(en) March for Social Justice

Martin Howard (Martin.howard@qnet.org.uk)
Fri, 25 Apr 1997 08:37:44 -0700


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The following is a report on the march for social justice in London April 12th from an anarchist perspective, written by several people who were on the march, and saw what happened at Downing St and in Trafalgar Square. It is taken from Black Flag no 211, due out next week, available from BM Hurricane London WC1N 3XX

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Saturday April 12th saw 20,000 people on the 'March for Social Justice', = led by the sacked Liverpool dockers, Women of the Waterfront, the Hilling= don cleaners, and strikers from Magnet and other disputes. It was the sta= rt of a weekend of resistance by Reclaim the Streets!, the anarchist insp= ired direct action group. Many of the people there were there for this al= one, though RTS have actively supported the dockers in the past, and the = dockers have defended them against attacks from the Labour and union bure= aucracy.

The march was very lively and had an exceptionally good atmosphere as it = snaked its way from Kennington Park into the centre of London. The cops k= ept a low profile and the Trots had stayed away. Anarchists, on the contr= ary, saw this as an important linking of struggles, and had come from all= round the country.

The police radios started twitching, however, as the most visible anarchi= st contingent, near the back of the march, came up Whitehall. The sound s= ystem in front of it stopped outside Downing Street, as had other section= s of the march, and the crowd danced and shouted their protest at the emp= ty government buildings. The riot cops opposite were restless behind the = gates to the Ministry of Defence. There was a whiff of testosterone in th= e air and they were clearly itching to have a go. A smoke bomb went off a= nd a couple of lads climbed the gates to Downing Street, nothing serious,= but the gates to the MoD opened and the horses came forth. =

The cops were caught between two sections of the demo and the crowd was p= issed off. It had been a good day, sunny with loads of great people, and = here were the party poopers to spoil the fun. Under a hail of placards, p= aint and bottles, they were forced back. Their pride dented, out they cam= e again to show who was in control. There was the usual push and shove, a= couple of arrests and the cops succeeded in dividing the demo. The major= ity were already partying in Trafalgar Square, though some came back down= Whitehall to see what was happening. There were about 800 stuck on the w= rong side of the police lines for a tense quarter of an hour, until the p= olice relented and went back into the MoD. =

Meanwhile the police had already started to park vans outside the main en= trances of Trafalgar Square, where several thousand demonstrators were st= arting to have a street party. The original target had been the Departmen= t of the Environment, but the cops had found out and its offices were pro= tected by armed police. A lorry with a sound system was driven through th= e police lines, into Trafalgar Square and the dancing began. The police s= ealed off the Square and allowed people to leave, but attempted to stop a= nyone from entering.

As the afternoon went on, the numbers slowly began to drop and the tensio= n began to rise. Finally, the riot cops started to move in. They were met= by a spirited resistance as some people fought for others' right to part= y, even if many of the dancers didn't care about the struggle going on ar= ound them. As the sound system left in the early evening taking most of t= he crowds with it, the driver and passenger were arrested for the attempt= ed murder of a cop when entering the Square. These ridiculous charges wer= e later dropped and replaced by drugs charges, but were still reported by= the press. People headed home or to one of the organised squat parties, = leaving the Square, bedecked by banners, to the police. Several people ha= d been hospitalised and there had been a number of arrests. The centre of= London had been reclaimed from the car for an afternoon, the cops had fl= exed their muscle, the press had got its headlines, the people had made t= heir point. =

The Legal Defense and Monitoring Group are co-ordinating the legal defens= e for April12th. They want to trace anyone who was arrested, injured or w= ho could give evidence as a witness to arrests and attacks by the police.= They can help provide reliable solicitors and support for people wanting= to take action against the police. They can be contacted at LDMG BM Haven London =

WC1N 3XX

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