In a victory for free speech, the Counter Olympics Network held a demonstration of 500 people on July 28 against the corporate takeover and militarisation of the Olympic Games.
Under pressure from local campaigners, Tower Hamlets Council was forced to lift its ban on the arranged speakers for the demonstration. Speakers included MP John McDonnell, Ruth Tanner from War on Want, and Stop the Olympic Missiles campaigner and vice-chair of Stop the War Coalition, Chris Nineham.
Many of the protesters spoke out against the heavy military presence in London, with an estimated 18,000 troops deployed. This is almost double the number of those stationed in Afghanistan, making it the heaviest militarisation in the UK since World War II.
The protest marched past Bow Quarter, host to some of the East End's surface-to-air missiles, in-situ on the roofs of residential buildings during the Games.
Much criticism was directed against the sponsorship by Dow Chemical and BP, which was highlighted by a theatre performance at the rally that concluded the demonstration at Wennington Green.
Most of all, the speakers focussed on the way the corporate takeover of the games has turned them into a jamboree for the rich which has brought only rent hikes, militarisation and traffic jams for most Londoners.
Stop the War Coalition's Chris Nineham said: “Danny Boyle's opening ceremony was worlds away from how the Olympics are actually being organised.
“The Olympics has already broken records: the most arrests on the opening day, the highest ticket prices, the highest expenditure on security and the greatest degree of corporate control. And all this holds a mirror up to our government; brazenly elitist, obsessed with profit and the military.”
[Reprinted from Counter Fire.]