2001-05-04 01:00:00 UTC
A few notes about the Mayday demonstrations here in London...
The police, the government and the media tried to reduce participation in the demonstrations by over-emphasizing the probability and extent of violence. In effect they advertised it as an event which someone wishing to cause violence should not miss, while at the same time reducing the chances of moderation by peaceful demonstrators. While I expect this behaviour from the media and to some extent the government, I expect the police not to involve themselves in politics in this manner.
When the media reported the actions of the police on the day, it was implied that the police had a plan for dealing with the demonstrators. I am fairly certain that this was not the case. At one point I overheard a policeman in riot gear on a road leading off Oxford Street saying words to the effect of: "What are we meant to be doing here? Should we be stopping them getting through or what?". That seemed to be representative of police tactics that day.
The Guardian described the period during which the police and the demonstrators were wandering randomly throught he streets of Soho as "a tense game of cat-and-mouse". However the atmosphere as I perceived it was not tense, but playful. I also used this metaphor at the time, but as one of my friends said, it wasn't clear who was the cat and who was the mouse.
Having said all that, I left the demonstration when I got the impression that it wasn't a demonstration about global capitalism, but a game with the police. I had little desire to be involved in such a thing, and in future I shall probably avoid demonstrations of this sort.
The TV companies must have shot hours of footage of peaceful demonstrating. It's interesting that they chose to only show the violent parts.
On the subject of global capitalism, anyone who suggests that buying ethically is a reasonable response to the problems of capitalism is missing the point. Buying ethically is simply too great a task to be performed by enough people individually for it to be effective. Also it is pretty much impossible to do so due to the great size and ubiquity of many of the companies one might want to avoid. Try boycotting AOL Time Warner and still participating in our culture.