Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
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wake up! wake up! The writing's on the wall
Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
ISSUE 258, FRIDAY
5th MAY, 2000
“As you would expect the MayDay message about why people
were there got kind of lost. But what is a few smashed windows and some daubed
paint compared to what global capitalism is doing to the planet?”
Monday’s MayDay demonstration in London nearly brought about the collapse of the British way of life. Apparently. SchNEWS was there and has a slightly different story to tell.
In the morning landscape gardeners arrived for a spot of planting at Parliament Square. Bananas and magic mushrooms popped up amongst the pansies and spinach, while large banners declared ‘The Worms Will Turn!’, ‘Let London Sprout’, and ‘Capitalism is Pants’. The cops had helpfully flooded the square the night before, making it easier to roll up the turf and start laying it over the road. Up went a Maypole and the celebrations began. As Big Ben chimed, SchNEWS wondered how long it was since such traffic-free revelry had happened in front of the Houses of Parliament.
Further up the road a McDonalds was getting the customary trashing, before riot police moved in, splitting the crowd in two and trapping hundreds of people in Trafalgar Square for hours.
The police had taken a bloody nose at last year’s Carnival Against Capital on June 18th (see SchNEWS 217/8) and were in no mood for a repeat performance. Even the army were apparently on standby (eh, aren’t the army always on stand-by?), while according to the Financial Times, more than 80 per cent of financial institutions were “concerned about the damage to the City’s standing” if there was any repeat of last June’s Carnival Against Capital. As one person from Reclaim The Streets commented, “The police made sure that everybody knew they were planning the biggest operation for 30 years. Just to keep some gardeners in fancy dress under control.”
The police and press hyped the event, and eventually they got what they wanted. A few smashed windows, some graffiti, some people throwing beer cans and hey presto!
And what about the cenotaph. Maybe it needs a little bit of perspective. Tony Blair talks about the “mindless thuggery” of Monday, yet didn’t he personally invite Russia’s President Putin over to Britain, conveniently forgetting that on the orders of the President, Russia has bombed Chechnya back into the Dark Ages? Forget about the 20,000 dead Chechnyans, as Putin gets whisked off to have tea with the Queen. And it’s gonna take a lot more than a little detergent to clean up Chechnya. So let’s keep this in proportion, no one at the Mayday celebration is to be charged with genocide, child killing or mass murder.
Yet behind the hysteria, comments from the politicians reveal that something else is on the agenda. Blair says “This kind of thing cannot happen again”, while Home Secretary Flan Widdecombe asked in the House of Commons the day after MayDay “Would the groups concerned with yesterday’s disorder be covered by his new definition of terrorists under his (Jack Straw’s) new terrorism legislation?”.
SchNEWS reckons the public is ripe to accept that no more anti-capitalist protests will be allowed to happen again. For more thoughts on the day check out www.indymedia.org.uk
DAMAGING A CRIMINAL
One pleasing improvement to Parliament Sq on Mayday was the green turf mohican and painted communist hammer and sickle on the statue of that racist old bigot Winston Churchill. He once described communists as “swarms of typhus-bearing vermin” and held similar views about everyone else who wasn’t rich, reactionary and British like himself.
Justifying the slaughter of indigenous peoples, he wrote “I do not admit that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia by the fact that a stronger race has come in and taken their place”. It wasn’t that different at home - he was against women getting the vote. He believed dole money “should never be enjoyed as a right and tried to withdraw relief from striking miners’ families in the ‘20s, sending in the army who killed two of the welsh miners.
TIKB, the initials of a Turkish communist group, were written on the statue - a fact perhaps connected with Churchill’s actions against the peoples of that region. As Foreign Secretary in the 1930s, Churchill ordered the use of mustard gas against Kurdish villages, saying “I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using gases against uncivilised tribes”. Not just a racist, but a mass murderer too.
Unfortunately, the British government’s attitude to the Kurds has not changed much in the last 70 years. Blair’s lot are strongly backing the Ilisu Dam project in Turkey (see SchNEWS 244) that will displace 16,000 Kurdish people, flood 52 villages and 15 towns and destroy Hasankeyef, a 3,000 year old city that is the heartland of Kurdish culture. We know the media couldn’t give a toss about people in poor countries (as long as they don’t come here) but they do seem to have suddenly developed a full-on concern for monuments. So why not ring up one of their hotlines to shop Tony Blair and his sidekick Stephen Byers for their planned destruction of one of the most ancient cities in the world - criminal damage that goes slightly beyond an easily removable lick of paint.
