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Defences Systems and Equipment International arms fair (DSEi) protests in Docklands, London, September 2003
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DSEI Protests at Docklands, London, 11th Sept 2003:
Positives and Negatives

Comment by 'meanoldman' posted on the urban75 bulletin boards)

Positives: 1. Local youth.

They helped us all through the day and showed unswerving hatred of the police. In the morning when running through small estates trying to get near the fair they acted as guides and were constantly looking for it to kick off so they give it to the pigs. And they tell us violence alieniates people... well maybe, but only middle class people.

2. Sooty and Sweep.
Really comes under local people but it was so good that it deserves its own heading. When the police were slowly forcing us from the road to the park one of the locals opened the window and a little girl gave us a sooty and sweep show. Cue the largest cheers of the day and really good relationships with the people on that street who then helped us by bricking the pigs.

3. Breaking through police lines.
We are getting much better at getting through their lines. We're also getting better at spotting their lines forming in advance and stopping them forming.

On the highway at about 2 I think they trapped us in but we linked arms in the front and pushed.

Lots of people behind pushed as well and we broke through. Later I heard that possibly not everyone got through but as I didn't see it (was too busy trying to escape a pig's grip) which is very bad because that wasn't the only time the police managed to split us.

4. Sound system.
Fucking ace sound system, it was great when we met up with it walking down a main road. Had support from locals on that road as well, as we went past a record shop they shouted supported and turned up their music load enough for us to dance to as we passed them. And what was that song going 'George Bush is an Islamic terrorist. Obviously'? It was great and got everyone bouncing.

5. People.
For almost all the day (one definitive negative about lack of solidarity on an occasion when it mattered later) the vibe was great and everyone really friendly.

Urbanites were great (obviously) - oi oi to Space_hopper who joined me in our tube travails in the morning. When I got separated from urbanites for a couple of hours ended up chatting to other people and so never felt alone or away from support if the police tried to grab me.

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Negatives:

1. DSEi.
Despite having a day that felt much better than Mayday we did not actually do much to disrupt the fair which of course was the aim of the day. Still we did cost the fuckers millions - if we say there were 1000 protesters (it was very hard to tell because at no stage did everyone converge into one big group, the police successfully kept us split up) then they spent in the order of 1500 per protester.

No-one else thinks I'm worth that much but I now intend to ask for a payrise in line with the police evaluation of my worth.

2. Split up.
At no stage were we together as one big block and on at least 3 occasions we were split up, leading in the end to me being in a small group of at most 50 people who were then surrounded by 7 (I think) meat wagons and their complement of baton wielding and bad tempered riot pigs.

I have no idea how the first one happened, after leaving the corner of a park where people had been kettled in we moved of along a big road and I was told later that we lost people there, which does make sense as we left with a Samba band and at the end of road didn't have a Samba band.

I guess this was because some people got left behind from running and the police used the gap to form a line. Maybe look behind more in the future... Running was very useful though so to go slowly wasn't really an option if we wanted to avoid being pinned in.

3. Police violence.
Whilst this was yet another protest on which I saw no violence by protesters (big up to the brick throwing locals though ) I saw a lot of violence against protesters. After we were split up from going through a narrow alley which the police predictably managed to block about 7 meat wagons skidded around us they were very heavy on the batons and quite a few people were hit nastily.

One 16 year old girl was dragged to the floor and repeatedly hit, here leg was swollen and red afterwards. There was a small positive at that incident though, in their enthusiasm to beat us one pig jumped out too early before the wagon had stopped and so missed the floor and skidded along.

Unfortunately nothing other than his clothing and pride was hurt but after watching his mates kicking the shit into people it was cheering. Nothing surprising about police violence of course but watching protesters get battoned is not nice. Some of the police clearly didn't want to be there but it didn't stop any of the bastards charging people, forming lines and drawing their batons. ACAB.

4. Lack of solidarity at one point.
For most of the day solidarity was great but when the police tried to end the street party but forcing us of the street lots of people sat down and most others stood around protecting those sitting down.

Some people though meekly walked into the park which was hugely demoralising for those getting beaten for sitting on the floor and led to us all being forced into the park effectively ending the day. After the locals started throwing stones at the pigs the police got very nasty with us.

They tried to pull of my mask so I held onto it with one hand. To try and force me to let go they then pulled my other arm up behind my back and kicked out my legs so I effectively fell on my twisted arm which hurt like fuck. Wankers didn't get my mask though, other pigs then tried to push us further towards the park so the bastard had to let go of my arm.

5. My inability to use London transport
Met Space_Hopper at 9 but due to our inability to use the tube and bus network (and the DLR being shut down) we didn't actually get to near Excel until almost 1, when we'd wanted to be at the Storm Excel meetup at 11. Bloody country bumpkins the pair of us.

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