A good day for issues without some idiot saying: 'Smashing a window won't stop privatisation'

Protesters' day
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The Independent Online

0525 Alarm goes off, there's to be a car to take me to a van in Camden Town to an interview for GMTV. May Day is the one time of year where we get decent coverage so we need to make the most of it.

0600 The driver doesn't seem very sympathetic but he's hardly a scientific straw poll. Get to Camden, interviewed by GMTV. Camden is the start point for one of the two Critical Mass bike and rollerskate protests. I talk to several TV and radio stations and give Sky TV an especially hard time. They all want to concentrate on violence and, after a couple of minutes, I ask if they want to know what we're protesting about. They immediately go on the defensive and I get a chance to bang on about the police tactics for the day: Create a spectre of violence and they feel they can get away with treating us how they like on the day. Only it didn't work last year, and it won't this year.

0900 Get dropped off in Clerkenwell by a friendly journalist and go shopping. Gaffer tape is an essential for protest organisers. The media are the first to arrive – again. It would be nice to have this for every protest in the year.

1000 The early crew arrive to set up stalls and position themselves to hand out arrest cards and leaflets. The van is late but everything else is going smoothly. More interviews, every time the questions are on violence but I insist on talking about the war (in Afghanistan) and privatisation. I know it's edited out in pre-records but they can't tamper with the live stuff.

1200 People start turning up and there's already more than a thousand constructing banners and giving out their papers and leaflets. I get a sense it's going to be more than the predicted 5,000. Coaches start arriving from around the country, I meet up with Darren from Leeds who's managed to fill a coach; fantastic work. Never met him before but been in touch for months by e-mail and phone.

1300 Moving off. The chants start up: "Resist, Revolt, Fuck Capitalism", "George Bush, we know you – Your Daddy was a killer too" which sum up the anger felt by many in the march. There doesn't seem much chance of a fight – the police would look stupid attacking such a crowd. Get a call telling me Sky have estimated the turn-out at 10,000 – very good for a weekday. Hear the police have said 8,000 so 10 sounds quite a moderate estimate. Numbers are important; they are a yardstick of success. Try to make sure there's a coherent Globalise Resistance contingent, getting a number of orange flags together. We've spent the past three weekends painting banners and flags.

1400 The march takes a while. The police presence is immense and they are trying to make life difficult. Hear reports that there's been a good turn-out in Mayfair and elsewhere. Once again, people have chosen to ignore the stupid hysteria and come out to march. It amuses me that the whole police operation is failing on the first front – intimidation. I am hoping the second – repression – doesn't come into action.

1500 Arrive in Trafalgar Square. Many have joined us en route, latecomers and others who saw what was going on. There is a ridiculous police presence in the square. They are preventing people from coming into the square from the northern end – what's all that about, surely they'd want us all in the same space? No, May Day is awkward bastard day. The speeches start. The trade union speakers are talking about opposing the far right in France and the North of England, they've certainly got the measure of the crowd. Chris Nineham and Helen Salmon from Globalise Resistance are brilliant. They take on all the crap thrown at us in the past week and do the business on Blair and New Labour.

1600 Leave to find an internet cafe to write the diary up. It's been boarded up but is open. I wonder if the stores will bill the authorities for needless woodwork. There's still the evening to go but most people are moving pubwards for a celebratory drink. A good day – where was that fight? We put the issues to the fore, had the day we wanted and for the first time, we can start the debate on war and privatisation without some idiot saying: "Smashing a window won't stop privatisation."

Roll on next year!

Guy Taylor, 35, is a full-time activist and May Day protest organiser with Globalise Resistance. He has been with the organisation since it was formed in February 2001.

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