Leeds Street Party, 9 May 1998
The sun shone, the people were there, all colourful and cheery and it was all set up to be a triffic, trafficless party last Saturday on Albion Street in Leeds.
Unfortunately the police had other ideas.
Having split up to confuse West Yorkshires finest, two crowds of people came together on Albion Street to be confronted with 20 - 30 police brandishing truncheons, batons and, more worryingly, cs gas spray. After the police confiscated tripods, the protesters attempted to set up a bouncy castle only to be beaten back by more officers with telescopic batons. Several protesters had gas sprayed in their faces and the police later denied even having the spray, even though one of their own officers had to be taken to hospital when he was sprayed by mistake! The confrontation was settled when the 500 protesters sat in the road in a demonstration of a non-violent protest and the police allowed the organisers to set up a sound system and the bouncy castle.
The party continued throughout Saturday afternoon and once the police had left, without further incident. Banners were strung up and shoppers were informed about the nature of the protest whilst protesters danced showed others just how much fun a traffic free street could be.
One banner seemed to sum up the atmosphere perfectly. It simply said, "Reclaimed."