ITQ goes to the G20: From protest theory to practice (burning effigies not included)

1:55:28 PM: The lunch break is over and the briefing session has, presumably, resumed, but those acquainted with ITQ and her allergy to sitting inside when there are events to be liveblogged has joined a small G20Voice breakaway sect, and is now playing hookey in The City, which is where The Protests are supposed to happen (or Happen). We’re a miscreant band of rebels from the G20Voice briefing, some of whom are dutifully photoblogging the annoyingly controlled chaos that is not so much breaking loose as politely introducing itself through the winding streets of the financial sector. It’s definitely a bigger and more diverse crowd than you’d find on the Hill at any given rally, but not exactly the blood in the streets that was billed. Has anyone coined the phrase “protest porn”? Because I think the leadup to this definitely applies. Anyway, we’ve now wandered off in search of a wily band of climate change protesters, which is also giving ITQ a rather unique introduction to London. Forget Big Ben – what does that sign say, and why is it upside down?

And yes, if I see a pro-G20 “Capitalism! Give it one more chance!” demonstration, I’ll totally stop by.

2:19:30 PM: As one of my fellow protest tourists just pointed out, using the megaphone to shout the phrase, “We have workshops!” is not the most effective street outreach strategy. Also, there was almost a confrontation between an angry man in a wheelchair and the climate change activists who have blocked off the street, but then he changed his mind, called off the blocade running and is currently smoking a cigarette.

2:24:16 PM: Off to try to catch a “horse charge”, which is exactly what it sounds like, and which will apparently be happening back at Bankers Are Evil headquarters. Every now and then we pass a cluster of suit-clad bankerish looking people huddled in alleys outside Hy’sian restaurants, who are clearly the target of the sprinkled pockets of carefully choreographed rage. They look just like Hill staffers watching a noontime protest — not angry, just wondering whether it’s worth going back to work. After living through the chaos of O-Day, I can empathize. Being inside the security cordon is so much less exciting than you’d think.

2:32:04 PM: In case anyone wondered, you actually *can* wander down the streets of The City berrying frantically without being run over by a car. I know, I was pleased too!

2:39:19 PM: Update on Bankers Are Evil But Not So Good At Erecting Cordons — the crowd has broken through the first barricade, although the bobbies have pushed back, and those of us on the edge just had to hastily scramble to the nearest higher ground to avoid being caught in the stream. It’s not actually violent – or even as intense as some protests I’ve seen back home – but there is a feeling that, if it’s going to go angry pear-shaped, now may be the time.

It’s strange seeing the police so — unSWAT-teamified. They look so much less puffy.

“Have the lines been broken,” a girl wonders. Literally or metaphorically?

2:46:09 PM: Okay, we’re now with the stream – the diffusing stream, as opposed to the stream of outrage – and heading back to Westminster Central Hall for the last half of the afternoon session. At leat, in theory — I’m actually exhausted enough that I may sneak off for a nap.

Meanwhile, the police have now successfully – or apparently successfully for the moment – sealed the red-flag-wavers, who are apparently anarchists and the main target of interest for the security clampdown – into a single block. Unfortunately, there are non-anarchist bystanders caught in the net, which doesn’t sound very pleasant at all.

We, on the other hand, have escaped down the tube; my new companions are proving to be able at wrangling the BlackBerry zombie in their midst, even when she nearly gets mowed down in a stampede.

3:29:10 PM: Okay, the jetlag may have caught up with me. I’m going to forward this update back to Toronto for posting, and see if some delightfully greasy British food will rally my flagging energy. Come on, fourth wind – I know you’re out there.

Further bulletins later, in a new post, most likely.

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