UK Social Struggles Feature Archive
The eight most powerful men in the world are on the run. Rocked by the scandals of third world debt, growing global inequality and violence in the service of neoliberalism, the G8 have been chased around the world since 1998, when 70,000 confronted them in Birmingham (the last time they met in the UK). Nowhere is safe for these eight global superpowers, so they find themselves forced to retreat into brutally enforced 'red zones' (as in Genoa, 2001) or inaccessible mountains (as in Canada, 2002, or Switzerland, 2003). This year, the eight prime ministers and presidents were protected from protesters by the sea, on a small island of the coast of the US. Even so, in case the sound of the sea failed to drown out the sound of dissent, a state of emergency was declared in the state of Georgia, allowing police to halt any demonstrations. And next year, the eight most powerful men in the world will be coming to the UK.
[G8 2004 in Georgia: News (official) | Maps]
[Cambridge pre-event publicity: flier 1 | flier 2 | Forum | Peoples' Golfing Association | East Anglia]
[Cambridge event reports: Anarchist golf photos | street theatre | forum | G8 explanation-leaflet | Corporate media on anarchist golf]
[Background: Debt and the G8 (WDM) | Arms Trade and the g8 (Amnesty) | Unfair Trade Rules (Oxfam) | Iraq War and the G8 | Health (MSF) | Global Policy Forum Analysis | Toronto University Background | `Better World' G8 links]
On Friday 21st, Londons latest squatted social centre, the 'Ramparts', opened it's doors with a screening of 'Indefensible', the indymedia film about last years DSEi protests in East London. Yet another social centre opened in Oxford as a new squat was opened for the second OCSET social centre (the previous one having been evicted a couple of weeks earlier after a short but productive existance). In Scotland, a temporary social centre sprung up in Glasgow at the begining of May, with a prepacked daily schedule of events and workshop until the end of June.
There are many other autonomous social centres that have been established much longer, such as the Sumac centre in Nottingham, 56a and Use Your Loaf in South London, 1in12 in Bradford, LARC and Freedom in East London, the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh, Kebele in Bristol, the Cowley Club in Brighton and the Peoples Information Centre in Hebden Bridge, all of which need your active support.
Recent articles in IMC-UK newswire:
Grand banks resistance | Oxford's latest social centre | Use Your Loaf events | Printworks Social Centre (Glasgow) | The Ramparts, new london space | Proposals for social centre in Leeds: 1|2|3 | Efforts to build up social centre in Aberdeen 1 | 2
As part of the Boycott Israeli Goods campaign, a picket of the Marks and Spencer store in Oxford Street has been taking place in London every Thursday since October 2000. This is in fact, the longest running protest in the UK against the illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip The campaigners state that M&S is the biggest British corporate sponsor of the state Israel, arguing that: "The history of Britain's biggest clothing retailer Marks and Spencer demonstrates how consumer habits in Britain are tied to the oppression of other peoples. Marks and Spencer has championed the state of Israel and thus connived in the dispossession and suppression of the Palestinians. Our comforts and pleasures, which Marks and Spencer so eagerly service, have been bought at an unacceptable price."
Mayday 2004: A weekend of protests around the world. In Europe the focal points of protest and mobilisation have been three main cities of three different countries. Here in the UK there were innovative protests in many cities on Saturday 1st.
Update Wed 12 May - Read an Evaluation of IMC Facilities in Dublin (EU Mayday Mobilisation) by some IMC-UK volunteers.
Update Wed 5 May - Twelve people have been remanded in custody for another week in Dublin on public order charges following Saturday evening's MayDay protests.
Read a text by participants of the 'Anarchist Confrontational Bloc' in the demonstration to Farmleigh: "Why we pushed through police lines". [pics].
Update Mon 3 May - The weekend of protests against the EU Summit in Dublin continued with prisoner solidarity demonstrations outside the prisons and with a Reclaim the Streets party. Timeline of events, [pics]
In Dublin as the EU 'enlargement' summit got underway a weekend of protests started with the largest Critical Mass the city had ever seen. There were solidarity protests outside the prison where uk nationals are being held.
On Saturday there was a 'No Borders Protests' against fortress europe, a march for Another Europe [Photos|Video]. A private park was opened to the public . The day finished with Bring the Noise demonstration towards the EU summit where police attacked the marchers with water cannon and battons. IMC-IE Timeline and Reports | IMC-IE Feature.
Barcelona and Milano were the focus points for this year's Euromayday against 'precariousness and social exclusion.' Berlin saw clashes between left and neo-nazis, and with the police protecting them..
