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London's Pro-Palestine Demonstrators Spent Saturday Shouting at Stores

After another big protest for Gaza, people ran around Oxford Street demanding to boycott Israel. Despite the direct action, we didn't see any police bludgeonings or broken windows.

by Oscar Webb
Aug 11 2014, 12:54pm

There was another demonstration showing solidarity with Gaza in London on Saturday. It was probably one of the biggest yet. The police estimated that 20,000 marched from the BBC headquarters on Portland place to Hyde Park. Confusingly, the organizers put the figure at 150,000. Whatever the exact numbers, it was pretty big.

As well as the usual chanting, flag waving and speeches that come with these sorts of large demos, there was a bit of direct action at the end. After the speeches finished in Hyde Park and everyone was slowly heading home, about a hundred of the protestors set off down Oxford Street.

I ran into them outside of McDonalds on the corner of Edgware road where they were shouting “boycott, boycott!” and generally getting in the way of the main entrance, preventing any passers by from getting inside for a cheese burger, or anyone inside from getting out. I asked a few people why McDonalds should be boycotted but the responses I got were a bit vague. Someone said that it was because McDonalds is an American company and America supports Israel. The fast food giant released a statement a few days ago distancing it’s self from what’s happening in Gaza after some of its Malaysian outlets were targeted by boycotters.

From the McDonalds, the protestors set off down Oxford Street shouting at branches of other shops they accused of backing Israel. The police were very quickly on hand, setting up a cordon between the crowd and the shops at every stop the protestors made. Police liaison officers in calming light blue bibs asked the protestors not to get too rowdy, and the protestors generally abided by that. No one actually got into any of the shops to cause any trouble—I don’t think they were trying to—preferring to stand outside shouting angry things, or lie down pretending to be dead to evoke what's happening in Gaza.

Earlier in the day, members of London Palestine Action (the guys who occupied the arms factory last week), briefly occupied several branches of Barclays, which they say invests in the arms trade.

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Keep up with what's happening in Gaza with the VICE News series, Rockets and Revenge