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International | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism

Edinburgh march breaks free, roams (and runs) through town
by Carwil James ( carwil [at] falseignorance.info )
Friday Jul 8th, 2005 5:40 AM
After a relatively slow midday marching up and down Prince St., the anti-G8 march in Edinburgh broke free with the help of a samba band and several shifts in momentum. Suddenly more upbeat, active, and growing it ran up and down hills, melted through police lines, and ran through downtown.
EDINBURGH (IMC-UK)--Angry locals? Dedicated fighters to debt cancellation and an end to war? Out of town anarchists? In the end largest roving gathering of people against the G8 in Scotland's capital today combined them all into an upbeat but militant mass that proved itself able to outmaneuvre the cops throughout the late afternoon.

The marchwas started by folks who were denied busses to the official march on Glen Eagles. They, joined by others, spent the better part of mid-day moving up and down (once each way) Princes St., one of the main shopping streets in Edinburgh. Despite often being surrounded by police, it kept moving by three tactics: demanding to march loudly and with big numbers, pushing forward through or against police lines, and refroming continuously on the far side of those lines.

But despite being to prevent the arrest of several people who were singled out, and forcing the cops to repeatedly concede to our right to move, it was stuck on a five-block stretch of Princes St. for much of the afternoon. As the march straggled back to Hanover St. behind a line of foot-dragging police, it seemed it might stay that way.

But between a samba, interested bystanders, outraged people pestering the police from outside, and the fact that the police cordon around the march was never compele, a new dynamic emerged. People filled in the block along the art museum, which blended easily between a standoff with police and a samba concert.

A half hour later, the cordon was nearly empty, but the musicians departure shifted the mood, consolidated the crowd and turned the mood towards confrontation. With Hanover St. blockade by metal fences, a line of riot cops advance, backed by police on horseback. The front ranks were nearly all seated and the loudest and most consistent chant was "peaceful protest". Simultaneously, little provocations (an attempted arrest, the police inching forwards) brought outrage and brought in people angry at the police presence in their city.

Eventually the crowd wound its way up the mound, only to push downwards again. Walking backwards downhill in a single line in front of hundreds if not a thousand protesters the police could not hold them back, and the first of several runs took hold. While a successful police line kept protesters out of the train station, people ran up curving streets and stairways before regrouping, mostly surrounded and South Bridge and High St. Here dogs were brought out to reinforce police lines, but the only option was to redirect the crowd along South Bridge.

There was a lot more running, mixed with chants ("Bush, Blair, Terrorists", "Drop the debt", "Open up the borders, close the group of eight"), bangs on the metal on the walls, joy and directing the crowd different ways--especially on the part of local teenagers. Corporate photographers raced to keep up. While shop shutters came down, many on the sidelines were sympathetic and happy.

Police grabbed and pushed a number of people, sometimes threatening arrest, but mostly keeping the people they targetted within the group--an ominous sign of what they expect is to come. Exit was still possible (if a bit of a challenge) and spirits remained high at the time I left.

/this is my quick factual summary, i'll write thought on tactics and the experience soon/

Carwil