Cards on the table time - I like this lot. They are approachable, polite and non threatening. They are passionate about their cause and they put in a lot of time and effort to put an end to this horrific trade. A trade that is seemingly unprofitable, which begs the question why the operators continue to ply their trade at all? There are rumours that are being investigated at the moment. I hope to post more on this in the future.
What they don't do, is attack the police, disrupt life and business for hundreds of people, or generally act like spoiled brats. Then again, most are, well let's just say, over 21. Good luck to them.
Yesterday in London was a different kettle of fish. The usual band of plastic anarchists, thugs, care in the community patients, and students, had a new ready made cause. The G8 summit. Unlike real anarchists, this lot are not committed enough to actually travel to Ulster for the summit, choosing instead to dress up in black and run around London.
First stop for me was Oxford Circus, one of the two meeting points the Stop G8 group had been advertising on social media platforms. The police had a section 60 order in place which apparently allows them to force people to remove face coverings if they feel it appropriate. I think this is great. They should not be allowed to cover their faces at all. As the march moved off down Regent Street it had gone less than ten yards when the first arrest and outbreak of violence from the protesters happened. It was clear from this point that there was going to be bother. As usual, tourists, some with young children were forced to find shelter where they could, while most shops locked their doors as the the mob made it's way down Regent Street.
|Police and protesters clash on Piccadilly|
More protesters joined the group as it reached Piccadilly. As they headed towards Fortnum and Masons, the scene of vandalism and violence during a previous protest, more trouble broke out. One cop who was making an arrest was pouched in the head by several protesters as he resolutely refused to release his prisoner. It got quite hairy, the road was completely blocked by the crowd and protesters were face to face with the police. A cop who was chasing a protester dropped his radio. As he bent to pick it up, he was booted in the side by a protester who was running behind him. There was a lot of pushing and shoving and plenty of punches thrown by protesters. It was at this point that I noticed a skinny kid pulling his mask up. As I looked at him I saw he was holding a hammer by his side. It looked new. Bought for the protest? As I lifted my camera to photograph him, there was a moment when his eyes met mine and he quickly passed the hammer to a girl and they both melted away into the crowd. There was no way I could follow them as the crowd was too densely packed. I began to wish I had brought my helmet! There were several more arrests before the crowd changed direction and headed into Mayfair.
I wired a set of shots in and made my way to the squat at Beak St in Soho. The police had brought two double decker buses to remove those who had been arrested. The same buses that were used to remove other left wing protesters a few weeks ago at the anti BNP demo in Westminster. There was a small crowd 30/40 strong in Golden Square, which was as close to the squat as anyone could get. The police cordon consisted of officers in full riot gear. During the week, the lefties had started branding all soldiers as bastards (ASAB) as well as the already established - (ACAB) all cops are bastards. Among the small crowd was a wee tit with a placard saying soldiers are fascists. I think this stems from an event in Wethrspoons on Whitehall a few weeks ago when some lefties started on the wife of a squaddie in the pub. The squaddie and his mates did not take this lying down and gave the lefties a bit of a slapping. To further confuse the message the protesters were trying to get across ( and send my blood pressure sky high) they were singing along to IRA songs, played through a set of speakers attached to a laptop. One minute they were singing about the Black and Tans, next they were chanting 'We are all Mark Duggan' - go figure!
An ambulance arrived, and in true drama queen fashion, the reasons for this were wide ranging. According to one protester, the cops had killed someone by hitting him on the head with a crowbar, or from another one, hit someone on the head with an angle grinder - WTF, an angle grinder? Ah yes, the riot cops favourite weapon, the angle grinder, probably the same one used the kill Mark Duggan. Tossers!
The two buses, which had been parked behind the police cordon began to move forward. This whipped the crowd into a frenzy - strange behaviour as it was clear the buses were empty! Even stranger was the fact that the empty buses were escorted from Golden Square by a line of riot cops backed up by the dog section. There were a few more arrests at this point.
For the rest of the day there was sporadic outbursts of cat and mouse between the protesters and the cops. Eventually, what was left of the protesters gathered at Piccadilly Circus for the planned street party. Now, clearly the protesters idea of what constitutes a party is not the same as mine Where most people mingle, dance a bit, and generally socialise, the protesters idea of a party was to sit around snarling at tourists who tried to photograph the strange, dirty looking people who were sitting/lying on the ground. After an hour or so of 'partying' they decided to protest at Charing Cross nick, to in their words "show solidarity to their comrades"
The narrow road in front of Charing Cross nick was pretty packed. Not because of large numbers of protesters, just cos the road is narrow. There were the same old chants "who's streets, our streets", and "shame on you"(directed at the cops), but in a bizarre twist, they had learned some chants a foreign language. I didn't recognise exactly which language it was but it wasn't English. Perhaps there is a special class where they go to learn this skill.
|Protester 1 'The Spitter'|
The highlight of the Charing Cross episode was the 'interaction' I witnessed between two protesters, it went like this - Protester 1- 'Shut it, your a police spy, thats why you cut your dreds off innit" Protester 2 -" no, I just fancied a change" Protester 1 "LIAR, POLICE SPY" Protester 1 then spat on protester 2, catching him full in the face. Classy eh? A girl ( I use the term loosely) who was with Protester 2 approached a cop, yeah, thats right, one of the cops she had been calling bastards just a few moments earlier, and demanded, yes demanded that Protester 1 is arrested. Cue some comedy gold. Protester 1 was tall and lean, the cop who was trying to get the cuffs on him was shorter and was struggling. Protester 1 started laughing at him, holding his arm above his head and out of reach. Several other cops joined in and soon Protester 1 was cuffed behind the back and bent forward, OH YOU YOU LITTLE SHIT, THAT REALLY HURTS screamed Protester 1 as he was led, bent double around the side of the building and into the nick. The look on the short cops face was priceless!
|OH that hurts!|
That was just about it for the day, although a small group of protesters did head down Whitehall and pitched up on Parliament Square. Such is their desperation to find a cause to protest about, that as darkness fell, they were Tweeting for followers to join with the handful of peaceful Turkish protesters who have been protesting in Trafalgar Square all week.
Finally, I take the piss out of these protesters. They deserve it. Thing is though, they are dangerous. Not in an economic sense, of course they will never achieve their aim of bringing down the govt, but in a physical sense they are dangerous to the public and the cops who police their protests, due to the levels of violence they employ.
They see violent protests like the ones currently on - going in Turkey and try to emulate them here. Raiding the Squat in Beak St which contained protesters, not only from the UK, but from overseas as well, was intelligence led, but the rumours I heard yesterday were that it was not paint bombs they were looking for but petrol bombs.