Massive May Day protests, violence

communistaction communistaction at
Mon May 1 15:43:42 MDT 2000

I just got back home from the London May Day rally. Actually, there were two:
the traditional May Day rally organised by the South-East Region TUC, which is
mainly a Turkish and Kurdish Communist event, and the Reclaim the
Streets/Anti-Globalisation series of events.

The trouble at McDonalds was what you would expect: the restaurant was an
obvious target and it was all over pretty quickly, with the police getting
pretty heavy. There was also an action by Maoists against a statue of Winston
Churchill, btw.

The traditional May Day march set off from Clerkenwell Green (to the east of
Central London), marching down Fleet Street (former home of the main press, but
now just offices) along The Strand and into Trafalgar Square. It was stopped by
the police outside Charing Cross station (right next to Trafalgar Square) on the
spurious grounds (1) that there was a lot of violence already going on in
Trafalgar Square and in Whitehall (the big thoroughfare which runs from
Trafalgar Square past lots of major government buildings (including Downing
Street) to the House of Parliament, and (2) that the anarchists would attack the
May Day march. Both nonesense, of course.

The truth was that they did not want to see the May Day gathering, with strong
contingents from all the major revolutionary groups from Turkey (DHKC, MLKP,
TKP/ML, TIKB) and others from joining together with the anti-globalisation
elements, which would be a mix with plenty of potential. They called on the
SERTUC to disperse their march, which they did after about 40 minutes, lamely
marching off with their contingent of car workers from Rovers (not a usual
feature on the London march), complaining that undisciplined elements had spoilt
their traditional march. Pretty pathetic. The Turkish comrades, plus the
livelier end of the British left, stayed behind. Quite a few managed to get
through the police cordon, which was rather leaky in places, and made it into
Trafalgar Square and met up with some of the anti-globalisation crowd, and there
were a few clashes with the riot police. The mixture of the old and the new, the
anti-globalisation demonstrators and the supporters of armed Turkish movements,
was something new, and very positive, and the police were noticeably wary.

As is a clear feature of the new wave of demonstrators, the anti-globalisation
crowd had good tactics for fending off and out-manoeuvring the police. They have
a lot of good fighting spirirt, though their ideology if all over the place,
butthat is another discussion.

Jim Hillier

Chris Doss wrote:

> Peaceful May Day protests turn violent
> LONDON-- Colorful protesters
> peacefully engaged in a little "guerrilla
> gardening" outside Britain's
> Parliament building on Monday, but
> London's streets later erupted into
> May Day violence as masked activists
> trashed a fast-food restaurant and
> clashed with riot-geared police.
> Violence marred other May Day
> commemorations around the world,
> including Hamburg, Germany, where
> 12 police officers and 25 protesters
> were injured when leftists and police
> clashed just after midnight.
> London's demonstration began quietly
> near Parliament, where protesters in
> colorful costumes planted seeds to
> add more green to Parliament Square.
> But a group broke away from the
> protest and trashed a Whitehall
> McDonald's restaurant, smashing all
> the windows and tearing down the
> golden arches sign.
> Police pressed the demonstrators -- who pelted them with rocks, bricks,
> bottles and anything else that could be thrown -- toward Trafalgar Square,
> where the demonstration cooled.
> Assistant Police Commissioner Mike Todd, who called the attackers
> "mindless thugs," said one officer was badly injured by a brick in the face
> and seven people were arrested.
> "It does prove there are a small minority of people intent on violence," he
> said. "This is not protest. This is criminality, and these people need to be
> held to account."

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