Responding to a global call-out of the Spanish ‘indignados’ movement as well as the expanding movement of occupations in the US – including the (in)famous ‘occupy Wall Street’ – and coinciding with the arrival of marches coming from all around Europe in Brussels, about 150 people converged on College Green to kick-off ‘Occupy Bristol’.
Around noon, a small group put a banner in the middle of the square stating ‘It’s not a recession, it’s a robbery’. The crowd quickly built up in a gentle and sunny atmosphere. People from within and all around Bristol, including foreigners. Lots of young people but also several families with babies and many older people.
A young woman shouted through a microphone. She spoke of many things that angered her, especially of the absurdity of NHS cuts while the UK is waging a war in Afghanistan. Shortly after, several people sang and played music while several women started to offer cakes for free. An hour later, a crowd of about 150 people had gathered. Many people were sitting on the grass, discussing in small groups and wondering what would be next.
Around 2pm, one young man started to speak. After reminding that the occupation was in solidarity with movements and occupations around the world, especially in the US and in Spain, he suggested that people speak out to explain why they came. He started by saying that he is 24 years old, unemployed, lives with his parents, has two degrees and is angry because he was “lied to by university in order to sign up”.
Many people took the floor after him and spoke through the so-called “people’s mike”. In order for everyone to hear, each speaker said a few words that would then be repeated by the audience. Younger and older people, men and women. Airing their anger and criticism of bankers, political parties (especially the Tories), cuts and wars. Asking to support forthcoming strikes and struggles in the workplace. Encouraging people to speak and to talk to each other. Calling people’s responsibility: “If not you, who? If not now, when?”.
In the October paper issue of the Western Eye, we published an edited version of Benoit Dutilleul’s article. Due to Benoit’s concerns with the edited version, we publish here his original text together with a link to a blog post where he shares his views on what happened and the debates we’ve had.