Local UK reports
Actions seen in cities around the country.
London hosted the most successful Critical Mass, as a 10th anniversary ride. There were protests, actions and demonstrations including the TUC traditional demonstration, a Disarm DSEI Mayday Action, an Anarchist Mayday Cricket and a Mayday Picnic in Hyde Park.
In Glasgow, a Mayday Carnival [1 | 2 | 3 ] has been called, as well as a march and rally in Edinburgh, whilst in Bradford there are plans for "Mayday Mayhem." In Lancaster, Preston and Burnley, the ‘Mayday Mayhem Roadshow’ reclaimed the weekend with gigs and info displays, a rally and a picnic [pix 1/2].
More report roundup
Friday April 30 - This year's Mayday celebrations started with Critical Mass cycle rides in Dublin and London. Dublin saw the biggest ever Critical Mass in the city when over 500 people defied over two months of media hysteria and took to the streets in a festive atmosphere [Report | Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | Videos: 1, 2 and 3]. In London up to 1,500 people participated in the 10th Anniversary of London's Critical Mass. [Reports and Photos 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Pic Gallery ] Also, the offices of Spearhead Exhibitions, organisers of DSEi, Europe's largest arms fair, and Reed Exhibitons, their parent company were visited by protestors.
Saturday May 1 - actions and celebrations in the UK started early in the morning. In Oxford crowds gathered to see the Mayday dawn for a Wake Up! Wake Up! It's Yer Samba breakfast!!. Later in the morning a demonstration took place in Nottingham. In London the annual TUC Mayday march ended in Trafalgar Sq [Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5], Also, London Animal Action supporters demonstrated in the Soho area [Photos: 1 | 2] In Cambridge activists set up a non-commercial space within a shopping centre and were dragged out by security guards [Action's leaflet][report][video]. In Sheffield the Social Forum organised a protest against debt and poverty [photos] In Manchester there was a mad picnic and a critical mass. In Nottingham there was a march from Robin Hood Statue to Market Square. In Lancaster, Preston and Burnley Mayday Mayhem was celebrated with several events, including a picnic (pix1/2, gigs, rallies and film showings.
In Dublin, a private park in the centre of the city was opened and occupied; around 100 people participated in a No Borders demonstration [reports 1|2]. Video footage of the march in Dublin, called by mainstream left wing groups.
At 6pm a crowd of about 3000 people gathered for the Bring The Noise March to the EU Summit. At around 8.30pm tension increased when riot police brought in water cannons trying to disperse the crowd. Clashes between demonstrators and riot police occurred, with the result of 25 people arrested and several injured [Statement: "Why we pushed through police lines",First hand account]. At around 11.30pm the crowd finally dispersed. Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9. Videos: 1 | 2. Reports: 1 | 2. Irish tabloid coverage 1| 2.
In Barcelona, the Euromayday Parade started at 6.00 in the afternoon with a 10 to 15,000 strong crowd marching towards the city centre Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 and Video.
At the end of the demo and around 11pm, the old police station of Via Layetana was temporarily occupied by a large crowd [Video]. Riot police eventually moved in and charged those around the area whilst evicting the squatted building. People did then reagroup in Portal del Angel where heavy police charges also took place, with the result of several people being injured and taken to hospital. At around midnight, the organisers of the Parade decided to call off the mobilisations for the day. Read a report and first hand account of the day.
In Milano, the Parade was joined by between 80 and 100,000 people marching through the city centre, dancing to the sounds of several sound-systems, and doing some actions along the way. Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15. Photo Galleries: 1 | 2
Monday May 3 - The Mayday weekend of actions against the EU 'enlargement' Summit continued in Dublin. A Reclaim the Streets was joined by around 600 people in the city centre. The party started at 3 pm and went on untill well into the evening. As the street party was winding down at around 9.30pm, reports came in of police activity in the surrounding area.
Timeline of Events | First hand report | Photos | Video.
And last but not least Mayday 2004 marks the 4th anniversary of Indymedia UK. Happy birthday IMC-UK!
There was protest in Sheffield on Saturday 1st May outside Brighthouse, on The Moor, because it is a credit company that make huge profits by exploiting those people who don't have access to mainstream sources of debt finance. Brighthouse sell goods on credit at extortionate rates, and people who often have no other financial options end up paying double or more of the cost of the original product they buy. Brighthouse are not alone in this game, there are many more predatory lenders who profit from exploiting people who can not borrow money from banks, building societies and credit cards, and locking them further into debt. For example Provident Financial are a company who offer doorstep loans, where a typical loan could be £100 repaid at £5 a week over 30 weeks and the APR can be up to 170%!
