I have only become involved in non-violent direct action in the last year as a result of the anti-war campaigns. My experience at anti-G8, Lausanne last weekend has changed my perception of the world and my place in it.The solidarity of the anti-G8 movement was overwhelming.
Key people provided training to prepare for the blockages. Preparation involved demonstration /education to manage panic/adrenaline rush, and teargassing; discussion of potential situations and options of responce; awareness of others, ensuring cohesion, looking after one another; role play of possible reactions by the Police/Army; options for physical responce if arrested. Affinity groups had meetings to demonstare the use of props and universally agreed hand signals to ensure international communication amongst us.
On the day of the blockade, we were up at 5am. I felt apprehensive yet strong amongst others.I was staying in the `alternative village` amongst black/grey blockers. The blockade movement at Lausanne was predominantly pink/silver (carnival bloc) and black/grey bloc.
The training was invaluable, during the blockade movement we were water cannoned,and teargassed 4 times in the face of a predominantly peaceful, musical, colouful, creative direct action. I wanted the world to see what we were doing.
I was amazed by the Black Bloc`s organisation..tearing down billboards, using anything to blockade streets..i.e.large refuse bins. They acted swiftly, some shop windows were smashed and banks/petrol stations were graffited. The ugly robotic Police/Army were hemming us in, blocking more streets and leading us out of the centre back towards the villages. We had heard that our actions and others had prevented the start of the G8 to that evening.
Back at the camp, many were finding food, water, shade..we`d been blockading for 6-7 hours. The weather was hot. It was approximately 1.30pm. Everyone seemed to be changing their clothes, throwing away their goggles/mouth masks (preventative teargas equiptment). Individuals were hiding, I realised we had been descended on by the Police. They were watching us from the trees behind and then surrounded us. We were under siege..they were in riot gear.
The clear thinkers amongst us, quickly used their skills to encourage us all to unite, sit on the ground, link arms, and be calm..in 4 languages!The Police had given us 3 minutes to present `the organisers`..we responded `there are no organisers`.
For the next 5 hours I experienced the most powerful emotions and reappraised my beliefs about the world. I was aware that as a group of people we were vulnerable..I thought of Carlo, a demonstrator who was shot (anti-G8 Geneva 2001),Tiananmen Square,the people of Afghanistan and Iraq..at the hands of those who think they know best. We chanted united;
`the whole world is watching you`
`people united will never be defeated`
`this is what democracy looks like`
`we are doing this for your children`
`we are peaceful..what are you`
`another world is possible`
`no justice, no peace , f*** the Police`
Water bottles were being thrown into the sitting crowd. Everyone shared any food /liquid they could get their hands on. we were throwing water on each other to keep cool. we were sharing experiences, real commaradity.
The Police had taken off their riot headgear, they offered us sandwiches after 4 hours , we declined! They were insisting on arresting individuals if we did not conform to showing our identity papers. A swiss M.p was attempting to liase for us. The legal team had informed us that the actions of the Police were illegal. The Police did not have the facilities to arrest everyone ., so they arrested individuals out of the crowd, approximately 10 individuals every hour. The Police were struggling in the heat. They had a shift change. For each arrest we chanted..`Assassin..Assassin` (? French), ` Shame on you`.
Word had travelled of the seige..in Geneve and Annemasse.. our allies were coming, 2-3000 came, Police were blocking them. The Police suddenly left..everyone cheered, hugged, cried, kissed.
On my return to UK, I find minimal coverage of these events in corporate media apart from the trashing reports of the Black Bloc. Thank F*** for Black Bloc..I couldn`t do it! I don`t agree with all their tactics ..but they have a tactic that deserves respect. Black Bloc action provided everyone with supplies during the seige, and their actions on corporate property ensured the anti-G8 movement was noticed in the corporate media. I believe they tried to undertake actions away from the pink/silver bloc..but the nature of the actions causes panic, confusion and distress.
I was proud to be part of pink/silver bloc..it fulfilled my expectations and allowed me to express my protest. Overwhelmingly my experience and actions strenghened my belief in the ability of people to work together for another world.
Solidarity is a powerful force. 04.06.03 vicmunki, trollyd, sheffield.