Around thirty students from Warwick University travelled to London during the Easter holidays in order to attend the April 1st G20 protests in the financial district.
Those Warwick students involved were not affiliated to any one society, though the group was largely comprised of People and Planet members, and other campaigns societies.
The group had planned its involvement at the end of term two in the wider ‘Financial Fools Day’, ‘Climate Camp in the City’ and ‘G20 Meltdown’ protests, which drew crowds of over five thousand.
“The aim,” according to the press release produced by the students, “was to complement the Climate Camp by putting on street theatre in the local area. We wanted to create a dialogue with passers by about their lifestyles, through talking, theatre and free food.”
The majority of the Warwick group remained in Bishopsgate, setting up tents at the Climate Camp, and performing climate themed cover versions of musicals and pop songs, as well as theatre stunts.
A smaller number of students were at the Bank of England site during the day. Both locations within the City were eventually encircled by the police, in a tactic known as ‘kettling’, or unlawful detainment. This meant that after a certain hour, no one was allowed in or out of the cordoned area.
As one Warwick student said, “the atmosphere within Bishopsgate was mixed: it felt part Glastonbury style festival, and part ghetto. The police were absolutely intransigent, not to mention acting illegally.
“Our group was sat down right up next to the line of riot police, and when they first advanced we were told to dismantle our tents at once, or else they’d ‘smash them up.’ Their words, not mine.”
The climate themed songs, especially a cover of The Beatles’ ‘Money Can’t Buy Me Love’ proved popular, with coverage by both the BBC and the Canadian Globe and Mail.
Many of the participants questioned by the Boar believed they had a significant impact on helping maintain peace at the north end of Bishopsgate as well.
John Walton, a second year engineer said that “Reacting in the way we did, by sitting down and starting to sing, we helped pacify a group of cops – some of whom began to lift up their riot visors – clearly uncomfortable in the situation.”
In light of the protests’ significance, and the high level of ongoing media attention, -spurred largely by the death of Ian Tomlinson, 47- the Warwick group intends to fund and produce a magazine providing personal accounts of the day, and offering analysis of the role of policing, and media surrounding the G20 protests.