World Economic Forum protest

Mark Brown msbrown at
Mon Sep 11 19:18:29 BST 2000

Melbourne protest-A report from DestroyIMF.
Forwarded by Colin Lloyd
The first day of the protest was an  unqualified success. More than  10,000  blockaded the Crown Casino,  which is very impressive considering  that the  official union movement  effectively was boycotting S11 (the  BBC world  service said 1,500, which  is a gross lie). We did not close down  the WEF, but we did severely disrupt  it. The forum  started late because  delegates could not get in, and when  it did start  300-400 delegates (out  of around 1000 said to be attending)  were locked out  by the blockade. They were unable to get in for the  rest of the day. There were around  100  injuries on our side, including  several hospitalised, but, amazingly,  only  two arrests. Four cops were  hospitalised with 'crush' injuries,  and one  Crown security guard had  his jaw broken. Never mind. 
The day started for us in darkness.  Arriving at 06.30, it was raining hard  and unseasonably cold. But no one  was deterred. The bruised sky and  torrential rain only added to the  drama. Several thousands had  already gathered by 07.00. Crusty  old activists, fresh  faced school  students, helmeted  environmentalists, masked  anarchists, people  dressed as  nuclear bombs[!], and wild eyed  revolutionaries stood shoulder to  shoulder. The entire perimeter of  Crown Casino had been surrounded  by an eight foot  wall of concrete  and webbed steel. The graffiti said it  all: 'Welcome to  Melbourne zoo,  please don't feed the animals.' The  only gaps in the wall were the  entrances. Here there were hundreds  of  cops (over 2000 in total had been  mobilised for the front line defense  of  the WEF, with more in reserve)  at the ready with their batons. In a  way, the wall actually helped us to  focus our forces. There were only  about six possible entrances, so we  concentrated there and blockaded  them all. Some of the most serious  action of the day took place when  the cops tried to  clear a path to an  entrance with only about 60  protestors. They were  screaming out  for help. More of us waded in.  Within about 45 seconds about  500  people had materialised from  seemingly nowhere. The cops  breached the  blockade but it simply  reformed around them like a giant  human octopus. They did so again,  but with the same result. They sent  in the horses. One  guy went  completely limp, like a rag doll,  slumped to the ground and was  trampled by horses. The cops  dragged him off. The line held. When  the threat  had passed we moved on  to another entrance. On the way, we  came across a vehicle down one of  the alleys, which looked  like a cross  between a fork lift and a moveable  platform. A few of us leapt  on it and  miraculously got the thing to start.  When we got the hang of it he  did a  180 degree turn, and drove the  vehicle at a sedate pace back to the  green bloc blockade. Feet astride,  chin up and towering about nine feet  above the crowd, the  comrade in  charge was greeted as a returning  liberator. We still do not know  what  these machines are called, but can  say with certainty that he is a  legendary operator of them! At the  next blockade point the cops showed  how  truly befuddled they were. Cops  on horses at the entrance had  sandwiched protestors between  themselves  and another thin line of  cops. The cops on horses started  pushing forward. Instead of  resisting, the protestors simply went  with the direction of the  push from  behind and broke through the police  lines in front, swamping the  bus-full  of delegates that was supposedly  about to get through. Here I saw one  of the most heroic acts of the day: a  masked anarchist did a  kamakaze  run at the bus, leaping six feet off  the ground to end up in a  horizontal  position clinging to the wire mesh on  the bus's windscreen. He  looked like  a human fly. His hang-time was about  three or four seconds before he was  monstered by  cops. Happily, dozens  of activists leapt to his rescue,  skittling a  motorbike cop in the act. At about 10.00 the first collective  mobilisation of about 400 high  school  students arrived. They met  the main contingent at Flinder's St.  It was a  great sight when the  students arrived. They were all  running in formation  along the South  Bank of the Yarra river, some waving  Workers Power placards  with our  name and slogan. Later in the day one  of the more memorable events took  place when Western  Australian  Conservative Premier, Richard Court,  was trapped in his car for  one hour  by protestors. The crowd surrounded  the car and slashed all four tires.  They then doused it  in green paint.  An Aboriginal protestor jumped on  the bonnet and started  giving Court  a history lesson about Aboriginal  dispossession, through the  glass of  his windscreen. The same protestor  then moved to the roof and started  doing an indigenous  dance (a victory  jig, I think). After one hour the  special police waded in  like maniacs,  indiscriminately flailing their batons.  Here some of the worst  injuries  were sustained. One guy had his nose  broken and lost most of his  front  teeth. Others were taken to hospital.  After the incident Richard Court  claimed,  with stunning insight and a  gift for words, that the surrounding  of his car  had been 'un-Australian'. The Melbourne Mayor, Peter  Costigan, said that it was despicable,  the act of  a tiny minority making  trouble for the vast majority! John  Howard said it  was shameful. The  police chief said that it was  disgraceful. I thought that  it was  great. In the afternoon things  slowed down a little, with both  protestors and  police in a holding  pattern as far as the blockade was  concerned. Occasionally word would  come through that cops were  amassing at one of the  entrances.  Hundreds of people would rush there  to reinforce it. This was one  of the  great things about the whole day -  the communication and flexibility. The age of the mobile phone has  made a huge difference to effective   demonstrations. There always  seemed to be people ready at hand to  reinforce  any weak spots. As the  afternoon wore on, the weather  improved and the whole rally turned  into more of a carnival atmosphere.  There were bands, reggae and  spontaneous  rap, and lots of young  people dancing in the street,  confirmation that for  once they  were in control of public space. During this time we paid more  attention to our stall and the selling  of REVO and the new edition of  Workers Power. We have not yet  calculated numbers sold, but I think  that the sales were very strong if my  own experience is anything to go by.  We also gave out lots of leaflets and  invited many people to our public  meeting next Saturday. The last  flurry of action occurred in the late  afternoon, as some delegates  left.  This was limited mainly to noisy  declarations of victory, in the face  of dejected cops and delegates. S11  was the leading news story on all of  the TV channels, receiving up to 15  minutes of a 60 minute news program  on channel ten. Of course they  concentrated on the alleged violence  of the demonstration, but they could   not deny that the WEF had been  severely disrupted - a bit of a  bummer for  the delegates, some of  whom were paying $22,000 per night  for the privilege of staying at Crown  (yes, $22,000). The balance sheet  today: 100% fantastic. Tomorrow  we'll have to wait and see  how the  union bureaucracy plays their cards.  but today has set the tone, and  it  will be very hard for them to keep a  lid on things as they hope. What we  can expect is a lot more people  tomorrow. I think that all who were  there  today will be back tomorrow,  and there will be all of the unionists  on top  of that. I hope that I will be  writing you an even more up-beat  report  tomorrow.
more updates as they come in at 
Information is a weapon-arm yourself, visit thoroughly disaproved of by most leading politicians
"First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then
 they  fight you. Then you win." - Gandhi

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