G20 Coverage

The four mass marches converge on the Bank of England

Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

I had a conversation with a friend a while back about how the current economic crisis was a missed opportunity to really shake up this top down greed based capitalist structure.

I guess the past couple of days have seen a few more missed opportunities.

It comes as no surprise to me that the vast majority of photographs I have seen of the protests in London have showed nothing but antagonism and violence. It would seem that everybody on this march was a) wearing a bandana over their face b) getting drunk and c) shouting at or otherwise provoking the police.

There's a lot of people in the picture above, some of them may well be friends of mine. I got an email from an old friend today that just happened to mention the fact that he'd survived a full on baton charge, and I know he's not the type to go breaking any bank windows. In fact I know how much he loves to keep a low profile.

Here's the thing. I am pissed off at the governments and the banks. I have been for a lot longer than the past six months (I think it's more like ten or fifteen years...) and I have no love of heavy handed police tactics but I also hate the way the media focuses on such a tiny part of the whole. The headlines make it sound as if chaos was breaking out across the city, when in fact the pictures I saw were mostly of the windows of the RBS being smashed from about a dozen different angles, such was the lack of widespread rioting. There were thousands of protesters on the streets, does the debate really have to be reduced to the old 'look at these violent troublemakers' line.

I'm pretty sure the vast majority of people on this march didn't break anything or hurt anyone. In fact kudos to the Guardian for a seemingly balanced view of the protests in this video. It shows a bit more of the reality of what actually happens at protests such as this. Though their front page told a very different story.

Honestly, you'd think a revolution was going on.

Anyway, I was not there so I really don't know. But it does seem to me like the branding of these protesters as violent does a disservice to the vast majority. Incidentally, I also believe that many of those on the march would happily fight for a cause if they thought there was no better way to go about things. Maybe there isn't, but unstructured acts of wanton damage is not really a decent solution to the problem and all that will get you is a baton in the face, and probably the face of the person stood next to you as well.

If you are inclined toward insurrection and armed struggle against oppression, at least do it properly, and have a damned good plan of what to put in it's place. Otherwise, all you'll achieve is to allow the media to reinforce some pointless stereotypes and make it difficult for anyone to get a serious point across.

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