Brian Ferguson: Sound of sambas could be heard only yards from police in riot gear
There may have been a huge police presence ringing the bank HQ by 8am yesterday but there was little sign of tension on the main access route into the vast makeshift campsite which the protesters had started occupying last Wednesday.
The police kept a discreet distance from the main entrance into the camp where just two protesters were on hand to greet news crews and other visitors.
As police in riot gear patrolled the boundary of the campsite many protesters were only just beginning to emerge from their tents, with the main topic of conversation the previous night's confrontations with the police.
There was an early flurry of activity when word spread of a large police presence gathering at the only access road from the campsite into the RBS base. Around 50 protesters joined the stand-off, many of them sipping tea and munching cereal. It passed off without further incident after the intervention of police liaison officers.
It soon became clear that small groups of protesters were leaving the camp but by mid-morning, as news began to spread of the first protests around the city, anyone leaving the campsite faced a much larger police presence on the main Gogar Station Road that runs alongside the RBS building.
There were several flashpoints as stop-and-search powers were used to frisk many of those who had left the site.
Throughout the morning there were no visible mass meetings or obvious huddles of demonstrators and news of successful protests elsewhere were announced on a small blackboard outside a tent.
The campsite seemed to have a music festival atmosphere, with samba drumming groups performing just yards from riot squad officers.
Although the camp had an open-access media policy throughout the day, many protesters were careful to keep their faces hidden from the cameras. At around 1pm the police presence was visibly beefed up with the arrival of dozens of officers in riot gear behind the bridge leading from the campsite to the RBS building. The police move came after several groups of protesters dressed as clowns tried to goad them into action.
The campsite boasts everything from eco showers and basins to wooden toilet Portacabins and five onsite kitchens. The large welcome area for protesters has numerous leaflets and booklets explaining why RBS has been targeted, as well as posters and fliers advertising other forthcoming climate change protests across the UK over the next few months.
A spokesman for the camp said: "Although everyone at the camp is taking some form of protest action by their very presence here not everyone is interested in taking direct action against RBS itself.
"There is no one group organising the camp. But there are lots of people working in different roles, helping the camp to run smoothly and helping people in one way or another. As far as we're concerned the camp has gone very well.It's been very peaceful in Edinburgh so far compared to other climate camps."
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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