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(en) Britain, G8, The antiauthoritarians story: This is How We Do It by Kara N. Tina

Date Tue, 12 Jul 2005 10:11:24 +0300


From the beginning there was no well-thought-out master plan for
shutting down the G8 Summit at Gleneagles. In fact, some of
us even dubbed the march we were about to embark on "The
Suicide March". At three in the morning, a large group of
militants dressed in black slipped into the darkness of the
night as the first rain of many days dumped down on them.
The air was thick with the eerie presence of a thousand
determined individuals beginning to walk along the deathly
still road. Besides the occasional attempt at a chant the group
was quiet, perhaps reconsidering the slim probability of
success. Five miles and a heavy police presence stretched
before us and our only destination in sight: Motorway 9 (M9).
This motorway was one of the crucial motorways that
delegates and support staff to the G8 Summit expected to
travel down in a few hours.

Wednesday, July 6th was determined to be the day of
blockading the G8 by calls to action from People's Global
Action (PGA), the same loose network that had called for the
day of action against the WTO 6 years ago. The idea of
blockading was ratified at the five-hundred person
international anarchist assembly in the ancient halls of our
convergence space at Edinburgh University on Sunday. The
next day a street party called the "Carnival for Full
Enjoyment" (as opposed to full employment) took to the
streets of wealthy downtown Edinburgh in order to protest
wage slavery and the G8. Any doubts about the
no-compromise nature of the militants, who had converged
here in
southern Scotland, dissipated rapidly in downtown Edinburgh
on Monday when police attempted to stop the Carnival of Full
Enjoyment only to be met by quick-moving breakaway
marches and a frontline that refused to be intimidated. And
this was only the beginning, a taste of what was to come.

We left Edinburgh for Stirling, Scotland. Our destination was
the "Hori-zone", the Eco-village set-up as the point of
strategic
coordination, encampment, and support for the vast network
of
anarchists and other activists who had come to Scotland in
order to halt the Group of Eight (G8) summit meeting on its
opening day in Gleneagles. The camp was organized by
Dissent!; an international
anti-authoritarian network of resistance against the G8. The
small town of Stirling is practically equidistant from Glasgow,
Edinburgh and Gleneagles, and historically has been the
major cross-roads upon which all battles for control of
Scotland had been fought. Gleneagles, a ridiculously
luxurious golf course and hotel, became the heavily
fortified home to the G8 meetings but it has very limited
facilities. Thus, most of the delegates and support staff for the
G8 were staying in Glasgow and Edinburgh, the two major
cities in Scotland.

Since Stirling is nestled between these three cities, the
Eco-village provided the perfect location for launching the
rolling blockades against the G8 on Wednesday, especially
along the crucial M9, the motorway that eventually reaches
the front door of the Gleneagles hotel itself. The Wallace
monument stood silently against the gentle skyline on a hill
above the Eco-village as we prepared to blockade a total of
thirty miles of highway. Built in 1869, this two-hundred and
twenty foot monument is said to be where the legendary
Scottish rebel William Wallace observed the English coming
across Stirling Bridge in 1297 before descending into a fierce
battle with them. One cannot help but notice the parallel
between the ancient anti-colonial battles of
Scotland and the battle against the G8 that was being waged in
the rolling green hills of Scotland last week.

At the Eco-village we were assembled at the very last minute
to
determine how we were actually going to blockade the G8. As
the
deadline for the action came closer and closer it was decided
that the initiative to carry out the blockades should be left to
autonomous affinity groups and each departed to find their
own route to the
motorway and blockade it by whatever tactics they chose. A
major factor in this decision was the unfortunate location of
the Eco-village. The camp site was surrounded by Forth
River, and had only one exit leading out, which could be easily
sealed off by police. To avoid such an entrapment, affinity
groups began leaving the site around twelve hours ahead of
time to situate themselves in the forests or small suburbs
along the motorways that fed Gleneagles from all sides,
allowing them to spring into action as the delegates arrived in
the morning. While groups were streaming out of the site,
about two-hundred people were meeting to determine whether
or not to have a large mass march leaving the camp, and if so,
how it would be organized. This is how the suicide march
came about,

Suicide was not a word chosen hastily. How could it be
possible for such a group to actually make it to the distant M9,
the major highway connecting Glasgow and Edinburgh to
Gleneagles, before being stopped and contained by a ten
thousand strong police force assigned to the protests? Even if
the march had failed, it would provide a crucial cover for the
clandestine groups to launch their siege on the various
junctions of the motorways. The group decided against all odds
that the risk was worth it, and the march would begin shortly.
At two a.m. it finally felt like it was on.

