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Trafalgar square soundsystem attack

Tux n Geri | 01.05.2006 16:11 | Mayday 2006 | Repression | London

police get heavy handed in trafalgar square.

Police attempted to seize pedal powered soundsystem from the front of the autonomous bloc despite resistance. Rumour has it that four people were arrested as a result of attempting to defend the sound system. A few missiles were thrown but most violence on the part of the police. Police then briefly penned in the crowd before allowing them to disperse.

3.45: Autonomous bloc penned in outside national gallery. Riot police and ordinary police involved. No copper would say which law was being used to pen in the crowd. Finally allowed to leave after intervention by legal observers.

Tux n Geri


More info on this...

01.05.2006 18:32

I saw this develop as the police put a line in front of the bloc to prevent them entering trafalger square - they them steamed into the crowd pushing people around in order to pull out a tricyle mounted sound syetem. All in all a pretty provocative move.

The police later explained that there were no sound-systems allowed into trafalger square, which is why they said they acted to prevent one one from possibly being taken into the square.

I didn't see anyone arrested, though there was some pushing and shoving and a few people were 'given a talking to'.

While the bloc was cut off from the square people gathered around the police line shouting "solidarity" and "let them in".

Later when some people from the bloc tried to walk around the top of the square, police moved to surround them, but they weren't really held there as people could leave pretty much as they wished.

Again though all a bit over the top. At least it didn't rain!


Human Rights abuse

01.05.2006 18:39

It seems to me that there might be grounds for a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission ( that the police breached the human rights of those in the autonomous bloc. In previous years, police targeting of anarchist groups could be justified because Mayday events were not "legal". However, this year, because the bloc took part in the official march, the police actions from the beginning of the march could be argued to have been harassment exclusively on the grounds of political opinion (because it was the anarchist part of the march).

Thus, it might be argued that they breached both Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." ( and also Article 2.1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: "Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." (, which the UK has ratified.

The sound system is beside the point, the possible harassment of the bloc was of all members, not just those in charge of the system, and was from the very start of the march when the police apparently showed no interest in shutting it down. The simple fact of the concentration of police presence exclusively around those waving red and black flags could possibly be described as harassment.

Just something to think about (I was just ahead of the Autonomous Bloc in the march).

Donnacha DeLong (personal capacity)
mail e-mail:

no arrests

01.05.2006 23:26

there were no arrests when the pigs stole the sound system, despite their best efforts.



Hide the following 17 comments


01.05.2006 19:27

In my oppinion the day was great, the cops mobilised an helicopter,around 50 riot vans and 2000 pigs, in the end the managed to confiscated a sound system, total cost of the operation to the capitalists: around two hundred thousand pounds, all in all another great success, as the pigs go wasting taxpayers money nobody gets arrested and we are ready to fight tomorrow, somewhere else rather than pinned down in Trfalgar Square


Am I the only one.....

02.05.2006 00:06

......who thinks the autonomous block was a bit of a shambles? Okay maybe not a complete shambles but while you've got the trots and the liberals going around giving out flyers, talking to people etc, what were we doing in the autonomous bloc? Walking from point A to B waving red and black flags. And to compound the alienation from the public already caused by police harrassment, there we were all dressed in black looking shifty and blaring out drum and bass. No leaflets, no outreach, not even more than one or two placards as far as i could tell. Just all these fucking flags, basically saying "Hee we are, we're the autonomous bloc, and we're anarchists." I would have thought that the heavy police presence and harassment would have neccesitated extra efforts to try and make contact with non-anarchists or at least some form of communication - placards, propaganda, whatever - to show people what we're pissed off about.

But put yourself in the POV of the average spectator or union member: watching the march you see todays representatives of anarchist ideology appearing not just to have little to say, blasting out this fucking abrasive music and looking positively hostile. I love drum and bass and in no way were the police right to keep us from the square or take the sound system(and of course, dress however the fuck you like) but..... jesus what a way to make our way accessible to the public. We're doing almost as good a job as the Daily Mail. I just hope the other actions went a bit better.



