Saturday, July 22, 2006
I wouldn't fancy guessing exactly how many attended, but I will happily call bullshit on the figure I heard the Beeb put on it (citing the police) of 7,000. This was easily in the tens of thousands, which will do fine for an emergency demo called on the hoof. Have a look at these:
As the march stretches off down Picadilly, it is still piling up Regents Street and stretching back to Pall Mall, Trafalgar Square and Whitehall. It would have been as well for the police had their estimate been accurate, since they were evidently undermanned for the event. The usual "fukkinell fukinell" expressions were replaced by looks of irritation and alarm. I don't know what they were saying into their little walkie talkies, but I hazard a guess it was something like "cor, there can't be that many Islamofascists in London, can there?" I arrived in Whitehall Place where the police were trying to pen everyone into that one street - didn't work, too many people.
I took this picture to annoy the sociopaths of the prowar 'left':
And here's some more:
Here's some video footage for you to watch:
More here, here and here.
Al Jazeera broadcasts this protest across the Middle East:
Someone looking unconscionably cool...
...and some git in shades next to her. Finally, they let us out:
And on video.
At any rate, more important than the size (which was encouraging, don't get me wrong) was the militancy of it. We got rained on horribly, of course, but one expects that in London, even in the middle of a summer heatwave, the rain can strike suddenly and cruelly. Me personally, I hate the fucking sun, so I cheered up no end. Especially outside the US Embassy, which I swear might have been invaded under more propitious circumstances (ie without all the steel ringfencing and armed coppers and what have you).
Here's some footage anyway:
You might hear in one of those videos people chanting "Ooh aah Hezbollah, say ooh aah Hezbollah!" Or "We are all Hezbollah!" Things like that. It was a real pleasure to hear thousands of people yelling that outside the American Embassy. Let the fuckers phone that one home. I have to mention here that after being nearly smashed in the head with some mobile light reflectors thrown at him from the crowd, a policeman decided to gather up all the ones that were set atop the bomb-proof barrier. He unfortunately left one behind, which a rather charming old lady picked up and lobbed right at a copper as he walked away. At one point someone clambered over the barrier and succeeded in knocking down some of the steel fence, before being nabbed by the police. We all rushed down to the scene - obviously to help the law identify the criminal and control the situation - but we were unable to, er, assist the officers.
At any rate, having spent a considerable amount of time outside the Embassy, I went off down to hear the speeches at Hyde Park Corner where a crowd substantially pared down by the rain either stood and listened or dried out on the grass. You can listen to a bit of Galloway here and here, and Azzam Tamimi here. George said, and I want you to pay attention to this (especially the warmongers who lurk silently on this site looking for stuff to be angry about, since Israeli war crimes doesn't quite do it for you), that Hezbollah is not and never has been a terrorist organisation. I endorse that. So did the crowd - very loudly indeed. Hezbollah was formed to resist Israel, which it has done admirable over a couple of decades, finally driving Israel out of the south of Lebanon in 2000. I did not, I regret to say, get footage of Andrew Murray reading out an address from Hezbollah.
Some last pictures for you:
I know that's a lot, but I was being selective.
Of course, of course, it's not enough. It isn't enough to have protests against regimes that are busily murdering people. It isn't enough to campaign against pro-war politicians in elections. It isn't enough to raise money through political parties and unions. It isn't enough to complain about the media's biased coverage, write to one's local MP, sign petitions and what have you. Of course we need to completely realign our politics, building the kinds of forces capable of transforming the system that creates this murder for good. But none of that is a good enough reason not to protest, not to complain, raise a ruckus, challenge power small ways as well as large ones. Indeed, that's part of the process that is going to first retard the victory of our enemies, second strengthen us in the fight and third enable us to develop the understanding, the tenacity and the stamina to win the fight.