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(en) London: Oxford Street free shop action

From dr.woooo@nomasters.org
Date Tue, 24 Dec 2002 08:13:19 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

London: Shoplifters United! 
by a womble - wombles@hushmail.com  

Revolutionise your consumer rights, TAKE THE LOT! 

I was at the Oxford Street free shop action today, 
which was participated in by hundreds of shoppers 
and passersby. I've been to many demos and 
actions over the last few years, and in terms of 
engaging with people and getting a message across 
in a fun, creative and original way, that had 
relevance to people's lives, this was the best action 
I've been to. 

Police presence was heavy from the start, but their 
warning regarding section 14 of the public order act 
and the fact that we were apparently 'disrupting the 
shopping life of the area' (exactly what we set out to 
do!) was overpowered by the shouts of 'free donuts' 
and the ensuing rush to the stall. Most passersby 
and participants largely ignored the police, with one 
elderly lady who had crossed the road to attend the 
free shop, going so far as to label their behavior 

We were initially met with disbelief that everything 
was free, but people quickly understood that this 
was no charitable act, and got into the spirit of 
things in a big way, trying on clothes, rummaging 
through boxes of books. During the 4 hour 
disruption of the busiest street in London on the 
busiest day of the year, continuous streams of 
people donated books, toys & clothes, drank 
chocolate-flavoured coffee, ate onion bhajis & 
cakes, listened to music and browsed for free 
presents. One man found a book he'd been 
searching for for ages, and offered a donation. He 
was refused, with the afternoon's oft-repeated 
phrase - "everything's free". A hilarious mock 
auction was held - "I'm taking bids of nothing!", "The 
stereo goes to the man who's offered nothing!" 

The 'Free Palestine' march that passed by - and 
stopped for a coffee - was met with cheers from the 
free shop kids, and confusion from the cops (was 
this another protest, or the same one in a different 

Many of those we spoke to were surprisingly already 
aware of the situation in Argentina (considering the 
lack of coverage in the UK press), and understood 
the relevance of the action to our/their own situation 
regarding christmas consumption and ever-spiralling 
consumer debt which is now at an unprecedented 
£810 billion pounds in the UK. 

One Womble was arrested on a spurious charge 
(section 14 of the public order act) for apparently 
protesting in the wrong area by himself (he 
went for a walk). It's as if the human rights act 
never existed. He will appear in court on Monday. 

Love + Rage 

Freeshopping WOMBLES


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