02.05.2006 07:54

Firstly, it's nice to see a mayday that did't get thoroughly trashed by people hell-bent on a ruck (both BB and the Met). Hopefully that means activists are channelling their efforts into more contstructive focussed actions.

The problem with public perception is age old. The self-expression of anarchism has had a fairly bad PR hatchet job done on it. You say anarchism and people think of riots, you dress in black and go on a march an people think of riots. Or perhaps worse, holier than thou bookworms who wont put anything in their bodies that hasn't been made by quadraplegic vegan immigrant lesbians.

Not wishing to sound like some sleazy marketing creative exec, but it really does need rebranding if it wants to grow. In fact, if it just wants to project a more accurate image of itself.

People don't know what anarchism is all about and they don't want to know because they think they already do via the Daily Mail etc.

I guess there are two options:

1. Make an effort for anarchism to be seen as a force for good.
2. Adopt a new code of self-expression.

It's not an easy thing to get round. But I reckon some sort of re-education of the general public is required. And if I had all the answers I'd be Leader of the Anarchists (joke!).

I think CIRCA and the Police Victory are brilliant ideas.

Personally, as organised (centralised?) as the trots are I often wonder how much good they do themselves. I know plenty of people who could be best described as politically undefinded who get really narcked off when they see SWP leafletting and handing out their placards. No-one likes being maniulated.

I live in hope they are more akin to the moonies and other irritating door knocking evangelists. It'd be dangerous territory to start employing their tactics. That being said their party political aspirations are slightly more worrying.

But I do agree something better than marching would be good, but something smarter than the SWP. That shouldn't be much of a challenge really. Even the Tories are smarter than the SWP- just.

Armchair General

Don't be too negative...

02.05.2006 08:39

From the point of view of a (not so) average trade union member and those I spoke to, the solidarity of anarchists marching with rather than as an alternative to the main march was very welcome, and the police presence was a joke. Of course there are things that could be done better - more colour, more banners, more information, a better DJ ;), but yesterday was a good start. As I hope people saw when the cops prevented the autonomous bloc from entering Trafalgar Square, there are many on the trade union side willing to show solidarity right back.


Agree, need more outreach (or better)

02.05.2006 08:52

I made my placard there and then, but I guess scavenging a Union placard and bringing a marker pen doesn't really count as preparation.
We have got a lot to say that unions are not prepared to talk about. We have to be better prepared to communicate with people outside our own clique.

I guess the small group of macho puppy anarchists playing up to the media (how evil they all looked as soon as the media pro got their cameras out) isn't good enough as outreach.



02.05.2006 09:36

I wasn't involved in the organisation of the bloc (and have not been a member of any anarchist groups for a few years). Whilst I consider myself an anarchist, I thought taking part in the autonomous bloc was important because of the people organising it specifically reached out to people on benefits, non-unionised workers, and other marginalised working class people for a long time leading up to mayday, and because of their recognition of the ways that the working class have been sold out by the trade union movement.

If I remember correctly though, there were quite a few people within the autonomous bloc (which, being a group of autonomous people joining each other for the Mayday march is hardly likely to be producing any propaganda under the name "The Autonomous Bloc") handing out flyers for various stuff including the sacked Gate Gourmet workers (who I won't claim are anarchists, but that wasn't a pre-requisite for taking part in the autonomous bloc), people publicising a benefit demo for an activist in the US, and various other stuff. My impression of it was that this simply represented a fairly common (and I think positive) anarchist approach to organisation: getting information out on what you're doing rather than focusing on building membership in party organisations and telling people what to think.



02.05.2006 10:30

Off the back of subsequent comments a couple of things occur to me.

How about handing out blank placards and giving people the opportunity to write their own message on them and an opportunity to ditch their trot advertising placard at the same time? (simply tear off the cardboard and recycle the trot stick!)

