I spent Saturday morning with the Counter Olympics Network at a planning meeting at the Bishopsgate Institute near Liverpool Street. There were roughly 50 people in the room, including journalists from the Sunday Times, London Tonight and Bloomberg. There were even a couple of police officers outside filming us helpfully as we went in.
A number of campaigns were represented, including Our Olympics, No UK Tar Sands, Coalition of Resistance, Occupy London, Save Leyton Marsh, Drop DOW Now, and the SWP, among others. The meeting was chaired in the consensus style familiar from Occupy: no applause but “sparkling”, etc.
One speaker was Clayton Thomas Muller who organised against the Vancouver Winter Olympics of 2010, and told us, “the Olympics is a real estate operation to justify the exploitation of the dispossessed.” Another international speaker told us that the Olympics reminded him of the baseball games of his youth: “while the folks played ball, their cars were getting jacked.”
The“Occupy Olympics movement” (if naming it that isn’t it to give it more coherence than it already possesses) is as keenly motivated by global as by domestic issues. If there was one single Olympic outrage to which people returned it was the adoption of BP, surely the world’s most egregious polluter, as the Games’ official Sustainability Partner (Rio Tinto, who will be striking the London 2012 medals, and Dow are also unhappily involved).
Of the domestic campaigns, Save Leyton Marsh is clearly the immediate focus. One speaker in purple running shoes, raised an immediate cheer when she complained “I have jogged round the marsh for years, and now the Olympics is taking it away from me.”
After I had left (childcare responsibilities meant I could not attend the afternoon planning session), the meeting agreed to announce a day of action on 28th July.
The report on the OurOlympics wesbite ends in terms which I echo:
“Further details will follow, but we call on all groups impacted by the Olympics, the misdeeds of its sponsors and contractors, or the government which is selling Britain out from under us: clear your diary and join together with us on Saturday 28th July 2012 to make your voice heard. It’s going to be a day we never forget.”