Reclaim the Streets - Global Party!
Here's the first reports from the global parties on the 16th May 1998. They're a bit rough and ready at times and some of the English is a bit dodgy, but hopefully it'll give you some idea of the good times had all around the world!
the Birmingham leg
Here's one (of 8,000!) impressions of the Brum do: Well, that selection of the fattest of the cats, the leaders of the eight most heavily industrialised nation-states on the planet were no match for the combined intimidatory power of the Global Street Party and the more sedate but more numerous Jubilee 2000 human chain. The news that Tony Blair was to lead his band of international ne'er-do-wells and their vast battalions (ie. hairdressers, jokewriters, media sycophants, spin doctors etc) of cronies to a sumptuous, secluded rural retreat to better ponder the perils of international crime...made absolutely no difference to the 60,000 or so who had a point to make that Saturday afternoon. When the polite but impassioned plea of the 50,000 debt relief human chainers had subsided, an altogether wilder and less conciliatory note began to be heard from the region of New Street Station, as pulses sped and sweating clowns were spotted making ready to laugh in the face of the G8 in the adrenalised melee.
Then suddenly at 4.30 the crowd (by now about 8,000) felt a tug towards the waiting road, and the reclamatory hordes poured onto the Bull Ring roundabout, the waiting police looking on powerlessly. A huge circle of tarmac surrounding a sunken market place was brought to a standstill as the partygoers revelled in their new freedom of the open road. For at least half an hour it was uncertain what would be our territory for the rest of the night. One tripod went up and came back down along with its occupant; another stayed up only to find itself stranded behind a police line; another staked our territory successfully, marking an endpoint beyond which all that could be seen were the hundreds of police vans from all over the country containing riot gear patiently waiting to be donned. Eventually we laid claim to half the circle and got down to the party.
A bangin' techno sound system encased this time inside a private car provided the bulk of the entertainment while at the fringes fire was eaten and odd passages of unamplified music were heard occasionally. A second system and various other props couldn't make it through the police lines. Nifty lamppost scalers had soon decorated and contextualised the space with banners reading 'Protest is Hope' (underneath the G8 Joker), 'Beneath the Tarmac the Grass', a huge red kitelike masterpiece with floating yellow tassles bearing the names of all the global street parties, and of course not forgetting that old favourite: 'Reclaim the Streets'. Other banners, like 'Local Vibes Not Global Lies' for instance, didn't make it up.
Boxes of lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber, some brought up to the road by market traders, became slapstick weapons, sailing through the air into police lines (on the odd occasion they were accurately aimed.) When twenty policemen moved in apparently to remove the sound system they found more resistance than their superior officer had obviously expected, and beat a hasty retreat. One slightly less hasty P.C found himself the recipient of an unexpected gift from a nimble clown: a perfectly baked and perfectly aimed custard pie. It's doubtful whether he'll be regaling his grandchildren with the tale of his long, dignified walk back to the safety of the police line, half his face immaculately smeared in creamy custard.
As dusk began to fall the party continued full pelt (as it were), some determined to have a good time in their temporary autonomous zone, others equally determined to have 'discussions' with by-now riot geared-up law enforcement types. A white car abandoned hours before became the object of some fairly intense scrutiny, so intense in fact that it ended up on its back, but not incinerated. (The crowd was split between those who wanted to build a funeral pyre to car culture, and those who were worried either about safety or the impression it would send out.)
The Stars + Stripes and the Union Jack made a pretty pair as they were ceremonially torched atop a bus-stop. Then when it came time to depart for pastures new (ie. a local club), our seasoned diplomats negotiated with the police, the result being the safe passage out of the sound system. Thus the blessed system was slowly escorted off site and across town by over a 1000 people, all the way to the pre-arranged after-party party venue. That this procession departed unscathed by riot police was a real example of the power of determined citizens over a pushy police presence.
So at the club the celebrations went on until dawn. Press coverage was, needless to say, only concerned with occasional outbreaks of conflict with the police, and chose to ignore the significnce of the days' conclusive acts of transnational resistance both in Brum and clear across the planet. Anyway, the stomach-turning sight of the G8 leaders joining together for a chorus of 'All You Need Is Love' close by that evening was more than made up for by the heart-warming vision of Birmingham - not to mention 37 other towns and cities in 22 other countries - reclaimed.
For weeks prior, gorgeous multi-color posters had flooded the Bay Area, particularly in Berkeley near Telegraph Avenue. Telegraph Avenue has a tremendous history of civil unrest, rioting, and yes--events of an RTS nature. From the birth of People's Park in 1969 (where police shot protestors and killed one) to the "Reclaim the Earth--Compost in the Streets" action on Independence Day 1995 (officially a celebration of war), the "Ave", as locals call it, has seen tremendous excitement. People's Park is still one spot of land that was reclaimed, although it continues to be harassed and encroached upon by the ever-more police who fill our streets to stand with the deluge of automobiles.
