Monday, November 20, 2006

What happened during the G20 - day 2

Saturday morning I found the embassy right at the bottom of Russell Street, which was where all of the cars and buses and police where entering and exiting the blockaded area.

This guy called Lorian turned up, and said that he'd heard about what we were doing and wanted to join us. A couple of other protesters came and stood on the traffic island, chanting at the cars and buses that went through the gate:

Globalise justice! Not exploitation!
Globalise peace! Not war!
Globalise happiness! Not suffering!
Fair trade! Not free trade!
Power! Corrupts!
Absolute power! Corrupts absolutely!
Power to the people! Not the corporations!
We had a film with photos on it from when the police made us move, so I took it up to a newsagent in Swanston Street to get it developed. Went up to the State Library, where the march was supposed to be starting at twelve, to see what was going on. There were an awful lot of people selling Green Left and handing out flyers and stuff, which I normally find fairly irritating, so I didn't stay all that long. On the way back to the embassy, when I came to the Collins/Swanston Street intersection, there were about a hundred protesters in white suits coming down from the east end of Collins Street, and a whole heap of mounted police and riot police coming out from behind the barricades, which the protesters had managed to break through.
When I got back to the embassy, almost everyone had gone up to the State Library to join the march.

During the march Simon called us and said that the march had split up, and that it seemed like some people wanted to act violently. The officer in charge at the barricade told the officers to stake out their batons, and said something about people throwing missiles, and about driving people back to Exhibition Street.
My brother Adam turned up, because we were going to be seeing U2 in the evening. We went and checked out the Make Poverty History festival down at Alexandra Gardens. Was a bit bothered by the fact that Mount Franklin had a stall where they were selling water at $2 a bottle. I was bothered because one of the causes of poverty is companies trying to turn eveything into a commodity (eg. water, public space, communication, relationships) that has to be bought and sold.
After a while we went back to the embassy.
Late in the afternoon me and Adam and Gin decided to walk around the block and see what was going on everywhere else. (The protest was quite peaceful where we were, but Simon reckoned it didn't look good in some other places.) We had a look down Flinders Lane, and the vibe there wasn't very good at all. There was a lot of broken glass and masonry on the ground, and there were people throwing stuff in the air. (Some people reckon the glass and masonry was a set-up.) There wasn't a lot of yelling, but there were a lot of people belting out a drum beat. Apart from all the protesters against the barricade, the place was almost completely deserted, and there was no traffic. Seemed really weird, like we were in an urban warzone or something. Apparently the protesters had managed to get through the first row of barricades, and had been right up against the police, who'd driven them back with their batons. Further north, a whole heap of people had gathered in the middle of the Collins/Exhibition Street intersection, and were mostly just sitting around chatting, or playing drums, or dancing. There were a few people running around with hankerchiefs over their mouths, which seemed really irresponsible, as though they were just trying to frighten people.
After we'd finished walking round the six blocks that had been joined together by the barricades, we went to the ecumenical church service at St Paul's Cathedral. The Archbishop of Capetown, who'd visited our embassy the previous day, spoke. I was quite impressed, because he actually said that Westerners need to change the way they live, and not just ask politicians to change everything. I haven't heard anyone else from Make Poverty History point out that we need to make affluence history.
After the service we went to the U2 concert. It was kind of interesting listening to some of their lyrics after what had gone over the last two days:
I was on the outside
When they pulled the four walls down
You looked over the rubble
I was lost
I am found
('I Will Follow')


David said...

What did you think of the U2 concert? I went last monday here in Sydney, it was pretty good, though I would like to have been down on the floor closer to the stage.

Christop said...

Ok, cool, Adam went up and saw them in Sydney Monday night as well.
I thought it was a great show, but was disappointed that they've changed the show a fair bit for this leg of the tour. I think they've changed it because of the new singles album they have out (which I think is a bit of a gimmick, and a fairly mediocre selection of songs). I would've liked to have seen them play stuff like 'An Cat Dubh', 'Into the Heart', 'Electric Co', 'Stories for Boys', 'Running to Stand Still', 'Miracle Drug' and 'Original of the Species'. They played these songs a lot in Europe and the Americas, but it seems that here they were mostly playing stuff that everyone would be familar with.