3.50pm on 29th December 2011 and just got back to StP after a day out and suddenly we hear noise. Like a mob chanting. So, from our vantage point on the concourse we see an event unfold: a a small group of protesters flash mob across the main road, bringing the building commuter traffic to a stand still.
No idea what it was about*, could not hear the exact words of the chants and, sadly, did not recognise the flags. About 50 or so youngish people stretched out over two carriageways and stopped the buses, cars and taxis from moving. It all grew over minutes.
Then the cops started to appear, first one car, then another…then more and more, including a dead fast dog patrol van that zoomed down the wrong side of the road to join colleagues. No dogs appeared from what I could see**.
Literally it was minutes, maybe 15, before the police outnumbered the protesters and started to get a few vehicles moving. All was calm, almost orderly.
At one point around 20 or so police cars had lined up and a riot van and the police started trying to move people. A flag was set on fire and I saw a photographer in front of it all – I wondered if he was part of the group?
Then something triggered off a bit of a tussle and all hell broke loose. Waving of arms, smashing of the homemade signs and cries then the crowd surged over to Kings Cross station and police followed. It looked like it was starting to heat up but it was contained in the station, exits were shut.
From calm to chaos in less than 15 minutes. A bizarre event.
a) You’ve gotta be quick – especially if you want to take photos.
b) Pay attention to news reports – learn your flags so you can actually try and understand what people are protesting about.
c) Don’t pay attention to news reports – not everything on the news is true. Exhibit A: Huffington Post – **I did not see the dogs being used. And there were no more than 50 people…
*Turns out it was an “impromptu protest against Turkish airstrikes that killed Kurdish civilians”
Not entirely sure what they hoped to achieve by stopping traffic in central London..?