Although local independent news has lauded Reclaim the Streets in the UK since the original event occurred there, enthusiasts looking to this first RTS event in the USA were wondering nervously whether anyone else knew or cared enough to take the streets for real. Because the event had been widely publicised including blurbs in local papers and a web site (http://xinet.com/bike/reclaimthestreets), enthusiasts also worried that whatever group did emerge to party in the streets, might be met with the customary excess of force that we've come to expect for any free speech or free culture event: tens of riot police decked out in "hats and bats".
Our fears were greatly relieved by the crowd's numbers. Worries composted into fascinated anticipation as the crowd at the Berkeley BART (our subway, from which the Berkeley Critical Mass departs each month on the second Friday) swelled and swelled and flags with bicycles, tremendous banners ("Take back our Lives/Reclaim the Streets") and all manner of colorful costumes were to be seen. The mood was most upbeat and intoxicating. In short order the crowd of perhaps 300-500 took to the streets. The local police followed behind in surprisingly small numbers. This reassured the crowd that the festivities would not turn to violence. Cheering became so spontaneous and so charged with pure joy that the bubbling, elongated mass resembled an ecstatic caterpillar evincing squeels of pleasure from every crochet, cremaster, proleg, membrane and silk gland with each peristaltic, nuzzling push towards that day when like a butterfly, our street party would break forth.
After several blocks the crowd suddenly split into two groups: the bikes, inlines and skateboards (the 'rollers' or 'rolling class') continuing straight; and the foot marchers ('pounders') turning left towards the Ave. The rollers sped up and joyously experienced a Critical Mass as big as and even more excitedly than in recent months here. The pounders trounced directly up the big one-way street into the campus area where the University students, who had just finished with final exams, are concentrated. The rollers made their looping, whooping tour, flouting the traffic manuals and having a jolly ride on all parts of the street, some passing flyers to motorists (also known as 'cloggers'--see our main web page for text of the flyer), reaching the main one-way drag of Telegraph just as the pounders were arriving. The rollers injected a fresh-air and motor-free channel up the Ave, while the pounders pushed couches and chairs and carried carpets with them. The energetic atmosphere was exquisite and empowering. The cheers lasted for many minutes and fire in the form of sparklers helped break the everyday and entrance the crowd with the dazzling possibilities of Reclaiming the Streets.
After ten minutes at Durant and Telegraph, just as many were wondering if this were the climax, people began to move again, together, performing a loop above the Ave. Motorists stopped along the way eyed flyers with true interest as marchers asked that they turn off their engines and join up. More police vehicles had agglomerated behind the crowd but on Haste street alongside the People's Park, just before re-entering the Ave, they ran into the small problem of overturned dumpsters barring the street--which the crowd flowed through as water through rocks. It was here, at Haste and Telegraph, that the couches finally came to rest, and the hand-painted twister games were splayed out upon the asphalt, and the chalk and the spray-paint emerged, and boxes of juices and other food was distributed to the street revelers by Food Not Bombs. "Who's Streets? OUR STREETS!" went the chant. Again there was uncontainable cheering for many minutes, ebbing only as the crowd began to discover that there was more than enough fun to be had on our new public space. A DJ was present, with a legitimate permit to be a mobile sound system. Walking from one quadrant of the intersection to another was like walking through the tents at a carnival, there were so many unique scenes.
While dancing filled one street, down another an automobile (donated to the party) was being symbolically smashed to bits, individual frustrations at the domination of society and the planet by the motorcar being expressed with bricks, sledgehammers, knives to the tires, skateboards to the headlights, boots to the doors, and eventually the car was overturned and slid on its back, spinningly and grittily in fractal arcs to find its next site of further demise. For more than an hour the car was trashed, spray painted, pounded and generally demolished, moved and overturned again and again as the demolition crew couldn't get enough of it. One man desperately beseeched from person to person, "Jackhammers! Picks! We need to tear up the street!" An intrepid young woman climbed into the overturned cab to fix the horn on, sparking a ring of devout singers who with mouths as O's did mimic the horn, faces purpling with the glee-from-the-gut strain of it all.
At the same time some participants rushed to demolish television sets in the center of the intersection, as others took parts of the furniture and constructed a bonfire. As foam padding was hurled into the mix and a toxic cloud bourgeoned, it was clear that some present were not aware of the environmentalistic purpose of the demo. Some tried to stop them but it took over an hour to finally put the fire out and sweep up the glass. Through it all, a tree apparently found in the trash (a common sight in Berkeley) was brought to the intersection and erected beside a trashy advert's newsrack, which a bicycle was subsequently leaned against, constructing the center of the living room. Surrounded by couches sprawled with a spiral of street loungers and encased in the smoky swirl, the image was perfection.
By this point the fire was ebbing and being tamed and through the rising cloud one could barely make out a line of black-suited, helmeted, club-wielding riot police cordoning off the intersection towards the campus, nearly indestinguishable through the haze from the black-suited graduates who filled our ranks, The police presumably blocked Telegraph towards campus to keep the na´ve students of the University (California's highest-level university and the USA's public school of highest rank) out of the mix. The mission of the University as expressly stated, is to generate the top-level managers of the corporations. Alongside the fights of Telegraph Avenue here have been the legendary Free Speech movement which partially succeeded in reforming this sham of a school. Now that affirmative action has been trounced by racist legislation, and their own private police force terrorizes with impunity, the University has nothing to do with education and exploration and everything to do with white power and control. It's no wonder then that police first restricted access towards the University--not to mention that the majority of the shops that encourage police to abuse the homeless were then behind them. But partyers did not damage stores, although slogans were spraypainted on the sides of one apartment building: "P(a)narchy Now!", "Reclaim Common Space", "Revolution", and banners hung off its fire escapes.
