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To London…

From midday to sunset, on the streets around Parliament & Whitehall with Extinction Rebellion

Ramblinactivist's videos – 2019/03,
Friday 11th October 2019

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‘The Authorities’ really don’t know how to handle this; everyone dancing to the same tempo, in character or in their own right, facing down a concerted policing effort to keep them from the streets – official disruption can’t over-ride the unity of purpose.

This is dedicated to all those wonderful people taking the time to stand, to dance, to sing, to bang drums, and more especially, to get arrested:

Click to view ‘To London… From midday to sunset, on the streets around Parliament
& Whitehall with Extinction Rebellion’
, 9th October 2019

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The police are searching people who look like crusty protesters on Westminster Bridge. I walk by; they don’t stop me. Drat! I really wanted to have a discussion with them on the scope of “stop and search” powers for some stuff I need to write soon.

I’m not here to get arrested today (for a change). I’m here to make a video: To soak up the events and interpret, through my eyes, what – within the miasma of media manipulation, or in most cases willing ignorance – is ‘going down’.

If a policeman should try and get officious?; well, there are some challenges my wit finds it difficult to avoid.

I begin out the front of Westminster Abbey. Total block. Lock-ons and mass dancing.

I watch for a while and then head up Whitehall, to see if I can find XR Peace, who I’m booked to do a workshop with tomorrow. No one there. It seems that they’ve been particularly targeted by the authorities to get them away from the MoD building.

Today, ever since I passed Lambeth Bridge walking up the Thames, my ears have been assaulted by helicopters. Now there are two, buzzing like angry gnats around the colourful happy people below (perhaps, as the Prime Minister affirmed, it must be the patchouli oil attracting them).

A quick tour of the square, bedecked with banners and tents, and a hearse that’s reached a dead end. Bemused foreign tourists look down from outside the National Gallery – though all today this has been a tourist’s paradise as there are so many helpful police officers around to ask directions from.

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What are you on about, you nose ringed crusties? That burning smell is just my pants on fire… like normal

Into the Mall and then left down Horse Guards, around the edge of the park. Near Birdcage Walk there’s an encampment – under attack from police-supervised council litter pickers who are trying to scoop tents and protest equipment into the back of their wagon.

A phoenix appears. Then massive Aussie kangaroos. Then just as a large number of police make swift exit, people all clad in luminous red arrive to replace them. Then, like a clanging juggernaut, a band leads a column of skeletal-bannered protesters into the locked-on junction – sweeping around the junction and around to the front of the Abbey.

A couple of hours on from when I was here, the police specialist ‘protester removal’ teams are working to re-take Broad Sanctuary. I go around the corner, and, with only a handful of supporters, run into more people who have obviously tried to set up residence outside the Home Office. They are both carried unceremoniously to the waiting vans that ring the block.

I take a quick circuit through Tufton Street (why no protests here?!), and on past the Institute of Economic Affairs (why no protests here?!!), to bring me back into Parliament Square – where police numbers have increased.

Strangely, for the first time in ages, there’s not a Brexit pundit in sight… must be afraid of nose-ringed crusties!

As the sun starts to set the band is on the move again. Incrementally it takes the junction at the end of Whitehall and the police just have to stand, motionless, while hundreds of people in front of them rhythmically boogie.

I'm not using a tripod, and it is difficult to keep the camera still as the rhythm beats away. Such happy, fluffy people! All day I’ve been thinking of The Tempest:

O wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world that has such people in it!

…though in Shakespeare’s version there wasn’t a whole load of people in high-viz, trying to spoil the party by arresting the band.

After a while, with the light beginning to fade, I head up the embankment to start the journey home. There are police vans with lights flashing and sirens blaring heading past towards Whitehall and Parliament Square; returning office workers and tourists look on bemused.

This is all so absurd.

The government are trying to maintain the ‘illusion of control’ by flooding the streets with police, and failing. Exactly how much luck are they going to have with the myriad of deleterious impacts from ecological collapse? By arresting it?