In anticpation of May 1st, the traditional day for the working class to make some form of protest, April 30th was the opportunity for a number of “anarchists” / anti-capitalists to act out some theatricals in Brighton.
The website, and literature indicated a conglomeration of a variety of local “anti-everything” groups coming together under one voice for this event, suggesting a co-ordinated and incisive rally of opinion about something.
The day got off to a slow start with the potential for this being a handful of people outnumbered by the press. The initial contingent of protestors compromised of “face-painters” / mock-Levellers / Black Bloc and faux-clowns with an average age of 25. There was not much attempt to make a political statement, the main aim seemed to create a noise ( with a very creative modification of a council wheely-bin into a mobile sound system ). Some effort had gone in to creating a map of all of the offending establishments whether that be the council, or a variety of shops, or commercial establishments who in one way or another, dented the sensibilities of this “anti-everything” co-operative. In reality, with their politics it would be difficult to see how any profit-making establishment would not be subject of their wrath, and damnation.
The day started with the roll of a dice, this was to inject some randomness into the journey through Brighton’s streets and to “fool” the police and give them the runaround. I guess that none of the organisers had been watching the news recently. Minute by minute the number of police, vans, and horses gradually increased. There was no way that this group wanted a peaceful protest, and there was no way that the police were going to let this get out of control – there was only one way that this was going.
The whole event was slightly laughable with the protestors getting indignant about their right to protest. This was curtailed by the police with there being a number of seemingly arbitrary arrests, and temporary containment actions. Given the actions that some of these groups are now prepared to take, it is unrealistic to expect that the police would have been aloof on this occasion. If the group, genuinely had an agenda, then they could have got that point across by some sensible direct action and communicating with the Saturday afternoon shoppers.
Needless to say they had no intention other than to be a nuisance, and to try and cause the police somewhat pointless expense without any valid positive political objective. Their politics seemed to be basically “anti-everything” with no discernible cohesion or recommended way forwards as an alternative…or as neatly summarised by a slightly, drunken Irish lad, who asked me what the demonstration was about, and I answered – “against pretty much everything” – “Oh!…so a bunch of moaning bastards!” – he succinctly retorted.
That pretty much summed it up for me!