Saturday, March 22, 2003


Having been up most of the night being mostly shocked by the news footage of Baghdad being blanket bombed, I slept in and missed the beginning of the anti-war march. Got into town and managed to duck in as it was crossing the top of Leith Street. Met a few new people and had some nice chats about various issues, made a few new contacts. There was apparently a scuffle somewhere at the back of the march and a few people were arrested, though the reports from many witnesses were that the people arrested were doing nothing and that the police were heavy handed using batons. A police officer who spoke to the crowd said that the arrests were for minor incidents and that the people would be processed and released shortly. However, by the time we had heard all the speakers no one had been released to it was decided that we would all move on and block the junction of Princes Street, Lothian Road, Shandwick Place. That turned into an open mike and a bit of a party. Met up with and and had an interesting discussion and planning session for next weekends protest.

Crowd then all moved on to St Leonard Police Station to demand the release of the arrested people.
Police tried to keep stopping the march at various junctions and to direct the route of the march but the marchers were having none of that. The police horses were great. They went virtually all the way over the bridges backwards and horses do not normally like doing that. Anyway we finally got to the police station, the crowd settled down for a long wait and the banter began.

An example:

Protester 1: I want to see Inspector Rebus
Protester 2: Is he the Rankin officer? [1]

After a while as it was getting dark and I hadn't eaten much, I decided that home would be a good idea. And now I am waiting with a mixture of excitement and dread over the action that I have volunteered myself for next week because when I told my mother I was protesting, she told me not to get myself arrested. Of course, she did then tell me not to go hitting any more policemen, so I suppose that she thinks hitting policewomen will be fine. Well okay maybe not.

[1] For those who don't know Inspector Rebus is the central character in a series of crime novels by Ian Rankin. They are set in Edinburgh and have Rebus based at St Leonards Police Station.

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