Home > activism, mayday, politics, Things that make me happy > Today I was a womble – Mayday, London, 2001

Today I was a womble – Mayday, London, 2001

I put this on indymedia on May 1st 2001.  Just fancied having a copy of it on my blog as well as on Sunday I was reflecting how important that day had been, and what had happened personally in the past decade.  My cheesey writing style hasn’t changed!   I’ve added a photo for context.  London Mayday in 2001 was preceded by months of ridiculous articles about this dangerous new terror group “the wombles”.


Today I was a womble

by ginger 5:08pm Tue May 1 ’01

Being a womble is about exposing a lie the authorities expend all their energy trying to maintain: human beings have the power to hange the world and upset “known facts”. The police are neither right, nor good, nor invincible.

Mayday for me started nearly 3 months ago when I first whited up for the Niketown Zapatista solidarity action. Can’t believe it’s been such a short time, because the lessons learnt and people met will stay with me forever.

Today a five foot two slightly built short sighted geek girl was on the front line beating riot police! We actually got through 3 police lines between 4 and 6 when we dewombled. We were originally planning to meet at Oxford Circus at 4, but obviously events were outside anybody’s control – just as they should be. Unfortunately this meant lots of thinking on our feet, and concerns about getting all the tat to where it was needed. The advantages of working closely in a (not perfect but almost) non hierarchical way is that everyone was looking out for each other and taking responsibility rather than waiting for orders.

Half of the wombles arrived at the meeting point already wombled up, which gave much confidence and positivity the few of us cowering down an alley way having suffered lots of cop attention carrying big bags of foam and banners into the pic circ area.. We quickly executed our practised transition into wombles (okay, it was a shambles, but it needs a lot of practise!). Then we began marching north east towards Oxford street showering “money” on everyone.

The other protesters were top. We didn’t have enough spare suits or padding to involve as many as we would have liked, but it was incredibly uplifting to hear cheers and warm greetings of “here come the wombles”. Looks like its not just the police who were looking for us!

We quickly had a few hundred in our group. It all happened quite quickly, chaotically and organically, but we kept moving and growing in numbers and marched across Oxford St North and then circled West. I had a pink kiddy swim ring around my neck, and a foam, cardboard and bubble wrap arm protector with stuffed penguins taped to it.

Our first confrontation was in Cavendish Square, behind John Lewis. The police formed a line in riot gear.

We were a little shaky, but basically walked up to them, arms linked behind the big blue tarp. They did their usual baton run, but with the protection we had on we could take it, and then pushed forwards and … lime we were through the line! Wonderful feeling. After that whenever we came across more cops it was “Wombles to the front”. In all we breached 3 lines.

My glasses were knocked off, and I nearly got knocked down myself a few times so ended up very hake, but kept up. I took some baton blows, but caught them all on my protected arm and was absolutely fine. Other wombles took direct blows to their shins, arms and even heads and apart from some minor grazes we’re all fine.

It is important to say that there was 5 female wombles, and I was definitely the least front line – one who was especially nervous beforehand was an absolute star and crucial to many of the breaches. Being a womble is not about individual macho self important action but requires solidarity, courage and trust. You do not need to be a street fighter. You need to be able to keep a clear head, be solid, look out for those who are around you, and see a demonstration as not just an opportunity to smash a few windows (however cathartic that feels) but about challenging the state’s right to batter us when we step out of line. We made lots of mistakes, but that’s okay. We’re not here for a single stunt action, but until a better tactic is discovered, or we’ve won !

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