Mass civil disobedience planned in London on day of Olympic men's road race

Protest group Our Olympics promises that 28 July will be "a day we never forget"

by Simon_MacMichael   May 14, 2012  

Our Olympics logo

Anti-Olympic protesters are reported to be planning actions of mass civil disobedience on Saturday 28 July – the day on which Mark Cavendish hopes to secure Great Britain’s first gold medal of London 2012 in the men’s road race.

According to the Financial Times, the action is being planned by the group Our Olympics, which encompasses a broad range of groups ranging from members of the Occupy London protest to anti-capitalist protesters opposed to the commercial nature of the Games and their backing by big businesses such as McDonald’s and BP.

On its website, Our Olympics is calling on “all groups impacted by the Olympics, the misdeeds of it's [sic] 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.”

The group promises that “It's going to be a day we never forget.”

While the exact nature of the protests planned for that day have yet to be revealed, as one of the handful of Olympic events taking place outside the confines of stadia and other venues where access can easily be controlled, the road race is an obvious target – indeed, arguably the obvious target for that particular day, especially as the route has been devised to showcase London to the world at the beginning of the two-week event.

It’s also one for which, given the length of the route, it is impossible to guarantee complete security, and concerns have already been expressed that an individual protester might attempt to disrupt particular events, as defrocked priest Neil Horan did at Athens in 2004 during the marathon.

Fears of similar disruption at the London Games were heightened last month after self-styled “anti-elitist” protestor Trenton Oldfield disrupted last month’s Boat Race – running the risk of getting himself decapitated in the process.

Following that incident, British Olympic Association chairman Lord Moynihan maintained that it was impossible to prevent people intent on causing disruption from taking similar action this summer.

"It just takes, and is likely to be, one idiot," said Moynihan, himself an Olympic silver medalist in rowing, having coxed the men’s eight at Moscow in 1980.

"It's not likely to be a well-orchestrated campaign through Twitter or websites,” he continued. “It is likely to be someone similar to the idiot yesterday who causes major disruption. That is why all the security measures need to be put in place to minimise the chance of that happening."

That opinion will have to be revised as a result of news of the planned mass action on 28 July.

“Someone has to create an unbearable social tension that forces these issues to be addressed,” said Our London founder Kerry-Anne Mendoza, quoted by the Financial Times.

“However many of us they put in jail, however many they give Olympic antisocial behaviour orders to, however many they put in police vans: the bottom line is our conversation is out there in the world,” she added.

The newspaper added that police officers from 51 forces as well as 13,500 members of the armed forces will be deployed in London this July, but the big fear for the organisers is likely to be that it is impossible to guarantee security – or the safety of competitors and spectators – at events such as the cycling road races and the marathons.

It adds that the Metropolitan Police has asked protesters to contact it so that a policing plan can be drawn up.

“We want to work with those who wish to protest so their point can be legitimately made, just as we are working closely with a range of agencies to ensure that the games can take place,” said a spokesman. 
 

28 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

It's amazing how people can't manage to get off their asses to support something but only manage to get out there in order to stir sh!t up.

They never think about the athletes they are hurting who may have spent their entire lives at a shot at the Games who may suffer because of their mis-placed angst.

posted by Colin Lynch [17 posts]
14th May 2012 - 15:05

2 Likes

Can France give Bernard Hinault a place on their team? He's useful when the race reaches protesters blocking the route:

From inrng

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1345 posts]
14th May 2012 - 15:10

2 Likes

I think there was mention of a protest during the Giro yesterday too!

posted by Marauder [239 posts]
14th May 2012 - 15:20

2 Likes

Seems ironic that they shoud protest during one of the more accessible events - I can see the logic from their perspective, but (Box Hill notwithstanding) this is one of the 'free to see' events.

I can also sympathise hugely with the whole way in which tickets have been distributed - it is feeling like a rather 'corporate' games.

