by a few anarchists
Saturday, May 29th, there was a demo in Lisbon called by the CGPT (the main confederation of trade unions) against the government and the austerity measures it is adopting. There was a massive attendance (300,000 people), obviously with numbers meaning nothing. There were no riot cops anywhere in sight, and that is because not only does the CGPT have its own "service of order" (security thugs), but mainly due to the self-control of the people, generated by decades of brainwashing and control of the minimal sign of discontent by the unions.
Assuming that the streets and feelings of discontent don’t belong to the unions, there was a call for an anti-capitalist concentration, which about 50 anarchists and anti-authoritarians turned up for.
This group, carrying one banner saying "capitalism can’t be reformed, destroy it" and various others, eventually decided to do its own demonstration outside the main demo, shouting words (many of which had appeared on walls all over Lisbon the night before) such as "against the unionist mafia, social war", "sabotage and wildcat strikes", "against the state and capital, social war", "freedom lives in our hearts, down with the walls of all prisons" and "avid for our freedom, we’ll destroy your whole society",. Often these words started to be shouted also by people inside the official demo.
At some point, the group decided to enter the main demo, and immediately the unionist thugs from the "service of order" (that were following us), aided by undercover cops, pushed us away saying we wouldn’t enter. At this point, other people also started yelling at these controllers. After some scuffles and threats, the group managed to push its way in. After a while, and because for most of us we had entered not to participate in the political circus, but to refuse being told what we can or can not do by others, we just decided to move away from the main march again.
After the demo ended, nearby in a "very pittoresque" cobblestoned street filled with bars and restaurants full of tourists (Rua das Portas de Santo Antao), a police car had drawn up and was blocking the street as they had arrested a middle-aged man in handcuffs. Concerned people had surrounded the car and a few comrades on their way for chips, together with all the people present, tried to prevent the man from being taken awayl. A few whistles and a couple of dozen more comrades arrived at the scene, running from the main square where they had been standing. More people had also gathered and there was already a crowd of 50 or 60 people yelling for the cops to let the man go and calling them fascists. Another police car arrived at the scene (the police station is just around the corner) and by this time the arrested man, his hands handcuffed behind his back, had been pushed into the car, which made the crowd even more angry. They couldn’t let the cops take away their prey.
A unit of riot cops then arrived from the neighbouring avenue where the massive demo had ended, and finally they were able to express themselves: here they found the occasion to lash out at everyone. One of them had a rubber bullet shotgun and they just went completely crazy, beating everyone on their way. Fortunately some chairs that were on the street were thrown at them, and also a few bottles. In the middle of this an old woman was heard saying "This is the future."
The crowd moved to the square next to the street, a meeting place for many immigrants who were standing around, as more riot cops arrived and formed lines to protect the others. By this time there were about 200 different people shouting against the cops and at some point they were shouting in unison "nobody likes you". The cops retreated down a side street towards the cop station, walking backwards to the sound of insults.
On the one hand, an almost militaristic gigantic army with hundreds of thousands of disciplined union members each one carrying his own little flag; a march of death, one could say. On the other, a simple social moment of a dissatisfied costumer in a bar and a few people with the clarity to protect each other from the enemy. A moment which was possibly a breath away from a full blown riot that might had extended to the many immigrants, comrades, and poor people that just hang around those streets. A whole mass of people excluded from any kind of representation or the logic of reform.
The future is yet to be written. Moments of rebellion feed on moments of rebellion and on feelings of revolt and joy. Control will be harder and harder to impose, and their truncheons frighten us less and less.
Don’t kiss the hand that beats you. Bite it!