Schnews report on Lodon Mayday

“As you would expect the MayDay message about why people were there got kind of lost. But what is a few smashed windows and some daubed paint compared to what global capitalism is doing to the planet?”
An anonymous demonstrator

Monday’s MayDay demonstration in London nearly brought about the collapse of the British way of life. Apparently.
SchNEWS was there and has a slightly different story to tell.

In the morning landscape gardeners arrived for a spot of planting at Parliament Square. Bananas and magic mushrooms popped up amongst the pansies and spinach, while large banners declared ‘The Worms Will Turn!’, ‘Let London Sprout’, and ‘Capitalism is Pants’.

The cops had helpfully flooded the square the night before, making it easier to roll up the turf and start laying it over the road. Up went a Maypole and the celebrations began. As Big Ben chimed, SchNEWS wondered how long it was since such traffic-free revelry had happened in front of the Houses of Parliament. Further up the road a McDonalds was getting the customary trashing, before riot police moved in, splitting the crowd in two and trapping hundreds of people in Trafalgar Square for hours.
The police had taken a bloody nose at last year’s Carnival Against Capital on June 18th (see SchNEWS 217/8) and were in no mood for a repeat performance. Even the army were apparently on standby (eh, aren’t the army always on stand-by?), while according to the Financial Times, more than 80 per cent of financial institutions were ‘concerned about the damage to the City’s standing’ if there was any repeat of last June’s Carnival Against Capital.

As one person from Reclaim The Streets commented, ‘The police made sure that everybody knew they were planning the biggest operation for 30 years. Just to keep some gardeners in fancy dress under control.’ The police and press hyped the event, and eventually they got what they wanted. A few smashed windows, some graffiti, some people throwing beer cans and hey presto! ‘MAYDAY BLOODBATH ORGY – END OF CIVILISATION AS WE KNOW IT – HALF CHEWED BABIES RIPPED APART BY ANARCHISTS FROTHING AT THE MOUTH.’
And what about the cenotaph. Maybe it needs a little bit of perspective. Tony Blair talks about the ‘mindless thuggery’ of Monday, yet didn’t he personally invite Russia’s President Putin over to Britain, conveniently forgetting that on the orders of the President, Russia has bombed Chechnya back into the Dark Ages? Forget about the 20,000 dead Chechnyans, as Putin gets whisked off to have tea with the Queen. And it’s gonna take a lot more than a little detergent to clean up Chechnya.
So let’s keep this in proportion, no one at the Mayday celebration is to be charged with genocide, child killing or mass murder. Yet behind the hysteria, comments from the politicians reveal that something else is on the agenda. Blair says “This kind of thing cannot happen again”, while Home Secretary Flan Widdecombe asked in the House of Commons the day after MayDay “Would the groups concerned with yesterday’s disorder be covered by his new definition of terrorists under his (Jack Straw’s) new terrorism legislation?”.

SchNEWS reckons the public is ripe to accept that no more anti-capitalist protests will be allowed to happen again.

For more thoughts on the day check out
* Did you get arrested on the day? Did you witness any arrests? Then let the Legal Defence and Monitoring Group know. BM Haven, London WC1N 3XX 020 7837 1688.
* International report back on what happened at Mayday on Sat 13th with food, bookstall and filmshowings. Meet 3pm Unemployed Centre, 6 Tilbury Place, Brighton.
* There will be meetings throught London during May to develop ideas around Guerrilla gardening. 020 8374 9885 for info.


One pleasing improvement to Parliament Sq on Mayday was the green turf mohican and painted communist hammer and sickle on the statue of that racist old bigot Winston Churchill. He once described communists as “swarms of typhus-bearing vermin” and held similar views about everyone else who wasn’t rich, reactionary and British like himself. Justifying the slaughter of indigenous peoples, he wrote “I do not admit that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia by the fact that a stronger race has come in and taken their place”. It wasn’t that different at home – he was against women getting the vote. He believed dole money “should never be enjoyed as a right and tried to withdraw relief from striking miners’ families in the ‘20s, sending in the army who killed two of the welsh miners.

TIKB, the initials of a Turkish communist group, were written on the statue – a fact perhaps connected with Churchill’s actions against the peoples of that region. As Foreign Secretary in the 1930s, Churchill ordered the use of mustard gas against Kurdish villages, saying “I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using gases against uncivilised tribes”. Not just a racist, but a mass murderer too. Unfortunately, the British government’s attitude to the Kurds has not changed much in the last 70 years. Blair’s lot are strongly backing the Ilisu Dam project in Turkey (see SchNEWS 244) that will displace 16,000 Kurdish people, flood 52 villages and 15 towns and destroy Hasankeyef, a 3,000 year old city that is the heartland of Kurdish culture. We know the media couldn’t give a toss about people in poor countries (as long as they don’t come here) but they do seem to have suddenly developed a full-on concern for monuments. So why not ring up one of their hotlines to shop Tony Blair and his sidekick Stephen Byers for their planned destruction of one of the most ancient cities in the world – criminal damage that goes slightly beyond an easily removable lick of paint. * Contributions are wanted for ‘Reflections on MayDay’. Send them to [email protected]

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