If you can’t see it below this post, Part 1 is at http://hywelsbiglog.wordpress.com/2009/04/01/eyewitness-of-protests-and-kerfuffle-at-the-bank-of-england-1-april-2009/
To continue the story, after staying at the junction of Cornhill outside the police cordon, I went for a walk. In a very pleasant walk through Popes Head Alley, Lombard Street, St. Stephen’s and St. Swithens, I passed outside of a few different lines of police. All keeping me out, and keeping protesters in.
A bit more walking, and the unbelievable happened. Bucklesbury leading onto Queen Victoria Street was completely devoid of police lines. Seizing the moment, I walked up the street to the Bank of England and joined a jolly old carnival of assorted hippies and journalists.
The atmosphere is jolly. Everyone is having a great time. But let me ask you this. Why, in every protest, are there people playing bongos? Do protests not happen if there’s no one available to bang their bongo drums?
There number of photographers and broadcasters is amazing. Here, I bump into Newsnight’s Justin Rowlatt who is very professional and doesn’t loose his temper with protesters who disrupt his piece-to-camera.
After a pleasant afternoon walking around and absorbing the atmosphere, I take a seat on the steps of a battened-down Royal Exchange.
I feel like walking back home now. Sure, I’m inside the cordon. But the cordon let me in, so it should let me out, right? Let’s see what happened when I walked up Threadneedle Street to try and get out…
Yes, that is a swarm of mounted riot police. Yes, they are the broken windows on the RBS building. And yes, that is Ben Brown who somehow managed to do live reports from the front-line all day.
So, I couldn’t get through. But what happened next, took me by surprise.
Aggression built up and suddenly, everyone on my side of the cordon was running from the police line. Nobody knew why, so we all went back to the police line.
Then, things got much worse. For no apparent reason, more and more police filled the police lines. Then, they charged towards us.
For some reason, while running, a thought popped into my head. “This must be what the Spanish Pamplona bull run is like”. Think about it. Both involve running away very quickly from something enraged.
I kept the camera recording video. I tried to hide in one of the nooks and crannies of Threadneedle Street, hoping that the police line would just pass. But it didn’t. I found myself running, almost for my life, literally with a policeman in riot gear pushing me and shouting “Move, move move!”.
The police line came to a stop near the steps of the Royal Exchange. Needless to say, the protesters were irked. A stand off ensued.
Amazingly, Ben Brown popped up again. He even managed to to a piece-to-camera and interview one of the protesters.
Sadly, here’s where the photos end. My camera-phone battery expired.
All around, photographers grappled for the best vantage point. Police officers were videoing the protest and radioing troublemaker details to base.
Then I decided it was time to make an exit. Easier said than done when every exit is cordoned off. Nevertheless, I wandered off.
Bucklesbury was cordoned off. Guess I’ll have to look for another way out. How about Queen Victoria Street? No. That’s cordoned off too.
Worse than than that, things were turning ugly. These weren’t the usual hippy protesters. Most of this crowd had their faces covered. These were real life anarchists intent on causing anarchy. Golly.
Angry noises coming from the police line told me that trouble would be rushing my way soon. A brisk walk towards back the Royal Exchange seemed appropriate.
Unless I could find a way out from the cordoned-off area, I would be there all night. Then, miraculously, the police line across Bucklesbury opened up. Not much. Just enough to let some of us escape. Courageously, I took the opportunity and retreated. Wise choice.
Minutes later, the line closed. Right in front of that line was the trouble. A line a riot police charged the skirmishing anarchists. Bottles were hurled at the police. Voices were raised. There was pushing and shoving. It wasn’t pleasant. Best of all, I wasn’t in it. It was happening a few feet away, the other side of the Bucklesbury police line.
Then, it really was my time to get out of there. I went back up through the city. Passed the Climate Camp who were still busy partying. And back to my flat, just off Brick Lane.
What have I learned today? A few things. I’ve learnt that there are lots of irritated people who want to protest. I’ve learnt that I don’t agree with most of the protesters. For starters, free trade and free market capitalism is the best way to get people out of poverty and develop clean energy through market driven innovation. I’ve also learnt that anarchists and violent protesters can ruin a fun day out. And that most people who go to these things are jolly nice. The lesson I’ve learnt most of all is that police lines like to charge at you for no apparent reason.
Were you there? Are you Justin Rowlatt? Did you see me out and about? Do you have an opinion? Do please leave a comment here with your opinions, views, thoughts, ramblings and anything else you want to say.
Watch my video from the day at my YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=Gent82&view=videos