On April 1st 2009, during the G20 meeting in London, there was a public protest and demonstration on the streets outside that, despite the best efforts of the media and police, didn’t boil over into mass violence, rampage and the burning down of Old London Town. A window got smashed (as photographers circled the offenders), someone got blood on their forehead and was a bit annoyed about it and a man was pushed over by the police and died of a heart attack.
Amidst the slight amount of chaos, a tank arrived. A bloody tank. Seemed a bit over the top, and it was – the anarchist surreal protest group Space Hijackers making their presence felt. Including an acquaintance of mine dressed in a black bra, boiler suit and a riot helmet, with Ride of The Valkyries blasting out from speakers. Naturally she’s been dubbed The Real Tank Girl, after Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett’s tank-wielding creation for Deadline magazine.
Which has thankfully given me an in for this article. Oh and she also happened to be an embedded journalist with a commercial 24 hour news station…
And in a move, more surreal than the Space Hijackers could have imagined, the participants, including my journalist friend, have all been charged with the crime of impersonating police officers. Which is probably the greatest legal stretch I’ve ever heard. Naturally, as any tourist to London knows, all police in London go around in red stockings and high heels to match. It is absolutely insane and is all set to make a mockery of the British legal system. Again.
The charges will have cost tens of thousands or pounds so far, the trial hundreds of thousands, and director of prosecutions, Keir Starmer, has pushed aside protestations, and will continue with the case.
That’s Keir Starmer, the hard left hippy and publisher of Socialist Alternatives magazine, who helped the McLibel Two formulate their case against McDonalds over a decade and a famed Human Rights barrister.
How things have changed. The Real Tank Girl tells me;
The purpose of the demo was to satirize the police’s ramping up of tension ahead of what they called the Summer Of Rage, the militarization of the police, the over surveillance of citizens, how they felt untouchable by common moral codes or the law of the land, because there was no way anyone could ignore that. The Space Hijackers are about reclaiming space and challenging authority in a jovial manner, tongue firmly in cheek. Anger doesn’t suit them but playing the fool on April Fools Day does.
This is going to be a strange case, with what seems to be the modern equivalent of a kangaroo court. A mutant kangaroo court with baseball bats and bazookas…