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The anti-capitalist hustle

Jim Jepps

This report was dictated by phone from Edinburgh as the Indymedia centre was not accessible due to an emerging police presence in the area on Wednesday night.

The Scottish Socialist Voice front page summed it up when it said "They came in intimidating dark colours with accents that marked them out as outsiders, armed and intent on violence. The Metropolitan Police, the West Yorkshire Police, the Humberside Police." The press has been whipping up the fears of the Scottish people for over a fortnight now and, as an article on our website says, the press first makes people afraid and then interviews them about their fear.

If they were to be believed, scenes of anti-capitalist protests would be more like scenes from the film Kung Fu Hustle than the reality. Also, those naughty, naughty embedded journalists from the BBC had been telling the world that the protests had been cancelled. It's interesting if not surprising that the BBC was happy to broadcast news that there was no evidence for, simply in order to try to do the G8 a favour and turn protesters back from the demonstrations.

Today has been a day when the anti-capitalist movement has fought a good battle on many fronts and the disruption that they've caused is not one tiny fraction of the disruption and devastation that the policies of the G8 countries create. The day began with anarchists, in true Che Guevara style, taking to the hills in order to rain chaos down upon the forces of their law and order.

Early morning road blockades and skirmishes with riot police resulted in a real headache for them and only a handful of activists arrested. One set of such activists at the Dissent rural convergence centre in Stirling were confronted by police the moment they attempted to leave their encampment. But they were still able to block a key road, preventing bowler-hatted apparatchiks getting to the summit on time. Other black-clad activists were able to disrupt Dunblane train station preventing other G8 summit goers getting to their appointments.

By this time G8 Alternatives had organised numerous coaches from all over Scotland and were attempting to converge on the pretty village of Auchterarder. The police had been practising their tactics of disrupting transport yesterday at the Dungavel protest and they did their best to prevent activists even attending the demonstrations. This made a mockery of police assurances that they would comply with the Scottish Parliament decision to allow the protests to take place.

Many coaches were detained outside of Stirling at the Broxden roundabout. Protesters became more and more frustrated but as their numbers built the police found it far more difficult to contain their potential anger. They were given an ultimatum: let us protest at Gleneagles or we protest here, cutting off western road links for the whole of Scotland.

The police had tried various tactics to explain why they thought it necessary to detain the coaches, claiming that the anarchists had blocked off the road leading into Gleneagles. This was completely untrue and a blatant attempt by the boys in blue to create divisions within our ranks. At last the coaches were allowed to set off but only with a police escort chugging along at ten miles an hour.

Meanwhile in Edinburgh, thousands of protesters had been prevented from even getting on their coaches and in frustration a vigorous blockade of Princes Street took place with 2000 angry anti-capitalists. The police moved in and arrested the stewards.

At Auchterarder, the several thousand protesters who had managed to make their way through earlier in the day, despite the police preventing anyone getting off at the train station, were soon joined by the really impressive convoy of coaches released from the police blockade. There must have been around fifty coaches, including double-deckers, parading through the village. The villagers' response was heart-warming to say the least. Smiling, waving, with thumbs up, time and again the villagers showed they had not bought in to the bullshit.

Thousands of protesters then assembled and marched down towards Gleneagles. One of the protest organisers, Chris Nineham of Globalise Resistance, estimated that there were 10,000 protesters at the scene and we marched down to the steel fences that surrounded the conference centre. Some protesters took themselves into a nearby field as they were watched by rows of well-armed mounted police.

The scene was that of a well fortified encampment with lines of police and watchtowers with searchlights and Chinook helicopters circling overhead. The protesters rattled the fences and some, though not many, breached the outer defences, if only momentarily. Police then set dogs loose into the fields and the mounted police beat some demonstrators back with brutal force. Police at the back of the demonstration, unbeknownst to the rest of us, harassed and intimidated and in some cases detained protesters. Whilst we were not able to get any further, we were within spitting distance of the world leaders.

What do these demonstrations prove? That the movement's very diversity is our strength. Whether we're black-clad, red-clad or white-clad, we all have a positive contribution to make. But it also shows that, in a sane society, the rings of police surrounding the conference centre would not have been facing outwards, opposing the demonstrators for peace and social justice, but would have been facing inwards, smashing up the meeting of those responsible for the impoverishment and murder of countless thousands of people around the globe.

 

July 2005

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