As a cyclist though, I hope this dies without a whimper - I would hate to see this screw up what is a major season goal for many riders.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3200 posts]
14th May 2012 - 15:54

2 Likes

Who said they were targetting the men's road race? Or even likely to? The only quote used was from Lord Moynihan which was *not* made in relation to the Our Olympics campaign.

posted by hoski [65 posts]
14th May 2012 - 16:00

1 Like

Brian Nichol wrote:
I think there was mention of a protest during the Giro yesterday too!

The Giro protest was by workers at a firm that makes buses (ex-Fiat) worried about losing their jobs and didn't hold up the race. They got airtime and were able to get their point across peacefully.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8118 posts]
14th May 2012 - 17:33

2 Likes

When did "reclaiming" come to mean "f*cking it up for everyone else"? Angry

posted by chris75018 [95 posts]
14th May 2012 - 17:34

2 Likes

hoski wrote:
Who said they were targetting the men's road race? Or even likely to? The only quote used was from Lord Moynihan which was *not* made in relation to the Our Olympics campaign.

As the article points out, there's no details of what they're planning, but the fact is, something is being planned on Saturday 28 July, which happens to be the day of the men's road race, and as we say, that is one of the few events in the Games that is vulnerable to some form of action.

Moynihan said he expected any potential disruption at the Olympics to come from individuals, not organised groups; in view of Our Olympics' promise that 28 July will be a day to remember, as we point out, he probably needs to reassess that.

Let's face it, if you're planning something for that day, it's not going to be focused on the women's pistol shooting at Woolwich.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8118 posts]
14th May 2012 - 17:42

2 Likes

I do hope that the events proceed uninterrupted and that no-one gets hurt but actually I have a lot of sympathy with the view that the games has become a grotesque parody of the original Olympic ideal, and I do hope there is a successful peaceful protest against it.

I won't refer to the event by name because to do so might well invite a legal action for breach of copyright in the event's name - it is that absurd. Some businesses have indeed been taken to law for the simple act of combining the name of a capital city with a calendar year!

I recently had my first pop at buying tickets - under pressure from my family - and discovered that "as Visa is a Proud Sponsor of the [you-know-what], only Visa cards will be accepted for payment for tickets. If you don't have a Visa card f*ck off (actually I made the last bit up, it suggests where you might apply for one).

Because McDonalds and Coca Cola are proud sponsors, you won't be allowed to take food or drink of any other brand into the stadia. Never mind if you don't want rotted teeth and hardened arteries.

London taxis will not be allowed to pick up anywhere near the Stratford site because Addison Lee (honestly, I am not making this up) is also a proud sponsor. Cabbies are not very chuffed about this and many are talking of refusing to take fares to the site, although technically they must.

You won't be able to ride a Boris Bike anywhere near the site because Lloyds TSB is a proud sponsor and Barclays is a competitor.

You will take your life in your hands if you ride any kind of bike there, as the suprerficial cycleway stops short of the stadium.

Of course, if you are a proud sponsor you will be allowed to convey yourselves and your business guests via the Zil Lanes - sorry, O[] Route Network - but otherwise you will have to endure cattle conditions on public transport in the remaining half of the road space available. Your journey to and from work will be greatly lengthened but never fear, Boris reckons it is a great idea to stop for a few pints before you set off home and collect your car from the suburban station where you park it.

Not a city in the world has, on reflection, made a financial success of the games. Not even Sydney, where a variety of stadia are now mouldering just as the London stadia will when the whole caravan moves on in September.

posted by Paul M [311 posts]
14th May 2012 - 17:50

2 Likes

Colin Lynch wrote:
It's amazing how people can't manage to get off their asses to support something but only manage to get out there in order to stir sh!t up.

They never think about the athletes they are hurting who may have spent their entire lives at a shot at the Games who may suffer because of their mis-placed angst.

Protesting - as a way of showing support for something you believe in - arguably requires more effort and commitment than passively 'supporting' an entertainment event.

I certainly don't want to see any events disrupted 'during play' - mainly because it turns the athletes into political pawns (if they aren't already) but frankly this olympics carries such a massive stink that I would welcome some peaceful and highly visible sh!t stirring.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [825 posts]
14th May 2012 - 17:59

2 Likes

It would be ironic if one of the few Olympic events that can be watched, along most of its route, free would be targeted by people against the commercialisation of the Olympics.

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
14th May 2012 - 19:04

2 Likes

The Olympics is a joke as far as sport is concerned. It is the biggest publicity advert in the world. The sport is beside the point as far as the IOC is concerned. They use it to enrich themselves in a manner that is amoral, unfair and has nothing whatsoever to do with sporting fair play.

posted by Decster [246 posts]
14th May 2012 - 19:35

2 Likes

Anyone remember that guy in a stage of the TDF a few years back who snuck onto the road in full replica team kit and bike just behind the lone climber about to win the stage? Liggert went crazy trying to identify the rider until he was quickly pulled down by officials. The !rider not Liggert... Big Grin

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1059 posts]
14th May 2012 - 20:15

2 Likes

Agree with many of the comments above, the Olympics is turning sport into a joke. I feel sorry for the sportspersons embroiled in all this but good luck to the demonstrators. It makes me proud to be British.

posted by belgravedave [178 posts]
14th May 2012 - 21:06

2 Likes

For those of you who believe that politics has no place in sport then i hope to hear you rejecting the idea of politicians turning up to be photographed with winners and bask in their glow for all the electorate to see.

posted by Decster [246 posts]
14th May 2012 - 21:15

2 Likes

I fail to see these "protestors " point in some ways but in other I have a sympathy. The merchandising deal as mentioned about are immoral yet who is actually brave enough to mention this. I hear little in the press.
Having said all that i also have to admit to what is gradually turning from apathy to dislike about the whole affair. I was most pissed off when London got the games, predicting much of the disquiet now obvious.
Its obvious that the evnt has little to do with most of the country. We could get or even afford tickets, nowhere outside of London is being treated decently and as some one who lives in the provinces down the M$ it is just an irrelevance at best.

posted by mattsccm [259 posts]
14th May 2012 - 22:24

2 Likes

Charging to watch the road race at Box Hill is sufficient reason for a protest alone, never mind all the other stuff on top!!

posted by Scottsparkrider [9 posts]
14th May 2012 - 23:05

2 Likes

While I agree with some, if not most, of the grievances these groups have, I do hope that they protest in such a manner that does not put those competing or volunteering at risk.

In fact, I would go so far to as to suggest that measures are brought in to impose very harsh fines and long jail terms for anyone convicted of a reckless act that injures a competitor.

posted by Matt_S [182 posts]
15th May 2012 - 10:32

2 Likes

Decster wrote:
For those of you who believe that politics has no place in sport then i hope to hear you rejecting the idea of politicians turning up to be photographed with winners and bask in their glow for all the electorate to see.

I'm in the queue to reject politicians posing with athletes. I'm also in the queue to condemn any protester who disrupts the Olympics.

They are my Olympics, I'm spending a week backstage at Excel volunteering (hence not for cycling) in July/August because the chance to participate is a once in a lifetime opportunity I couldn't resist. Yes I dislike the corporate nature of them, but any protester isn't reclaiming them for me, they are claiming them from me.

posted by 0liver [76 posts]
15th May 2012 - 11:19

1 Like

I don't really agree with any of their points. They have a right to protest if they wish but not at the expense of others. Not sure how these things work, but could it work in team GBs favour? If a break is up the road and they stop the race do they start them off together? As long as it ends in a clean sprint i'll be happy!

