London activists targeted HSBC branches in central London with street theatre and speeches yesterday as part of a worldwide ‘Global Frackdown’ initiative to raise awareness and fight back against fracking.
‘Global Frackdown’ boasts individual partnerships in over 30 countries and about half the US states, and yesterday’s London action was among hundreds worldwide.
Publicised by ‘Frack Off London’, the action was aimed at HSBC because of its economic and underwriting support for companies like Cuadrilla in the UK, as well as globally.
Armed with a portable fracking rig prop, some great banners, a small sound system, and some ‘Rhythms of Resistance’ drummers, a group of nearly a hundred people set off from the Golden Square meeting place towards the HSBC branch at Regent Street.
Inside the branch, forewarned by police, the manager was panicking and locking the doors, trapping a few customers inside.
With the protest in full swing outside, he peered through the keyhole (not sure why he didn’t use the clearly marked eyehole above) before letting people out.
With the fracking rig set up outside, and a large banner “Fracking is a dirty business” held across the door, the bank remained shut for at least half an hour while the protesters listened to activists reporting from around the country, from Algeria and Romania, and also a speaker making ties with the ‘No TTIP’ campaign which was holding an event later.
The group then set off down Regent Street, through Piccadilly, and down to another HSBC branch at the Strand, accompanied by police on motorbikes, on foot and in riot vans.
Policing was characterised by the usual intelligence officers dressed as ‘Police Liaison Officers’, but also an excessive number of overt Forward Intelligence police. At the Strand, even a Chief Inspector arrived, along with two police photographers and videographers, who took detailed footage of everyone involved.
Considering this was clearly a fluffy, non-invasive, entirely non-criminal, consciousness-raising event, the excessive and intelligence-led policing was overtly political, and clearly demonstrated the state’s determination to push through fracking and intimidate the anti-fracking movement.
Undeterred, the anti-frackers handed out loads of leaflets to passers-by, and made a few more speeches, before taking to the street once more and heading down Whitehall towards Parliament Square to join up with the TTIP protest called there at 2pm.