms of solidarity, I don't think solidarity means that you have to end up in a pen. Even on the fluffiest demonstrations everyone should constantly watch the policing, where lines are forming, where large groups of cops are suddenly moving. If I see this happening, I will shout it to let people know but I will not put myself in that pen having spotted it being about to happen.

On the bloc


11.10.2006 18:29

Myself and two of my mates were arrested when we left Parliament Square and moving towards Trafelger Square.
We were arrested outside of the FCO.
We're on bail till December 12th.
Thing is, the pigs never gave us any warnings. They just swooped as we were leaving.


Pig Pen

12.10.2006 01:28

the idea was to show opposition to the wars and erosion of civil libertys so first of all it would have been good if anti war groups had actually shown up. The idea was to blockade parliament and stop the MPs from getting into it. Unfortuanatly due to little numbers this was near impossible, and when the cordon was put into place only a few that were willing to try and break free were left. This resulted in a few unsuccessful attempts, as many who were quick enough managed to escape the pen (well done to them), and most of those inside were unwilling to even attempt escape and sat on the ground waiting for release. This then resulted on the media focusing on the few attempts at the police lines by the few, which then leads to people criticising the demonstration as a media parade. The aim of the demo was to get to parliament to stop the MPs from getting in, even if those attemps failed they were tried. The media will always focus on a more"newsworthy" story, so the attempts of others should not be criticised on the basis of main stream media, but on the cause and how it was carried out; there was little, such few numbers could do, but due to the large amount of police this was very little. Solidarity was shown towards those targeted by snatch squads by linking arms and making it as hard as possible to arrest the target (a couple of which i believed to be legal advisers). When a copper came in to demand an individual ("the bald guy with the beard step foward for arrest and the rest of you can go") most people in the pen showed solidarity by linking arms around him not allowing police to get to him. The focus of the day was on the people penned in and our failed attempts to get out, but it should be focused on why many people and groups did not turn up at all. I am not sure what anyone outside the pen did as i was too slow to get out, but there is no news of anything else happening so i assume nothing happened. Before you criticise those that turned up you should also be aware that there are 7 enterances to parliament and what happened to the other 6, because as far as i am aware nothing happened, but if someone could report on that to enlighten me i would be pleased.

With such little numbers it is not suprising the attempts to get to parliament failed, the cause was good, the action worthwhile, but apparently only a hundred or so people thought this. Sure it failed and turned into a media spectacle, but at least those that turned up tried.


short and sweet?

17.10.2006 15:29

I was there on monday. the demo began around 1pm and was over by 5pm! almost everyone had left the square, demonstrators and SPG-police alike, leaving only a few stragglers and white shirted cops when all the commuters flooded by there was no sign of what had taken place that afternoon.the funniest comment of the day was made by a passer-by that afternoon- " what are the police demonstrating about?".believe me he wasn't being sarcastic!

matt black


Hide the following 13 comments

I remember a demo at:

11.10.2006 13:57

I remember a protest in Brighton I was at years ago.

I saw one guy dressed up to look like he was out of clock work orange cum captain of the Navy, He had a megaphone and took charge of the protest group with it leading them into a trap which the police used to penn in the protesters.

Some idiot through a glass bottle and the cops charges in on them I was an observer there
and I saw from my view the cop drag out the guy who ste pup the group for the cops to 'manage' as though he was working for them and then they laid into the group once he had been removed to safety. Agent provocoteur by any chance?

a point to note


11.10.2006 14:38

Ive seen happen elsewhere, why criticise others for having a definite plan doing what they came to do and leaving when it was smart to leave. Getting penned is the worst thing that could happen to anyone that day, they avoided follow suit next time. Cat and Mouse.



11.10.2006 16:25

In response to 'none'
'They came with a plan and left when it was sensible to leave'. Maybe, but their plan was not a sensible one, and they left others to deal with the aftermath of an action they did, which to me is unfair. we are not in favour of only using peaceful means to achieve anarchy, but we are in favour of taking responsibilty for our actions (a central principle of anarchy), and showing solidarity with comrades in trouble (another central principal of anarchism), neither of which were displayed by the bloc on the day.
Yes, getting penned in sucked, and maybe we should have reacted to it sooner to avert the situation, but the individuals who caused the initial confronation had an obligation, on several levels, to stay and provide support to thoses penned in. We are not bitter about our court summons' or the time we had to spend in a pen defending against police incursions, but we are dedicated to living our lives, and conductiong our actions based on the principals of anarchism, something which we did not feel the bloc displayed on the day.

Solidarity forever! (A)

Concerned Anarchists

To Sledge

11.10.2006 17:43

I completely agree. We should be all for inclusivity, of course, but having a generally pretty sensible action seriously compromised by some wee 'uns playing big bad anarchists is very frustrating. My personal opinion is that we need to distance ourselves from these people.


They did it because.

11.10.2006 18:08

The anti authoritarians launched into the police lines because they were trying to cross the road to confront MPs at the entrances to Parliament, which was their previously stated aim. The police would have acted as they did anyway with or without them. The police pen with snatch squads is an all too familar constrain and intimidate tactic which unfortunately works because it causes divisions in those who are constrained, as this article demonstrates.

Alf Narkist

Was it worth it? Maybe not!

11.10.2006 23:08

The difficulty is that what happened (allegedly) was so oppositional it was 'us and them' thinking, its a shame so many people got bruised - government is immune to protest. Protesters almost forget why they protest, they choose to protest to show opposition and almost forget why they are showing it - rather lets see nonviolent resistance - that would have been a differant scene it would have made the situation better for someone in the world for a segment of time of the NOW.

Sad that we do not accept that protesting that we cannot protest is not the way to protest - lets get past this way of thinking.

