DEMONSTRATIONS AND meetings took place on Tuesday and Wednesday in London in the build-up to Thursday’s demonstration. Shortly after Bush’s plane touched down on Tuesday of this week the first demonstration began.
Some 500 protesters gathered at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in central London for the ‘Burning Planet’ march against Bush’s environmental policies, organised by the Coalition Against Climate Change, the Green Party and Greenpeace. As the march headed towards the US embassy, the protesters chanted ‘Exxon, Esso, BP, Shell-take your war and go to hell!’
Tuesday evening also saw a huge rally, which packed out Friends Meeting House in central London. Tony Benn, George Galloway, playwright Harold Pinter and Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic joined other speakers addressing the meeting and the overflow rally held in the gardens outside.
Students were central to many of the protests that took place on Wednesday. Around 500 students from the LSE, University College and SOAS colleges gathered outside the University of London’s Senate House when they heard that Colin Powell was due to speak.
As the crowd grew, Colin Powell was forced to cancel his visit. To cries of ‘Victory!’ students charged through Senate House. The demonstration grew to become 800-strong as the students headed down London’s busiest shopping street.
Cilija from Denmark joined the demonstration. She told Socialist Worker, ‘I was just sitting on a bus when I saw people go past. It is common sense to want to protest against the world’s biggest terrorist.’ The demonstrators joined students from other colleges and eventually managed to reach the gates of Buckingham Palace.
Daniel from Imperial College said, ‘This demonstration will show the world that there are people taking to the streets against Bush. I don’t like anything about Bush. I don’t like the fear he has created through war, his tax cuts for the rich, his opposition to abortion or attacks on gays.’
Students at University College London prepared for the Bush visit by occupying their college. Ray explained, ‘On Tuesday afternoon around 200 of us gathered on the college’s huge courtyard. Then we went and took over the common room, occupying it for the night. Inside we had a banner-making session and held meetings to plan for the Bush demonstrations.’
Bushra from University College London added, ‘Today people are resisting occupation in Iraq. We wanted to send them a message that we are against Bush and Blair. That’s why we wanted to occupy our college.’
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