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At around 3pm yesterday we left Parliament Square. The band had just started up again on the Whitehall side of the Square and suddenly everyone was on their feet. Down Gt George Street a procession of police vans withdrew, and in their place about twenty police on horseback came to the fore. Suddenly these huge animals broke into a trot and sped past me, going round half the square and into St Margaret St. Then another twenty or so appeared from the same place and repeated their display of strength. Then the police, in full riot gear, started to move into position, again appearing from Gt George St. Two legal observers were busy scribbling down details of this apparently pointless provocation. I had not seen any trouble (I was on the other side of the crowd to the McDonalds in Whitehall), and even if a window had gone in , can this be a justification of the inevitable terror that would start as soon as police on horseback and riot police are introduced?
We withdrew along Victoria St. I was terrified by the prospect that the day was going to end with soft heads being cracked by hard batons, terrified for those still there, proud of those still there, scared for myself, knowing that one day (should it have been today?) I am not going to be terrified into leaving a legitimate action - an action for action that will be vital if human kind is to survive, let alone move forward.
The police along Victoria St were readying themselves. One was talking to a colleague about it all "kicking off", a little further down the street another, accompanied by a vanload of police in riotwear, was on the radio: "we're ready to move in". I had to ask him, "why is it that the only talk about it "kicking off" and "moving in" that I've heard today has been from you lot?" There was no reply - most officers avoided eye contact, several laughed openly in our faces. A TV crew were stationed along the road, smoking cigarettes and looking bored - we pointed back to the square and told them that they were missing the police action that was to lead to the sort of action that they really want to film - that of self defence by activists, portrayed as "unprovoked" acts by "mindless thugs".
The police know how they are going to act before the day even begins. There is no "flexibility" in their approach. They know that their thuggery will be understated by the media, that the media (as tools of the establishment) need to show that the people on the streets are "thugs" and "freaks", so that they will be put off from joining in next time. Although I cannot condemn the destruction of a McDonalds restaurant, the value of this action yesterday has to be brought into question. The images of the windows going in are obviously going to be the news headlines, and I think that it is only this that stops a lot more people from turning out to voice their outrage. The people that participate in this action must know that, too, which is something I find hard to understand.
I'll be there again, and, I hope, so will you.
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