One day someone will sadly die protesting in such an event like that and it may make him/her a martyr and it will continue to make people think that pushy protest is worth pushing.

However what if we were to make out points without protest - what would that look like. I do not recognise parliment, and cannot be there protesting when we foget that we can make things happen ourselves - nonviolently, though it may be costly - we can.

L Hoppstubbe M

L Hoppstubbe M


12.10.2006 09:14

seems to me the problem wasn't what the masked up kids did, it was that no-body else joined in! what were we there for?
and again, when the bearded guy got picked on by the cops why did so few actually act in solidarity and surround him? the same reason so many queued up and begged to be let out without thought for anyone else, i guess.
why come if you're aren't willing to push the boundaries a little? why not just stick to walking from A to B like you usually do?


A useful tip.

12.10.2006 11:27

If you refuse to go from the pen you keep the cops hanging around nonplussed and in the end they just leave not wanting to clock up even more police time/expense and they don't take your particulars. It only means waiting perhaps another hour so just relax and picnic. What's the rush anyway? Why give in to their intimidation tacitics?


Re: Curious

12.10.2006 12:45

In answer to your question, at least twenty people including myself joined in to prevent "The bald guy with the beard" from getting snatched...No one issued a command, the people just did it and when I was finally hauled out that guy was still in the compound..

The question from me is How many more times can people put up with being beaten like dogs by the Met at seemingly peaceful demos? I for one am still carrying wounds from Monday and do not intend to go quietly into the night, as the Met may well wish..



13.10.2006 07:57

I joined the bloc at the last minute in their push over the road and must admit it seemed a bit half-hearted. It wasn't so much a push as a practice 'heave' or two.

After de-arresting someone I ran to the back of the square. However, when I saw the cordon, and people being dragged into it, I asked the police to put me in there too (they obliged). I really think voluntary solidarity should be a valued part of this kind of protest. Including asking the police to arrest you when the arrest others.

There was a wonderful moment when the police Supt tried to arrest the guy with the beard. And dozens of people shouted "I'm Spartacus" if we truly meant that we'd be stronger at the core of our being.



13.10.2006 10:22

To the Bloc memeber who said that they shouted out warnings to others about the police penning people in. I did not hear any and was penned in. I was on my lunch break and didn't get back to work until around 5, just in time to go home. It would have been far more constructive to remain peaceful and not give the police any excuse to act the way they did. Also all that the mainstream press will mention is the scuffling and not the other peaceful demonstators. There was no need for it in my opinion.



14.10.2006 10:23

There are a lot of people complaining about the actions of the anarchist bloc. I wasn't really aware of a coherent anarchist bloc, but then I'm not really part of the scene enough to recognise people. I was aware of a higher than normal proportion of young people in masks. They seemed to start off in high spirits and that was really nice to see, but that fizzled out quite quickly after they were thwarted a few times. I joined the first attempt to cross the road, because I saw other people doing that, and that's what the expressed point of the demonstration was. I feel that many of those who complained about demonstrators doing what the demonstration callouts said they were going to do are in danger of falling into spectator protesting.

That aside, there are real physical size issues with people that young trying to push through police lines, especially when the pigs are trained up for violent situations. There are physical issues with people of any age trying to push through police lines. It's worth noting that the police really do have the monopoly on brute force here. In view of this, frontal assaults are pretty futile. I don't think any such frontal assault really happened on the day. I don't think I saw any violence except by the police (bearing in mind that I don't believe walking a banner towards police lines and getting beaten back is violence - it seems to me about as non-violent a form of confrontation as could be taken up, and anything less would just be sitting around all day being easily ignored).

In numbers like were there on the 9th, we do (at least those of us who're sufficiently able-bodied) have the advantage of being able, when we really try at it instead of sitting around waiting for something to happen, to move around at speed, to change direction, and in general provide a remarkably difficult target for the police to pin down, leading them on a bit of cat and mouse. Or we have the ability to martyr ourselves to make a point - walking into police lines, getting beaten and keeping going until something gives. Both of these tactics hold their downsides. Running the cops around on a bit of a chase tends to get a few less people arrested but makes it remarkably difficult to concentrate a targetted action. Walking into police lines and remaining peaceful* makes the point in a more socially acceptable manner, but gets your head kicked in and not a lot of people are up for having that happen.

I think we really do have to consider what practical options we have again before doing something like this rather getting lost without a plan, or only making half-hearted attempts at pushing the police line (and stepping back when they start shouting "get back"...) and going away disheartened.

(For what it's worth, I'm not an advocate of pacifism, but I do believe in playing to our strengths, and overt acts of violence aren't one of those)

Nowun Inparticlar

Stopping Paliament

17.10.2006 10:46

If i am not very mistaken, was not the purpose of this demo, and I quote, 'disrupt the activities of Parliament?'

How do you think the Police were going to react to this threat? A softly softly approach to policing the event when there was a significant propensity for the 'democratic' (i use this term loosely, as I do sympathise with your cause to a degree) course of this country to be disrupted!? Get real. Are you people mad? I do not condone the excessive controls imposed and accusations of police violence at all, but with a potential threat to parliament what do you expect. Unfortunately I was not able to attend this demo as I was away with work so I am only going on what was covered on this website and friends who were there.

Violence breeds violence and the Police will always win; and will detract from the impact of the demo. everyone knows this. Try to organise more constructive protests in the future to stop alienating moderate supporters of the cause and future sabotages by the Police. Look how well the drax power station demo went when there was a little give from both sides - extensive and positive media coverage for a very worthy cause that has no doubt attracted many more people to support the cause and through the lack of violence, has sown the seeds for change in the future...

Stay Happy,



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