When we arrived we heard thousands of whistles and felt really excited because the march was massive. We danced behind a go-cart with a speaker playing techno music, and it all felt friendly and peaceful. Some people were chanting 'Kill the Bill' but they meant the bill itself, not the police.
At Park Lane I joined a friend who was dancing on a lorry carrying a sound system. The police tried to move the lorry on, but it was so packed that the top started to cave in. I jumped off feeling that it could end in disaster. Then I suddenly saw hundreds of policemen in riot gear running up Park Lane towards us. It was so unreal, just like a scene from a South American film, not England. But I still had no idea it was going to turn nasty. I had seen a few people throwing bricks and shouting, and some fire-eaters had been blowing fire towards the police from behind railings in Park Lane, but most people I saw had just been dancing and enjoying themselves.
A helicopter flew over us and someone said, 'Don't worry, they can't do anything to us, just stay where you are.' But as the helicopter descended, shining a spotlight down on to us, we got disorientated and started running away.
Out of the darkness of the park we could see the glint of the helmets of riot police running towards us from all directions. They used their shields to push everyone into place, and I got whacked on the head by one of them. I heard a policeman saying 'This will teach you to mess with the big boys,' and saw my friend Jo getting hit on the back with a truncheon as she tried to scoop a child out of the way. It was like seeing everything in slow motion, her terrified face and the child screaming.
The police were being so ruthless, and looked so dehumanised: their faces were covered with helmets, some with scarves too. Suddenly they lunged forward and I cowered next to a steward as a policeman smashed a shop window above my head. I saw my friend Alex being hit - he hadn't even been on the demo, he'd just come to meet me. He had a huge gash on his head, there was blood running down his T- shirt and he was crying from shock like everyone else. I went up to a policewoman and said 'Please, I am so frightened, please let me out, I just want to go home'. She said 'No]' and pushed me back into the crowd with her shield. Eventually a riot policeman let us out.
Jo and I sat down on a doorstep, still shaking. Alex joined us and I tried to mop the blood off his face, then we made our way to the house of a friend who had been arrested. He turned up later having been to hospital with a very bruised ankle and bloody wrists from the handcuffs. As we all sat around talking about what had happened, Jo and I couldn't stop crying.
When I saw the media coverage the next day I was genuinely shocked: every single paper seemed to support the police action. The people on the march were portrayed as a bunch of yobboes trying to have a rave, rather than as people trying to stand up for freedom. By the time I got back to Edinburgh I felt despairing - at the fact that the Bill was going to go through and that these kind of things are going to get worse.
In the past I had toyed with the idea of becoming a detective because it seemed a worthwhile profession. When people complained about police violence, I thought it was just a bunch of crusties moaning because they had nothing better to do. But having seen it, the scales have fallen from my eyes. I wanted to tell everyone what had happened. I used to have faith in freedom of speech - now it seems a big farce. There is nothing you can do.
(Photograph omitted)Reuse content