On Friday the NATO Welcoming Committee demonstration gave NATO – an intergovernmental military alliance between European and North American states – a subdued welcome message. About 60 people converged on Edinburgh to take part in the Smash NATO demonstration, which had called for autonomous action against the meeting of NATO members during the day.
The main target of the demonstration was against the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, the location of the NATO meeting, but a map produced earlier this month gave a number of other locations that were related to militarism. A move that’s been used in the past by anti-militarist demos in both London and Brighton to a fair degree of success.
It seems though that the event just didn’t attract many people to it.
A report on IMC Scotland takes up the story:
“At around 10:50am perhaps 30 people had gathered at the west end of the meadows. We were approached by two people who identified themselves as plain clothes police officers. So, rumbled already, we exchanged pleasantries with the plain clothes officers, a third of which arrived shortly after the first two.
“Predictably the friendly ‘facilitate your demo’ plain clothes officers were followed around 10 minutes later by three vans full of the regular yellow shiny jacket police mob. Their phalanx filed towards us and surrounded the masked ninja faction (which was the overwhelming majority of our by then 40 or 50). After this the ninjas suffered a predictable martyrdom, with affronts to personal space, barely provoked destruction of the sound system, and all that accompanies this game.
“Eventually, perhaps fearing being kettled, perhaps seeing the futility of these scuffles in a situation where we were practically outnumbered, the demo dispersed across the Meadows in a disorderly retreat. Perhaps five or ten went to the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), where the Parliamentary Assembly was taking place, and held banners. Over the next hour and a half those who had dispersed in the other direction across the meadows made their way in dribs and drabs to the EICC.
“The demo ended outside the EICC with a small crowd of perhaps 40 people. There was a little shoving of reinforced banners towards the police, but otherwise the majority of the crowd didn’t show much interest in macho posturing.”
The following day saw a Stop the war march through Edinburgh, which attracted about 1,000 people according to the Press Association.