The Sheffield Social Forum gave out a leaflet at the protest and music was provided by members of the Sheffield Samba Band and the poverty trap was illustrated with big mouse trap in a street theatre proformace. At the end of the flyering a number of protestors followed the Samba Band into the shop itself, to make the protest that little bit clearer to those inside.
Last weekend saw many communities across Britain take to the streets in protest against the fascist BNP and its allies. The BNP have found a fertile breeding ground in the current climate of racism generated as part of Bush and Blair's war drive, combined with mainstream press and politicians making asylum seekers into society's scapegoats. They are now launching the biggest ever fascist electoral offensive in postwar Britain, in the run up to the Euro-elections. However, more and more people are waking up and responding to this danger.In Altrincham, near Manchester protesters ambushed the car of Le Pen, while in Wickford, Essex, a protest by local villagers stopped the BNP from assembling outside their rail station. There were also protests against fascist activities in South London, Birmingham and North Wales, amongst others. These may mark the opening skirmishes of one of the greatest battles for a generation in the long struggle to keep Britain free from fascism.
Research by the Independent Race and Refugee News Network which was based on on exit polls of 539 voters and focus groups, was carried out during local government elections in autumn 2003 in Burnley, Oldham and Calderdale indicates that, "the younger one is the more likely one is to vote BNP. Around one in three of 18-25 year-olds said that they voted for the BNP... hardly anyone in the 18-25 category voted Labour. In this age group, large numbers of young men have been attracted to the BNP's message - making it the only party whose support is predominantly male." See the Who votes BNP? article on their site for more about their research (conducted by the Searchlight Educational Trust and Vision 21) which concludes that "The bad news for those opposed to the BNP is that support for the party is not based on apathy and general disgruntlement but positive endorsement for their policies among a core of young men."
Update April 15: Direct action over Easter weekend saves the Roundhouse [Photos and ReportsOver Easter, sympathisers from across England and Wales, are converging on the Pembrokeshire National Park to protest at the ordered demolition of Tony Wrench's roundhouse (see previous feature) and the double standards displayed by the planning authority who have given outline permission for a Bluestones holiday centre in the park, consisting of 340 log cabins imported from Eastern Europe, and 60 studio flats.
The protesters plan to occupy land in the Park, erect another turf-roofed roundhouse, and to hold an "Ideal Low Impact Home Exhibition" (see info).
See The Land Is Ours
Following a meeting held in mid-January the London Mayday Collective decided not to proceed with plans for an anti-capitalist event this year. This will be the first time in 5 years that there has not been an event of its kind in London [See IMC-UK coverage of Mayday 2000 and Mayday 2003].
Some participants in this year's collective have produced a statement which is now online and also available to download as a pdf. The text intends to explain the reasoning behind the decision, and perhaps begin some discussion into the prospects for planning future Mayday events, keeping in mind what has gone before. It starts stating:
"The decision to postpone London Mayday 2004 was taken only after several disappointing and poorly attended meetings that had produced little in the way of either a concrete proposal for gathering around or a strong unifying theme that could lead to ideas worth developing .../... In these circumstances we feel not calling an event this year is the right thing to do. Whatever the feeling for Mayday activities, we now have the opportunity of at least a year’s breathing space to review where we are as a movement, to discuss some of the problems associated with the event in its current form and to look to what opportunities lie ahead" . Read full statement
In place of this year’s event the collective have invited anti-capitalists to join them for a MAYDAY PICNIC on Saturday 1st May from 3pm in St James’s Park). They stress that the event is genuinely a picnic and nothing else. Meanwhile, and similarly to the past few years , corporate media have started their own campaign of (mis)information and Mayday scaremongering with articles such as the London's Evening Standard "Police wear down May Day anarchists" and the BBC's "Apathy kills off May Day protest ".
Early in the morning on Tuesday 23rd March, around 70 Police, Bailiffs and specialist climbers and tunnellers began evicting the tree camps at Blackwood in South Wales - where locals have been campaigning against a new road for over a decade [Pics]. Around 10 people were arrested as they resisted in the trees, on walkways, in nets and in a tunnel, some after breaching cordons. At Camp Kerry, one brave activist still remained at the end of the day, and was able to climb down without being arrested. Most of the trees were destroyed, but campaigners say they will continue to resist.
See Report and Pictures | 1 | 2
Also see collected reports (and pics): Bristol | UK
Evictions continued throughout Wednesday as Bailiffs cut people out of lock-ons and most of the remaining trees were destroyed. Some campaigners remain camped on private land next to the road route and are determined to continue opposing the road scheme. See Report | 2 | 3
Meanwhile in London an attempted eviction was also taking place in Kentish Town. At mid morning bailiffs arrived at several flats that have been home to a group of squatters for some months. Some of the occupiers took to the roof, whilst a crowd of around 100 people gathered in the road in front of the building.
