- Carnival Against Capitalism
The Global Carnival Against Capital took place on Friday,
June 18, 1999. It was an international day of protest timed to coincide with the 25th G8Summit in Köln, Germany. The carnivalwas inspired by the 1980s Stop the City protests and the Global Street Party, which happened at the same time as the 24th G8Summit in Birmingham, United Kingdomin 1998. The rallying slogan was "Our Resistance is as Transnational as Capital".
Before the day
Preparations took many months. The day became known as simply J18. In
London, the open organising group met every month. The day was also discussed in the open weekly meetings of London Reclaim the Streets. There were between 10 and 100 people at these discussions. An international email discussion list was set up. Fund-raising was carried out by collecting anonymous donations and running a series of benefit gigs.
"There is only so much that can be learned from how J18 was organised. J18 and the many other successful and inspiring anti-capitalist events in recent history were produced by a free flowing convergence of events and political currents combined with sheer luck." [http://www.daysofdissent.org.uk/j18.htm]
In London, a concerted publicity campaign was carried out, using colourful stickers and 10,000 posters. Workers were encouraged to phone in sick. An eighteen minute promotional video was made and distributed globally. "Squaring up to the Square Mile" was a 32 page pamphlet produced by Reclaim the Streets and
Corporate Watchwhich gave details of financial institutions. An A3 map of the City of Londonshowed where they were located. 4,000 copies were produced.
A spoof version of the
Evening Standard, daily London-based newspaper was produced. 30,000 copies were printed and distributed on June 17 and 18 to City workers. The cover resembled the layout of the actual newspaper and the inner pages contained agitpropand humour. The newspaper was handed out for free. The headline read "Global Market Meltdown", followed by a spoof report of the collapse of the world's financial markets.
The mainstream media
January 29, 1999, The Daily Mirrorran a full page article entitled "Police spy bid to smash the anti-car protesters."Closer to the day, stories abounded in the media about possible violent scenarios.
Reaction of the City
But it was clear that the City was taking things very seriously. All leave was cancelled for
City of London Policeofficers on the day. The Corporation of London sent letters out to the Managing Director of every firm in the square mile (and many outside it) with instructions to circulate the warning of "major disruption" and the need for extra security measures to be taken on June 18th to all staff. [ [http://www.eco-action.org/dod/no8/j18.html Friday June 18th 1999 (Do or Die) ] ]
June 18 itself
In London, there was a large march planned for midday and autonomous actions in the morning. Among other actions, a
Critical Massbicycle ride brought the City of Londontraffic to a standstill in rush hour. The Campaign Against Arms Tradeclosed down a Lloyds bank with a 'die-in'.
At twelve, the protesters met at Liverpool Street train station.
Food Not Bombsgave out free food and a samba band played. Carnival masks were distributed in four different colours and five processions set off in different directions (there were four marches planned and another occurred spontaneously). The spontaneous procession erupted in anger at London Wallwhen a woman was hit by a reversing police van and had her leg broken.
Between two and three o'clock, the marches came together and an estimated 5,000 people converged on the
London International Financial Futures Exchange(LIFFE). A fire hydrant was set off, symbolising the freeing of the Walbrookriver, and the lower entrance to the LIFFE was bricked up. Banners were hung, reading "Global Ecology Not Global Economy", and "The Earth Is A Common Treasury For All", the latter a quote from Gerrard Winstanleyof the seventeenth century Diggersmovement. Graffiti messages were sprayed and CCTV cameras were disabled. Then sound systems set up and drum & base music and punk bands played.
In the early afternoon a small group of protesters broke into the Cannon Bridge building, smashed up the reception area and tried to access the LIFFE trading floor, but were repelled by LIFFE traders in hand-to-hand fighting on the escalators. The police arrived late on the scene and made a number of arrests; monitors from the
Legal Defence and Monitoring Groupattempted to keep track of who the police were arresting and why.
"We’d failed in our under-ambition. Unprepared, we never imagined we could get so close to occupying a trading floor in one of the City’s major exchanges. We’d planned the wall, and built it. We’d planned to free the Walbrook, and done it. But we’d stopped short of planning a full-scale occupation." (Wat Tyler, 2003).
The rest of the afternoon became a battle as police using horses and personal incapacitant spray containing
CS gaspushed the protesters down Lower Thames Streetand out of the City of London. In the aftermath, protesters gathered peacefully in Trafalgar Square.
