The People’s Protest, Bouncing back from whence it came. 

You wouldn’t know it but on 2nd May 2015 the culmination of six months hard work in spreading the message and advertising of the People’s Protest and the ‘Bouncing Bombs’ event came to a head. 

  
Around 5k people had been officially invited. 800 had pledged to attend, 200 undecided and many more seemingly pledging to come but not putting their name to the event. A small sum in online advertising was paid out and in excess of 6k people had viewed various online promotional videos. 

3 weeks before the event took place Occupy officially announced they would be attending. 3 months prior the Anonymous collective had backed the event with advertising of their own. It was also Global Cannabis Day and the activist group ‘Feed the birds’ were attending under their own steam. 

It was a Saturday, a May Day bank holiday weekend no less, the weather was cloudy but dry, and to top it off it was pre-election weekend. Oh, and love him or hate him, Russell Brand was also putting in a show at some point over the weekend. 

What more could you ask for in terms of potential for a good crowd. So many positive factors a chance for so many groups to be heard before the election. 

Several other groups were informed officially or made aware through general online posts and advertising. 

Reclaim Brixton, London Black Revs, Perhaps the largest online anti-fracking community in ‘Fracking Hell UK’, even Student union groups and Unions were made aware through online posts. 

  
Predictions for the attendance from various quarters ranged between 2,000 and 10,000, with hope for far more. 

When the clock struck 11.45am on 2nd May outside Parliament (yes, Big Ben strikes at the quarter hour) we stood in awe at the amount of people in attendance. In awe at the fact that only around 10 people were visibly ready for the Bouncing Bombs event. Earmarked as a spectacle to launch footballs, tennis balls and rugby balls over into parliament territory. With 10 people, unless we wanted to be immediately arrested, there was little point. So we waited.

We carried on waiting and at around 12pm it was suggested that a game of casual football was started on the green opposite parliament with all the available balls. For an hour or so it was good. Children were playing football, grow men were doing their best to impress and one person even managed to hit a police officer with one of the footballs. A small victory. 

We can only do our best to galvanise people, but you can’t force people to turn up.

A far cry from when barriers used to surround the green to prevent anyone entering. 

1pm came and the People’s Protest was due to begin outside Downing Street. We heard that others had been up there earlier so we hoped that maybe a few more at least we’re mingling around. 

We couldn’t have been more wrong. A grand total of zero others were there. Not one placard in sight apart from our own. Even one of the protesters that joined us from the Parliament Square couldn’t resist in taking a selfie in front of the gates to Downing Street. If you can’t beat them.. Join them. 

Eventually we trudged back to Parliament Square where by now a fair few more had turned up although it was clear that they were there for Occupy and the Global Cannabis Day. 

Still, the numbers had only swelled to around 200, at best, and that might be being very generous. It may have been nearer 100. I would be surprised to hear if more were there. 

At Leicester Square on one of the adjoining junctions there was a brief sit down protest

So we, the People’s Protest naturally fitted ourselves in neatly with the Occupy crowd and to be fair, the day picked up. A good rousing sing-a-long, (not for no purpose, keep an eye on YouTube and itunes for an election special) a few stories told and a good old laugh had by all. 

It was decided that there should be a gathering outside Downing Street and as an act of civil disobedience we would march on the roads. And that’s what happened with a brief stop outside Downing Street. In fact that brief stop provided one of the most entertaining and funny moments of the day when a police officer confiscated one of the footballs still being kicked around. Cue a line of protesters following the police officer in question around a now stuck-in-situ coach chanting “who’s ball? Our ball” and “we want our ball back”. 

Eventually though the crowd moved on, flanked by police officers we marched to Trafalgar Square, Leicester Sqaure and near Oxford Street, this is where we broke off from the march ourselves. 

  
At Leicester Square on one of the adjoining junctions there was a brief sit down protest but as hordes of police officers exited their police wagons the crowd decided it wasn’t the time to be playing around and walked back from where they had come. We passed another horde of police officers heading toward the now finished sit-down protest. That was a lot of police for only a relatively small crowd. 

There the day ended, not withstanding a drink at a local pub in Victoria. 

On returning back home it became apparent that one or two lone voices were not happy that they had attended and found so few in attendance, blaming us for the inconvenience it had caused them. 

I met a guy who had travelled from St.Helens and another who had travelled from Bristol. They too were disappointed but made the most of the day and that’s all any of us could have done. 

There was potential for thousands to have attended but apathy reigns supreme in the UK and it is indeed shocking that so many people online talk a good game but when it comes to action they are found wanting. That is not so much of a judgement on people who live miles away, it will always be difficult to get people from the other side of the country, that’s expected, but London is a big place and even London couldn’t put together more than a couple of hundred… In total. 

thank you to the young girl that gave us some insight to maybe how things should be

We even met one chap who “had not been on anything like this before”, he lived in London but wanted to make the effort. 

We can only do our best to galvanise people, but you can’t force people to turn up.

So what is the problem? It might be too early to tell but this is our starter for 10. If an established group like Occupy, for all their brilliant and commendable work, can’t gain more than 50 supporters on a weekend day, and if the GLOBAL cannabis March can’t attract more than 150 and Anonymous can’t attract more than 5 people and we, for the small name we are, can’t attract more than 5 ourselves..then to us that signals a huge problem with activism in this country. Yet you look online and there are thousands of us. 

Maybe we are all too far apart in terms of distance to make any meaningful difference. Maybe Occupy is too niche, maybe Anonymous is running its course, Maybe people are just too lazy to be motivated enough. 

We don’t have the answers but right now, despondent is the word. We can only hope that something one day triggers the masses. 

One special mention of the day goes to a young sixteen year old girl we met on Parliament Square. She told us that her mother even encourages her to take actions and was even on UAF marches from the age of 5. She was confident, clearly intelligent and knew what she was talking about and a pleasure to talk to and most of all she was willing to lead and take actions herself. The best kind of activist.

  
Originally she told us she was there for ‘Bouncing Bombs’, She wasn’t there specifically under the name of Occupy, she didn’t need a mask. 

When the country returns to activism like we witnessed in the 70’s and 80’s, very much like this young girl seems to be the modern day personification of, then we may stand a fighting chance. 

Our future, here at RevSoc will continue but in what form may be open to debate. 

Thank you Occupy for making our day worthwhile, and thank you to Feed the Birds for managing to galvanise a few people. Thank you to the few that did turn up to Bouncing Bombs and thank you to the young girl that gave us some insight to maybe how things should be. Independent, for the people, all inclusive. Very much in our eyes what the People’s Protest should have been. 

Link to Video on Bouncing Bombs

Link to video of Occupy Democracy 

Fuck off back to Eton Video

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s