Read more on this event and pictures
On March 1st, 1984, Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party announced the closure of Cortonwood colliery in Yorkshire - signaling her government’s determination to ram through a massive programme of pit closures and destroy the power of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). Miners had no choice but to fight, or see their lives and communities devastated. The longest major industrial battle in British history had begun - a battle that still defines the political landscape of today.
20,000 People injured or hospitalised
200 People served time in prison or custody
2 People killed on the picket line
3 Died digging for coal during the winter
966 People were sacked for striking
The full force of the state was used against the striking miners. 20,000 police were coordinated by Scotland Yard and they used massive computer-backed data gathering for intelligence. Tactics such as road-blocks, political questioning, curfews, beatings, illegal fingerprinting and photographing, snatch squads, phone taps, infiltration and agent provocateurs were widespread. Alongside this was the mobilisation of the media and the law. In the press, Thatcher compared the pickets to IRA bombers.
The strike involved enormous hardship, with many receiving no strike pay or benefits. Yet despite all the state could throw at them, for a year the miners and their communities stood firm in a magnificent display of solidarity. But it wasn’t just the miners themselves - the women played a central role. They transformed the strike, and it transformed them. At a meeting at the Easington Miners Welfare, Mick McGahey, Vice President of the NUM, referred to the "housewives in the County who understand the problems." One woman replied, "We no longer regard ourselves as 'housewives'. We are soldiers in the struggle."
Update Fri 5th March: A new Social Centre has been squatted in 156 Fortess Rd in Kentish Town! Read report and list of events.
Update Thurs 26: People in and around the building are still determined to resist the eviction. [Report | Short video of picket]. Meanwhile, events at the Occupied Social Centre will continue as normal in resistance to the threat of eviction.
Update Wed 25th: The Occupied Social Centre still needs people urgently, as it is thought the police will be round sometime between now and the weekend. Supporters of the Centre state: "we intend to continue our resistance to the eviction".
On the 6th of January this year, after 6 months of neglect, 93 Fortess Road was occupied. The aim of the people involved was to set up a social centre, a free space for people in the local community to use as a resource and to create a place where people can come together and get creative. A place which is free, fun and accessible to everyone.
On Wednesday January 21st, the Social Centre was taken to court by the building’s owners - Mark Oliver Homes - property developers, who plan to demolish the building and turn it into commercial space and luxury flats. Following the court hearing, an eviction date was set for Tuesday 24th February. Early in the morning police and bailiffs arrived to Fortess Rd, but around 70 supporters of the Social Centre gathered o defend the space. With people occupying the rooftop, new defences having been constructed overnight (both inside and outside), supporters out on the streets and people inside ready to lock-on, it seems the eviction has been stalled, at least temporarily. It is not certain what will happen in the next few days, but what it seems clear now is that any eviction would require specialist bailiffs to remove people from the roof, cut others out of lock-ons and deal with the extensive barricade defences inside.
[Photos 24/02 | Fortess Rd Background | UK Social Centres | WOMBLES]
At the International Court of Justice (ICJ), The Hague - Netherlands, from the 23rd to the 25th of February, there is a hearing as to the legality of the Apartheid wall being erected across Palestine [court schedule].The wall's construction - which has been criticised by the International Committee of the Red Cross - is widely seen as further land grabbing by the Israeli government, who couch its existence as a necessity for security in protection of the Israeli state.
State sponsored protests
On Monday the 23rd, Zionist groups are having a high profile demonstration in front of the ICJ. The local Israeli embassy has sponsored students and members of Zionist groups in support of the wall to protest outside the Court and has provided full colour pictures of bomb victims to 'Christians for Israel' who are carrying them on street protests. ZAKA, an Israeli 'rescue organisation', has brought to the Hague the two halves of a Jerusalem bus destroyed in a suicide bombing.
Anti-Apartheid Wall protests
25 anti-Wall protestors will be there to represent the concerns of the Palestinians along with the Palestinian Environmental NGO’s Network (PENGON) and other Palestinian solidarity groups, who have organised symposia, exhibits and protests around the time of the hearing. These groups will be bringing to The Hague Palestinians whose lives are affected by the Wall, including Sharif Omar (farmer from Jayyus), Fayez Tanib (farmer from Tulkarm) and Terri Balata (school administrator from Abu Dis separated from her school).
