Jo Makepeace | 13.06.2013 20:06
One banner seen at the anti-G8 mobilisation, the “Carnival Against Capitalism”, in central London read “If I had a giant robot I would destroy capitalism”. Alas, there was no giant robot, and capitalism remained unsmashed.
These days the world is a lot more complicated and power a lot more diffused. Emerging powers China, India, Brazil aren't in the G8 and probably wouldn't want to join if invited. Capitalism despite its glaring contradictions is the dominant global ideology but at least these days it looks like it's not all being run out of one room.
Nevertheless, around 500 people rocked up to London to target the global elite and dens of the feral rich. The anti G8 action had been executed in the time-honoured way- a convergence space was squatted, banners painted and reinforced, and a map of central London had been prepared with 100 key corporate targets highlighted, which were then distributed across Europe’s activist scene. Days before two meeting points had been announced- Oxford Circus and Piccadilly. Unfortunately, on the day, police numbers and police preparation were greater than the crowd's.
It was a far cry from the anti-globalisation protests of the past. The UK's anti-globalisation movement's high watermark was the original “Carnival Against Capital” on June 18th 1999, where some ten thousand people danced, rioted and shut the Square Mile down for the day. J18 was such a disaster from a police perspective that it was the last time the City of London Police were given responsibility for a large scale London protest. Since then huge amounts cash and anti-protest resources thrown in the Met's direction to make sure that That Sort Of Thing Never Happens Again. This, plus the lower than ever tolerance of protest by the state post 9-11, has meant have meant that large-scale London mobilisations have become an ever tougher challenge for protesters.
When the G8 last came to the U.K in 2005 and was hosted at the Scottish golf resort of Gleneagles tens of thousands marched with the 'Make Poverty History' crowd and thousands took part in direct action against the summit itself.
When the G20 came to London in 2009 several thousand protested, but, a few broken bank windows aside, on the day the initiative was all with the State. This time round, with the fading relevance of the G8 (and the fact that the main show isn't in London) the outing opposing the G8 was shadow of its former self.
The police presence was so overwhelming that for the most part the cops didn't feel the need to even get their batons out; mostly it was a herding operation to make sure that the crowds didn't disrupt the traffic for too long. The day ended with a meet-up at the same place it had started, at Picadilly Circus for a boogie to the DIY sounds systems gathered there. Two passers-by were heard commenting on spectacle of high-vis jacketed police and black clad anarchists assembled by the Eros statue, When asked what was going on her companion responded “I think it's a protest”.
CONVERGENCE SPACE BATTLE
If the police didn't feel the need for massive violence on the streets, the same was hardly true of the eviction of the StopG8 convergence space. Contrary to what a lot of people think, the police usually get violent when they lose control, not when they're in control. And the heroic, “European style” resistance to the eviction seemed to prove this.
The police bust of the squatted StopG8 convergence centre was, in the words of one seasoned squat eviction resister “the craziest eviction I have seen on the UK mainland, even heavier than Dale Farm”. It probably didn't make too much difference that the building was a former police station.
Police arrived just before 11am. At 10.45 they stormed the place, supposedly on the grounds that they wanted to do a search before letting people back in. Yeah right. Definitely not an excuse of beat up and nick as many activists as possible.
During their forced entry police used tazers and crowbars. At least one person was tazered, however the police mainly preferred to use the tazer's lazer targetters to paint dots on protesters - scaring the shit out of them. The guy on the roof, 'saved' by police according to media reports, was beaten down from the rooftop and then beaten some more on the ground.
The two buses that had been conveniently provided by London Transport seemed to be mostly empty of arrestees once they finally reversed out of the square helped along by some pretty brutal TSG support although there were many arrests elsewhere.
It wasn't all the police power though, the eviction was resisted ferociously, helped by the strong europunk presence in the building. Word is that, amongst the items hurled at the police as they tried to storm the building were whole ceramic toilets. Eventually sheer force of police numbers pushed the squatters back until eventually the building fell to the police. Quite a few were nicked during the eviction, several more were nicked for refusing the give the police details under Section 60.
Next week the G8 summit begins in Northern Ireland (or “Ireland” as we like to call it). Whilst the elite meet in a five star hotel surrounded by the very best state repression that money can buy, protests are planned in Belfast, Enniskillen and Dublin. Indymedia Ireland has more details http://www.indymedia.ie/
For the latest updates on the Stop G8 mobilisations visit