Posts Tagged ‘London Fields’

Class War Bonfire

November 9, 2008

On 5th November, it was obviously Bonfire Night.

We may no longer live in Hackney but knew we weren’t going to miss out on Class War’s infamously fantastic London Fields Bonfire.

We were very excited thanks to this video:

But when got there there were police everywhere. They’d confiscated firewood, saying that if you lit your own firewood it was ‘criminal damage’ and if you took firewood out it was ‘theft‘.

We gathered around the Pub On The Park, feeling somewhat intimidated by the two CCTV/riot vans and the police lined up outside them.

They tried to bar us from using one entrance into the (public) park, but people just used another.

While the rozzas had snatched most people’s fireworks, some smart revellers had distributed them around the park. So, whenever the police got close and a scuffle between them and the anarcho-types, the smart folk would set off a firework.

Class War Bonfire 2008

Class War Bonfire 2008

Not wanting to get nicked (although I thought: that’ll get me out of going to work in the morning), I kept to the sidelines (which was becoming increasingly tough as the riot police were penning us in a circle). The sidelines tended to be where the smart folk where lighting their fires so I kept having near misses. Just about kept my eyebrows though. And eventually I learned to listen out for ‘ watch out to your left, mate‘.

When innocent folk are scrabbling with the police just for the right to hold a sparkler on bonfire night, you can’t help feeling fucking elated when an ‘illegal’ firework pops off right above their heads, even if does singe you on the way up.

Whenever a firework broke through some people would yell ‘Class war!’ but to little avail.

Class War Bonfire 2008

Class War Bonfire 2008

At the start there musta been around 200 people, but as it became increaisnlgy obvious that the police would rather pepper spray people than let them start a fire, the crowd dispersed. By 10pm, standing around near the undercover cops was getting a bit boring, but then one police dude said ‘time to go,the park it closing.’

Of course there are no gates and the park is actually a public right of way, but the police weren’t interested in the facts. So anyway, since they told us to leave, we had to stay.

And we did that for a bit. But then it got cold and all bu the hardcore had dispersed to we went to our friends’ nearby squat where we had flapjack and beer. He and his housemates are getting evicted at the end of the month, which is sad – their space is lovely. (And warm!)

But really, what I wanted to express was my disappointment in the ‘anarchist movement’. It seriously was farcical. Yes, there were (marginally) more anarcho-types than police, but as I said before people would yell ‘class war!’ to no response. Factions (of like, two) would start singing songs, and stop after a line or two because no one was joining in.

If we were in some tiny Welsh village, I woulda been stoked at the crowd. But this is fucking London. This is the annual bonfire of Class War! And it was more like a Monty Python sketch. One woman yelled the standard ‘class war!’ and some one else replied ‘yer what?’ and I burst out laughing. It was just ridiculous.

Now, I’m no paid-up Class War member but why weren’t there more people at the non-bonfire?

It was quite unsettling. When political stuff goes wrong, as invariably it does, you always think : oh well, I won’t protest, there’s class war and the committed anarchists who’ll do it for me. But nope. Turns out everyone was thinking the same thing. ….