I had planned to walk directly up London Wall and meet the protest march head on but given the fact there were 4000 police in attendance, I wasn’t sure this was a great strategy. So after a couple of hours of following Twitter (great), the Metropolitan police website (rubbish) and the Guardian live blog (pretty good) to find out where the protesters were and what was going on, I headed down to the Museum of London roundabout on King Edward Street, St Martin Le Grand, Aldersgate Street and London Wall and waited.
The City was a weird mixture of excitement, anticipation and vague fear. The police had decided to stop the protesters branching off towards Bank and the City proper, presumably because Twitter claimed that some protesters were threatening ‘direct action’ and they wanted to avoid a repeat of last year’s debacle.
Waiting at the Museum roundabout, surrounded by riot police and with helicopters hovering overhead, there was a sudden burst of music and the protesters started pouring around the roundabout. I walked up to the junction of London Wall and Moorgate with a large group of protesters. Everyone seemed purposeful yet relaxed, their objective seemed to be to get to London Wall where the march was intended to finish. No-one minded having their photograph taken, even the police.
After about half an hour of people walking up to London Wall, the police set up a kettle between London Wall and Moorgate. I asked why and was told very courteously that they wanted to allow the main body of the protest at London Wall to filter up to Moorgate in a controlled fashion. During this time I heard via Twitter and other protesters that there were disturbances at New Fetter Lane and Trafalgar Square where protesters had earlier tried to pitch tents a la Occupy.
Seeing Moorgate filled with pedestrians was odd – I normally avoid it because the Crossrail works have rended the road awkward and dangerous for pedestrians and the traffic and noise is off-putting. I walked up the middle of a traffic-free Moorgate, exchanged pleasantries with mounted police and watched the young and old protesting against government austerity measures.
After a few walks up and down Moorgate and around the Occupy camp at Finsbury Square, the light was going so I decided to call it quits. As I got on the train I saw on Twitter that kettles were in place at Moorgate and the protest had turned violent in places.
Anyway, here are my Flickr photos.