I don't agree with the negative chat around the Olympics either. For most of the events it is the pinacle of their sport, it gives the smaller sports in the world some exposure to replace the wall to wall football/rugby/cricket we have. Fair enough they are expensive and there are sponsors to help reduce the cost but I dont mind a few adverts. The capital expense is making up for poor facilities anyway. It was embarrassing that our capital didn't have an indoor velodrome/50m pool/decent athletics venue.

posted by Manx Rider [18 posts]
15th May 2012 - 11:29

1 Like

I can sympathise with them a little...I'm attempting my very own protest against this destructive capitalist society by covertly undertaking a long term infilatration project which started when i was very young. I decided that the best way to try and overcome this social injustice was to work hard and gain qualifications enough to make myself irresistable as a potential employee to one such capitalist outfit, I have then covertly begun a journey of self advancement, remaining undiscovered so far im finding myself advancing up the corporate ladder almost undetected purely by a regular input of effort and focus on delivering their shallow results...

There is some self sacrifice of course, I am missing around 9 to 10 hours daytime TV most weekdays, and on occasion have to purchase some smart clothes to keep the disguise in place

One day I hope to reach the very top and believe me I will unleash hell...

Or I might just retire and ride the bike

posted by scrapper [61 posts]
15th May 2012 - 12:31

1 Like

Anyone who has seen the later stages of an 'organised' summit finish in Le Tour knows that people in the road hold no fear for some riders - in fact some may not notice the difference.

This is England, remember - what counts as social disobedience here is a Saturday morning stroll in the street for some Romans.

andylul's picture

posted by andylul [412 posts]
15th May 2012 - 12:46

1 Like

Unfortunately in the UK, legitimate protest usually means a few well-intentioned people organizing something, that then gets hijacked by the kind of scumbags who crawled out of the woodwork during last years riots.
Get Hinault in as a consultant and give 'em some 'European' style policing!

posted by pwake [294 posts]
15th May 2012 - 13:53

1 Like

I know Ms Mendoza. I met her when she was working for a major UK Bank. Hypocrisy?

posted by mbrads72 [121 posts]
15th May 2012 - 21:29

1 Like

Damn hippies can go f--- themselves. I'll show them civil disobedience if they spoil my enjoyment of the race.

posted by finbar [88 posts]
16th May 2012 - 11:29

1 Like

joemmo wrote:
Protesting - as a way of showing support for something you believe in - arguably requires more effort and commitment than passively 'supporting' an entertainment event.

My thoughts too.

The Olympics is hugely lucrative and foremost, and it is being milked for every penny. Lots of people are unhappy about that. As an athlete, Colin may have a different perspective to us as observers.

I'm not sure disrupting an event is the best way to communicate such a message (I'd think it is more likely to upset your audience) but stop to consider the idea in general: if people are prevented from protesting "because it annoys some other people" then it would be a sad indictment of our times. Perhaps some of us have short memories. We haven't even been told what the protestors are planning so I see no point in foaming at the mouth about the inconvenience it might cause.

In these belt-tightening times of apparent economic hardship, is an £11bn sporting event really a great idea? Equally, I don't know how anyone could really believe that Coca-Cola, McDonalds, P&G et al care a jot for our health and fitness by associating their rotten junk food and petrochemical-filled hair and bodycare products with the world's top athletes.

As for Hinault, don't forget he was happy to lead a protest and stop a race when it suited him (mentioned in Richard Moore's book 'Slaying the Badger').

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1968 posts]
16th May 2012 - 23:37

1 Like

Simon_MacMichael wrote:

Let's face it, if you're planning something for that day, it's not going to be focused on the women's pistol shooting at Woolwich.

You been to Woolwich? They know their way around a pistol in that part of town. Wink

jaunty angle: bikes and communications
http://ragtag.wordpress.com

ragtag's picture

posted by ragtag [155 posts]
17th May 2012 - 10:54

1 Like

"Been to Woolwich?"

Grew up next door. Though back then it was more likely to be squaddies than civvies with shooters Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8118 posts]
23rd July 2012 - 20:17

1 Like