Although ten to fifteen riot police had scrambled to form a wall, the partyers largely ignored them. It was clear to all where the line was drawn between the free space and the dead space, and we were in the free space and celebrated it at every moment. The crowd had swelled to perhaps seven-hundred or more. A theatrical fire show erupted on the dark street downhill from the dancing and burning, with the crowd there expanding into an enormous circle of fascinated eyes, climbing cars, trees and newsracks to better see. Fire sticks swirled and flew through the air, and billowing flame clouds exploded to the awe and cheers of all.
It must be said that through the night, of course there were some unfortunate transgressions. Bottles were thrown at police on several occasions. "The streets are ours! We don't need to throw bottles at police!" came one angry shout. The throwing of bottles changes the celebration into a confrontation and recognizes the police--heretofore helpless--while goading them to action. The bottle throwing stopped. The bonfire of toxic plastic and foam and of some of the couches that were for our celebration of public space set many aback. The tragedy here was not so much that some, predictably, used the space as an opportunity to destroy without regard for the work and thought that went into the event, but that none of the many who objected stepped forward to stop the burning.
Both the destructive initiative and the passive response to it--even amongst those who challenge the system and take the streets--illustrates how our society has allowed the rape and destruction of our mother earth to transpire. We must realize that our issues in essence are identical, even as our experiences and approaches differ. The issue reminds one of the controversies amongst cyclists about Critical Mass, with many not attending because of "too much confrontation". The everyday destruction of the system we live in far exceeds an angry shout from an oppressed cyclist. To turn one's back on the coming together of people in the streets for change is to ensure that no change occurs, and that only those who are rowdy are left--to face the police, rather than to come to consensus with their peers. It is a cop-out, literally, of the privileged, to turn away--a reneging of responsibility born of the severe division of experience along the lines of class, race and gender in this generally compartmentalized, commodicized society. Blaming those who act up for one's own failure to participate is a thousand-fold more destructive. But considering the opportunity to destroy at that time--theoretically, all surrounding buildings could have been gutted, looted, and burned had the crowd allowed--this gathering was a truly benevolent force and illustrates that Anarchist principles of freedom, common space and collective self-care are legitimate.
Also unfortunate was the damage done to one apartment building by a group of kids who broke windows and tagged walls. This directly lead to a squad of riot police running throughout the building. Some apartment dwellers lamented that this would reflect badly upon the street protest even as they dealt with their fears and frustrations of the violation of their home. Neither issue apparently mattered to the youths, which is not surprising because in the USA the level of political consciousness of many of the most disenfranchised is forcibly kept down, driving a vicious cycle of urban decline.
One group of youths, when told that this was a protest of globalization, of the destruction of the environment and of the systematic stripping of workers' and human rights worldwide--did make it very clear that they didn't care about such issues as the future, a sustainable society, or equal rights in general, but were much more interested in expressing, music-video/television-commercial style, the all-important location of their neighborhood. Even as Indonsesia is in flames, suffering martial law and massacre, one gentleman (wearing a Nike symbol with a slash through it) when asked how he felt about Nike, began describing issues relevant to the sports world, and their sponsorship of athletes. He was quite unaware of the issue of Nike's forced labor overseas--slavery and genocide--and the extent to which poor communities have been hyped into paying hundreds for shoes that cost pennies as a mandatory status symbol, a consumer cult, but agreed "I really disappreciate that."
This sobering reality shows where the educational component of RTS needs to go, to allow those most oppressed to realize the roots of their oppression and overcome the corporatist/consumerist propaganda that enslaves us. Sadly, the only known arrests of the evening were four youths of color suspected of throwing bottles at police. Thus continues the cycle of separation between races in the USA, with the prison as educator and the police as parent.
But there can be no mistaking it, and all present at the street party must have felt it: a feeling of liberation and freedom, and of open friendship between all.
While the dancing went on for hours, eventually, a mellow mood descended upon the street where the motorcar had been smashed, and chalk artists filled the long block, meticulously etching tremendous mandala-like and Celtic symbols best viewed from the skies. Couples climbed atop the now very much improved automobile for a romantic moment holding hands and enjoying the last warm glow of the long-set sun. "It's so romantic." A tire rolls past on its giddy, bobbling journey.
