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(en) The June 18th demo against the G8 Summit in the City of London - description from our side.

From "Paul" <paul@laa01.freeserve.co.uk>
Date Mon, 21 Jun 1999 02:50:03 -0400


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The June 18th demo against the G8 Summit in the City of London was
amazing! It was possibly the best riot in London since the Poll Tax one.
The cops totally lost control of the situation and got a good beating,
and various business like McDonald's, car showrooms, banks and the
Futures Exchange were trashed. According to the press four cops were
hospitalised. The City was also covered in anarchist graffiti. Every
time you were with a large mob thinking this is great all these people,
you'd turn the corner and there'd be an even larger crowd there creating
mayhem!

The day began (for me) at the Smithfield Meat Market at 10.30am. There
was a few hundred activists and quite a few cops. The meat market
usually operates in the early hours in the morning but there are
normally a few people around at this time. Not so on the 18th: all the
loading bays were shuttered up and the entrances were heavily locked. So
instead there was a march to the British Poultry Association HQ on High
Holborn, stopping outside while before going on to the Imperial Cancer
Research Fund offices at Lincoln's Inn Fields via various McDonald's.

After that the march made its way into the City where it met up with the
other activists at Liverpool Station. There must have been tens of
thousands of people there totally filling the station concourse and the
surrounding streets.

There were drummers in the middle of the station and the acoustics were
excellent - you could hear the sound booming out from outside despite
the absence of electrical amplification. Other drummers and musicians
were outside "entertaining the troops" whilst some people climbed up the
walls of the banks and tied banners from them.

The weather was very hot and most of the office workers came out to
enjoy the carnival-type atmosphere.

But lurking in the background, down side-streets, were the massed forces
of the state: the City of London police (who are just for the square
mile that is the financial district), the Metropolitan Police, and also
vans from the Kent police. At this point they were taking a low-key
approach.

People were drinking and there was allegedly some consumption of
recreational drugs. The situation was a powderkeg gently simmering
(excuse the mixed metaphor) waiting for a spark to kick things off.

Down the surrounding side roads were lines of riot cops in balaclavas,
helmets, black boiler suits and shields blocking the way. After an hour
or so people wanted to move off around the City and weren't too happy at
being prevented from doing so. The situation built up with the help of
the ever-present "brew crew" (crusties fond of drinking 'Special Brew'
extra-strong lager) and the cops came under bombardment with bottles and
cans and whatever else came to hand.

But the 'thin blue line' couldn't hold out forever and eventually the
mob surged through them and surrounded several riot vans. The police
shit themselves and beat a hasty retreat into the relative refuge of
their vehicles. Some people climbed on top and were dancing and stomping
on the roof while other kicked the sides in and tore off bumpers and
numberplates. After a short while the police decided they'd had enough
and reversed down the road at speed. A few people were knocked down by
the fleeing vans and one woman required an ambulance and fire engine
after she was trapped beneath a riot van.

After this the cops stopped trying the direct confrontation method and
watched from the sidelines as windows were put in and graffiti was
liberally daubed over merchant banks and public monuments.

A McDonald's on the route was totally ransacked by activists who put
through every window, smashed up the inside and sprayed graffiti on the
inside walls. The cash tills were also removed and broken open on the
road outside so people could help themselves to the money.

Just down the road was the LIFFE building (the Futures Exchange) where
some sort of trading in stocks and shares goes on. Protesters tried to
storm the building and the foyer was totally trashed. Police were trying
to intervene but the number of people opposing them forced them to
retreat. The security managed to repel a fullscale invasion but all
trading was suspended for the day. Someone sprayed "Bankers = Wankers"
high on the wall of the building.

Next to this a sound system had been set up and thousands of people were
dancing on the road. Some water pipes had been unstoppered and jets of
water four storeys high were spraying out. A group of people protesting
for the right to be naked in public stripped off in the middle of the
crowd. A nearby Mercedes-Benz car showroom was trashed and a car was
torched by proteters.

After a few hours of this people moved off to Trafalgar Square to
"reclaim" it from Royalists under the slogan "Fuck the Royal Wedding".
The whole square was filled with hippies, punks, crusties, ravers and
anarchos, with fire jugglers and drummers providing entertainment.
Nelson's column was daubed with anti-police and anti-royal graffiti.
People stayed well into the evening and as far as I know nothing kicked
off after that.

There were also smaller actions happening simultaneously across the City
such as sit-ins at various banks, protests against Third World Debt and
a "Critical Mass" cycle ride in the morning to bring traffic in the City
to a standstill.

------------
When I went round the day after (Sat 19) smashed windows were boarded up
and glaziers were hard at work. Cleaners were already starting to scrub
graffiti off the buildings (strange they don't work so quickly in our
parts of town). The City is deserted on Saturday and Sunday anyway so
weekend business won't really be affected.

The Evening Standard (London local daily paper) claimed in its early
editions: "A ragbag of causes but no real anarchy". They'll have to
amend that belief in their Monday issue judging by the headines in the
Saturday papers.

In summary: the day exceeded my already high expectations, but in
hindsight if more people had been properly "tooled up" there was the
potential for much more damage to have been caused. Also, due to the hot
weather people weren't excessively masked up, so it remains to be seen
whether the police will pick people out at a later date from security
video footage.

If there's another one of these demos I would urge everyone to come -
it's definitely not an event to miss and you won't be disappointed.
--
Paul Q






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