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(en) Freedom 6401 Jan, 2003 - Wombling free

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 20 Jan 2003 08:32:58 -0500 (EST)

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

Some fifty Santas, Wombles and little helpers gathered in
London's Oxford Street on 21st December, traditionally the
busiest day of the year in the capital's consumer calendar. The
aim was to publicise the first anniversary of the uprising in
Argentina and what's been achieved there through popular
resistance, as well as to confront the consumer culture that
enslaves us all in Britain. A free shop with banners was set up
in the street near Selfridges and Top Shop, with food, drink,
books, music, clothes and games given away to an enthusiastic
response. Leaflets highlighting the Argentinian struggle were
also handed out. Many people stopped to chat and find out
what was going on, causing a bottleneck on the pavement and
an alternative attraction to the Christmas lights.
Given that advance publicity had hinted at mass shoplifting, it
was no surprise to find a massive police presence and heavy
private security inside many shops. After an hour, the top cop
issued a directive under Section 14 of the Public Order Act,
saying he'd only allow the 'protest' if it stayed in one place.
Anyone trying to move on would face arrest, he said, as would
any groups moving off with more than three people. As a
result, one person was later arrested. Ludicrously I and a
friend, who'd stopped by merely to offer support for half an
hour, were followed for ages by cops from both the
Metropolitan and the City police when we left and walked
down Oxford Street. Clearly the guardians of capitalism were
taking no chances on a day when profit-making was rife.
For more information and photographs of the free shop, visit

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