Freetards storm Westminster

Shed Bloke is out and about

The Open Rights Group held its demonstration against the Mandybill after work yesterday, and here's a photo diary.

It was held at Old Palace Yard opposite Parliament. We arrived a few minutes after the scheduled start time of 5:30pm.

The ORG had cleared their first hurdle: finding 25 stewards requested by the Police. The protesters had gathered back away from the road, and with their black trenchcoats looked like a surly Austrian school group of sixth formers. London is full of surly sixth formers at this time of year - all that was missing was a worried-looking language teacher.

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The organisers asked protesters to wear black tape over their mouths, which symbolised the oppressive nature of receiving 50 letters from Geoff Taylor and then having your internet speed cut back.

Placards were also blank. It was all very symbolic:

Censored by Mandy: a silent protest
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The Pirate Party had a flag as well as a banner.

There were about 60 present, not bad, but not enough to make much of an impact on the large space of the Old Palace Yard. Fear not, more were arriving all the time, leaving their day jobs at the coal face of information behind.

By the barrier, passers by were given an A5 card titled "I'VE BEEN CENSORED. HELP!"

It said: "The Government plans to kill off public wifi, block websites and disconnect families and businesses from the internet."

(Disconnection still figures in imagination of the protesters, even though it's not going to happen.)

After about ten minutes somebody (possibly a teacher) suggested everyone move to the barriers for more impact.

A surge towards the barriers!

There were blank placards for everyone. The ORG said it had made up 150. A few were still available as the square filled up with journalists.

I spotted two ZDNet reporters - which I think is half their staff.

Stockpile: Not all of the 150 supplied placards were used

One protester had made up his own placard, and very good it was too.

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