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MAYDAY2K IN UK: 400 Cyclists in Central London

- Articles from the Independent Media Centre UK Website... See

APRIL 28th LONDON: Despite driving rain nearly 400 people attended a Critical Mass cycle ride today as part of a London-based four-day festival of anti-capitalist events.

Starting at its usual location under Waterloo Bridge cyclists converged outside London's National Film Theatre where a variety of peddle-powered vehicles - many of them adourned with flags and brightly-coloured banners - and chatted. The group then rode over Waterloo Bridge accomponied by about a dozen motorcycle police officers and several journalists. It was apparent that once the reporters became aware of the fact that this well-established and largely peqaceful protest was going to remain 'fluffy' their interest quickly dwindled.

Once over Waterloo Bridge the group folowed the Strand - one of London's premier thoroughfares - into Trafalgar Square. They continued through London's better-known tourist areas including Soho, Chinatown, Tottenham Court Road interracting with puzzled looking sightseers and irate taxi drivers. "What are these guys protesting?" asked a group of confused American theatre-goers.

It was at Goodge Street that vanloads of Metropolitan Police officers on foot arrived and began forcefully moving cyclists on from t-juntions where drivers were often trying to drive through the collected mass of bikers. At this point several Critical Mass veterans commented on the size of the police operationand the pushy nature of the officers involved. "There's usually a couple of motor bike cops - I've never seen the B-boys before" said a bemused young woman.

The procession then headed into Marylebone Road past Madam Tussauds and Baker Street tube. Behind the mass of cyclists was an increasingly car-congested road - this major route is a key arterial link between the city centre and the westway to the M4 motorway. At one point motorcycle officers struggled to contain cyclists who had diverted their course and rode up the flyover which police promptly secured.

From Edgware Road police officers on foot were struggling to catch up. The procession then passed several landmarks including Marble Arch and Park Lane. At Park Lane the combined mass of rickshaws, skateboarders and pedestrians began their descent on Hyde Park Corner.

Wheelchair-user Nigel Bull was also present. When questioned why he had attended he was honest in his response. "Disabilities are not seen as part of society, these events allow us to show ourselves as members of the public who have a right to take part in a protest involoving access to the street, a crucial part of my existence." Whe asked what effect he thought Critical mass might have in changing opinions he responded: "The government doesn't chose to hear our issuses this makes the government hear and see us".

By 9.30 pm rain had soaked a majority of the partipicants and numbers had dwindled. Yet, with a police officer present on the bicycle procession conceding that "traffic in London is reaching a crisis popint" it is clear that this will not be a last - in fact participants were already discussing where to meet for the 10am Mayday cycle action.

APRIL 29th LONDON: Thousands of Londoners go to Prague

Well, not yet, but it seems to be a possible scenario after a workshop held at the Mayday conference on Saturday afternoon.

The protests against the IMF/World Bank meeting in Washington in April are still fresh in our memory, and already these global institutions are planning their next gathering. They will meet in Prague from September 26th to 28th, and concerned groups based in the Czech Republic have announced to make sure that they won't be welcomed with open arms. The organisation of protests is in full swing (and, by the way, there are people interested in setting up an Independent Media Centre over there as well).
60 people gathered at the meeting on Saturday, and their response was beyond everyone's expectations. An organiser of the workshop told Indymedia UK, "as this was a last-minute workshop, we expected 10 people or so to turn up. Instead, there were amazing numbers of interested people. Everyone was keen on getting involved, and most people said they would like to go to Prague in September."

APRIL 30th LONDON: Attack on media (mis-)representation

Lots of newspaper articles have appeared on the Mayday conference and especially on the guerilla gardening action on Monday, and the imagination of journalists has been proved to be virtually limitless. From fears of gardeners attacking cops with spears to the army being on alert, every crazy idea has been transmitted to the public. Reason enough to have a workshop on "Mayday 2000 in the media".

Speakers including Larry O'Hara accused the media of trying to criminalise dissent. "For most journalists legitimate dissent stopped in 1968", O'Hara said. Their tactics of undermining protests and direct action include focusing on violence and, in some cases, even linking environmental and social activists with fascist thoughts and activities, in order to create a picture of 'violent extremists' who don't differ much from each other. The goal of all this, according to O'Hara, is to alienate the public from activists, but also to alienate activists from each other.

The latest of the many examples he presented was a Sunday Times article from the day of the workshop. This article not only portrays the participants involved in Mayday as violent rioters, but undermines the credibility of legal observers. This, says O'Hara, signifies the attempts of some corporate media to delegitimate any objective observers.

O'Hara advised activists who talk to the media to investigate the journalists before they talk to them and demand articles the latter have written on related subjects.


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