I know dressing in black is kind of traditional.But it must look pretty intimidating (think of how a big line of Met officers look to you). Being a bit more colourful will detract from a more negative image. It'll make you less of a target for idiotic police tactics. It'll project a friendlier image- and thus more approachable by people who may actually be sympathetic to your politics but just a bit intimidated.

Also, as a group if you make a decision to avoid black, it'll make it harder for troublemakers (whoever they may be) to use your group as cover.

The clown costumes are a great idea. Think of how shit it'll look for the police to be seen knocking fuck out of clowns.

If you're hellbent on wearing black. Consider dressing as nuns. Think of the potential embarressing photos of the pigs manhandling a load of sisters heehee!

If a more peaceful carnival atmosphere prevails, people will be more willing to turn up, to eventually bring people and kids along. If it's fun, then people outside the usual circles will get interested- it's what mayday is all about. Ultimately, if there is no significant trouble the cops won't be able to justify their excessive policing.

Armchair General

To "Am I the only one..." - contsructive comments:

02.05.2006 11:04

Sorry but you're quite wrong.

You say there was no leaflets or outreach... well there were hundreds of leaflets produced beforehand which described why the bloc was marching on the trade union march and the politics behind that. And as someone else said there were lot's of people leafletting both others on the TU march as well as the public along the route (maybe it would have been a good idea to also get rid off all the remaining pre-publicity fliers at the march though).

Agree that the bloc looked just like an anarchist bloc what with the flags and all, and that a bit more colour or a big banner which made reference to some issue would have been nice. Other Euromayday precarity participants may be a bit confused by seeing the pictures of just red n black flags, but hey, this was a bit of a first for london (well the first bloc like this for a very long time).

I also marched under several different trade union banners along the route of the march talking to those carrying the banners and walking alongside - they all welcomed the autonomous bloc at the back and understood roughly what the politics behind it was, and certainly some of the recent history. One even mentioned mayday 2000 and made referencec to the statements issued by some trade unionists back then condemning the police for their actions and expressing solidarity with the reclaim mayday folks. Let's be honest it was a small demo overall and people aren't stupid.

So yes, it's good to add constructive criticism, but just slagging things off helps no one.

Not everyone was dressed in black, not by a long way. And the music was a mix of stuff, not just drum n bass or 'abrasive' techno. There was samba as well. And hey dunno if you noticed the other bands that were there, but some of them made quite a racket too!

As to the A-B nature of the event, well sorry but if you're joining an A-B march as a bloc then you're gonna go A-B - that was pretty clear. And as someone else mentioned there were hundreds and hundreds of police stationed in riot vans around the route of the march taking the whole day pretty seriously, if there had been any deviation from the A-B route then the police would have done a proper Section 60, cracked skulls and no doubt there would have been dozens arrested.

Personally I'm glad that this did not happen...

Mayday without any arrests. Solidarity expressed. It was good. Maybe not great. But something to build on...


A tentative sucess

02.05.2006 12:04

I thought yesterdays events were a sucess of sorts. I likes the black and red flags, they could have been more professional but that said it has inspired me to learn to sew and make my own. I saw loads of old mates and had a push and shove folllwed by a few pints. I will say wearing black does attract lots of lint...

0nwards to next year!


to the marketing consultant

02.05.2006 12:14

I'm not interested in promoting the wearing of black (as a "tradition" it seems far too similar to a uniform) and I can't really see any political value in it outside of protecting anonymity during clashes with the police, and preparing for such clashes should be done with careful consideration on whether or not we actually want to have a serious ruck with the police on a particular occasion (which isn't that often).

However, I think it's worth pointing out that all superficial changes in our appearance can be undermined by the mainstream press. If you're wearing black you're a dangerous violent thug. If you're wearing pink or dressed as a clown, your politics are infantile and based around vapid protest-hopping narcissism.

