There was a jubilant spirit from UKUncut protestors in Oxford Street today as we sang songs about tax avoidance, chanted the names of tax avoiders and entertained the public with our neat medical gear.
Our only victims were the profits of business’ such as Boots, Vodafone and the Arcadia Group as they were all forced to shut up shop when protestors came knocking on their doors to ask “where did all the tax go”. The answer was of course “it went off to Monaco”. We knew that, the public knew that and the companies certainly knew that as at least one of them went to the trouble of hiring a ‘close protection officer’.
This lovely gentlemen decided to tackle demonstrators who seeked to enter Vodafone. Sure enough, the police chose to join in and helpfully dragged one gentlemen to the floor, supposedly for getting a bit too close.
But the demonstration went on in a good spirited nature. The songs continued as we once again returned to Boots to set up our hospital, this time some of us made our presence known at a second Boots outlet just down the road.
But when returning to the main group I was horrified to find that four Diplomatic Protection Group vehicles had turned up, along with several police vans. The distinctive red vehicles of the DPG routinely carry firearms, so I was more than a little bemused as to why they had arrived at a peaceful protest.
The crime? An extremely frightened female protestor had slipped a few leaflets through the locked electric doors of Boots. As officers arrested her for this act of ‘criminal damage’, stunned protestors chanted ‘shame on you’ after them. How did officer CW2440 react? By using CS gas on these protestors.
Here is the supposed criminal damage:
I don’t see it personally…
It only takes one person to spoil this kind of demonstration and in this case it was certainly the officer who escalated an extremely peaceful protest to one of shocking violence from the people who are meant to be there to protect you. Rather, it seems to be true that they are there to protect big businesses like Boots.
I am certainly disgusted. My fellow protestors were. Boots supposedly were. But most importantly, innocent members of the public were too. It is fair to say that before the CS spray incident occurred, not all shoppers were on our side, however, when they saw four DPG vehicles and several police vans turn up twenty minutes before an ambulance for the three protestors that needed hospital treatment, they were more than ready to listen to our message. Those I spoke to were both shocked by what had happened with the police and how Boots are able to get away with their tax avoidance.
They had witnessed the effects of exactly what we were protesting against, as well as a small glimpse of what a police state looks like.
Fortunately, I certainly haven’t been deterred from future action. The message has been heard and it will be heard again.
Thank you to those that helped the injured in the CS spray incident. That includes Boots staff members who provided free medical care, as well as those at Ben’s Cookies that provided milk to wash eyes out with.
Also thanks to Dawn Foster for video footage. Click her name for her brillaint blog post on the incident.
Lastly, thank you to UKUncut for the image of ‘damage’ and for facilitating today’s demo.