UK London N30 1999 - for background info on these events see the Agitprop Intro
Global Reoprt Page UPDATED 4.12.99 - see link above
--"NICE ONE SEATTLE!"--
LONDON WAKES UP TO GLOBAL ACTION 30.11.99
In an action designed to raise awareness of capitalism and the WTO, around fifty people gathered in and around Euston station at 9:30am to begin distributing leaflets and stickers to commuters and passers-by. Previous to their arrival the concourse had already been staked out by dozens of police teams and even more media. The assembled crowd was later joined by small autonomous groups from other areas of London, and continued to hand out large amounts of information.
CONSTRUCTION WORKERS SAY NO2WTO
At 12pm the Construction Safety Campaign held a demonstration outside the Canadian Embassy (Canada House) on Trafalgar Square. The construction workers and their supporters were protesting at Canada's attempt to use the WTO to reverse the decision by several EU countries to ban asbestos use. Under WTO rules the ban is seen as a barrier to free trade. Here in the UK, the Institute for Cancer Research expects the current numbers of asbestos related cancers to double in the next ten years.
Like the previous action, the protesters were accompanied by large numbers of police and journalists, and the event passed off peacefully.
Following the demonstration the crowd marched past Downing Street while others briefly blockaded Oxford Street in a sit down protest.
STUDENTS TARGET CITYBANK
The Lewisham branch of Citybank was picketed throughout the afternoon by a small group of students. The bank is one of the major holders of students loan debt. The global trend to underfund and privatise services that accompanies the expansion of free trade has hit education in the UK, with student grants being scrapped in favour of personal loans. The latest round of trade talks threaten to expand this trend throughout health and transport.
NIGERIANS PUT THEIR PRESIDENT AND SHELL ON TRIAL
President Obasanjo of Nigeria and Mark Moody-Stuart, of Royal-Dutch/Shell faced a people's court in London to answer a number of charges relating to human rights abuses and environmental devastation in the Niger Delta. This piece of street theatre was performed by Nigerians exiles and British environmental activists outside the Magistrates Court in Covent Garden at 2:30pm Others from different campaigns had also attended to show solidarity. More from www.oilcompanies.org/trial
RALLY AT EUSTON STATION
Nearly two thousand people gathered at Euston station at 5pm for a rally jointly organised by Reclaim the Streets and the London Strike Support Group designed to highlight the links between the free trade agenda of the WTO and the privatisation of public transport in UK. The event was endorsed by the London Transport Council of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT), whose speaker detailed the opposition to Tube privitisation and the real concerns for safety should it go ahead. As banners were hung the rythms of a samba band mixed with speeches from representatives of various campaigning groups. Although the main focus of the rally was transport, there were also speakers covering a wide array of issues linked to the WTO and the system it governs.
Genetic Engineering Network illustrated how free trade rules make it impossible for people to choose what they eat, putting them in the hands of corporations that push GMO's down their throats.
A speaker from Voices in the Wilderness criticised the British and American governments for maintaining heavy economic sanctions against Iraq. The group openly break sanctions to take medical supplies to Iraq, where it is widely accepted the sanctions are causing severe shortages of food and medicines killing thousands, particularly children.
Campaign Against the Arms Trade highlighted the links between politicians and the global arms market. While admitting it was not the WTO that controlled the worlds arms production, the speaker went on to place the blame for the worlds conflicts on companies like the UK's GEC Marconi, the labour government's so called ethical arms policy, and the inherent greed for profit that places money before lives.
There was also support for the plight of American journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, in death row since 1982 as a result of a thorougly rigged trial in which he was convicted of shooting a Philadelphia policeman. A former member of the Black Panthers and the environmental-anarchist community MOVE, he is widely considered a political prisoner.
Talking from Reclaim The Streets another speaker urged the importance of placing the WTO in the context of capitalism and its effects, and cited the growing nature of international solidarity and protest. One of the final speakers called on people to 'Reclaim Mayday' in the year 2000 as part of a global day of action.
As advertised the speeches ended at 7pm to resounding cheers with a final speaker congratulating everyone on a successful day and a remarkable gathering of issues.
RIOT AT EUSTON STATION
At around the same time as the first reports of police violence in Seattle arrived to London, part of the crowd that had been previously attending the rally at Euston station made an attempt to break away towards one of the main traffic arteries in the capital. Although the whole area was surrounded by police, protesters were directly met by a small number of police officers and a confrontation erupted. Police were initially driven back but a line of officers in riot gear rapidly formed and a series of charges and skirmishes on both directions ensued. There were diverse opinions among the protesters about the right course to follow, many openly calling to pro-activelly confront the authorities while others opted for passive resistance and some for withdrawal.
A small group of protesters switched their attention to an unmarked police van and proceeded to turn it over, to a mixture of booing and cheering from fellow protesters. In the following half hour there were several attempts to set the van on fire which on some occasions were thwarted by other demonstrators. Finally, the van caught fire and was surrounded by around 30 photographers, at which moment police decided to clear the station parade, advancing in perfectly structured lines. The van had been left isolated and unattended near the crowd for several hours, with 12ft metal poles attached to its top, in a remarkable flaw of police organisation.
