(en) Anarchists and Police in London

Keith Standrin (itusc@gn.apc.org)
Mon, 14 Apr 1997 06:55:49 GMT

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On Saturday, 12 April 1997 a March for Social Justice took place in London. It was called by the Liverpool dockers and Women of the Waterfront, Hillingdon Hospital workers (both groups now in the eighteenth month of a strike), Magnet strikers (Darlington), workers from Critchley Labels, S.Wales and Project Aerospace, Coventry. It was supported by environmentalists, justice campaigners, refugee workers' organisations and asylum seekers amongst many others, all of whom were present to tell the Tories and a possible incoming Labour government that we are not relying on parliamentary action to defend ourselves and advance our various interests.

The main group, other than the striking workers, was Reclaim The Future (RTF).This group, which is an amalgam of various groups including environmental campaigners like Reclaim The Streets and others, had originally intended to use the occasion to stage an 'event' during the March & Rally. However, on the Friday preceding the March, the RTF campaigners gave the dockers shop stewards an assurance that they would defer any action until after the Rally.This assurance was maintained.

At a conservative (if you'll forgive the expression) estimate, well in excess of 10,000 people took part in this celebration of (various) struggles. At one point in the March, representatives of the dockers and their partners presented a People's Charter for Social Justice at 10, Downing Street. Although RTF had kept their agreement with the dockers, one individual probably not from RTF, threw a smoke canister over the police cordon in Downing Street. This gave the police the excuse to attack a section of the crowd.This was quickly completed and the March proceeded to Trafalgar Square.The dockers repudiated the throwing of the smoke grenade etc. as a diversion from the main issues of the March.

After the Rally, which was more or less peaceful, the RTS and other groups occupied Trafalgar Square. Whilst many in the centre of the Square took the opportunity to dance, others on the perimeter fought with police.It is reported that the driver and two passengers in a van (moving loudspeaker equipment) were arrested and charged with attempted murder after driving the van through a police cordon.

A small number of anarchist groups took part in the March & Rally in their own right, however, the other, much larger contingents like RTS, included many individuals who are (or who claimed to be) anarchist. As usual, the media used the 'disturbances' as an excuse to divert attention away from the main purposes of this celebration of struggles and freely used the term 'anarchists' as a derogatory term for those taking part.

Keith Standring

__________________________________________________________________________ International Trade Union Solidarity Campaign (ITUSC) at:- PO Box 18, Epsom, Britain KT18 7YR Tel/Fax: ++44 (0) 1372 817778 e-mail: itusc@gn.apc.org URL: http://www.itusc.org.uk The ITUSC is an international and internationalist association of organised workers and communities, dedicated to rebuilding the workers' movement and to overcoming sectarianism and division in working class organisations. ____________________________________________________________________________

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