The march leaving from the Eco-village in the early morning
was an international contingent with some of its members
coming from the UK, Spain, Germany, Ireland, France,
Denmark, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States.
Morale was high as the rain poured down
steadily, but little did we know that this thousand strong
militant group would have to end up battling through five
police lines to reach its destination. The determination of the
anarchists was heavy, and as we swelled in numbers a group
of about eight with thick pieces of wood around seven feet
long moved to the front with the purpose of clearing the way
for the march to proceed. One group, who was clad in shields
made from trash can lids and foam padding taped onto their
clothes, bore an ironic banner declaring "Peace and Love."

The police force mobilized from around the UK to protect the
G8 summit was completely incompetent. Poorly assembled
police lines were
sometimes composed of front line officers who, instead of
arriving in riot gear, came wearing fluorescent yellow jackets
to face protesters. The police were armed often only with
batons and tried their best not to use them. Perhaps this was a
de-escalating tactic, considering the police seemed to be
primarily set on avoiding violent engagement with protesters
and instead sought to simply contain them and apply their
infuriating "section 60" order that allowed them to stop and
search any suspects for weapons. Had this been any other G8
country, many of the plans implemented on the Day of the
Blockades, especially the Suicide March, would not have
accomplished its goals.

The quickly moving group proceeded uninterrupted for fifteen
minutes when the Scottish police finally got their act together
and moved a line of cops into the group's path. This happened
at a roundabout surrounded on all sides by car dealerships,
though at this point the group was not distracted by damaging
corporate property. We had set our eyes on the prize: to
disrupt the roads leading up to G8 Summit. The determination
was there, but there was no back-up plan. After a quick
assessment of the situation, it was decided that the line of
police was too deep to take on, and the group began moving
back in the direction it came from to find another way on to
M9.

Retreating in order to find another path to the M9 meant
building barricades on the way out of the previous path. We
found a big pile of palates in a nearby construction site and
piled them into the street. During the somewhat chaotic
process of finding another road leading to the highway, the
crowd stumbled upon a suburban mall area which
included a branch of the Bank of Scotland, and franchises of
Burger King, Pizza Hut and Enterprise Car Rental. Some
members wanted to keep on moving and not be distracted by
the corporate property, but the sheer rage against the
corporations could barely be contained, and windows were
smashed and walls were spray-painted with slogans.

When the bloc left the corporate oasis we found a sign to a
road
leading to the M9 and the march surged. A couple of trolleys
(shopping carts) were taken from the shopping district and
were filled with fist-sized rocks from the sides of the road, the
perfect ammunition for the class war. A German comrade
with a bicycle was amongst the group and able to ride ahead
as our scout and alert the rest of us of
intersections and police movement. He came back and told us
of a police line forming in our path. A few people moved into
the field on the left to outwit the police. The rest decided that
this was the moment when it was necessary to throw down.

The police line was weak and did not have any riot gear apart
from their shields. Those with big sticks moved to the front
lines and the militants behind picked up stones from the
shopping cart. We marched right up to the lines and began
smashing through with stones and
sticks. The police were not prepared at all for such
determination, and after thirty seconds they scurried away.
When their retreat was
obvious, I heard a thick German accent scream "DEESS ISS
HOW VE DO IT!"

The road was wide open as we marched the long distances
from one
roundabout to the next, following the road signs to M9. We
came across four people wrapped in trash-bags, who peeked
their heads out from the side of the road in amazement at the
march passing by. They were part of the hundreds that left
early to hide among the trees, completely drenched by the
continual rainfall.

Our crew had a significant number of locals who were eager to
represent their own culture of resistance. One middle-aged
Scottish member of the group from Glasgow, carried a
bodhran, the traditional Celtic drum historically used in battles
and parades. Another Scottish youth had a didgeridoo that was
blown at crucial moments of battle to build up the energy. In
face of such a crowd, it looked as though the police had given
up. We had made it the onramp to M9. This was it: victory.
After trekking five miles in the rain and through police lines,
we only had 70 feet to make to the highway. But these things
are never so easy. Scores of police vans appeared from around
the corner and unloaded hundreds of riot police. It seemed to
be too much to take on, and we moved back. This time the
police seemed as determined as we were and brought another
line of riot police to our only exit.

There was one option left: to battle our way out. The
re-stocked
trolleys rolled to the front and stones began raining down onto
the police, thumping against their shields to the steady battle
beat of the bodhran. In one of the most creative use of local
resources to create weaponry, even the shrubbery was turned
upon the police. This area of Scotland is known for a
poisonous plant called Hogwart that has a flower that causes
huge welts and blisters when touched. At one point the bloke
from Glasgow grabbed one of these plants from the stalk and
beat the police with its flower. After five minutes the police
lines were pushed back fifty feet and a small path leading into
a suburban residential area was revealed to one side. As we
walked down the path into suburbia there were only 250
people remaining. Most of the initial crowd had separated at
various police lines to disappear into fields or return to camp.
Though we were few, we had demonstrated our
determination and open defiance.