The Mayor of The Hague, Deetman, banned anti-Wall protesters from demonstrating in the morning, which will limit press awareness of the anti-Wall presence. The anti-Wall protestors will now march in the afternoon and hold a vigil outside the ICJ, remembering Palestinian victims of the Israeli occupation. Meanwhile, in Palestine, people are organising strikes, direct action and marches in support of the hearings in The Hague.
Read more on this event and pictures
Download [video] of Wanstead Eviction (MPEG 2.8M 1 Min 11 Secs)
See also Road Alert post (flyers, links to M11 gallery and video)
On Friday, February 13th, almost 8 months since their initial imprisonment, 13 people arrested during protests at the EU summit in Thessaloniki last June have had all charges dropped. 8 of the remaining cases are still under investagative review by the Greek Judiciary whilst the remaining 6 have had their charges dropped to misdemeanours. A final decision on whether to pursue allegations could come as early as next week. This is an enormous victory in the campaign against state repression waged by the Greek state against anti-capitalist protestors - although it must be remembered that the battle is not over yet.
Comprehensive coverage of the Thessaloniki Support Campaign can be found on the UK Indymedia site; Athens and Thessaloniki Indymedia sites both carry breaking news regarding the Thessaloniki 7 and the other accused.
Devon Travellers are opposing plans by Devon County Council who are proposing two new transient sites in Devon. One on Telegraph Hill, near Exeter, and one on the A381 near Totnes. In a new campaign driven by local travellers, concerns are being raised about the unsuitablility of plans, including traffic worries and the fact that that those without vehicles are totally ignored.
“We got into our clown kit in Eman’s place behind the barrier made out of metal locker doors in the camp at the air force centre we went to a few days ago to arrange the show. There’s a curtain across the gap in the barrier and another across the doorway into Eman’s room. Inside are a couple of rugs on the floor, a gas cooker and a picture of Al Sadr on the wall, the Shia cleric killed by Saddam. The ceiling is a patchwork of pieces of wood, gappy, so the place is impossible to keep warm. The building houses an indoor swimming pool, no longer fully enclosed, and Eman’s family’s space is concocted out of such walls and ceilings as are left and whatever junk they could seal it with.”
Wildfire | Baghdad Burning | Arms And The Man | Electronic Iraq
The 1st of January 2004 marks the tenth anniversary of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation(EZLN) uprising in the state of Chiapas, southern Mexico, and 20 years of modern Zapatismo. Under the campaign "El Fuego y La Palabra - EZLN 20y10" (The fire and the word), thousands of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples of Chiapas, Mexico and all over the world, have been remembering and celebrating that early morning of 1st January of 1994, when an army of primarily indigenous people shouted Ya Basta! (Enough!) whilst taking over San Cristobal de las Casas and several other major towns of the state of Chiapas. With that rebellion, the Zapatistas not only declared war on the Mexican government, but also to NAFTA, the free trade 'agreement' that went into effect that same day, and which, the rebels claimed, "it meant death to indigenous peoples".
Throughout the following decade, the EZLN has been a key reference for anti-neoliberal and anti- racist struggles around the globe. The Zapatistas have not only injected the anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation movement(s) with notions of horizontality and direct democracy as a way of organising and operating, but they have also consistently pointed out the need for autonomy and diversity within a global 'movement of movements', made up by a civil society that has many different faces, voices, ways of expressing and modes of being visible.
Click at the link below for full feature, which includes reports and photos from the cellebrations in the rebel Zapatista territories, as well as in other parts of the world. It also includes background information and links to the recent developments in the Zapatistas struggle.
|13-01-2004: Tom Hurndall has died. A Vigil took place on Wed 14 . Background information here and website.
The Israeli sniper who shot activist Tom Hurndall brain dead has been arrested. The army leadership has now admitted that its initial accusations of Tom being armoured and in camouflage, as well as its claim that the soldier was returning Palestinian fire, were lies. The arrest is particularly important as opening fire on activists in Palestine is becoming increasingly regular for the Israeli army. Last Friday Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition into a non-violent action [photos]. Gil Na'amati, an Israeli from the Anarchist Movement Against the Wall, and an American woman of the International Solidarity Movement were seriously injured. On 1 January the Israeli army fired over 100 rubber bullets aimed at people's heads during another demonstration. Approximately ten people were taken to the hospital and deportation orders were issued against four activists, including a Swedish MP. Tom was shot in Rafah (Gaza, Palestine) in April last year while pulling away children out of the way of a tank. He is currently on life support in a London hospital. [Maps of the Wall] [Palestine IMC] [Israel IMC]