Account of May Day

An anonymous reflection on London Mayday 2000.

I arrived in Parliament Square at about 11:00, equipped with a bag full of goodies such as compost, a trowel, bottles of water in case of tear gas attacks, flyers and a large quantity of assorted Queen Mum stickers. I was a little disappointed with the turnout, which was about the same as J18. Considering how much our movement has grown since then I had expected more.

I also noticed an unhealthy number of leftists wielding offensive literature like Socialist Worker and The Socialist. Between them, state socialists must have numbered about 500 at most, but it seemed like every damn one had a bundle of newspapers under their arm. I have no objection to state socialists turning up to actions, but it is quite obvious that most of them just turned up to sell their newspapers and had no intention of participating in the guerrilla gardening.

Once the guerrilla gardening actually started, it went like a dream. The police had no way of stopping us as we unearthed turf from Parliament Square, which rolled up like astroturf! It was a joy to see activists scaling lampposts before hanging banners all around Parliament Square. We reclaimed all the surrounding streets, placing huge sections of turf on the pavement. At around 13:45 we all moved off, following the drummers. Most of us stopped outside Downing Street and shouted at the riot police for about 5 minutes. Then we reluctantly moved off down the street, following the drummers who had deserted us. It was only a matter of time before we reached McDonalds...

Most anti-capitalists are very politically literate, and informed of the tyranny of multinational corporations. We know that McDonalds are responsible for the destruction of acres of the rainforest, ethnic cleansing in displacing indigenous tribes, the slaughter of millions of animals each year, exploiting their employees, selling unhealthy food, lobbying against minimum wage and union recognition legislation and forcing their propaganda down our throats. So it was only natural that on passing I shouted Fuck McDonalds! and prepared to throw a bag of compost at them.

I had tied up my bag of compost very tightly with string the night before, and it took me a few seconds to rip apart the bag. By this time, several people were already kicking in the windows and doors. I threw my bag of compost at an already shattered window, which was fun but was not the symbolic act I had hoped.

I have to admit I did find the events very amusing, and like the majority of onlookers, cheered on the vandals. However, this gave the pigs justification for the brutality which was to follow. I have no objection to vandals, and acknowledge that they are an important part of our movement, but in future I would advise against vandalism so early on, especially with so many cops around the corner.

By the time we reached Trafalgar Square (14:15), the riot pigs were already closing in on us in ridiculous numbers. It seemed that the state had finally found a way to stop mass anti-capitalist actions: by calling in just about every cop in the country! The police were very uncompromising, even for them, and several people were injured. There was no hope of fighting back as there were way too many pigs.

After a few hours the carnival atmosphere had been lost and I was tired, hungry and bored. The drummers deserve a big thankyou for doing their best to keep everyone's spirits up, but more would have been nice. A mobile sound system would also have changed things dramatically. After a while it became apparent that the police were intent on keeping us for as long as possible, probably to get extra overtime pay.

Some people somehow managed to keep singing anti-police songs after about 5 hours standing around. However, applauding Winston Silcott for being a cop killer is distasteful. Winston Silcott was cleared of the murder of PC Blakelock (I still think it was suicide -that's what the police always say when young black working class males are found dead in police cells). The observation that PC Blakelock has no head is entirely accurate, and I will sing along to that any day. I was very annoyed when I got home to hear that the Cenotaph had been graffitied. People who die in wars are overwhelmingly working class and are victims of capitalism. If this was done by genuine activists I understand if you did it without thinking, and advise you to make an anonymous apology, which I will accept. Churchill was a different matter, and whoever graffitied the statue of that war criminal has my respect. Overall, J18 was much more of a success, but the actual guerrilla gardening was as fun and effective as anything that happened last year. Too bad the mainstream media focused on the Cenotaph and McDonalds.

Thought for the day: If we spent half as much time building up our own media as we do worrying about the mainstream lies, it wouldn't matter what they say about us because we would be able to counter them with our own propaganda.

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