IMHO, changing the appearance of anarchist presence at demonstrations like the above won't help persuade people that anarchists aren't all that bad. Firstly, protestors are not (or at least should not be) the target audience for political agitation. Going to demos to hand out flyers to other demonstrators seems to be a popular organising strategy amongst various parts of the left (and is apparently something that the autonomous bloc should have done more of if you agree with "Whatever") but it's elitist and ghettoising. Secondly, the ideas can't be superseded by concern over the image. The power of groups like Space Hijackers lies not in the fact that they have silly outfits and therefore aren't "threatening", but that they use costumes for the purpose of making points sattirically (rather than in blunt telling-you-how-to-think slogans on a placard). The ludicrous imagery is a cool side-effect, but easily is used both for and against protestors.



02.05.2006 14:07

Sharing ideas & info "is elitist and ghettoising"? Can't see it myself. Please explain.

I'll agree that preaching at people and telling epople how morally inferior they are fits that bill. But handing out leaflets is hardly a hardcore indoctrination program.

It's your personal shout if you feel that ideas can't be better communicated through a consideration of how the people disseminatingthem are perceived. But, again perhaps I misunderstand you.

marketing consultant

lots of good points

02.05.2006 17:16

I'm glad to see pretty much exclusively well-thought-out replies. To be honest I was expecting to get flamed big time.

I didn't know about the leaflets being handed out so I'm glad to know that was going on. When I talk about what the Trots do I don't mean we should emulate their tactics as in handing out branded placards or pompous sloganeering. I just mean their eagerness to spread word of their cause at demos. I understand that there is a danger of appearing as out to recruit rather than to promote ideas, which is why, as someone already said, satire and other ways of combating that perception are so important.

Nonorganised, I agree with pretty much everything you said (particularly the dangers of clowning etc making us look infantile - i love the clowns and i don't think they are infantile, but there is the danger of of appearing so.) Except i don't see how leafleting is ghettoising and elitist? If not done well it can be seen as pompous or a cynical marketing ploy, but surely we want to promote ideas and approaches, not party membership or donations t-shirt sales etc so that should be reflected.

Marcher, sorry if i offended you by being so blunt. It wasn't my aim to slag anything off but at the time i was a little pissed off - it was meant to be constructive honest. Like i say I'm glad there are things i thought were missing but actually weren't. I came into the march late so i'll take your word for it but i didn't see any leaflets or too many placards. I'm glad to hear about support from the trade unionists too - but still so many spectators of the march and the rally will have gone away knowing as little about anarchism as they did before, except maybe having a few prejudices reaffirmed.

I say anarchists because judging by the flags the march appeared to be at least predominantly anarchist, which maybe made the block seem a bit exclusive and defeated the point of a bloc for all non unionised workers. I know not everybody was dressed in black, and anyway dress however you want, but the general appearance of the bloc was of, well, a black bloc sans masks.

By the way, when i said about A-B i didn't mean about a lack of direct action or breaking away or anything like that (specifically for the reasons you described) - i just meant about the lack of any other message to the march. I'm happy that what i originally thought wasn't entirely true but i think given the harassment from the police even more effort should be made to combat our villification.


Dublin anarchists...

02.05.2006 18:43

A few years ago, the Dublin Workers' Solidarity Movement decided to start printing a free newspaper to stand out from the Trot paper sellers. They used to bring bundles of them to various protests (they probably still do, I'm not in Dublin anymore) and hand them out to people on the footpath at the side of the demo. I remember one anti-war rally where the aftermath showed the place strewn with leaflets and used placards, but not an anarchist newspaper to be seen - your average Saturday shopper had brought them home.



02.05.2006 23:53

"Sharing ideas & info "is elitist and ghettoising"? Can't see it myself. Please explain."

Using protests for proselytising is only very barely info sharing, because the protesting community is dominated by the middle class to (in the case of broad ideological things like mayday) and even if it weren't, it'd be a tiny self-selecting portion of the working class (who probably agree with a great many of your ideas already, or are dogmatically alligned to their own parties and organisations when it comes to particular differences). It's elitist and ghettoising as a focus because the protest community is miniscule.

