Carnival Against Capitalism

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 G8 Summit in Köln, Germany. The carnival was inspired by the 1980s Stop the City protests and the Global Street Party, which happened at the same time as the 24th G8 Summit in Birmingham, United Kingdom in 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." []


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 Watch which gave details of financial institutions. An A3 map of the City of London showed where they were located. 4,000 copies were produced.

Evading Standards

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 agitprop and 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

On January 29, 1999, The Daily Mirror ran 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 Police officers 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. [ [ 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 Mass bicycle ride brought the City of London traffic to a standstill in rush hour. The Campaign Against Arms Trade closed down a Lloyds bank with a 'die-in'.

The March

At twelve, the protesters met at Liverpool Street train station. Food Not Bombs gave 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 Wall when 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 Walbrook river, 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 Winstanley of the seventeenth century Diggers movement. 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 Group attempted 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 gas pushed the protesters down Lower Thames Street and out of the City of London. In the aftermath, protesters gathered peacefully in Trafalgar Square.

Internet coverage

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.

The electronic civil disobedience group called for a virtual sit-in of the Mexican embassy in London and brought the embassy website to a standstill.


In Nigeria, 10,000 people took to the streets of Port Harcourt. A street was renamed in honour of Ken Saro-Wiwa and 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 Paris students 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 Francisco with "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 Sydney held up traffic as a massive street festival got underway." [ 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 Police made 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 Vestey was charged, and later acquitted, of public order offences.

In Eugene, Oregon Rob Thaxton was sentenced to 88 months in jail after throwing a rock at a police officer, breaking the officer's collarbone, whilst trying to avoid arrest.

Later events

J18 was the first in the line of huge anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation protests. Since then there have been many protests, the largest being the following:
* Against the World Trade Organisation on November 30, 1999 (Seattle)
* Against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in September 2000 (Prague)
* Against the 27th G8 summit in Genoa.
* Against the 31st G8 summit in Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland.

ee also

*Reclaim the Streets
*Earth First!
*Peoples' Global Action
*Tactical Frivolity
*WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999 protest activity
*G8 Alternatives
*WTO Ministerial Conference of 2005



* Anonymous, [ "J18 1999 Our resistance is as transnational as capital"] , "Days of Dissent", 2004.
* Katherine Ainger, [ "Global Carnival Against Capital"] , Z Magazine, September 1999.
*Anonymous, [ "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
* [ Complete list of actions worldwide]
* [ J18 Timeline London]

External links

* [ Archived global J18 site] accessed June 11, 2006.
* [ Archived UK J18 site] accessed June 11, 2006.
* [ Reclaim the Streets] accessed June 11, 2006.
* [ Chronological video single camera record without commentary]
* [ "Carnival against Capital" video from Kinokast]
* [] "Radical Imagination (Carnivals of Resistance)", video by Marcelo Expósito (2004). See also [] .

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