Reclaim Power – System Change Not Climate Change

The main aim of many of us who went to Copenhagen was to take part in the Reclaim Power march on Wednesday 16th December.  The aim of the march was to create a people’s summit inside the Bella Centre where the conference was taking place in order that the people of the world could have their say.  With negotiations inside being dogged by false solutions, weak promises and the agenda dominated by the rich polluting countries, it was felt by all that exposing the sham talks and presenting positive solutions to the world was a vital reason for being in Copenhagen.

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Some people were nervous about possible confrontations with the police – the aim of the march was non violent but confrontational, as the aim was to push past the police lines and enter the Bella Centre to create an alternative space.  However, with the mainstream media ignoring the voices of the majority world and failing to highlight the need for radical system change in order to solve the crisis, many of us felt that confrontational was not only necessary but inevitable.

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The march was organised into several blocks, each of which was to converge on the Bella Centre.  One block included delegates and NGOs from inside the Bella Centre who came out in solidarity to join those of us coming from the outside.  This block was stopped from joining us and forcibly beaten back by riot police using batons.  When they tried to return to the bella Centre they were refused entrance.

Another block of 200 protestors were simply mass arrested and held in metal cages in freezing conditions for around 6 hrs.

metal cages used to house protestors without charge for 6-12 hours

metal cages used to house protestors without charge for 6-12 hours

We took part in the main block consisting of around 5000 activists which met at Tarnby train station at 8am and proceeded to march to the Bella Center.  The police took an aggressive stance all the way there continually trying to drive vans into the main block of protestors and repeatedly pushing and shoving people.  From time to time undercover police dragged out people from within the crowd and arrested them for no apparent reason.  In response we all formed a chain around the block of protesters to prevent police from invading and pushing us.

Several of the cumbrian contingent forming part of a human chaon around the main block of protestors.

Several of the cumbrian contingent forming part of a human chain around the main block of protestors.

As we arrived at the Bella Center the situation changed dramatically.  The police split the march in two and immediately began an aggressive action of pepper spraying the crowd and using batons to beat people back.  Several of us Cumbrians ended up in a main block where the people’s summit took place, whilst the remander were split across the police lines.  Two members of our party were pepper sprayed and had to receive treatment by activist medics.

Police using batons to beat back protestors.

Police using batons to beat back protestors.

A protestor receiving treatment by activist medics after being pepper sprayed by police.

A protestor receiving treatment by activist medics after being pepper sprayed by police.

 Despite the police violence several protestors manage to make it into the Bella Centre compound.  A makeshift bridge of inflatable beds was constructed and used to cross a canal to gain entrance into the compound.

Activists use a bridge constructed from inflatable beds to enter the Bella Centre compound, but are immediately met by riot police, pepper spray and dogs..

Activists use a bridge constructed from inflatable beds to enter the Bella Centre compound, but are immediately met by riot police, pepper spray and dogs.

A large group of around 2000 protestors held the street while all this was going on.  Despite several baton charges by police protestors managed to hold the area and the people’s summit went ahead as planned.  Eventually the police seemed to calm down and formed a chain around us but kept their distance.

Eventually the police calmed down and kept their distance.

Eventually the police calmed down and kept their distance.

The people summit took place on the road by the Bella Centre.  people broke into groups to discuss real solutions to the climate crisis.

The people summit took place on the road by the Bella Centre. People broke into groups to discuss real solutions to the climate crisis.

Eventually, after several hours, a few thousand protestors marched back into Copenhagen, reaching the city centre at around 8pm.  The day had gained wide publicity and helped to push the alternative climate justice agenda into the mainstream.  Whilst we were all pretty exhausted after a very long day, we felt that confronting those in power with the truth that radical system change is the only real answer to the climate crisis was a necessary step, and that this was just the beginning of the birth of a global movement to stop the climate crisis.  We all felt that we needed to do more at home to spread the message and that we needed to meet up when we return to discuss what we should do about it.

Watch this space!

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