On the frontline of the G20 summit

April 1, 2009

Abolish money. Punish the  looters. Eat the bankers.

Ageing 1960s hippies and their youthful anti-globalisation descendants joined in an angry  anti-capitalist protest at the Bank of England on Wednesday, waving placards and shouting slogans reflecting  a common fury at perceived corporate greed.

With worldwide recession destroying jobs by the week, protesters at the G20 protest in the City of London demanded an end to what they see as a global, predatory system that robs the poor to benefit the privileged.

“Welcome to Pig City: One war — class war” was the placard held up by a masked man standing on the doorstep of the central bank.

As hooded protesters scrawled “Peace and Love” on the walls of the Bank, Drogo, an elderly man in flowing multi-coloured robes and carrying an orb on a wooden stick, pointed at staff peering out of the Bank of England’s windows and said:

 “I am here to tell these fat bankers to get off their arses and save the planet.

“They have to do it because they are still in charge — for now. But of course capitalism has to go down. We have had enough.”

One man strolled along Threadneedle Street dressed as a white-faced corpse in top hat and tails with a placard round his neck that read: “Their greed is killing our planet.”

Some windows were smashed. Protesters hurled paint bombs and empty bottles and occasionally threw punches at police, who responded with baton blows. 

Police said they had deployed one of Britain’s biggest security operations to protect businesses, the Bank of England, the London Stock Exchange and other financial institutions.

But the clashes were almost desultory, if briefly dramatic. There was no general looting.

This was not Seattle, 1999, when demonstrators successfully disrupted a World Trade Organisation meeting, or London’s anti-Iraq war demonstration of 2003, when hundreds of thousands joined together in an impressively unified march for peace.

The G20 meeting was due to take place several miles away in the Docklands area of east London on Thursday.

On Wednesday, there were just 4,000 demonstrators, and the range of causes they espoused was  varied in the extreme, bringing together anti-capitalists, environmentalists, anti-war campaigners and conspiracy theorists of various stripes.

For much of the day the mood was carnival-like. The police managed to seal off the handful of streets around the Bank from the rest of the City, where workers went about their business normally.

A brass band played for several hours. And as the day wore on, protesters peeled away from the knots of angry young men taunting riot police to dance to a mobile disco set up on the steps of the Bank.

Above the disco, someone had fixed a large poster which read: “Hundreds of Architects and Engineers Demand a Real 9/11 Investigation.”

The hard core of violence-prone protesters were a tiny minority. Some masked and hooded young men belied their mysterious appearance by being friendly and talkative.

One, 19-year-old student Francis, explained: “Bankers have made bad gambles and we are all paying for it. They must take responsibility for that.”

There was even a good-natured counter-demonstration by pro-capitalists. One of them, Simon Richards, 50, from Gloucester, western England, said: “We have come to stage a counter-demonstration to show we are not intimidated by the terror tactics of these  protesters.

“We are in favour of free market rather than state control.”

Protester Mia, 21, a student from Denmark, waving an anti-war banner, said the range of causes on offer was a  strength, not a weakness.

She said she wasn’t just angry about international conflict.

“We’re here to protest about all of it. All these crises are linked,” she said.

“The U.S. has to borrow lots of money from China and other places to pay for all these wars, meaning they have less money for housing and other parts of their economy. It’s vital to demonstrate about it, provided it’s peaceful.”

 Here are a selection of placards and graffiti seen at the demonstration.

 “Capitalism isn’t working”

“Drop books, not bombs”

“Banks are evil”

“People will stop robbing banks when banks stop robbing people”

“Make love, not leverage”

“Resistance is fertile”

“Housing is a right, not a privilege”

“You can rent the house you used to own”

“Eat the bankers”

“Banker, rhymes with ?”


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Too bad the free market isn’t allowed to be free.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

Wow! I wish I had known housing was a right, just because I was born. Would not have worked hard all my life and spent all that money. So how does this work? Anyone know? Just protest and the government is supposed to give me a house? So where in the world is housing a right? How does this work? Anyone?

Posted by David | Report as abusive

This article sounds brilliant when declaimed in a northern accent – a sort of Sean Bean lilt will do.

On a more serious note, if I had been in the City today I would have carried a placard saying something like “Ask a Pole for his job today – otherwise b**ger off”.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

@ David: Want to know how housing as a right works? Please Watch “Zeitgeist Addendum”

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid= 7065205277695921912

We have all the resources & technology needed to provide every world citizen with housing, food, care; no “jobs”, no money, no credit cards, no mortgage.

Posted by Faye | Report as abusive

Faye wrote:

“We have all the resources & technology needed to provide every world citizen with housing, food, care; no “jobs”, no money, no credit cards, no mortgage.”

I disagree. Fear (impression of lack of security) leads to anger, anger leads to violence. When no one in the world, and I do mean no one, is afraid of not having control of their own destiny, we will be ready for this. This very idea seeks to create the very thing it wishes to deny. For crying out loud, read Animal Farm. There will always be “pigs”. Even the futurist in the film admits we will never be perfect. Communism believes in the fact that someday, everything will be “fine”. Therefore it is inherintly bound to fail. In a perfect society, we would remain at a controlable population. So what if two people wanted to have 5 kids (this is why humans naturally crave sex, to multiply)? Who would stop them? Oh yeah, the people in power. Hmmmmm…..
From your stated belief in this film, I take it you believe in the patterns throughout history. I concur. But the current opinion about the motives behind the “New World Order” and Illuminati conspiracy is that it is about money. Maybe for some, but smarter, wiser men than them saw through to the eventual end of the “cycle”. Enlightenment. And they will use “greed”, which is just a percieved lack of security, to get these greedy men to do the job for them, cause you can’t make anyone do anything. Where have we always looked in nature for enlightenment? Up (translate as sun and stars, aka “space”). The Light. Heaven. Aliens. All of it is just us craving more “light” against the dark of ingnorance. And we are by no means even close to that point yet. Humanity will never stop wondering, so it will never stop scaring itself. The only way to get better is to let people get better. A free society where you can do or buy what you want lets you learn your own lessons, instead of having someone in control to make you. Liberals really don’t realize that have deceptively combined “church” and state. Or maybe they do. I am an atheist. Morals have no place in government affairs. Morals belong to the people who vote, not the people they vote for. You have bought into the new “religion”.

Posted by Patrick | Report as abusive

These bankers are all terrible people and all need to be fired. We can then organise a demonstration to complain that there is no one left paying above average taxes from an above average wage to fund our unemployed/low pay – low tax/ student lifestyle.

drone drone…zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Posted by nick | Report as abusive