Dead Men Left

Saturday, February 19, 2005

City traders "total thugs" shock

It's an object lesson in Why Numbers Matter:

WHEN 35 Greenpeace protesters stormed the International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) yesterday they had planned the operation in great detail.

What they were not prepared for was the post-prandial aggression of oil traders who kicked and punched them back on to the pavement.

“We bit off more than we could chew. They were just Cockney barrow boy spivs. Total thugs,” one protester said, rubbing his bruised skull.

Europe's largest oil futures exchange was attacked to bring attention to the paltry global response to global warming. On the day the Kyoto Protocol came into operation, Greenpeace were - rightly - declaring it not to be good enough.

Unfortunately, their direct action politics got the better of them. Without the numbers, Greenpeace got a kicking:

...they were set upon by traders, most of whom were under the age of 25. “They were kicking and punching men and women indiscriminately,” a photographer said. “It was really ugly, but Greenpeace did not fight back.”

It all reminds me of a glorious Friday in June, 1999, when an unexpectedly large crowd of anticapitalists overwhelmed riot police in the City of London to hold a carnival. The sun shone, the music blared, naked hippies danced beneath a streaming water fountain - and, amongst other things, the LIFFE building was broken into:

At one point a section of the crowd bursts into the Liffe building smashing the lobby up, hurling smoke bombs and fighting for fifteen minutes with traders, security and riot police for control of the building. The group fails to reach the trading floor, but 400 workers are evacuated bringing trade to an early close. Due to security precautions after hours trading is also cancelled. Having ejected the crowd from the building police find it difficult to shift them from outside it and a period of intense fighting ensues for around 45 minutes.

If you're going to break into the hubs of the world financial system - that's the way to do it, comrades.