Friday, 7 October 2011

Rock n Roll Cardigan wearing

I do most things slowly these days, apart from falling into bed.

Anyhow despite MY dealing with intense burn out the rest of the world rolls on.

A few of the Epic highlights in my small world include Beograd Pride being banned by the Serbian government (again) , widespeard rioting in London, joining the LURVE squad and taking part in trying to reorganise our Queer Beograd event on class and borders.

So yeah, completely NOT in chronological order.

Beograd Pride was due to take place on October 2nd in Beograd - prior to the event people I knew there were already wondering about wether it would go ahead or not. A lot of disillusionment was being voiced as to how mainstreamed and noninclusive of any radical poltical message the pride had become. In advance of pride meetings had taken place between Police and one of the more 'respectable' rightwing groups with an agreement being reached that some police would call for a boycott on policing pride. Serbias bids to join the EU are not going at all well. Pride organisers refused the offer of striking raspberry pickers to join in solidarity with the pride march. More radical autonomist groups are told that their messages would not be welcome at Pride. (let's keep the rainbow flag squeaky clean)

At the end of the day same old story - the Serbian government banned the pride on the grounds that too much violence could be expected and it would beyond their capacity to prevent this. A COP OUT - in more ways than one.

A few months earlier in London; it's old news now but yes there was rioting. Initially sparked by the police killing Mark Duggan in Tottenham and their brutal response towards protests over his death. Rioting rapidly spread across London.
One thing I found interesting with the riots was the huge range of opinions about what the rioting meant and wether or not it was a valid response. From cheering on the social unrest to condemming the rioters as 'criminal scum' it was unpredictable to say the least as to who would voice which opinion.

Being present at the beginning of rioting in Hackney was also interesting. Ive been in plenty of 'riot' situations but usually in a semi organised activist context. This was something else. Outside Hackney town hall I watched the tension grow, cops advance with standard space claiming strategies and a fluid crowd response from people who I'm guessing hadn't spent a great deal of time studying protest techniques practiced in the global south (those so often cited in activist circles).

Its weird being in a riot where you have no knowledge of a pre-established goal, crowd coherence or an affnity group that you can relate to. The group of young guys sitting next to me were discussing what the police would do next. My house mate and I both experienced in crowd dynamics and police tactics during demonstrations attempt to chip in. The boys look straight through us, we are not part of the group, we are not visible. Its one of those rude moments when I realise that everyday I live looking away from these boys...my own racism/class divides/social separation/alienation... believing the media, living with the reality of violence in my neighborhood. Not being able to find answers to these very complex questions that are part of the day to day in this city, this economy, this capitalist fucking mess.

When Im sure things are about to kick off with the cops I leave, Im not up for a street fight, I don't have it in me. I spend some time dodging half bricks and bottles being thrown at a police van that pulls up next to me in the street, I run with other people around me, reaching out and making contact to make sure others are ok.

Later I stand at the end of my street with other people who live on my estate watching as the local service station and pawn shop are looted. Some one runs thru our estate clutching their new free wide screen TV. I walk down a brick and bottle strewn high street with my neighbour to pick up her teenage girls from the other side of a police line. Once we find her girls they ignore us and rapidly walk off as we are not 'cool enough' to be seen with.

the next days and nights in my neighborhood are tense, quiet in a way that is scary - its never that quiet here - always full of sirens. All this fear of violence its like the usual events of any given month or year have been compressed into a few hours of rioting - a flare of the frustration, crime and poverty that is part of everyday.

Again in Beograd - where again I dont go because I'm too tierd, because I want to conserve my energy and get well. Because i just dont fucking have it to stand the fear involved in not knowing what will happen, what fascists are or arent going to do - the shear stress of being there. Instead I read the crew emails and comment on discussions (before the fucking Pride is banned) on how meetings and organising for this event on class and borders are going, how some believe it's essential that we should attempt to define what 'working class' means.

Me - i can see sweet fuck all point in defining 'working class' because i dont want to fall back into simplistic old methods. Clearly there IS a class system operating but im not prepared to accept it's so simple as some would want us to believe.
i just want to know why there are always people out drinking coffee and eating lunch in the gentrified part of my neighbourhood when on the other side of the estate its all street drinkers, crack, stabbings and garbage. why in the midst of those polite cafes i can see the police in riot gear harrassing the local youths.

I forgot to mention love, its there amongst all this violence, poverty, confusion, exhaustion... i still have a love heart embroidered on the sleeve of my rock n roll cardigan.