A woman in a white bathrobe walked out of her house baffled
at the march going by her community at 4 am. The police
would later report that damage was done to people's homes,
cars, and satellite dishes. However, the only property damaged
was corporate and police property and the police eventually
had to retract their statement. In fact, the woman in the white
bathrobe was friendly and she waved at us. We even asked her
for directions towards the M9 and she showed us the way.

We had been thrown off our original route and now had to find
a new way to the motorway. The police had mobilized a much
larger force and were coming toward us from multiple
intersections. As we rambled through the unfamiliar suburban
streets police would appear from one side, retreat under the
force of the bloc, and appear again from a new direction. The
sun, which only sets for about four hours between midnight
and 4 a.m. in Scotland during summertime, was now peaking
behind the horizon. We were feeling wet, cornered and lost.
Another resident of the area stopped while passing in his
pickup and pointed us toward the highway. His directions
weren't the most conventional: "Go down that road and climb
down the valley, across the fields, through the trees and that is
where the motorway is."

We had come this far, there was no way we were going to turn
back, even if it meant hiking through the fields.

Standing on the edge of the hill, next to a golf course, one
could see the trucks travelling on the highway far away. We
quickly referred to a topographical map, concerned that there
might have been a big drop to the side of the highway that
couldn't be climbed. It looked
doable.Those remaining of the international anti-capitalist
black bloc, tired from hours of breaching police lines and
soaked to the bone, began a Viet-cong style journey towards
the motorway we knew we had to blockade to prevent the G8
from meeting.

In a moment of bizarre humor, one of the Scottish blokes
amongst us was understandably concerned about marching on
the golf course and warned the rest of us: "Don't Walk on the
Green!" I turned back to observe how many of us were left at
this moment and was confronted with the surreal scene of
hundreds of comrades dressed in black hiking through the
luscious green landscape of Scotland single file. Seeing us
there, hours and miles later and still on the move, I realized
that most likely the Scottish rebels fighting the English had
also passed through these fields centuries ago.

We continued on like this, passing through scenes of a another
history,
through a golf course, three different cattle pastures, and
knee-high
grass as we walked towards a quickly approaching future of our
own. Under a pale blue sky we finally reached the motorway.
We were the first group to make it on to the highway, but
definitely not the last. At that moment the rain stopped.

Delirious from walking and drunken with success we all began
to
assemble anything and everything we could find on the side of
the road- tree trunks, rocks, branches. It was 6 a.m. and both
directions on M9 were blockaded.

Walking back to the campsite later we passed the residents of
Stirling trying to go to work on the backed up roads. The
reactions we got were varied but at the same time clearly split
into two different groups. People who were in personal
vehicles were upset at the delay and called us many things,
most notably "Bastards!" Those who were in busses and vans
and could be identified as construction or roadside workers by
their bright yellow vests were fully supportive. We were greeted
by raised fists, cheering, and others shouting "Power to the
People!" out their windows.

We returned to the Eco-village. At the entrance to the camp
there were two permanent flags strung high to identify the
political nature of the inhabitants- the red and black flag of
social anarchism and the rebel skull and crossbones of piracy.
Inside is a vast space of camps,
organized by either the geographic origin of the inhabitants (i.e
the Irish "barrio" - or neighborhood), or by clusters of affinity
groups working together (i.e. Clandestine Insurrectionary
Rebel Clown Army - CIRCA). A central corridor was lined
with different activist support tents, eight different kitchens,
medical services, an independent media center, trauma
support, action trainings, and huge tents for the
periodic spokescouncil meetings taking place. Beyond this
central corridor is the multi-colored sea of hundreds of
personal tents. Many of the tents have one version or another
of black and red flags with the anarchist circle A flying above.
We had arrived home.

The Eco-village was buzzing with activity. The intricate
communications network that had been set up was
functioning in full force. Bicycle scouts who were situated at
major cities where delegates were staying, along the side of
the highways and at major junctions, were providing up to
date information on motorcade movements and alerting the
affinity groups hiding along the highway when and where to
strike. An
informational tent at the entrance had a detailed tactical map
with a large scale, providing up to date information on the
different
blockades of the summit. As the day progressed one note after
another had appeared on the map marking the points of the
blockades "7:00 AM - Spanish Block on M9, 7 arrested",
"8:00 AM - 4 Protesters with ropes dangling off a bridge on
M9", "12 PM - Group of 50 including CIRCA and the Kid
Bloc having picnic on the Motorway with massive amounts of
riot cops looking confused", "All railroads leading north have
been halted by activists locking themselves to the tracks."
This was only the beginning and the notes continued
appearing throughout the day: a bicycle contingent took over
A9 at 4:00 PM, the Belgian and Dutch Bloc locked down on
Kincardine bridge at 4:20 PM, etc.

