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PORTSIDE  March 2011, Week 4

PORTSIDE March 2011, Week 4

Subject:

Turn Trafalgar Square Into Tahrir Square

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 23:36:09 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (124 lines)

Anti-Cuts Campaigners Plan to Turn Trafalgar Square Into
Tahrir Square

    Student activists draw inspiration from Egypt protests
    and call for 24-hour occupation of London landmark

By Matthew Taylor
Guadian (UK)
March 22, 2011

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/22/anti-cuts-campaigners-trafalgar-square-tahrir

Campaigners against public service cuts are calling for a 24-
hour occupation of Trafalgar Square - drawing inspiration
from revolts in the Middle East - to coincide with Saturday's
trade union protest in London.

Student activists who organised last year's demonstrations
say there will be a rolling programme of sit-ins and protests
on the day and have called on people to occupy the central
London square turning "Trafalgar into Tahrir" - a reference
to the gathering point in Cairo that was at the heart of the
revolution in Egypt earlier this year.

"We want Trafalgar Square to become a focal point for the
ongoing occupations, marches and sit-ins that will carry on
throughout the weekend," said Michael Chessum from the
National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts. "There are a lot of
smaller scale demonstrations and actions planned and, just as
we have seen in recent protests in the Middle East and north
Africa, we want to create an ongoing organising hub."

Saturday's main demonstration has been organised by the TUC
and is expected to see more than 200,000 people - including
public sector workers, families and first- time protesters -
take to the capital's streets to oppose government cuts.

This month the TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber,
promised a barrage of protests against the cuts, ranging from
industrial strikes and "peaceful civil disobedience" to
petitions by Tory voters in the shires.

The plan to occupy Trafalgar Square is the latest in a wave
of proposed sit-ins, occupations and "people's assemblies"
that activists have branded a "carnival of civil
disobedience".

"We have seen time and again that marches from A to B do not
achieve their objectives," said Chessum. "This is about
creating an ongoing movement that will put pressure on the
government. This is the start of what is going to be a hot
summer of protest against the ideological nature of what this
government is doing."

The call for an occupation of the London landmark is backed
by student groups, activists and two Labour MPs - John
McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn. In a joint statement they have
called on people to "stay in Trafalgar Square for 24 hours to
discuss how we can beat this government and to send a message
across the globe that we stand with the people of Egypt,
Libya, Wisconsin and with all those fighting for equality,
freedom and justice.

"We want to turn Trafalgar Square into a place of people's
power where we assert our alternative to cuts and austerity
and make it a day that this government won't forget."

Alongside the main march, which will set off from the
Embankment before making its way to Hyde Park for a rally,
anti-cuts campaigners say they plan to occupy some of the
capital's "great buildings", close down scores of high street
stores and occupy Hyde Park.

UK Uncut, a peaceful direct action group set up five months
ago to oppose government cuts and protest against corporate
tax avoidance, is planning to occupy and force the temporary
closure of scores of shops on Oxford Street on Saturday
afternoon.

Meanwhile, student groups will meet at the University of
London student union building in Bloomsbury at 10am. Some are
then expected to make their way to the main assembly point in
a "feeder march"; others will peel off to take part in
various "direct actions" .

"Since Christmas the movement has become much more
autonomous," one veteran of last year's protests told the
Guardian last week. "There are smaller, semi- independent
groups planning small-scale direct action against a range of
targets. It will be a bit of a disappointment if we get to
the end of the day and one of London's great buildings is not
occupied. We have to make an impact."

Online, other groups are calling for more widespread direct
action on Saturday. An organisation calling itself Resist 26
claims it will stage a number of "people's assemblies" along
the route of the march. Under the banner "Battle of Britain"
it is calling for a 24-hour occupation of Hyde Park and
"after parties" at famous London landmarks including
Piccadilly Circus and Buckingham Palace.

Scotland Yard says it has worked closely with the TUC to
ensure the demonstration passes off peacefully and senior
officers are due to give a detailed briefing on police plans
on Tuesday morning.

___________________________________________

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