Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Tuesday, June 15, 1999 Published at 21:50 GMT 22:50 UK


Grunge versus greed

J18 urges workers to call in sick and get involved

The Daily Telegraph is warning of "shadowy extremists" and "anarchists", the Big Issue is heralding "a carnival of resistance" - and London's City Police force has cancelled all leave.

On 18 June, 10,000 activists representing diverse radical groups - under an umbrella movement called J18 - are expected to converge on the Square Mile. Parties and leafleting campaigns are scheduled to take place in other parts of the country.

[ image: Critical Mass - the anti-traffic cyclist lobby - is just one of the J18 groups]
Critical Mass - the anti-traffic cyclist lobby - is just one of the J18 groups
The group's targets are the corporations and financial insitutions whose "profit-chasing", they say, is condemning millions to lives of poverty, and trashing the environment.

The date has been specially chosen to coincide with the G8 meeting of the world's leaders in Cologne, and will be marked in more than 40 countries across the globe with similar action.

"People don't realise how damaging these companies are," says John Frazer, a resident of the FastLane peace camp for the past two years.

"They are immoral. To these people profit comes first - it does not matter to them that lives will be made insufferable by their greedy quests, pursuit of capital will always come first.

"June 18 is a way of making people take notice of what the big companies are doing, how they are at the root of social deprivation and all ecological problems."

Sit-ins planned

J18 groups - which include among many others supporters of Reclaim the Streets, Greenpeace and cycling activists Critical Mass - are advising protesters to latch onto one business, find out all about it and then make its activities known to the public.

Some activists plan to disguise themselves as City types in an attempt to slip unnoticed into buildings and stage sit-ins, it has been reported.

Others still - according to the likes of the Telegraph - want to sabotage the premises of big businesses, supergluing up locks and chaining doors. Protesters themselves are fairly tight-lipped.

Spokeswoman for one bus load of demonstrators planning to travel from Manchester to the capital, Kate, says the non-heirarchical "loose collective of people" she is travelling with want to make the City "sit up and think".

[ image: A flier promoting the demonstrations of J18]
A flier promoting the demonstrations of J18
She said: "We are concerned enough that the world's problems all gravitate towards the City of London that we will travel from Manchester to protest.

"Our actions are bound to be misrepresented in the media, but we see evil in the City and we want to do something about it. We may slow down the profit machine for a time, we need to let them know that they can't just stamp over human beings."

The J18 website is more explicit. Top targets for action include McDonalds, The Gap, Vodaphone, Smithfield Meat Market and Reed Employment Agencies.

And the targeted companies are taking the threat of action seriously.

Leaked internal memos indicate that City workers are being urged to avoid the environs of Liverpool St Station, where a carnival is scheduled to be held, to dress down, and to be vigilant for activists trying to get into their places of work.

Warning letters

Butchers at Smithfield Market say they are prepared to pelt vegetarian protesters with pieces of meat. One meat handler said: "I don't mind vegetarians, but I don't want them ruining business. If they don't like meat, they'd better watch out. I've got a load of offal ready to chuck at anyone who gets aggressive."

The Corporation of London started sending letters of warning to businesses and householders back in February.

A spokesman said: "About 7,000 people live in the Square Mile and 300,000 people come to work here every day.

"We are about as prepared as we can be. We want to make sure that services continue as regularly as possible throughout the day. We just hope everything passes peacefully, and I'm sure the demonstraters want that too."

[ image: Protesters say the City is immoral]
Protesters say the City is immoral
The police operation - which encompasses the Met, the City Police and the Transport Police - is the largest of its type in the area since the Stop the City protests of the mid 80s.

Bernadette Ford of the Met said: "We have been working closely with our colleagues in the City and we are prepared. We have not been informed or consulted by the group as to the exact nature of the protest, or what will happen, so we cannot say for definite what actions will be taken."

Tim Parson of the City Police force said that given the large number of protesters expected, all leave ahd been cancelled.

He added: "We have held face to face seminars with the various members of the community who might be affected on June 18.

"Overall we have had about 1,000 people in and given them advice on making their premises more secure and letting them know what help is available to them.

Internet empowerment

"People are a bit apprehensive. No-one knows exactly what is going to happen, and there is always the fear of the unknown."

What is for sure is that the groups involved know what they are doing, and have been able to keep in touch with one another with the help of the Internet.

An radio station has been set up for the day, called Radio Interference, which will broadcast simultaneously on the Internet and over the airwaves. A breakfast show will run from 6-10, and a "cycle time" show from 4-8 on 104.7FM.

Jim Carey, content editor of alternative webzine Squall said: "People find it difficult to understand that a demonstration of this scale can be organised without a central office or a headquarters.

[ image: The Corporation of London sent warning letters to all residents and businesses]
The Corporation of London sent warning letters to all residents and businesses
"But J18 isn't like a corporate organisation. It is made up of different groups who all have their own special areas, but whose interests are entirely linked.

"They keep in touch and aware of one another's activities on the Internet. The Internet is empowering, it means that different groups can generate their own media without having it diluted by the mainstream media.

"And it is a superb vehicle for direct action groups. People misinterpret things like low election turn-outs. It's not apathy, people just realise that a cross on a piece of paper will not necessarily result in change.

"The spirit of the time is direct action, individuals taking issues into their own hands and saying 'we have had enough'. That's what happened with GM foods - the people didn't want it and the supermarkets stopped stocking it.

"That is why J18 will be a success."

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

15 Jun 99 | UK
Thousands to join UK business demos

Internet Links


Corporate Watch


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online