The Eco-village was the epicenter of brilliant tactical
coordination. This was a result of months of reconnaissance
work and a chaotic yet functional plan of blockading that
provided both fluidity and agility. As soon as a report would
come in that one blockade was breaking or being threatened
by the police, the transportation team would have vehicles
ready to take people to the location and reinforce the
blockade. The BBC Scotland radio station was reporting that
all roads leading north to Gleneagles were backed up with no
traffic passing through. Naturally, they did not mention the
reason for this, and tried to hide the successful blockades
behind a regular traffic update.

Everyone at the camp site was ecstatic and it felt like it was
time to start upping the ante, which meant taking on the
perimeter fence around the G8 summit. The legal march
scheduled for the afternoon by the G8 Alternatives, who were
often controlled by the Socialist Workers Party, had been
called off by the police due to the disruption caused on the
transportation system of Scotland. To their credit they decided
to move forward and go ahead with the march at
Auchterarder, the town nearest to Gleneagles Hotel.

Now that the stakes were raised, vans from the Eco-village
began to head straight to Auchterarder rather than to reinforce
the blockades. Two hours later the news of the perimeter
fence being breached at two different points reached the camp.
Anarchists and Scottish socialists were tearing apart the fence
and throwing pieces of it at the riot squad police. Some groups
entered the G8 Summit area and were being confronted by
Chinook helicopters unloading hundreds of riot police
equipped with dogs. At 12:30 in the afternoon it appeared that
the group of the 8 most powerful men in the world were still
unable to begin their meeting in Gleneagles.

There are many lessons to be learned from the victories won at
this most recent mass action of the young anti-capitalist
movement.
Tactically, having decentralized actions co-ordinated with the
same infrastructure, all given the targeted locations in the
same area, was an incredible strength for activists attempting
to disrupt the summit. Previous mass mobilizations have
failed when calls were made for
affinity groups to do autonomous direct action without a
strategic frame in which to act. On the night of the 5th and
into the early hours of the 6th groups in Scotland were able to
scatter themselves along a geographical network of points;
working together to assess need for numbers and actions,
people dispatched themselves between a multitude of different
motorways and byways surrounding Gleneagles and around
hotels in Edinburgh. There were threats to blockade not only
the roads around Gleneagles but the roads out of the major
cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. This meant the police forces
were stretched thin, having to be at Glasgow, Edinburgh,
Sterling, and Gleneagles at the same time. The state was
forced to provide dozens of officers to contain each small
group of activists, and as affinity group after affinity group
spontaneously hit on the transportation corridor, the police
simply could not maintain their own co-ordination or mass
their numbers. The suicide
march, which went on for miles over before reaching the
highway, was a strong challenge to state control and proved to
be impossible to contain even with the strongest police effort.
According to friends inside of the summit, the blockades were
a throbbing
migraine for the G8 and it took some delegates up to seven
hours to get to Gleneagles. Suffocating their critical control
with a continual barrage of activity and exhausting police
numbers by using quick-moving affinity groups to the best
possible advantage are tactics that allows us to call the shots
on our own terms, whether it be Gleneagles, Buenos Aires, or
La Paz. The rabble-rousing group behind the blockades was
extremely international in character and the links formed are
going to be a major pain for global capital for the years to
come. As if the international anarchist force wasn't enough, it
was reported that while Bush was riding his bicycle at
Gleneagles he ran into a police officer sending him to the
hospital.

September 11th reminds most of the world of New York and
some of us of Santiago. There was another September 11th
more then 700 years ago. On September 11th 1297 William
Wallace observed the English coming into impose their
enclosure of the Scottish land. This was the day of The Battle
of Stirling Bridge where the 60,000 person English army
suffered a terrible defeat at the hands of the Scottish who
numbered around 10,000. The English sent two messengers
to Wallace to ask for his surrender. Wallace's reply was similar
to that was given to the G8 on Wednesday by the street
fighters in Stirling.

"Return to thy friends and tell them we come here with no
peaceful intent, but ready for battle, determined to avenge our
wrongs and to set our country free. Let thy masters come and
attack us; we are ready to meet them beard to beard."
==========================
The author can be reached at: karantina-A-riseup.net



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