As the evening drew to a close, the police slowly encroached on the free space, seizing the couches, overrunning and uprooting a circle of women singing at their feet, towing the car, bringing in street sweepers. The City Manager and City Attorney were on hand as was local City Councilperson Kriss Worthington (once a homeless youth himself) who wielded a broom. The City Manager threw a newsrack onto the truck, eliciting laughter from those familiar with the city's attempt to ban all newsracks and quash the independent press (part of the sterilization of Berkeley that fascist big business owners champion). The crowd thinned and the playground was dumpstered. Now large police walls boxed in the main party at two ends. Police created and escalated confrontations by pushing and shoving the peaceful crowd, but there were no known arrests or serious injuries as of this writing. One window was smashed, either by a police baton or a bottle thrown, after the police began shoving peaceful people. Berkeley/Bay Area RTS has already contacted Shakespeare's Books, which suffered the broken window and perhaps some stolen books, to reassure them that a benefit will be held to help pay for the damages. Perhaps the police could hold a bake sale?
The lack of destruction compared to actual riots on Telegraph was salient, and all this after more than three hours of uninhibited street play on a Saturday night! Some officers were hostile and filled with rage but one Lieutenant (L3, going for L7) walked alongside the crowd cracking jokes and smiling gayly, clearly relieved that there had been no riot and perhaps a bit tickled with the entire affair. But the realities of the true destruction, the slow-motion riot of the normal street, clogged with cars and pollution, harassed by police, and marked by poverty and eating from dumpsters, were not forgotten. "They're going to crack down on all the kids on the Ave for the next week to get revenge," said one young woman. "I'm going to hide."
Finally the street was cleared, almost four hours after the celebration had hit the tarmac. The beautiful art was run over again and again with the street sweepers, surgically removing all traces, leaving only the circle-A's in the traffic control arrows which had been spraypainted, black on white. One clean-cut looking chap who had been taverning with friends ("delightfully empty tonight, quite nice") was angry that he was not allowed to cross the street, and called out ironically, "Sure, go over the art ten times, but never clean the other streets of Berkeley"). Small crowds continued to converse, then cheered when the tens of police finally marched away. Although the battalions were gone, still there could be seen one or more police vehicles each minute passing through the intersection. But the feeling had not ebbed. The streets were ours.
Contact us! mail to:BerkeleyRTS@hotmail.com Berkeley/Bay Area Reclaim the Streets. http://www.xinet.com/bike/rts/may16/
About 40-60 people went down from Lancaster, but as lots of individual groups, so we didn't really meet up.
We got to New Street station about 10 past 4, and stood around, joining in lots of woohoooing, and trying to spot the coolest costume.
The RTS finally (spontaneously, it seems) 'set off' at about 5pm, the roundabout right outside the station was taken, and a fair amount of duel carrigeway (I think, I'me not good on types of road) also. Tripods and banners went up, and the Police tried to push back the amount of duel carrige way taken, with some success. A game of volley ball was started up, and a sound system 'appeared' out of a 'people carrier' type vehicle and played a cool trance/ techno / hard stuff drum and bass set, making the lower part of the roundabout jam packed with people throughout the afternoon. Druming, started out all over the place, and eventually congregated on one side of the duel carrigeway.
Paint and foam was everywhere, and a car which got stranded at the junction was slowly 'decomposed' throughout the day. The bumble bee cafe delt out yummy food, and things were generally hunky dory. Their was a huuuge police presence throughout the day, often 3 or 4 lines deep. Towards the bottom part of the roundabout someone got pulled off a sign (after spraying it), and some stuff got thrown. After that, all the police at that end word head gear, which later progressed to full riot gear around 8ish. Other police were generally friendly, and listened to our ideas.
Towards 9 o'clock, the feeling of the crowd seemed to be that people were readly to move off, and the sound system tried to escape around one side of the roundabout, but failed. Around this time, their was a bit of pushing between the riot police down the bottom end of the roundabout and a couple of people got trunchioned. However, this was nothing like a riot, which some of the local papers claimed on sunday. The sound system turned round and headed off up the empty side of the duel carridgeway, with _everybody_ crowding round it.
The police put up an extremely futile effort to stop people, with just two lines on that side of the road. They constantly moved backwards as the people moves forwards, and a few bottles were thrown, but none did any damage to either side. Everyone walked up round the side of the city centre to a club, where the sound system was unloaded, and people went inside, or dispersed.
Don't know what happened to any people left over after the sound system went - report anyone?
Sorry to have bad news. Our activity in Bogota was suspended because of several organization problems as:
-The Friday (May 15) there was a movilization of many activists to Paratebueno (a town near Bogota) in an urgent human rights action because of threats from fascist paramilitary groups against civilian population there.
-As we were in a bad economical situation for funding both events, we decided to priorize the human rights one, but we agreed to stay in contact with RTS Global Party organizers looking for future events so we can organize better our acts.
-We agreed too to make our events better suited to our local situation that is very hard because of fascist death squads' violence against human rights, union and left-wing activists.
May, 15 Estonian Green Movement's Traffic Group organized an action in the centre of Tallinn. Around 50 bikers and pedestrians gathered for a "happening" next to a 6 lane urban road, at the point where a year ago there were traffic lights for pedestrians crossing the street. Now one has to walk 500-700 m extra to cross the busy road by a tunnel (that does not have facilities for geting child carriages or bikes down and up). At the spot of the previous crossing the municipality has raised fences to prevent people from walking over the street.
The idea was to draw attention to that building roads for cars does not improve pedestrian and bikers mobility, instead it is a barrier for them and the alternatives for car driving have become very dangerous. Last year 25 bikers and 73 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents (ca 40% of all traffic deaths). So we had 25 white blankets - 25 persons with their bikes laid down to the sidewalk, they were covered with blankets. As soon as we had covered the first person with blanket the cars slowed down (we were not blocking the road, though), thinking that this was a real accident (.... when you are alive and riding the bike, they never slow down, when you are dead, they are ready to stop to see the blood...). So we were 25 lieing there for some minutes in the memory of those dead in an unequal traffic system. We had a banner "Kellele kiirteed, kellele piirded" - "Some get highways others get fences/barriers" (that one newspaper interpretated TOATALLY wrong: there was a picture of this banner in the newspaper, and a title under it: the demonstraters demanded that except building highways there should be also fences built for bikers, so that they are "safely" isolated from the rest of the traffic.!!!!!!????).
We ended the action with blocking the traffic for some minutes to cross the street at the ex-zebra. The whole thing happened next to a police station, but they did not even show up, except for the small two car crash just next to the demonstration place, cause the drivers were 'confused' by the happening and hoping to see some corpses.
Bikers continued to take part in a traditional 3 day biketour in central Estonia, and on the 16.5 we had a similar action on the busiest road in Estonia, where the DoT is planning a highway. So it was not Reclaim the Street, but Reclaim the Road event, with 900 bikers, who participated in the biketour (but it is true, that probably 95% of the bikers were not there for blocking the road). The traffic was closed for 15 minutes, and slowed down for 2 hours (with the help of the police...)
BERLIN on the 16th of may also in berlin we had a rts-party on a road crossing in the center of berlin, 150 meters from Alexanderplatz (main square of east-berlin). We had a group of approx. 800 walking demonstrants and 150 people with bycicles divided in two groups. all 3 groups came together in the same moment at the party site. a huge soundsystem (made by the berlin group 'radikal rave') and a quite big drum group made the music, people brought more drums and stuff like chairs etc., danced, smoked, drank, played volleyball, chess, artistical stuff and so on. People were in a very good mood and now everybody is encouraged to go on.
As after the riot scenes on the 1st-of-May-demonstrations in berlin there was quite a big media campaign against police violence (you know that in berlin we have an army general as minister for inner affairs, the worst guy you can imagine for this job - he wants a clean capital) and that must be why we were like left in peace there. We had 'only' 3 people arrested and a handful of people were hit by policemen. Two other reasons for the peace were there: Police didn't know about our plans (we were quite well organized for the first time. Everybody knew only what he had to know - for example i don't know if someone else is writing a report to you) and for the first time we didn't choose one of the very big squares. Next time it'll be bigger...
socialist regards and good luck for the 6th of june in london! some of us will be there.
Hi there here is Prague! Its 14:00 and over 3000 people are having fun on the first action on this kind ever!!! , 4 soundsystems, 20 DJs, fireshow, break dance, puppet show, drums, infos, life music...Its 18:20 and 3000 people are spointainly and without any organisation goin to the main road in Prague. After 30 minutes around 30 policeman are blocking road trying to stop 3000 people...RIOT starts. Policemans untill 22:30 hours didnt have change. 6 police car destroyed, Mcdonalds and KFC + one skinhead shop broked. 22 policemans in the hospital, 64 erested, police brutality this are the results of first and the worst riots in Prague for past 10 years.
(report: Earth First! CZECH REBUBLIC www.geocities.com/RainForest/Canopy/1651
On 12 EET, about 400 people gathered in both meetings at Turku, one at Gabriel Porthan's park, another near the railway station. I was on the later group. We followed drumming to the place, wich was great - about 300-400 metres of road in the city center, including one of the main bridges over the river.
Around 5 pm I counted 750 people, 'cause people were coming and going all the time, amount of 2000 total participators wouldn't be over-estimated - making Street party 3 thus biggest in Finland until now. Weather was great, +20 C. Different anarchist and other flags were hung over the bridge. No problems with police (Finnish police is worth of exporting), two said that "no problem with your illegal demo, but please a bit less volume" and that was done.
first pictures from Turku party: http://www.damicon.fi/fri/photo/street-party-3/
GLOBAL STREET PARTY IN VALENCIA 16/05/98
In Valencia the global street party took place the 16.05.98 as in so many other town. There has been about 300 people reclaiming the streets, dancing, with drums... First we thought to take the market square, in the traffic polluted heart of the city. But this wasn't posible, only for half an hour, because the police isn't a body which is made to dance. So we decided to move through the streets, blocking some main streets for a while.
Later on the party turned to the center, where there are less cars and more people. The folk joint at some people playing drums in a kind of mediaval market, turning the place into a big party with a magic moments. Finaly we visited the Virgin at the place of the cathedral, who certainly din't expected us and therefore didn't join in the dance. In spite of this we offered a very nice sinny show till later the night, passed eleven o`clock, reclaiming the street for about five hours. The police had to wait for us and was following us every where, but keept surprisingly quiet all the time.
So we tried to transfer our philosophy, (perhaps more basic and evident than the economical globalization) concentrated in the concept of "street = place which is owned by the people, but stolen by the car," or "street= ugly and sad place which need to be transformed into a place of creativity and freedom."
This was the first street party in Valencia, but surely won't be the last. Now we recieve critics and ideas from the people to prepare the next one better.
the 16 of june in stockholm, sweden, the day for global street celebration against mad car disease and the pirate liberal, capitalism global economy/politics, we had a sort of RTS demo, not a street party, we never reclaimed the streets (except for an hour or slowly walking through the inner city of stockhol)
we did party though, with carneval drums, beating some dance rhytmn, with beatiful nature inspired flags we at least showed the consumers of stockholm an alternative way of thinking/feeling/living, it really was a wonderful and glorious demo, and hopefully next year we'll...
Sydney Reclaim the Streets Rocks!!
Sydney RTS III has gone off like we can scarcely believe, a resounding success that everyone (well, almost everyone) is describing as the best party ever! With rain periods forecast, and a steady downpour over most of the morning, a wash-out was definitely on the cards, but aside from a few sprinkles, the gods smiled and the moisture stayed in the clouds.
As the crowd gathered from 1pm in Belmore Park opposite Central station, entertainment was provided by a diverse crew of drummers, the Solidarity Choir and the amazing MC Joel Salom - speakers gave updates on the burning issues of the NSW Forests Campaign, Jabiluka Uranium Mine, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment and the global dimensions of the RTS movement - and the RTS Art Department festooned the crowd with a colorful array of banners, placards and assorted adornments.
More videocameras than you could shake a stick at, and commercial TV crews, swarmed around throughout the event. With a Web Cam and spotlights mounted on a bright yellow fire helmet, James the WebCam man circulated throughout the entire day feeding sound and images onto the hard drive of a laptop for regular uploads onto the net - check it out at http://rts.cat.org.au - there were over 1700 hits on the site within 24 hours of the party.
Estimates of our numbers on the 2km march to the site range from 2000 to 4000, but suffice to say there were shitloads, by far the biggest RTS/climate/globalisation protest seen in Sydney. In a futile, misguided and potentially hazardous attempt to maintain some sense of self-worth and authority, the coppers tried to keep us to one of the three lanes, but gave up on this idea before too long, and the parade went on.
Surmounting a little organisational chaos, the Logistics Crew erected signage diverting traffic around the site, installed the Rock Stage, Central Techno Sound Tower and Hip-Hop/Reggae/Dub sound stages, strung up two huge sails across the street for shelter and visual effects, and the party began in earnest. Orange and Black bamboo tripods marked out each end of the reclaimed space, the massive main one reaching up to a height of at least 8 metres flying the Eureka Stockade flag.
Out spread the carpets and sofas in the lounge space, three chai stalls, food fundraiser, skateboard skate rail, a five terminal sidewalk Internet station, two sandstone sculptors, poets, fire twirlers, street gardeners, recycling and rubbish bins and loads of mayhem and frivolity.
With systems plugged in and power on, the glorious beats rang out across the site and the throngs milled and gyrated into the night in a wondrous celebratory protest. DJs Nick, Vic, Gemma, Majic, Zeitgeist, Ju Ju Space Jazz and Sub Bass Snarl starred at the smokin', flashin' Techno scaffold tower; Nick Toth, Yug Yug, Nasty Tech, DJ Blaze, MC Trey, Taro, Brethren and local Koori youth hip-hop duo 2 Indij grooved at the Hip-Hop/Reggae stage; and Killah International, Good Buddha, Quadbox, Tug Dumley, KZ5, Professor Itchy's Kitchen and Monster Monster Monster (from Tassie) and more rocked the Rock Stage, MCed by the incredible Joel. Fourplay, a stunning electric String Quartet left jaws hanging in the wind with their rendition of the Beastie Boys' 'Sabotage'.
RECLAIM THE STREETS TORONTO
I'm just writing to pass along word from the Toronto action. I wasn't one of the organizers, but someone asked me to pass the word.
The main action was a success - 500 people I think, marched up Bathurst St to shut down Bloor St West for five blocks in a busy coffee and bookstore area between Spadina and Bathurst Streets. There was lots of spirit, drumming, dancing, street theatre and play.
Later things took a turn. Apparently the organizers planned to march down Bloor ten blocks or so, to the Christie Pits, a large park -- the site of a major anti-fascist street fight in the 1930s, that played an important part in shutting down pro-fascist organizing in Toronto at that time.
Before that march started, the cops started to turn up the volume on their intimidation tactics. They started to harass people sitting on the street, and went wild cutting the rainbow web of fabric ropes tied across the streets and stomping balloons in a frenzy that might have be funny if their intent - shut down the street party, keep cop control - had not been so clear.
One person was arrested at this point, and the crowd was divided as some drifted away and some marched on side streets to Christie Pits, while some stayed on Bloor. After pressure and confrontation, the police, apparently wishing to avoid pushing *too* far, opened their blockade of the street, and we marched down Bloor to the Pits. At that point - about three and a half hours after the street party started - some people remained on the street in front of the park. When the police tried to push them off the street, they responded by sitting-in on the street. Two more street-reclaimers were arrested at this point, simply for not letting the cops bully them off the street, and calling on others to stay brave, to stay in the street.
While some called on us to leave the street and go into the park, we sat in around the cop van where our friends were held. After the cops freed their van to take away the arrestees, we held the street for a short time, before marching to the local police headquarters to support the arrested reclaimers and call for their release. About sixty people marched to Metro Toronto Police 14 Division, and one more person was arrested as we marched. Many of us stayed at the cop shop, sitting in on the lawn in front of 14 Division for more than three hours, until all four had spoken to a lawyer, two reclaimers were released, the other two had their release hearing set for the morning. We have organized to attend the morning hearing, Sunday, May 17, 9 am, room 101, Old City Hall courthouse, at Queen and Bay St, downtown Toronto.
I'm rony from Tel Aviv. We decided to get a police permit for our party -to avoid violence In a possible clash with them. This also enabled us to prepare and distribute lots of invitations and to get publicity in the local radio shows and newspapers. We had permit for only town streets but since we became a crowd of a few hundreds we went on as we liked and the police had no choice but to limit itself to keep the traffic from hurting us.
We started from dizengoff square in the middle of town , and after few streets the police demanded the truck with the sound system to rush ahead and meet us at a parking lot near the sea, In accordance with the permit. We manuvered the confused crowd twards the road that passes near the coast line, but when the truck arrived few of us jumped to the middle of the road instead of the sidewalk as we the agreement with the police demanded. The crowed followed us and the road turned from a traffic jam to a road rave with hundreds of peaple shouting and demanding "clean air" , "public transport", and "bicycle lanes". Because few activists got involved with the police (which, frankly, was very tolerate) the policemen rushed us to the parking lot (close to Jaffa) and the party ended in a pleasent sunset rave. I say - be smart - use the police if you can, don't clash with them If it's unneseccary and go no R E C L A I M I N G !!! People are asking about the next party. Our main struggle today is against the Trans Israel Highway(road No.6). Any spray or other action against Hughes, Canadian Highway Inc., or the french bank 'societe Gnerale' which participate in the project, is welcome. GLOBAL COOPERATION AGAINST GLOBALIZATION!!! STOP ROAD BUILDING EVERYWHERE !!! FIGHT THE MAD CAR DESEASE!!!
RECLAIM THE STREETS LJUBLJANA
Due to traditionally high social and environmental awareness of fellow Ljubljana people, we decided the best option for us is a Critical Mass action on bikes. We had the best intentions to organize a real Reclaim the Streets party, but since no one else showed any interest and we were too few, we went for the easier option.
More than 700 posters were put up and more than 700 leaflets handed out by just a handful of people. We also had a weekly radio-show talk about it and a lot of informal propaganda, just to make sure that 'everyone' knew about it. Despite that, only around 40 people showed up with their bikes, inline skates, wheelchairs or on foot... perhaps because it was Saturday and we gathered at 12:00 so the punters were still asleep?! Anyway, 40 or 4000, we had a jolly good time biking around the city centre - our Ministry of Correct Image, Department of Statistics informed all Critical Massers after the action that we cycled around 5 kms (in 1 hour) with the average speed of 5.3 km/h!
The weather was really nice, too, and amazingly, we had no bigger hassles with the police. At one point two men in blue on foot tried to get us off the road, but were promptly ignored, but other than that... nothing! A really nice surprise, especially considering that when we organised a Critical Mass action in 1996, the police were really aggressive, and also now there's a new traffic law in Slovenia, very strict and in practice targetting cyclists and pedestrians more than the car drivers or so it seems at least here in Ljubljana. Other than the joyous action, the good thing that came out of this Critical Mass action is that we already have the next two planned: for 20th of June and 10th of July, with a promise of being even more colorful, funny and loud.
At the end of the day, i have to say i was quite satisfied with the turnout (although i made a bet beforehand that there would be more than 100 people), because there's just no awareness among people either of Critical Mass actions/idea or the fact that they can get off their arses and do something (and have fun doing it).
RECLAIM THE STREETS LYON
It went well, with 200 people maximum, lots of crazy anti-corporate costumes and signs, a few dogs and bikes, several drums and whistles, and even a float. We briefly joined a demonstration against the ongoing extraditions of Algerians; we passed through a flock of exotic feathered and bikini-ed dancers on a pedestrian street for the concurrent World Cup events; and later we put up a tripod and blocked the street under the gigantic Credit Lyonais Tower. That prevented people from getting to a major car park of the Part-Dieu shopping mall and especially its Carrefour supermarket--until nearly a million police officers looking quite serious started coming towards us from across the street and we decided to make like fromage and scram. So we hopped over to a square/outdoor ampitheatre that's directly under the CL Tower, splashed around in a fountain on this very hot day, unloaded food and drink from a couple bike trailers, and hung out in the shade sans police for an hour or two. Tomorrow we're off to nearby Geneva for the big event.
RECLAIM THE STREETS UTRECHT
As part of the Global Street Party against globalisation RTS Utrecht (Netherlands) organised a streetrave on may the sixteenth. For five hours a wild dance party of eighthundred+ blockaded a six lane highway close to the central station. Police was surprised that the demonstration at a certain point decided not to follow the rest of the announced route, simple barricades were easily placed. RTS Utrecht wanted the party to last untill 18:00 hours. Around that time the police announced that the city streetcleaners would be willing to assist us in cleaning the partyarea. They would be ready to start at 20:00 hours. At a quarter past eight the dancing crowd left the street and went to a nearby park where the party ended in high spirits.
For many this party was an eyeopener. Combination of direct action (effectively blockading a main thoroughfare for five+ hours), participating in a demonstration in combination with a great free party. For others the great surprise was the behaviour of the cops; earlier streetparties in Amsterdam were confronted with an agressive zero-tolerance attitude.
At the meeting point they mingled with the crowd, sat on the pavement waiting for the sound system to arrive. When it (finally) arrived they really assisted getting the generator going, eager to get whereever we would take them. At the party site itself they kept a low profile (although some even moved to the 120+ bpm). We are ready to start organising the next one (when? Where? will be announced in due time).
RECLAIM THE STREETS GENEVA
Geneva Street Party Defies World Trade Organisation
In defiance of the upcoming WTO ministerial conference here, about four and a half thousand protesters today took to the streets to join in on today's global street party, taking place in over thirty cities throughout the world.
The sun reflected off brightly coloured costumes and flags as the marchers wound their way through the wealthy streets of one of the world's richest cities. Anarchists amongst the crowd took advantage of the opportunity to vent their fury on banks, jewellery shops and local branches of MacDonalds. Windows were smashed, paint bombs hurled and anti-globalisation slogans graffitied.
What had been a low police presence changed to a riot police blockade as the marchers neared the headquarters of the World Trade Organisation. A tense standoff ensued before speeches from international representatives present, refocussed peoples energies. Professor Swamy from the Indian Karnataka State Farmers Association declared an uncompromising message, 'The WTO kills people, we must kill the WTO'. Moments later a mercedes limousine was turned over sending a flutter of diplomatic papers into the air.
At 8pm tonight the street party was still raging at one of the main crossroads overlooking lake Geneva, with revellers determined to keep the party going all night. The event signals the start of a host of actions scheduled for the coming days when heads of state are due to gather to 'celebrate' the 50th anniversary of the GATT/WTO agreement.
Geneva: Report 2
Geneva may be at the opposite end of the world from Jakarta geographically and in terms of wealth, but both are subject to the effects of globalisation claimed Martin Khor of the Third World Network saying, ' Riots are not just taking place on the streets of Jakarta but also here in Geneva. Alienation has reached the streets of the North too.' . He referred to the rampaging of several thousand people through the streets on Saturday night after a peaceful demonstration to the World Trade Organsiation was blocked by police.
At 11pm revellers at the street party decided to march back through the town centre and with no police in sight high spirits erupted into a trail of devastation. First MacDonalds windows were smashed and then an increasing trail of destruction enveloped the commercial centre, culminating in one car being set ablaze and others damaged. The spree was routed by three hundred riot police accompanied by tear gas and water canon. They attracted a hail of stones and bottles, creating an uneasy standoff in a large central park. For a time the situation calmed as people warmed themselves around a fire with one eye on the helicopter above and another on the menacing line of police.
The situation attracted many partygoers, out on their Saturday night and looking for action. At 2pm the police, bolstered by reinforcements, let rip a hail of tear gas, sending the crowds scattering into the night.
At the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference which opened on Monday, the riots were acknowledged by the Director General Renato Ruggiero and in a WTO circular whcih declared, 'The police authorities which have received significant reinforcements from today, fear further disorder tonight and over the next two days.'.
Meanwhile inside the Palace of Nations where the Conference is taking place, NGOs voiced frustration over the difficulty of following the proceedings taking place next door but with no audio or visual linkup. High on their agenda was the Multinational Agreement on Investment, which threatens to become introduced to the Wto at some later stage. Most NGO's remain solidly against the agreement because as Tony Clarke of the Polaris Institute, Canada, explained, 'This is a transnational treaty which basically confers nation state status on transnational companies..the rules themselves that are in the MAI are rules that allow corporations to rule Governments and not the other way round'.
Many representatives have arrived at the Conference strqight from the two week Convention on Biological Diversity meeting which has just finished in Slovakia. Several developments there have highlighted the conflict which exists between the legally binding CBD and WTO rules. In discussions defining CBD article 8j it was agreed that nation states may legislate to implement rights for indigenous peoples. This is bound to be viewed by the WTO as creating potential for trade barriers and hence unacceptable. In a parallel development a statement was sent from the CBD working group on benefit sharing demanding that the upcoming revision of the agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) must take into account the conflicts between the two.
Away from the corporate rhetoric, the spectrum of views being expressed on the issues of trade and biodiversity all recognise the two as incompatible, though may differ as to if, or how much, they can be reconciled. Organisations such as the IUCN remain deeply engaged in detailed negotiations with the WTO, whilst others such as the Peoples Global Action regard reform as a waste of time.
disclaimer: all opinions stated are those of the authors and we naturally can't bear the thought of anyone breaking the law and trying to improve the environment and the well being of others...
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