Most of the protestors left the area by 8pm while around 500 people, now roughly divided into three groups, continued to clash with police. The first group was driven towards King's Cross, with several unsuccessful attempts to blockade the road by sitting down. They were finally dispersed after 9pm. A second, smaller, group stayed dancing in front of police lines in Eversholt street and gradually dispersed. The third group was less fortunate and, after some heated physical confrontation, was completely surrounded by a triple line of riot police who identified and photographed all of them before their release. The area was completely clear between 12 and 1am.
The latest reports speak of 38 arrests, 4 of them in connection with the carnival in the City of London on J18, and 7 casualties with different injuries (including a policeman with spinal injuries) none of them life-threatening. Road traffic and public transport were severely disrupted by the events.
PIRATE RADIO BLOCKS YUPPY RADIO
Interference FM, the pirate radio collective that broadcast across London on J18, repeated their feat in protest at the commoditisation of the airwaves. They transmitted on the frequency used by Millennium FM 106.9. This commercial broadcaster prides itself in targeting an A1 audience, those with the highest purchasing power, and fuels values based on greed and profit. The pirates were taken off air at around 4pm in a large operation by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), responsible for enforcing the state control of radio and TV transmissions.
'Other' News Snippets:
- Throughout the night on N30 a live audio feed ran a scanned frequency of the Seattle Police Department radios over the Internet, allowing listeners to hear the latest developments in Seattle as the 'troops' moved in, and the curfew began.
- The official WTO website (www.wto.org) out of action at 2200hrs 30/11/99 it reappeared but some time later.
- The RTS UK site and the Electro Hippies 'Virtual Sit In' was temporarily off the air on N30. A message on the RTS site said:
''Sorry this site was down for some of November 30. Techhies turned off the webserver while they investigated a huge increase in traffic. Immediate suspicions of a Denial of Service attack by pro-WTO forces... or promised activity by the Metropolitan Police to thwart protest plans... but no! It turns out there were 100,000 hits on the electrohippies site, from people wanting to know more about their "virtual sit-in" - a Denial of Service protest against the WTO. So one could claim that virtually that many people joined the action on Tuesday.''
Electro Hippies site at http://www.greennet.org.uk/ehippies/action/index.htm
- Seattle Independant Media Centre went off the air 07.40hrs 01/12/99 - back up again by 1000hrs 01/12/99
- Police attack reporters as they try to enter the Seattle Independent Media Center. Report from http://www.ainfos.ca
Pursuing protesters, a line of some 35 police in full riot gear stretched across the 3rd Ave. between Union and Pike some 10 feet North of the Independent Media Center (at 1415 3rd). Approximately 10 protesters sat across from them 30 feet to the South, with another 20 persons scattered around the block among the sitters. The seated protesters repeatedly asked the riot police what they wanted from the protesters, pointing out that when they had tried to leave, they were attacked. The riot police, wearing gas masks and full body armor, said nothing. After several minutes the line of protesters grew to about 15. Seconds later a concussion grenade landed and exploded among the seated protesters. Simultaneously, the riot cops charged, spraying pepper spray and tear gas at anyone they encountered including journalists filming outside the door of the IMC. The IMC filled with gas as people grabbed for masks and scarves. An ambulance was called for a bystander who was rushed into the IMC after being hit by what was believed to be a concussion grenade in the face. Over 100 journalists were held hostage by the police for approximately one hour until they were allowed to leave. Cartridges from concussion grenades and two different types of rubber bullets were found in the street and brought back to the IMC. A curfew has been declared for the downtown Seattle area after 7 pm. 30.11.99
- The possession, sale or wearing of gas masks made illegal in Seattle!! 2.12.99(?)
- Hundreds of arrested protestors have cut their plastic handcuffs with nail clippers, barricaded themselves in the buses used to take them to the nick and are refusing to even give their names. Many others continue civil disobediance after arrest - Seattle 2.12.99
November 30th 5-7pm Euston Station - guest speakers, music...
This event was initiated by RTS and the Strike Support Group, with the support of the London Regional Council of the RMT (tube workers) and the Campaign against Tube Privitisation, as well as other concerned groups.
Say No! to the WTO! No! to privitisation. No! to another century of capitalism. No! to another century of alienated work, poverty, wars and ecological destruction - and Yes! to a new world based on real human community, a society based on our needs and desires not their profits!
For more information on the serious issues at stake in Seattle check out the references in our links section.
Some newspapers have recently made outrageous claims about RTS. Often the stories are completely invented and seem to be a clumsy attempt to discredit RTS as a secretive, violent organisation. However RTS is a very open group and anyone who wants a world without capitalism and environmental destruction is welcome. Meetings every Tuesday - phone 0171 281 4621 for details.
UK:Stop Press (Nov 99) Who are the 'thugs behind the violence' ? - See the recently published rogues gallery (as well as info on UK media propaganda in the run up to the Seattle WTO meeting)