When the police first moved in, the mood changed dramatically as they began to crush a couple of our tents and anything lying in their way. There was a moment of panic and a split-second defining decision of whether we would pack up and clear out or try and resist. After a few seconds of scrambling and fear, we managed to all sit down and begun to sing. It was of the strangest situations I had ever been in. Suddenly we were surrounded by cameras and press, hoping to catch footage of police attacking a group of young peaceful protestors, but all we could do was sing. By this point the one song we’d got down was ‘It’s all you love (Money is all you love)’, a rewording of ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ by the Beatles, and we sung this on loop for what felt like forever. It felt as if the only thing that was stopping the police from trampling our tents and disbanding the camp was our incessant singing. Once our throats were raw from the Beatles we moved on to ‘The Green Sustainables’ (also known as ‘The Bare Necessities’) which not only helped calm us down but got people around us to join in. Singing along to the jungle book whilst bordered by a line of threatening-looking riot police just seems to epitomize the ridiculousness of the situation. We were a group of twenty or so young students with colourful make up and fun accessories exercising our right to protest through the medium of song and street theatre, and yet we seemed to pose a big enough threat to merit being kettled by police wearing full riot gear.
Throughout the evening, a few officers began to interact with us, whilst others looked onwards, uncomfortable at the situation. They were tired and wanted to go home, we wanted to make a point against carbon trading and call upon the G20 leaders to take climate change seriously. But once we had become accustomed to the situation, a couple of them seemed to want to engage with us as if we were just a group of people who happened to be sitting by them. However whatever interaction took place between us ceased immediately as soon as an order was given which travelled down the line. Visors went down and straightaway the officers who had previously been joking about wanting to leave and find out the football results became a single force with no rationality or personality. This was one of the scariest things, for they could not be reasoned with, and if they were determined to clear us out, I have no doubt they would have done so.
Much of the footage from that day shows a few seconds of us singing which seems to characterise the carnivalesque and harmless atmosphere that was climate camp before the police decided to go from keeping an eye out for trouble to becoming aggressively threatening. However, what I’ll remember from it will be the four hours where we were sat singing, hearing poems and handing out food, trying to keep our morale up whilst faced with a line of riot police who seemed intent on clamping down on our right to protest.