Cosmo, the beanie hat and the big, gay suitcase; or, Oh, those crazy coppers…who’ve they gone and f@cked up today??!!1
April 9, 2009 by cosmoakacitizensmith
It was all supposed to be a bit of a laugh.
The plan was to breeze up to the anti-G20 protests in London after work, do a gig in Ramparts Social Centre and then go where the vibe took me. There had been so much bullshit thrown around in the press by the cops that I thought I’d have to wear my little anarchy beanie hat just to scare them a bit. Not to mention my big, gay suitcase – a massive pink number from Poundland that I use to carry my busking amp and mic stand around in.
So I got to Whitechapel tube, and wondered into the night. Good old East London!! Round the way in a pub in Aldgate East I went to my first anarchist meeting….21 years ago???!!! It was the old Direct Action Movement, who later became the Solidarity Federation. The 8 or 9 people in the old boozer convinced me that with their contacts in the Unions, they could bring the country to a standstill within weeks. Happy days, I thought!
And here I am, twenty odd years later carrying a massive pink suitcase and guitar and still waiting for the great leap forward….
Anyhow, Ramparts was rough and ready but welcoming. I got given a plate of delicious vegan curry, (donations only!), and settled down to take stock.
People were cheerful and animated but obviously exhausted from the day’s protests. I thought about the gig..should I play quietly in the corner without my amp, or plug in, set up and let rip? What were people up for?
In the meantime I was getting texts from Stylesy who was caught in the kettle at the Bishopsgate Climate Camp. It sounded exuberant over there, but the cops were being way on top, as per.
Other mates were texting to tell me they were on their way, or had been caught up in this and that. It was like being in the eye of the hurricane, a nerve centre of calm in a sea of craziness.
I spoke to some sound people, including a lady from Hungary who was involved in the social centre scene out there. Defo going to be out there at some point soon, back to my roots n all….
After an abortive jam with a pissed bloke on the stage, I decided to plug in and play. I started quiet-ish but sensed that people were up for the more lairy, political numbers so I upped it a notch.
We were all really enjoying ourselves when suddenly a guy came up to me all graven face and said he had an announcement to make on the mic. Someone had been killed on the Climate Camp protest.
Talk about a sudden change of atmosphere. People who’d been trying to chill and having a few drinks suddenly clicked into gear. Some got on the mic to talk. There were lots of questions. Who was the guy? How did he die? Had he been a protester or not? Were the cops involved?
People were shocked and stunned but not sure how to react. It was like we all wanted to do something about the situation but weren’t sure what. It was really frustrating.
Eventually we all calmed down and started searching on mobiles and computers for more info. Details were sketchy to say the least. The guy had been 30 years old. NO, 47. He’d been bit by cops. No, he hadn’t. He’d not been part of the protests, Yes, he had. All these sort of things were flying around the room. It was decided that we were going to hold fire until we knew what was going on.
The room started to wind down again. After lots of chatting to people, I went to sleep on the stage with a few others.
The next day, we woke to find that building was surrounded by about 20 – 25 riot cops. Not to worry, said the Ramparts crew. Cops made a habit of surrounding the building, and had done so even before the protests. They warned us that we’d be stopped and searched under Section 60.
Good old Section 60! Instant police state! I was worried about the contents of my big, gay suitcase. Obviously the mic stand was going to be used to decapitate as many poor plod as possible, and bludgeon their wives and kids….but what if they discovered it??!!!! I had some thinking to do….
I left the building with a crowd of about eight people. Obligingly, the cops searched us. One of them used to live in Pontypridd, so I had a nice chat about the Stereophonics.
“Oh look,” said another plod, as he pulled out a paperback whilst rifling through my big, gay suitcase. “A George Monbiot book. It’s got far too many big words in. It would go over my head.”
(I thought I’d grown out of reading George Monbiot books, but Bring on the Apocalypse is a real gem. Fave quote: “As a solution to the problem, [workers’ co-ops] present the same problem as anarchism: internal democracy can be accompanied by external oppression.” Unlike the state-based solutions you favour, eh George? Sorry. Big words…)
They obviously didn’t realise that my mic stand was going to be used as an instrument of death, and they let me go. Oh well, I thought, maybe I’d leave the mass destruction till another day, and I went and caught the train home.
It’s taken me me the last few days to piece together what the hell happened that night, not to mention half and hour later.
It turned out Ramparts was raided by those cops just after I left, (the above photo is from Indymedia). They burst in with tasers, handcuffed people and nicked a few people – people who were going to leave anyway, so if they’d wanted to nick them they needn’t have done a Starsky and Hutch!
I think we all now know the truth about Ian Tomlinson, (see above). Except the poor cops of course, they seem to be a little confused as to what happened. Bless them. It’s a stressful job at the best of times. (Whoever made this video should be arrested at once, by the way. Thank god there’s a law against things like this!!).
Other interesting news. The Alternative G20 summit – basically a talking shop with lots of liberal intellectuals, greens, union types, (scary, huh??!!) – got shut down due to police pressure. (Funny how Gordon Brown reckons we should celebrate Britain’s freedoms, right at the moment we are giving them away for free).
(Nearer home here in Cardiff, they have an interesting line in dealing with musicians they don’t like! They send in the choppers and machine guns!!)
As a result of all this, the liberal press are calling for reform of the police in the wake of their behaviour at the G20 protests. Even if that occurs, (oink, oink, flap, flap), it won’t make a jot of difference. In difficult times more than ever, the cops are the attack dogs of the state.
The question is, how far will that go in stopping YOU standing up for what you think is right?