9.12.2010: Dubstep rebellion - the British banlieue comes to Millbank
1930: They marched to parliament square, got stopped, surged through police lines and trampled onto the grass that had been so painstakingly regrown after the eviction of the peace camp. And then they danced.
The man in charge of the sound system was from an eco-farm, he told me, and had been trying to play "politically right on reggae"; however a crowd in which the oldest person was maybe seventeen took over the crucial jack plug, inserted it into aBlackberry, (iPhones are out for this demographic) and pumped out the dubstep.
Young men, mainly black, grabbed each other around the head and formed a surging dance to the digital beat lit, as the light failed, by the distinctly analog light of a bench they had set on fire.
Any idea that you are dealing with Lacan-reading hipsters from Spitalfields on this demo is mistaken.
While a good half of the march was undergraduates from the most militant college occupations - UCL, SOAS, Leeds, Sussex - the really stunning phenomenon, politically, was the presence of youth: bainlieue-style youth from Croydon, Peckam, the council estates of Islington.
Having been very close to the front line of the fighting, on the protesters side, I would say that at its height - again - it broke the media stereotype of being organised by "political groups": there was an anarchist black bloc contingent, there were the socialist left groups - but above all, again, I would say the main offensive actions taken to break through police lines were done by small groups of young men who dressed a lot more like the older brothers of the dubsteppers.
The fighting itself is still going on - I am seeing people break the windows of HM Revenue and Customs live on TV. At one point after 2pm there were just two lines of riot cops between the students and parliament and it was at this point, with nowhere to go, that people began to push forward and attack the police.
Despite that, those involved were a minority and it was fairly "ritual" involving placard sticks and the remains of the metal fence around Parliament Square, until people realised there was nowhere to break through *to* and changed direction.
I saw them swarm up Victoria Street, at first pushing back a line of mounted police and breaking through various attempts by riot police to form a cordon. But then in successive charges, both the mounted and the foot police charged back.
I saw heavy objects land among the police, amid a much larger volume of paint, fireworks and flashbangs. At one point the horses were unable to contain this and a policeman fell off his horse, being carried away on a stretcher by colleagues. Later the police - who were themselves trapped between two lines of protesters, lost control of their own rear and only contained the breakthrough by batoning people to the floor, including women. By the side of a pub in a nearby street there was a line if injured protesters being triaged by ambulance crews.
By this point many of the seasoned occupiers had moved out of Parliament Square and some were returning to their occupations to discuss where the campaign goes next.
I have seen a lot of public disorder in this part of London over the past 30 years. As a riot it was sporadic; one notable feature is that, while many protesters fight wearing masks, many do not: there is an air of "don't care" - especially among the school students.
Politically, there is an almost total disconnect with the established parties: they had not bothered to send their representatives there - there were a few NUS national officials but no kind of Labour student presence that I could see.
When there are speeches, the university students often defer to the working class young people from sixth forms, who they see as being the main victims of the reform. With the Coalition's majority reduced by 3/4, as I reflected earlier, it is unprecedented to see a government teeter before a movement in whom the iconic voices are sixteen and seventeen year old women, and whose anthems are mainly dubstep.