So today I attended the G-20 protests in the heart of London. I posted a few pictures, most of them not that great, on Facebook, so go check that out if you're so inclined. I'm really glad I went - I obviously don't agree with all of these people on everything, but I think their voices are important, and that attending protests is a healthy thing to do in general. The clashes with police have been reported in the news, and I can say that while the vast majority of protesters were not at all violent, outbursts did happen often enough that in the few hours I was there I saw several of them personally. I was too far back in the crowd to see, but I did hear when the windows of a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland were broken, and I saw several people throwing cans of beer and eggs. A friend of mine got closer to the front and saw some clashes with police - according to him, some protesters were throwing bottles at the police and the police were hitting some people with their nightsticks, and at one point one of the protesters took a nightstick out of one of the officer's hands and it got passed through the crowd.
Trying to get in, we got stuck in a large crowd that was being held back by a line of police, but then kind of out of nowhere the crowd decided to sort of surge forward and they broke through the police line, which is how we got into the main protest area. The same thing happened when we were trying to get out - for some reason, we were not being allowed to leave, and people became increasingly frustrated and, after one failed attempt, shoved their way through another police line. Before that, I saw some girl spit in an officer's face - he was not happy about it, but he (and actually the police in general) was impressively restrained. I did see one officer shove a protester who did not appear to be doing anything at all, which I was a little amazed by, and they kind of treated people rudely, but there was more than one occasion I thought they would violently react to the protesters but didn't, so that's good.
I also saw a series of interesting signs, including my favorite one that read, "Down With This Sort of Thing." I have no idea what that means, but I found it hilarious. Other good ones: "CONSUMERS SUCK," "0% Interest in Humanity," "BANKS ARE EVIL," "Afghanistan = LITTLE Britain's Vietnam," etc.
Also, there was a post I wrote a while ago about some live music I saw at a pub. The main act we saw then was a guy named Sean Redmond, who is sort of a Scottish version of Connor Oberst. And we saw him again today, playing a bunch of protest songs. At one point he sang a song which referenced "politicians," saying something bad about them, but when he said "politicians" he stopped singing and said, "except Barack Obama!" which provoked mostly cheers, except for one guy in front of me who shouted, "He's just the same as all the rest, you bloody idiot!"
Oh, plus we walked right by comedian Russell Brand, who was getting followed around by a camera crew, which was pretty cool.
So overall a pretty exciting time.
P.S. Sorry for not posting stuff about my previous travels through Barcelona, Munich, Dublin, and Lisbon, but it was just too overwhelming. Pictures from all of those places are on Facebook, so check those out, and I do plan at the end of the semester to post a sort of recap of everywhere I've been with a paragraph or so on each one, but I doubt I will be writing any sort of comprehensive tale of my travels - it would take more time than it's worth, and it would end up being so long that probably not many people would read all of it. Anyway, I'm leaving tomorrow for Krakow and Prague for the weekend, getting back on Monday morning, and then Wednesday I'm going for Easter Break to Istanbul, where a group of us will be spending 5 full days, which I'm super excited about. So stay tuned on Facebook for pictures from those places, and I may or may not end up writing something up here about that stuff, we'll see.