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(en) Freedom 6405 8 Mar, 2003 - Building on 15th February

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 9 Apr 2003 10:32:01 +0200 (CEST)


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Glasgow
There were twelve of us travelling by minibus from
Muirhouse, a council scheme in north Edinburgh. We
arrived in Glasgow in good time, unlike hundreds of
others who tried to travel by train. They had to spend
hours waiting at Edinburgh's Waverley Station, as
Scot Rail buckled under the strain. Some never made
it at all.

A red 'n black bloc was due to meet at the Obelisk, a
giant monument on Glasgow Green. It wasn't that
easy to find each other, as huge crowds were already
there when we arrived. But around fifty of us did
manage it, including perhaps thirty from northern
Edinburgh, maybe five or six from Aberdeen, folk
from the Anarchist Federation and from Glasgow
itself.

Our contingent was noisy and colourful. There were
drummers, at least four banners, a magic carpet and
a giant Anarcho-bird (pictured on the front of the last
issue of Freedom). Without the meeting point there
would have been no chance of us finding each other,
so that was one cunning plan that worked, at least
partially.

I was unaware at the time that some of the red 'n
black bloc, hearing that Tony Blair had switched his
Labour Conference speech from 2pm to 10am to
avoid demonstrators, had gone direct to the
conference centre to greet him. Unfortunately,
overwhelming police numbers deprived Tony of a
true Scottish welcome.

The crowds were absolutely huge, so big we couldn't
see what was happening. Because of this, and our
position towards the back, we didn't leave the Green
for hours. But this gave us a chance to hand out some
leaflets.

When we eventually got within sight of the road,
stewards stopped the part of the march we were in
and said we'd have to wait for the section already on
the road to pass before we joined. This was
ridiculous, as there was plenty of room for everyone
just to filter in. An argument developed, and the
stewards formed a line to try and stop us from joining
the march.

After an internal debate we agreed to wait a short
while, as some of us were concerned that if we pushed
past the stewards we might get split up. Eventually
we got tired of waiting and just walked past them.
We managed to keep together, although
Anarcho-bird was temporarily cut off from the rest of
the flock. Our numbers seemed to swell, maybe up to
a hundred people at the peak.

Rebel beat
A battery of drummers from Edinburgh, using
home-made tin drums, kept up an inspiring beat,
supplemented by whistles and shakers (empty beer
cans filled with gravel). Anarcho-bird swooped and
banners proclaimed 'fight the bosses, not their wars'.
There were also many home-made placards. I saw one
from remote Assynt, in the far north west, and
another which said, 'Smoke Bush, not Iraq'.

Having been on countless marches where I've
trudged along surrounded by lefty contingents with
their dismal party propaganda, it was exhilarating to
have created our own empowering space.

I felt that everyone who'd come on our minibus,
including the local activists who joined the red 'n
black bloc for the first time, returned feeling more
empowered and encouraged than when we went,
which can only be a good thing. Equally important,
having a bloc gave us a potential mass for direct
action. This time it didn't happen, but at least we
know we can get a group together and stick together
through the day. Hopefully next time ...

As we neared the Scottish Exhibition Conference
Centre where the Labour Party conference was being
held, the crowd became very thick. Our contingent
was determined to get as close to the SECC as
possible, and with considerable difficulty we managed
to thread our way through the crowd and eventually
reached the fence in front of the building. Many of us
made it, but we did seem to lose numbers at this
point.

The fence was low and eminently climbable, but
there were hundreds of police behind it.
We tried to make a din to encourage more folk to
move up to the fence and then É who knows? But the
speeches were on and our efforts petered out without
much success.

Anarcho-bird relocated to a more central position in
the crowd and gathered some more rebels to her
wings. Then we made a concerted move to the fence
directly in front of the entrance. Folk started
drumming on it, while Anarcho-bird and black flags
swooped over it and into enemy air space. Several
folk did see us, and came over to join in.

The police seemed to make some redeployments, but
it never really came close to a situation where people
would have felt empowered to knock the fence over
and advance.

Still, as we dispersed, it was good to exchange
farewells with the Aberdeen comrades, urging them
to come to the anarchist day school in Edinburgh on
17th May.

We listened in awe to reports of the huge turnout -
the best estimates indicate that about 80,000 people
marched. I don't know when there was a bigger demo
in Scotland - certainly there hasn't been one since I
got involved in the early 1970s.

Of course, what happened on 15th February wasn't
the end. Hopefully the red 'n black bloc will
participate, as an organised group, in the sit-down
that's planned for Glasgow city centre the Saturday
after war begins. Over 2,500 people have already
pledged to take part.
Mike

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