Maybe because the words 'anarchist rally' were banded around, or maybe because they are practising for Wednesday - the start of G8 - for whatever reason, today we have had a taste of Police State and I found it very frightening.
We had a little appetisers in Sheffield when we hosted the Home Affairs G8 - we made them very welcome - today the police had total control of the streets, cordoning off whole areas , moving in at the drop of a hat , moving us away, holding us penned in , threatening us with riot gear, shields, helmets, horses and their flerescaent chorus-line (see later).
They were a well-oiled machine, able to hear a fart from streets away and respond in seconds. Most had ear pices, obeying orders, grouping and regrouping , moving forward, cleaning us on and on.
Why do anarchists cross the road? To get to the other side, silly. Early on in the day, 30 women and men crossed the road at Scotts Monument, the police tried to stop them. In a higgley-piggle game of tag, the police played lollypop-lady, chasing and grabbing people as they passed.
They seemed scared at first: 'Keep up, Andy,' a cop shouted to another. Later, the language of police repression - new to me- revealed their training and preparation: ' Keep that dressing right , lads, keep that gap ' they shouted as they marched forward together. But the most incredible police line was when they boxed us in at Channing Street. They stood very close and laced together like leaves or petals, a flurescent chorus line. It was theatrical and almost poetic. They must have some kind of drama coach on how to fix their face for that line up: stern , hard, non-human. I was tempted to ask 'what is your motivation?'
They boxed us in at Exchange Tower, a fairy samba drummed til their arms dropped off. After an hour, there was a scuffle as cops moved in to pull off balaclavas , and wearers retaliated.
A woman was smashed in the back and carried away dazed. Someone was sick, and a man in black danced on a nearby roof, unzipped his flys, pretended to piss, showed us his bum, all overlooked by Exchange Tower workers.
I thought of Twin Towers- an incredible image, banks of glass columns of besuited office workers leaning out , trying to see what was going on. The anarchist danced and waved a black flag from his rooftop perch. They wore identy labels and tags: the anarchist took off his socks sniffed them and chucked them into the cheering crowd below - collective freedom alongside corporate individulisation.
They let us out one by one, searched bags, lined us up , we talked to their video camera, giving name address and date of birth. I decided not to lie but gave my information with as much defiance as I could muster.
We walked back through line after line of police, vans, riot cops in full helmet gear, etc, etc. All for a carnival. Even SMP, Colin Fox, who had tried to come to our rescue, was able to do little.
Back on Princes Street, overlooked by Edinburgh catle, more riot police, more box ins . About 500 this time, in the park, most nothing to do with G8 protests - lots of parents with children- held for hours with no food or water just because the police wanted to clear the street.
Lasting images - riot cops ramming their riot shields forming Roman legion defences - threatening three teenage girls dressed in pink tee shirts and pony tales, giggling into their mobile phone. And the convoy of 50 police white vans speeding down Princess Street - responding to, god knows what, but they had to earn their overtime.