An article from Do or Die Issue 8. In the paper edition, this article appears on page(s) 18-22.
"We met at Liverpool Street Station at 12 noon, and at first I thought 'Fuck there's not enough people,' but then I went outside and was blown away with the size of the crowd there. Most newspapers said around 4,000 - I reckon more like 15,000!"
In England, the most ambitious and largest June 18th action was the Carnival Against Capital held in London's financial district. The meeting point was announced for 12 noon at Liverpool Street Station on the edge of the City. By 1pm, masks were being handed out, and then the various groups moved off in different directions...
'The protests forced many offices to add extra security, stationing guards in
the street and advising employees to dress casually to avoid becoming a target.'
Financial Times, 19th/20th June 1999.
'One former employee said: "I used to work in the City and they were a bunch
of capitalist wankers."'
The Independent, 19th June 1999
For the 'Carnival Against Capital' in the City of London, 9,000 masks were produced. They came in four different colours, to divide the crowd into four different groups to be led off by people with streamers of matching colours. The masks had this text printed on the reverse:
"Those in authority fear the mask for their power partly resides in identifying, stamping and cataloguing: in knowing who you are. But a Carnival needs masks, thousands of masks; and our masks are not to conceal our identity but to reveal it... The masquerade has always been an essential part of Carnival. Dressing up and disguise, the blurring of identities and boundaries, transformation, transgression; all are brought together in the wearing of masks. Masking up releases our commonality, enables us to act together, to shout as one to those who rule and divide us 'we are all fools, deviants, outcasts, clowns and criminals'. Today we shall give this resistance a face; for by putting on our masks we reveal our unity; and by raising our voices in the street together, we speak our anger at the facelessness of power. On the signal follow your colour.
Let the Carnival begin..."
After a good while walking through the City, the four different groups converged on Upper Thames Street, in front of the London International Financial Futures Exchange (LIFFE) building. The soundsystems pulled up, a punk band was playing, a smashed fire hydrant sprayed water four storeys high, and the party started...
"As I arrived at the scene of the party someone was busy sledgehammering into the ventilation system of the LIFFE building. When through, he shouted - so who wants to go in? A drunk punk dressed all in leather clutching a can of brew volunteered and disappeared inside. Did anyone see him come out or is he still in there?"
"I looked around worried about the amount of CCTV on the buildings, but slowly had this realisation that most had bin liners put over them by some fucking brave climbers."
"A few trucks got trapped on Upper Thames Street in the thick of the riot. The crowd ransacked them to find they were builders supply merchants vehicles - full of scaffold poles and two huge vats of paint. It was like a gift from the gods!"
'Anti-Capitalists lay siege to the City of London'
Headline in the Financial Times, 19th/20th June 1999
'John grins behind his Halloween mask and reaches into his dirt-spattered
rucksack. He pulls out...a...jacket. The front has a City of London Police
insignia, the back and [front are] covered in scorch marks. "I got this off a
copper," he said. "My mate set fire to him"'
The Observer, 20th June 1999.
'...organised in cells, the eco-warriors without a chief have redefined
The Observer, 20th June 1999
IMAGE: Blazing truck
"I ran into the LIFFE building, smashed a few mirrors in the foyer and them looked round to see this masked up figure light a distress flare and hurl it up the escalators towards the offices. Fuck, I thought, this is really full-on"
"One loony I saw had nicked a fireman's helmet and then proceeded to strap it on tightly and use his head as a battering ram to smash a bank's plate glass window!"
"The cops seemed paralysed - just fucked really. They'd lost it - and they knew it. The area was ours, and for a while there was just sod all they could do about it!"
'Most of the perpetrators are not political demonstrators in the conventional
sense but anarchists committed to the destruction of property.'
Evening Standard, Monday 28th June 1999
'Bankers, traders and stockbrokers are the real working class.'
Editorial in The Daily Telegraph
"I was nicked on one of the actions in the morning so was in a police station as it was kicking off all afternoon. One cop came in drenched from head to toe in white paint. I really had to control myself to stop laughing - it looked like he'd been shat on by a huge bird!"
'Booze-fuelled hardcore anarchists turn anti-capitalist protest into orgy of
The Daily Star, 19th June 1999.
"The most depressing thing about the whole day was the minority of troublemakers that tried to pull other peoples masks or disguises off. I've had this happen before and tried to discuss the danger that doing this puts people in. It's always pointless, and I've come to the conclusion that if I see anyone do it again I will punch them fucking hard in the face first and discuss it later. Cunts."
'At one point, city money men taunted protesters who had chained themselves
to buildings by showering them with champagne and photocopied £50 notes
from first floor windows to incite the demonstrators.'
The Daily Star, 19th June 1999
'"We're playing catch-up now," admitted one senior City of London Police
officer yesterday. "We do not know who is behind this. But they got what they
were looking for. Our resources were overstretched. Tactical decisions were made
as we went along. We were taken by surprise."'
The Observer, 20th June 1999
"We're being besieged by open-toed sandaled hippy vandals. We have armed our
doorman, Bernard, with a shotgun." Partner at Maclay, Murray and Spens
The Lawyer magazine
'Lord Levene, Lord Mayor of the City of London, said: "It was wanton
terrorism, anarchy. The riot police came to rescue an impossible situation. That
was nothing short of a war zone."'
The Sunday Times, 20th June 1999
"I saw some people crowbar open the back of a cop van and nick all the riot gear out of the back - there were protestors running around with helmets and riot shields!"
Arrests So Far, And An Appeal For Witnesses
On June 18th there were around 15 arrests - a remarkably low number. Since the day the police have launched an operation to attempt to track down more of those involved. As of mid August 1999 there have been around 43 further arrests, with one person held on remand. For more details of this and how you can support these people contact Reclaim The Streets in London (see page 341 for their contact details.)Did you witness an arrest or injury at the J18 events in London?
If so (or if you were one of those arrested or injured) please send details of the incident (time, location and description/names of the people involved) together with your name, address and a contact telephone number to: Legal Defence and Monitoring Group, c/o BM Haven, London, WC1N 3XX, UK. In the event of further arrests remember to give only a name, address and date of birth and then no comment to everything else.
Nobody Talks - Everybody Walks!