Wednesday, 1 April 2009

"The Day of the Big Protest, Or...

How the Police Managed to Escalate a Peaceful Situation".

The G20 Summit started and massive demonstrations were expected in the City of London for today. At first there were more police officers and reporters than protesters but this turned soon and around lunctime a lot of people came to protest but also to see what is going on.

In the beginning everything was fine, people were having a good time and were in good spirits, police was present but did not impede or bullied the protesters and other people there. This turned soon when the police got the stupid order to contain people and circled the people in. I was one of the people who got caught in the middle with the police refusing to let anyone out, even an injured person. Only reporters were alowed through.

People were nice and talked to the police at first but after being "contained" for over 1.5h people started to get impatient and angry. They called on the police to let them through and when this failed started to call them faschists and nazis. It did not take long till people decided that pushing was the only way out.
The police thought it was a good idea to bully people and push them to the ground and this is when the situation escalated and everyone pushed their way through. I was in the front line just in front of the police and while I could avoid being pushed by the police I was pushed forward by the people behind me. This resuled in the police line breaking down and the ploce finally moving away and letting people get out.

This whole situation only escalated because some idiot gave the order to contain people, after people pushed their way out they went peacefully about their way. So a note to the London Police, if you want to escalate a situation and turn people against you just go ahead and "contain" people.

Overall it was a very interesting experience and I really enjoy covering protests. Getting caught up in the midle was not great but the people I met, including the police, were generaly very friendly and passionate. Using the GRD only was great and it is the perfect camera for these events, it's fast, small and easy to handle. Took over 450 pictures today, not all of them good but sometimes it is better to take more than not enough on an event like this.
I even managed to get another photographer interested in my GRD. It was generally also a great opportunity to spot the camera people were using and from big dSLRs over Leicas, Contax G2, Rolleiflex, compact and mobile phones there were all sorts of cameras present.

For more pictures go an see my Dropbox gallery here.

Tomorrow after work I'll be heading to the Excel Centre to cover the 2nd day of the protests so check back for more pictures.

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