also see: Foot page
Before Edinburgh's 2001 street party, motorists had been given numerous warnings to avoid the city centre and buses had advertised disruptions in advance. All this made for a noticeably quieter city centre than usual. On a grey, wet, colder than winter Bastille day, things were very different from the scorcher we had enjoyed last year. Additionally, the polis had been so totally unprepared last year and so totally fucked over that this year they brought bus loads of coppers in from various Scottish towns. They didn't have enough vans to carry them all in so they turned up in dodgy rental vans that looked like they should have been taking kids to school in some village in 1940.
There were two meeting points this year and while one enjoyed a fairly healthy turnout, the other one had only about 50 people. Despite these few numbers they were able to hold a major junction until reinforcements arrived. At this point we seemed to be fairly in control with most of the coppers out of sight. It was a great moment as the two groups, each led by a clutch of flags, came together. Drummers, jugglers and a sound system on a pram mixed with youngsters who pulled scarves over their faces.
Last year the cops had done everything they could to stop us getting on to Princes St. (easily the main street in Edinburgh) and we expected trouble again. Sensing they were trying to form a line we began to push forward. At the front of the crowd, which was now perhaps 500 strong, were two 'magic carpets', the pigs were very wary of these and backed off further and further. Eventually we streamed onto Princes St. almost without opposition amongst cheering and celebration we sat down, cracked our booze open and enjoyed controlling our space and the free food that was passed around. Soon the cops started being real pricks and brought some horses to the side of the crowd. I don't know who taught these fuckers how to ride but I think maybe no one did. I don't know what they were trying to do but they rode into the crowd, a few people stood up and repulsed them. Numerically, this was probably the strongest part of the action, with perhaps 600 people present. The cops started a strange tactic of working exceedingly hard to keep us on one side of the road, even though they had shut down many central roads and certainly weren't moving traffic down this one. As we moved on, this policy led to quite a few altercations and scuffles. It became apparent just how many cops were on duty as they tried to completely surround us. About this point some people were jumping over the railings and there were a couple of minor scuffles as we headed away from Princes Street. At this point, two people were arrested, despite the efforts of the crowd, apparently at random. The police now increased their presence still further. Although their official line was, 'we're here to facilitate a peaceful demonstration' some of the filth on the ground were really up for a fight. Regrettably, we didn't really have the numbers to give them one. It looked for a time that they would confine us by a roundabout that blocked most of the City's North Eastern traffic (they're not too smart this bunch). However, empowered by our magic carpets and the free food, we were able to head away through the New Town. During this part of the action there were a few tense moments, a few renditions about friends who kill coppers, I saw a bottle thrown into the police, but they were unable to locate the perpetrator. There were also stink bombs set off in Jenners (an infamously posh local department store).
Anyway, things settled down a bit and we returned to Princes St. for an encore. We wandered around, stopping often (just to piss the cops off) and eventually headed back over to the other side of town. As we advanced, the cops ran ahead and shut down various local businesses they thought some of us might go into (mainly places that sold drink). When we were ready we headed into a big park and collapsed pretty tired.
It was excellent to have pulled off an action, and shut down the centre of town, on a pretty shitty day with shit loads of filth from allover, but obviously it is a shame we didn't get as many people involved as the 1000 that participated last year.
One thing that was very noticeable was that the police were very aggressive towards people who tried to join us. They shoved people back onto pavements and seemed to be determined to keep a clear separation between the rabble and 'ordinary people'. They probably just reminded a lot of 'ordinary people' why they hate pigs so much. Can't wait for the revolution.
So, on the negative side, there were times when there were so many police about that we were scarcely in control of the space and in this sense the day wasn't as empowering as last year. On the positive side, we managed to shut down the city centre at the cost of 'only' two arrests and at an enormous expense to the state and various businesses that drafted in extra security. The event also attracted a lot of people from out with the ghetto and that matters a lot. On Wednesday there's to be a kick about, then we've got a critical mass event on Friday and then two days of discussions, talks and films next weekend. I think we are reasonably well set up for the rest of the 'Foot & Mouth festival' after today. It is just brilliant that a town like Edinburgh, that has no great radical tradition, can be hosting a whole week of events and all without any noticeable involvement from Trots etc.
After a while in the park some of us headed over to the police station where the arrested were being held. We hadn't been there long before the cops said they would release our comrades if we dispersed. After quite a bit of debate, we decided we'd give them a chance and some dispersed while others waited in a pub nearby. Quite soon, about 9pm perhaps, the arrested walked free and we toasted an, on the whole, positive day. The two who had been arrested were enjoying much greater freedom than they had a couple of hours ago, and we were all a little bit more free than we had been before the action.
I'm looking forward to the rest of the weeks events!
We had freedom of the capital, as we partied where we wanted to.
At the front our magic carpets (TM) were endowed with the psychic energy of our mass joyful gathering and repelled those that wished to impeded us, and our way was clear.
A well good time was had, despite some of the police, many brought in from afar, being well nippy, and some certainly should learn to ride properly before bring horses.
But while our comrades are imprisoned none of us are free. So it is good to know that all arrested were released before 9pm.
more a later day (including photos)