Fuck Parade: Inspired and Agenda Setting

fuck parade 1

The estate agents survived fuck parade 3 and lives on to sell more expensive property

I have to admit I was extremely cool about the idea of the Fuck Parade when I first heard about. Class War were engaged in a general election campaign, and as one of the “oxymoronic” candidates I was self centered enough to think it was a total distraction. The idea of focusing on a street party days before election night itself seemed ridiculous. Why couldn’t the organisers just support the candidates? Part of my issue with it was that I didn’t really have a clue what one was so my selfishness and ignorance were preventing me from seeing the wider picture. I’m happy to say I was wrong. Fighting elections is something I will write about at length another time but Class War is all about direct action and having fun with it and that’s what the Fuck Parade provides.

The Circled A Radio Show recently interviewed one of the intrepid organisers of the Fuck Parade and it’s worth listening to. They give the full story so far but from my perspective I can write about the first one from first hand experience, the other two I witnessed through accounts from others and the media, particularly the last one with the buzz around the Cereal Killer Cafe “riot”. it’s also worth noting that Class War and the Fuck Parade are not the same thing. The two should not be taken to mean the same people. It may have started as a Class War thing but it’s now gained a life of its own. I haven’t been involved with organising it so there are others better placed than me to explain how it works if they wish to; this is just one perspective.

The first Fuck Parade was on 1st May last year. The talks with property developer Taylor McWilliams over the ‘Poor Doors’ demos had broken down and as he seemed to be some form of DJ for the rich and famous it was decided that music should be a feature of any future protests. In fact music had been an integral part of the demos for months but we were nearing the end of this so perhaps we could go out with a bang.
The protest was scheduled to start in the evening so that people could do any traditional May Day stuff first. There seemed to be events going on all over London. I followed police sirens to Tower Bridge but people had moved off by the time I got there. In the end I reached Poor Doors at Aldgate East in time for the start. The turnout was impressive. I’d been present at two really good examples of this before. The first was after the Anarchist Bookfair in October 2014 and the second following the traditional student demo a month later. There were clearly enough numbers for us to spill into the road and then, who knows, move beyond that one building?

As the road got blocked police numbers started to increase. Moving became inevitable if we wanted to prevent kettling so off we went. For hours the protest loudly blared its way through the streets, blocking Tower Bridge (possibly not for the first time that day). The group ended up in Soho some time later and partied in the street there before things died down. The media ignored this Fuck Parade. A week before a general election and one of the parties standing candidates had clogged up the roads of the capital during rush hour. Barely anyone knew.

Elections are times when the broadcasters and media in general have special rules regarding political coverage. It actually focuses the attention on the main parties if anything but is regarded by the establishment as giving everyone a chance to be heard. Ironically the coverage for Class War exploded after the election, following several incidents including the third Fuck Parade. The first incident was the riot in Whitehall two days after the election itself which prompted the Daily Mail to claim that Class War were organising a “Summer of Thuggery”. It’s nice of them to provide ideas innit. There was some coverage of the second Fuck Parade in Camden and then all hell broke loose with the third Fuck Parade and that damned cafe.

Imagine the sight of major liberal newspaper columnists writing and getting published the suggestion that the protesters had chosen the wrong target! Were they inciting people to smash the property of banks and estate agents? That’s what it looked like. The wrong target! This is important because the tacit acknowledgement in that phrase is that the Fuck Parade had hit on something. The implication is that the Fuck Parade is right, even if the minority in the crowd chose the wrong target.

As a result gentrification, and specifically its harmful affects are finally on the agenda. Prior to the Fuck Parade gentrification was always written about or shown from the point of view of those doing the gentrifying. Finally we’re seeing things from the point of view of the dispossessed. This is a huge shift in mainstream culture which needs to be bolstered and built upon.

Three Fuck Parade’s in and the message is surely that Londoners wanting to fight gentrification should get involved with the next one. It’s apparently being planned for 1st May but where it goes, nobody knows. Or even better than that, it goes where the people decide on the night. Wherever it goes and whatever happens you can be sure that the world will know about it – the hysterical press will see to that. The fight against gentrification is an uphill struggle. Getting people to see things from our point of view is a vital step.
This was originally posted at Trade Onion.