Sat in Russell Square yesterday, too hot to think, a young girl handed me a card containing information entitled “ADVICE ON ARREST.” She reeled off her well-rehearsed speech that highlighted the essentials (which solicitor’s number to call, what to say to the police etc.) and moved on to the next group. I slipped the card into my back pocket, feeling slightly confronted. At a time in which my capacity for rage appears limitless, I, and the swarm of angry people beginning to gather around me on this sweltering day in July, were organising.
The FCK BORIS resistance began with performers and speakers atop a red bus in Bloomsbury, rapping, chanting and expressing their frustration at Boris Johnson, the Tories, and everything they represent. Aside from Johnson’s fundamentally undemocratic election as Prime Minister, the man is a serious threat to our country and the basic rights of people in and around it. A sea of signs stab at this – some spelling out details of Johnson’s racist, Islamophobic, and homophobic record, others call for open borders and migrant rights, a lot of them are funny, but we all want Boris gone.
Suitably furious and energised, we were on the move, flooding through central London. Past the British Museum, Soho, Trafalgar Square, all the way down to Downing Street. It was loud from music (a lot of Stormzy, of course) and chants of “fuck the government, fuck Boris.” People gathered at the side of the road to cheer us along as we slipped between traffic, many drivers sounding their horns in tune with our chants. Sweaty, angry, and exhausted, I was so deeply overcome by emotion and awe. It’s so important to go out and make yourself heard, but it was overwhelming to realise that a lot of people were listening and felt the same way.
It seems obvious that people hate Boris Johnson, especially as less than 0.25% of the country actually voted him in, but I’m sure many of you are familiar with friends and family expressing this sentiment with a disgruntled sigh and a turning over of the news channel. We don’t want to hear or read that this is happening so oftentimes we choose quite simply not to. There are some very good cases for why this isn’t a useful coping strategy if we actually want things to change. For me, that case was best made yesterday: outside number ten, the stench of sun cream and smoke from hand flares thick in the air, not begging for change but demanding it.