"I'll agree that preaching at people and telling epople how morally inferior they are fits that bill. But handing out leaflets is hardly a hardcore indoctrination program."

Leaflets were handed out and that was cool. Information was spread pretty widely through the web and by stickers around London leading up to the demo too, which I haven't criticised (as it's got a whole lot more to do with talking to normal people than arguing the toss with some Spartacist convinced that their party alone holds the route to revolution).

"It's your personal shout if you feel that ideas can't be better communicated through a consideration of how the people disseminatingthem are perceived. But, again perhaps I misunderstand you."

I just don't think that the solution to the preference for black clothing amongst anarchists is to either pander to media misrepresentation or give anarchists another dress code ("lets all wear pink, then they'll take us seriously").

When I'm employed I talk anarchism (not necessarily calling it that, which is my only real concession to branding because it tends to switch people's minds off instantly) at my workplace. When I'm taking part in not-particularly-anarchist political groups, I put forward anarchist arguments. When I've supported protests/campaigns I've talk anarchism with people I'm handing flyers to (which, except for things specifically targetted at getting the protestors in question to go do something, I don't waste paper or energy on at demos). When I'm at mayday, I join the bloc with the other anarchists to be counted amongst them.


bloc not just for anarchists

03.05.2006 01:46

I don't think it's fair to assume that working class leftists are so dogmatic that its pointless giving them leaflets or debating your differences with them (that itself sounds a little elitist to me), but i get what you mean about the problems with focusing on other protestors. But "the protesting community" isn't the only type you'll see at and around protests, particularly in the centre of a big city i.e spectators, first-timers,mainstream media if you think its worth going through them. You've got a good point in that other protestors (and demonstrations in general) shouldn't be the focus of spreading awareness/propaganda, and people should be astute or discerning when leafleting at demos.

But I thought the point of the autonomous bloc was to attract "normal people" ie non-union aligned, casual workers, unemployed and i presume non members of the protest community. As it was, it was dominated by anarchists which is a problem in itself but it was intended as more than just an opportunity for anarchists to stand up and be counted. If the point of a bloc is to be inclusive then it helps not to be so inaccessible, even if you run the risk of preaching to, as you seem to put it, either already-progressive middle class people or reactionary working class. We know we're gonna be demonised by the police and media anyway, so its important that as many people who are there get to see our perspectives, even if that means a risk of preaching to the converted.



03.05.2006 07:53

I can't say I share your class-based appraisal of intellect either. In fact, I think regarding class in such an antiqauted way is stereotypical to the point of being dubious in motive. I know as many working class people who are above average IQ and literacy as I do know middle class people who are total thickos who'd vote for a chimp so long as it was wearing a blue rosette.

I agree that there is a certain amount of truth in the concept of leafletting Mayday as having the potential to be preaching to the church. I would also hazard a guess that at an event like Mayday one faction won't automatically know what the other one is doing and it presents a good opportunity for outreach and collaboration... if not just simply networking.

If you framed in such a way as to say that perhaps people may be forgetting that reaching people who are as yet totally uninformed on certain issues, I'd say that I agree that could be a danger. But it doesn't mean one will naturally occlude the other.

"When I'm employed I talk anarchism (not necessarily calling it that, which is my only real concession to branding because it tends to switch people's minds off instantly) at my workplace. When I'm taking part in not-particularly-anarchist political groups, I put forward anarchist arguments."

Which I think is probably one of the most important ways of conveying ideas.

Stranngely, agree with much of what you are saying, but wonder if you are seeing all diversity as being mutually exclusive. No-one's asking you to do anything you don't want to. It's just a discussion of potential new strategies.

In other words all of our reason to be involved in actions are about as diverse as we are personally.



04.05.2006 15:40

"Adopt a new code of self-expression"

Surely, as anarchists the tendency should be towards FREE self-expression!!

Please explain. . .



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