Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/156/7797
May Day Protests
Police try to take revenge
OVER 6,000 anti-capitalist protesters gathered in Parliament Square, central London on May Day. Like the J18 and N30 protests before, it was impressive for bringing thousands of people behind an explicitly anti-capitalist demonstration.
Many of the protesters were activists from a wide variety of campaigns and groups. However a large proportion of the protest were young people, many of whom had not been on a demonstration before.
The mood amongst the protesters was almost carnival like, as they soaked up the May Day sunshine, with an enthusiasm amongst many to read and discuss anti-capitalist ideas, including a real openness to socialism.
The Socialist Party leaflet produced specially for the day went down extremely well. Many people approached us for a copy of The Socialist and we also sold hundreds of papers and dozens filled in membership applications.
After two hours in Parliament Square the protest moved towards Trafalgar Square, while protesters danced to the rhythm of drumming. While moving down Whitehall, a small handful of people attacked a McDonald's restaurant in a much publicised but fairly unrepresentative incident.
In Trafalgar Square itself the riot police had already formed lines across the roads leading off the Square. In what was clearly a pre-planned exercise the riot police formed a ring around the protesters after they had entered Trafalgar Square.
Some protesters were hurt as the police charged and herded protesters into a smaller and smaller area. Some were pushed down steps or hurt as police struck out with batons and riot shields.
The police tactics, clearly planned well before May Day, aimed to deny the protesters the chance from demonstrating in a peaceful way. Tony Blair, who wants to make being a protester a crime through the Terrorism Bill, has accused the protesters of being the ones intent on causing violence.
However, the sheer numbers of police mobilised on May Day and their tactics point to the difficulties that organisers of future 'anti-capitalist' protests will have.
The Socialist Party believes that to take this movement forward links could be forged with those sections of the labour movement engaged in fighting capitalist attacks. For instance car workers at Ford Dagenham and Rover, tube workers fighting privatisation and public-sector workers fighting cuts. We also raise the need for a programme behind which these workers and other layers could be drawn behind the movement.
Protest at Mass Arrests
OVER 100 protesters were arrested during and following May Day's events. Some people who were not on the demo were arrested on the same day at their homes in Bedford for alleged involvement in the N30 demo.
Overwhelmingly, these arrests will have no connection to any incident and are being used to intimidate people at any future protests.
Protests about the mass arrests to: Metropolitan Police Commissioner, New Scotland Yard, SW1. Fax: 020 7230 2818.
In The Socialist 5 May 2000: