March 26th, The Story Told by Those on the StreetsTagged as: 26march black_bloc cuts demo2011 free_spaces m26 march26 repression social_struggles solidarity tuc ukuncut workers_struggles
Neighbourhoods: oxford_circus oxford_street piccadilly piccadilly_circus soho trafalgar_square westminster west_end
Published by group: Cuts Reporting
The massive March for the Alternative demonstration and day of action has come and gone, and what a day it was! Indymedia London was busy reporting the whole day and, together with other radical media projects such as the x26radio live streaming, it offered reporting infrasructure so those taking part in the demonstrations, occupations and actions could tell the story collectively in real time, first-hand and in an unmediated manner.
Reports kept coming in throughout the day whilst updates direct from the streets were being published to the Tumblewire. As the day went on people also contributed photos and videos, and post-action evaluation and analysis posts are still coming in. As a result it has been possible to document the day in this comprehensive roundup feature as well as in the timeline of events. IMC-London would like to thank all of you that made the reporting possible!
We are now presenting all these contributions in a thematic order hopefully making it more comprehensive. See it all here ….
The day started with two main feeder marches. One that had been called as a South London Feeder march starting in Kennington park at 11am, and which included a call for a Radical Workers bloc. The other descending into central London from ULU in Malet Street called the ‘Education Bloc’ feeder march which included a Militant Workers bloc
The South London feeder march left Kennington Park at about 11.30am and it quickly grew to over 5000 people making their way towards Westminster. Apart from the 300 strong Radical Workers bloc, this march also included the now infamous ‘Trojan’ horse, union members, as well as many local anti-cuts campaigns and groups from all around south London, including Lambeth Save our Services, Southwark Save our Services and the Lewisham Anti-Cuts Alliance
- Some photos of the start of the feeder march from Kennington
- 26march pics of the feeder march from Kennington
- Anti-Cuts Demo - Kennington Feeder March
- Marching against the Cuts!
The Education Bloc feeder march from ULU in Male street was also attended by several thousand people. People had gathered from 9am, and at around 11am the march set off towards the Embankment. It eventually reached the main TUC demo and most people stayed as a bloc within it until around 2pm when it split off at Trafalgar Sq and made their way towards Oxford St, where several actions were due to take place from 2pm.
The Pink and Black bloc that gathered in Soho Square also set off at around this time.
The TUC main march was well under way by 1pm, and it soon became obvious that the diversity of people on the half a million strong protest meant that it could not be considered simply a a ‘trade union march’ or the ‘usual suspects’. It was made of a broad cross-section of British society, with the possible exception of the super rich.
- March 26th: The Big One
- TUC Demo Photos (1)
- TUC Demo Photos (2)
- 26 March Photos
- Great Protest Signs from March 26th-
- Photos from March26
- Marching against the Cuts!
- Pictures from 26th March
- Photos From M26
- Extraterrestrials join 26March
Reports and Photos:
- M26 pics and report (1 of 2) - daytime
- M26 pics and report continued (2of2) - into night
- Thugs hijack peaceful action in London!!
- M26: Latin American bloc
From 2pm large crowds of people started to make their way towards Oxford Street following a UKUncut call to Occupy for the Alternative. Ukuncut protestors immediately started to close down shops all along Oxford St and the surrounding area. These included many flagship stores including Tesco, Topshop, Carphone Warehouse, MCDonnald’s, Boots, Miss Selfridges, Ann Summers, and many more. Many of these stores were also paint-bombed and graffitied, even though large lines of riot police formed to protect them. The crowds in and around Oxford Street kept growing throughout the afternoon into the many thousands, effectively closing down the area for several hours.
- Pics of in and around Oxford Street
- Ox Street Taken Over by Ukuncut and others
- Odeon Theatre, Leicester Square, Roof Occupied
- Odeon on Leicester Square occupied
- Cop Shop
- protests 26 march
- Oxford Circus to Picadilly
- Closing down shops
- Horse arriving at Oxford Circus
- Thousands occupying and partying in Oxford Circus
- 7pm at Oxford Street
At the same time as the UKuncut actions were taking place in and around Oxford street, a large militant and fast-moving ‘Black Bloc’ was roaming around the West End, the high-class shopping district. In a quite coordinated and disciplined manner, they spend a few hours smashing in windows of banks and paintbombing symbolic buildings and police vans. They also managed to keep the riot police and FIT teams at bay throughout the afternoon. As a result the HSBC bank in Cambridge Circus had its doors smashed, the Santander in Piccadilly had its windows broken, and many other banks attacked by the roaming crowd. The Mayfair Hotel, Starbucks and a Porsche showroom were also attacked. Eventually the bloc made its way towards Piccadilly where people attacked the Ritz Hotel.
- Piccadilly pics (1)
- Piccadilly pics (2)
- Piccadilly pics (3)
- Black block resistance to cuts
- A selection of Images
- Some photos of the early afternoon
- protests 26 march
- Surveying the Aftermath
- Black Bloc walking down regent street
- Taking on the banks
- Crowd charges cop vans on Shaftesbury Avenue
- Taking on the Ritz
- PC Mark Kennedy spotted at TUC Demo
- A roundup of the events of March 26th
Fortnum and Mason Occupation. At around 3.30 pm a large crowd of over 5000 people was gathering in Oxford Circus for the UKuncut "spectacular" and "secret" occupation of an “landmark target”. People left the Circus down to Regent Street in a very large demonstration, re-joined the main TUC demo for a little while that was still passing Piccadilly, and eventually the crowd turned into the swanky food and drink superstore Fortnum and Mason and moved quickly to occupy it. Around 200 protesters managed to enter the store before riot police turned up in force to protect the entrance. A crowd of several thousand stayed on the street outside the store until police cleared the area clashing with those assembled. The occupation was ended when police, lying to protesters, announced that those inside the store were free to leave the building. But as people left the store in group, they were actually arrested one by one. 147 people were arrested at the action, many of which face charges.
- Oxford street to Fortnum occupation
- UKuncut Fortnam + Mason Mass Arrest
- Pics and report
- Arrests still going on at 8pm
Fires is Piccadilly and Party and Kettle in Trafalgar Square. By 6pm, large groups of protesters were still roaming around the West End. Whilst hundreds of people started to gather in Trafalgar Square for the day’s grand finale, others were setting burning barricades around Piccadilly Circus. An occupation of Hyde Park was also tacking place where around 200 people set up tents and marquees.
The 'Occupation of Trafalgar Square’ started with a strong party atmosphere with people dancing to several mobile sound systems and a samba band. But eventually, at around 6pm, large numbers of riot police violently attacked those gathered with the excuse that presumably someone had vandalised the olympic clock in the middle of the square. People initially defended themselves from the police attack, but the hundreds of police lines forming all over the area proved too difficult to overcome, and thus around 200 people were kettled in the middle of the square until the early hours of the morning. Meanwhile groups of people kept defending their ground outside the police lines and stopping traffic at junctions, but they were repeatedly attacked with police charges and snatch squads grabbing targeted individuals. The area around the square was finally cleared off at around midnight with thick riot police lines formed on all the junctions leading to the square. The kettle lasted until the early hours of sunday morning when police started to let most of those trapped inside go, albeit they were all initially detained, filmed and some arrested.
Photos and Report:
Analysis and Evaluation of the day from a several sources:
- Letter to UK Uncutters from the ’violent minority’
- Ecolab’s: Just the beginning
- The Commune: ’this is just the beginning’...but of what?
- Libcom.org: Broken Glass; perspective on TUC march
- The Guardian: Protesters can’t disown the ’violent minority’
- Union solidarity with the Black Bloc
- Harpymarx: From Embankment to Piccadilly
- Political Dynamite: 26 March: A View from the Bike Block
- IMC-UK: Why we took out Ann Summers on Saturday 26 March
- Londinium (An Alien Perspective On March 26th)
- IMC-UK: My march for the alternative
- Youtube: March 26th London Protests - What Really Happened
- Schnews: Putting on the Ritz
- Donnacha Delong blog: Reflections on the 26 March demo
- Really Open University: what really happened
- The Commune: Reflections on the 26 March
- Beyond Clicktivism: Solidarity Forever
- Red Pepper: Crack capitalism or reclaim the state?
- The Guardian: Black bloc ’Only actions count now’
- Escalate: Marching for Whose Alternative?
- Topsoil: Crime and Privilege
- Infantile Disorder: The Black Bloc and 'Propaganda by Deed'
Articles published in the international movements media: