Today saw the first of Bradford Uncuts direct actions targeted on Topshop (Arcadia) and Vodaphone. After a rally by the Bradford Peoples Coalition Against the Cuts, attended by upwards of 200 people, we moved towards Topshop. I led the chanting to the Christmas song 'We wish you a merry Christmas'. 'We wish you'd pay your taxes, we wish you'd pay your taxes, we wish you'd pay you taxes or we won't shop here! Bad tidings we bring to you Philip Green, we wish you'd pay your taxes or we won't shop here!'
It was very effective! A few of us got in Topshop, with a hundred or so outside. It was pretty tense, and they threatened to arrest me 3 times. I was surrounded by good people, and held out for 15 minutes. We then left and headed for Vodaphone. This was where it got hairy. Vodaphone is inside a shopping centre, and they did not want us in. It got crazy, police and security guards holding us back. Several police officers grabbed on protester, and another young woman got stopped close to Vodaphone. Security people were shouting at me, and we were all pushed back, but it was great to watch the shutters close down on Boots and Vodaphone!
We went back to Topshop, and stayed there until we found out what happened to those arrested. Then a group went to show them support. We heard that one of them was being charged with 'assualt of an officer' even though we had witnesses that could prove that wasn't the case. I was so relieved later when I heard that the charges were dropped. It was as if the police had only tried to say it to discredit the protesters in the local media.
People are rightly angry at the way the police can be used to protect the interests of big business - but we can honestly say that our protesters acted peacefully and non-violently. The people of Bradford, the people of the UK are finally standing up to the powerful, and they don't like it. I found the whole experience distressing and emotional, we need real inner strength to take part in these struggles. May God bless those brave enough to make a stand.