Bush in the UK – 2003

Nov 23, 2003

Not satisfied with occupying Iraq, the US secret service took hold of London during the Bush visit in November 2003. With a compliant local police force and a monarchy and government who thought resistance would be futile, they have quickly secured the security infrastructure of the city. Resistance, however, was evident.

 

 

 

DAY ONE – WEDNESDAY 19 NOVEMBER

The waiting over, the anticipation built, let battle commence.

Globalise Resistance due to a number of factors had no pre-set plans for action on the day. We didn’t know the exact itinerary of the day, we’d been up to our necks in sorting stuff out for the European Social Forum, we hadn’t seen the security measures in place on such a scale before. Late in the day, we discovered a planned visit by Colin Powell to Senate House (University of London) for a meeting. Perfect target really, they probably won’t be as tight on his security as Bush’s and every aspect of the visit must be opposed. Powell is the alleged ‘dove’ that switched to the hawk’s side in the run up to war, and pulled a significant group of so-called liberals with him, his hands just as bloody as his boss’s.

We met up with LSE students outside their college, and in a small but confident and loud group (no more than 50) set off for Senate House, taking the road as we marched and shouted. The appreciation and support was notable from other road users and pedestrians. We got to Senate house the long way round and were greeted by twice our number of students from other central London Colleges already picketing.

After a short while, we managed to march straight through Senate House and through the locked gates on the other side. With such lax security we assumed the meeting wouldn’t go ahead, and were vindicated in the Times the following morning :

“American bodyguards were unhappy about the presence of demonstrators inside and outside the Senate House of London University, where General Powell was due to receive a Marshall Medal, honouring his contribution to Anglo-American relations. The official reason for his absence was that “this was only ever tentatively on his schedule”.

Although it sounds small, it proved that protesters can deny the right of freedom of movement around a city to the most powerful people on the planet, and that was with less than 200 of us.

Happy with a victory, we decided the palace should be our next port of call. With chants of “Bush go Home”, “We’re lean, we’re mean, we’re going to visit the queen” and some stuff a bit ruder than those, we set off. Impromptu marches and routes are always enjoyable, and we went the most high profile way we could: down Gower Street and Bloomsbury Street, along New Oxford Street, to Oxford Circus and down Regent Street, Lower Regent Street and down the steps onto the Mall. We shook off the police van tail we had attracted in heavy and congested traffic and whittled down our escort to only a handful of police in disco jackets. Once in sight of the Palace, the mainly young protest started charging up the road, followed by the older protesters (we tried, we so tried) and the even more unfit old bill. It was a brilliant sight – flags and banners sweeping up the Mall. Police panic threw a cordon of vans and coppers across the street and stopped us a few hundred yards from the palace itself.

After brief negotiation, we were on the move again up to the designated protest area in full sight of the palace, just by the roundabout with the ridiculous statue on it. Protesters from the Resist Bush Tea Party were then coerced into joining us and many more people drifted in for their first bit of after work Bushwhacking the numbers swelled to around 1000.

Police policy was obviously to keep it calm and peaceful. Bit too peaceful as they shutdown a sound system aiming beats at the palace, and there were a few small scuffles but we managed to keep arrests relatively low, by pulling some protesters away from the grasping hands of cops.

A mighty fine start to the reception for the World’s Number One terrorist.



 

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