* Contributions are wanted for ‘Reflections on MayDay’. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Leicester’s Mardi Gras event has been cancelled after ex Mickey Mouse saleswoman, NF supporter, fanatical Michael Jackson fan (since he became white) and former model told them to beat it. This woman and the “Silent Majority” tell us they are not homophobic, but are simply promoting family values. This is quite strange considering she scaled a 8ft fence lined with spikes, entered a house and then proceeded to threaten the family of Jordy Chandler, who happens to be the boy Michael Jackson paid £15m after allegations of abuse. Not everything in this situation is black and white, for instance, the “Silent Majority” share similarities with the Jackson Five due to there being only five of them.
The plug has been pulled on the Mardi Gras after threats from the National Front and pressure from Leicester’s answer to Eva Brown. Leaflets printed by the NF proclaimed “sexual deviants and perverts are coming to Abbey Park to promote their sick way of life”. All is not lost though, Unity Against Prejudice believe that the NF supporter is just forever blowing Bubbles and they are to stage an alternative Mardi Gras which, they believe, will be as easy as ABC. The woman denies reports that “Billie Jean is not my lover” although she freely admits “I’m bad, I’m bad, I know it”. A starry eyed Unity Against Prejudice spokesperson told SchNEWS “we’re hoping for sunshine, moonlight, good time, I blame it on the boogie.” We’re sure it’s going to be a thriller.
Mayday celebrations went with a swing in Manchester, where revellers brought partying, protesting and picketing to the town. A lively Reclaim The Streets carnival swept through the streets armed with sticks of revolutionary rock proclaiming ‘resistance is sweet’. As they went, they encountered many old friends, McDonald’s, Amec Construction, Shell, Employment Agencies – they were all there to share the fun! From there, the partygoers formed into groups for the special ‘Challenge Anarchy’ treasure hunt, hosted by the one and only Anarchy Rice, and finally made their way onto a splendid free party at a squatted building - completely undetected by police! As SchNEWS went to press, the building, the Hacienda, still remains squatted and is being put to extremely good use with parties having been held since Mayday. Manchester Earth First 0161 226 6814 www.capitalismsucks.co.uk
Sheffield held their MayDay celebrations on Saturday 29th April. There were actions against GM foods, NatWest and Stagecoch, and a critical mass, Maypole dances and a chill out party on Devonshire Green.
Finland Over 500 people marched “for humanity, against capitalism” through Helsinki city centre, stopping at a market place, where leftwing parties and unions bored their listeners. Later the demo reached the poshest hotel and restaurant in Helsinki, only two blocks away from the President’s castle. The street was blocked and the Street party started with 2000 people partying outside. The Hotel tried to get the police to intervene, but they didn’t bother and the party went on till 8pm.
Turkey, 10,000 people march to Sýhhýye Square, Ankara
Korea 15,000 trade unionists and farmers in South Korea held may day rallies to protest about wages and the takeover of local companies by foreign multinationals. A general strike is planned for June unless the government drops plans to sell off corporate assets, and continue with privatisation. Students also fought with riot cops after they occupied a roundabout, and there were 2 people seriously injured.
Berlin The capital of Germany saw its usual mayday mayhem when over 10,000
people fought cops in the Kreuzberg district who were protecting a rally by
neo-nazis. The riot lasted about 15 hours, 226 police were injured, and 401
demonstrators nicked . The head of Berlin Police said with tears in his eyes,
“ Police officers are also people and they also have empotions, fears and feelings
of pain and perhaps some overreacted” Try telling that to friends and relatives
of the Swiss anarchist who was reported killed during the riots.
Hey SchNEWS isn’t expecting the world’s media to start saying maybe these anti-capitalists have got a point, that’s why we do SchNEWS. That’s why we loved the spoof newspapers like the ‘Brighton and Hove No Leaders’ and ‘Maybe’, Reclaim The Streets’ version of the ‘Metro’. That’s why every town needs to have its own rabble-rousing humorous news-sheet like Worthing’s ‘Porkbolter’. That’s why we all need to get out of our ghettos and into our communities. Why not try and turn your local residents groups away from always moaning about dogshit and street lighting into being positive forums for change. Unfortunately quite a lot of this hands-on politics is hard work and quite boring but maybe we need to take some examples from the past and present...
As globalised resistance to capitalism spreads, it’s easy to overlook community based politics. Former Black Panther Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin gave SchNEWS some crunchy thoughts to get our teeth into, drawing attention to the trend to adopt foreign causes as pets rather than resolving community issues. It’s the charity syndrome, feed the starving kids in Africa whilst ignoring your neighbour’s kid being battered by the cops.
Lorenzo spoke about the roots of the Black Panthers in youth activism and community projects, reminding us that it was not all the romantic image of armed Panthers in black berets. In their fight against white supremacy they asserted every community’s right to self determination, whilst support from “progressive whites” was useful, a black community based organisation had to be about black people taking control of their own lives and institutions. He characterised the 60’s struggle as ordinary people doing extaordinary things, with the ethos of “heal thyself, organise thyself”.
In ‘56 the boycott against the segregation on buses (not only did blacks have to sit at the back but it was a criminal offence for a black person to refuse to give their seat up for a white) led to the setting up of an alternative bus service. At the same time, students were occupying the offices and buildings of housing businesses run by white racists, and mobilising communities into self defence and underground organization. It was this non-violent, student organized, community based activism that later merged with the Black Panther movement, calling for a radical overhaul of the whole racist, capitalist system of violence and poverty. Black community control of institutions, education, land, housing, clothing and other community resources, and representation on juries trying black people, was as central to the 10 point platfom of ‘66 as was the call for armed self – defence against police brutality.
defence against police brutality. * For copies of ‘No Leaders’ and ‘Maybe’ send SAE with 60p postage to SchNEWS. For the PorkBolter send SAE to P.O. Box 4144, Worthing, BN14 7NZ www.worthing.eco-action.org/porkbolter * Recommended books: Stokely Carmichel, ‘Black Power’, Bobby Seale, ‘Seize the Day’, Huey P. Newton, ‘Revolutionary Suicide’.
SchNEWS in brief
In the name of the Father, the Son and Ronald McDonald a bizarre group called The Barbeque Ministry are holding barbeques in major cities over summer, where they will be giving away burgers to the public and trying to convert them to Christianity. Animal Rights group Viva! will be protesting at all of them, pointing out the stranglehold of the meat industry over much land and resources in the developing world. Viva!01273 777688 www.viva.org.uk
Lakhvinder ‘Ricky’ Reel, a 20 year old Asian student, died in 1997 in suspicious circumstances. Despite his case being well supported and receiving much publicity from his family and the public, the actual events of his death still remain unknown. The Metropolitan Police promised swift action into race-related deaths at the Lawrence Inquiry, yet this has not been fulfilled, and the Reel family have been given virtually no support from the authorities. The Justice for Ricky Reel Campaign asks that a new investigation be opened, and a public inquiry be launched as soon as possible.
There’s a day of action called for Saturday 13th May between 12-3pm. Picket Scotland Yard, Broadway, London, SW1. Simultaneous pickets are to held at other police stations around the UK. Organise your own demo, for more info call the campaign on 020 8843 2333 or 0956 410773. www.iansmith.co.uk/justice/press
A new campaign by Nettle Appreciation Forum (NAF) is being launched to champion the humble stinging nettle. A spokesperson told SchNEWS “While people continually carp on about the many uses of cannabis and how it can save the world, the poor old nettle is left in the corner of the roadside and forgotten.”
According to tradition, Caesar’s troops introduced the Roman nettle into Britain because they thought that they would need to flail themselves with nettles to keep warm, and until recently “urtication”or beating with nettles, was a standard folk remedy for arthritis and rheumatism.
Not only that but nettles are one of the best vegetables you can eat, full or iron and vitamins A, B and C, plus lots of other minerals and even serotonin (the drug which makes us happy, and which doctors reckon is depleted after you’ve stuffed your face full of ecstasy pills). In a herbal tea they make a cleansing spring tonic and are good for everything from eczema to anaemia. You can even apparently inhale the powered leaves as snuff for nosebleeds! They can be also be used as shampoo, are great as a compost activator and are loved by wildlife .
“What’s more,” added the spokespreson, “Unlike cannabis they won’t make you boring.” Contact on internettle, www.ouch.org
So don’t be a worm by getting outta yer tree on a bit of weed and throwing the trowel in just coz of a little turf luck. Honestly
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Last updated 5th May 2000