Using techniques which at the time were new and would soon form the basis of the Indymedia network, the day's events were transmitted live over the internet until the servers were blocked up by the sheer volume of traffic.
electronic civil disobediencegroup called for a virtual sit-inof the Mexicanembassy in London and brought the embassy website to a standstill.
Nigeria, 10,000 people took to the streets of Port Harcourt. A street was renamed in honour of Ken Saro-Wiwaand his younger brother Owens addressed the crowd.
"The June 18 events were as diverse as the groups taking part. In
Barcelona"street reclaimers" invoked the slogan of the rebellious Parisstudents of 1968, "Sous les paves, la plage" ("Under the sidewalk, the beach") and, dressed in swimming costumes, put out towels and sun-bathed on the road, handed out French fries to commuters in their cars, and later took part in a 700-strong street party. Music and dancing also hit the streets of San Franciscowith "art attackers" who, armed with giant puppets and candy, lobbied those working for multinationals that exploit sweatshop workers to take the day off work and "join the revolution." In Melbourne, Australia, Kim Beazely, leader of the opposition, received a custard pie in the face for speaking at a global trade conference sponsored by Shell, while thousands of party goers in Sydneyheld up traffic as a massive street festival got underway." [http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Global_Economy/GlobalCarnival.html Globalization GIobal Carnival Against Capital ] ]
In total there were protests in 40 countries, these included
Tel Aviv, Minsk, Madrid, Valencia, Prague, Hamburg, Köln, Milan, Rome, Siena, Florence, Ancona, Amsterdam, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Lancaster, Zürich, Geneva, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Washington, New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Boston, and Eugene.
After the day
In the United Kingdom, James Borek pled guilty in January 2004 to Section 20 Unlawful Wounding (GBH) and two violent disorder charges, plus an additional charge of skipping bail in 2000. He received a four and a half year sentence.A total of sixteen people were arrested on the day. The
Metropolitan Policemade a website listing 138 photographs of those wanted for further questioning. Using CCTV footage extensively, they had arrested a further 50 people one year on.
Mark Brown, a descendant of
Derek Vesteywas charged, and later acquitted, of public order offences.
OregonRob Thaxton was sentenced to 88 months in jailafter throwing a rock at a police officer, breaking the officer's collarbone, whilst trying to avoid arrest.
J18 was the first in the line of huge
anti-capitalistand anti-globalisationprotests. Since then there have been many protests, the largest being the following:
* Against the
World Trade Organisationon November 30, 1999 ( Seattle)
* Against the
International Monetary Fundand World Bankin September 2000 (Prague)
* Against the
27th G8 summitin Genoa.
* Against the
31st G8 summitin Gleneagles Hotelin Perthshire, Scotland.
Reclaim the Streets
Peoples' Global Action
WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999 protest activity
WTO Ministerial Conference of 2005
* Anonymous, [http://www.daysofdissent.org.uk/j18.htm "J18 1999 Our resistance is as transnational as capital"] , "Days of Dissent", 2004.
* Katherine Ainger, [http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Global_Economy/GlobalCarnival.html "Global Carnival Against Capital"] , Z Magazine, September 1999.
*Anonymous, [http://www.eco-action.org/dod/no8/j18.html "Friday June 18th 1999, Confronting Capital And Smashing The State!"] , article in "Do or Die 8".
*Wat Tyler(2003), Dancing at the Edge of Chaos: a Spanner in the Works of Global Capitalism, in, Notes From Nowhere (Eds.) "We Are Everywhere: the Irresistible Rise of Global Anticapitalism"188-195. Verso, London/New York 2003 ISBN 1-85984-447-2
* [http://www.eco-action.org/dod/no8/global.html Complete list of actions worldwide]
* [http://bak.spc.org/j18/site/uk.html#rep1 J18 Timeline London]
* [http://bak.spc.org/j18/site/ Archived global J18 site] accessed June 11, 2006.
* [http://bak.spc.org/j18/site/uk.html Archived UK J18 site] accessed June 11, 2006.
* [http://rts.gn.apc.org Reclaim the Streets] accessed June 11, 2006.
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-9045799831794536580&hl=en-GB Chronological video single camera record without commentary]
* [http://www.kinokast.net/june18_99.html "Carnival against Capital" video from Kinokast]
* [http://www.hamacaonline.net/obra.php?id=244] "Radical Imagination (Carnivals of Resistance)", video by Marcelo Expósito (2004). See also [http://www.shedhalle.ch/eng/archiv/2005/karnevaleske/thematische_reihe/projekte/exposito/index.shtml] .
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