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More singing, less bashing

Some reflections on the Big Six Energy Bash demo in London on 3 May, which was 'kettled' by police.

Image‘Hold this a moment, while I staple these.’ Ninety minutes and nearly a mile later, I was still holding aloft the mid-section of the giant green dinosaur, and being used as cover by some masked youths making a grab for some plastic barriers. ‘If the police move in to arrest people, I’m off,’ the hind legs told me.

Several hundred people – variously dressed as Robin Hood and giant flowers – had met outside the Grange Hotel near St Paul’s cathedral, venue of the UK Energy Summit, for the Climate Justice Collective’s ‘Big Six Energy Bash’, called to protest the stranglehold of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies on UK energy policy.

However, after some brief scuffles between baton-wielding police and young men in boiler suits no-one seemed to know what to do.
I was about to leave when the police trapped us in a ‘kettle’. ‘This would never happen in Spain,’ my friend explained. ‘There they hit you with batons and you run away. I prefer that.’

After three hours of being kettled we were released. Despite the obvious effort that had gone into organising the action, I felt thoroughly disempowered.

‘What was your best experience?’ I asked my Spanish friend. ‘The communal singing in the kettle,’ she replied instantly.

There’s a lesson there somewhere, I thought.

The Climate Justice Collective meets in Manchester on 2 June:

Gabriel Carlyle is PN promotions worker.