Monday, 25 June 2012

Olympics: London takes Gold


London Takes Gold from Marie Billegrav Bryant on Vimeo.
My personal experience of the Olympics has been interesting. Our community, my home, the Clays Lane Housing Cooperative, home to about 500 people, was demolished in 2007 to make way for the Olympic “Park”. Our homes were ground up into piles of little nuggets about 20mm in diameter.  The piles of nuggets diapered leaving no trace.  I moved onto a boat. The authorities then tried to socially cleanse our boat community from London’s waterways. In an exhausting struggle we fought back and won that particular battle.  The authorities now require us to move our homes / boats out of our home turf, almost out of London, for 3 months over the Olympic period. Apparently we are seen as a security threat. I am uncertain if we will be allowed back in to our home waterways after the 5 ringed circus has left town.  I have spent 8 days in prison after an incident on an Olympic construction site.  I have been charged with Common Assault.  I will be pleading not guilty to this.  My trial date is set for the last day of the Olympics.  Until then my bail conditions keep me away from some Olympic venue/s. In my view the authorities are using bail conditions as a political weapon to keep Olympic dissenters quiet (not just me).

At the bid phase, Sebastian Coe and his cohort were keen to use local kids to promote their plans. Some of those kids accompanied the bid delegation to Singapore. Coe’s strategy was to persuade voters on the International Olympic Committee that London’s bid would benefit local children from some of the the most deprived parts of London. Now 6 years later, and a month before the Opening Ceremony Olympic chiefs are “protecting” the surroundings of the Olympic enclosure with so called “dispersal zones”. Within these a police officer has the power to order a group of two or more young people to leave an area and to ban them from returning for up to 24 hours. These control orders are aimed at the same local children they claimed would benefit from London 2012. Non-”dispersal” can lead to a maximum penalty of three months' imprisonment and/or a fine of £5000.  During my stay in prison I met many young men in their early 20s from poor backgrounds.  They have not benefited from the Olympic project.

The Olympics has a dark history with a history of corruption and fascism, not only in relation to the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany, but also due to the politics of the International Olympic Committee’s ex president, Juan Antonio Samaranch y Torell√≥, an enthusiastic Spanish Fascist.   The 1968 Mexico City Olympics are remembered for 2 US athletes giving the black power salute. But about 2 weeks before those famous salutes there were student protests in Mexico City. Chanting at these demonstrations included “No queremos olimpiadas, queremos revoluci√≥n”, in English, "We don't want Olympics, we want revolution”. Perhaps not the image the Mexican ruling class would like propagated to visiting VIPs during their Olympics. The Olympia Battalion was called on to sort things out. They were a secret Mexican government security outfit set up to ensure the safety and security of the 1968 Games. A massacre followed. Women, children, bystanders, and protesters, a hundred or more people were murdered. The numbers are disputed, but probably somewhere between 100 and 500.

An Olympic issue that is not receiving sufficient coverage in the mainstream media is the securitisation of society based on an Olympic model.  Peak surveillance will be reached in the UK during the Games.  The Olympic “Park” itself is surrounded by a 17.5 km, 5,000volt electric fence. The fence is topped with 900 daylight and night vision surveillance cameras linked with facial recognition software. But what is going on outside the ‘“park” is more important.  Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Chris Alison has publicly stated that the authorities will be monitoring social media and gathering intelligence on Olympic dissenters. The extent of the monitoring remains unknown.  New software is planned to integrate all of London's CCTV cameras, and will have the capability to follow you through the city. Behavioral recognition software is also expected to be used.  

We now learn that missiles are to be dotted around our Olympic city though it is unclear who or what they are supposed to protect us from. There will be pilotless drones with laser guided bombs, there will be battleships on the Thames also with missiles. I wonder what would happen if these weapons were actually used in a densely populated area like London. Surely the “collateral damage” would be significant? 

While pandering to the every need of VIPs, 2012 organisers have, stated they will put on a good show - “no matter what”! But the list of enemies, the list of those that might spoil the fun is extensive. Streakers, terrorists, ambush marketeers, brand hijackers, space hijackers, real hijackers, ticket touts, Olympic flame firefighters, Tibetans, and survivors of Olympic sponsor Dow Chemical, everyone except the VIPs are on the list of suspects. Even the athletes are seen as a potential brand hijack risk. Streaking at the Olympics carries a maximum £20,000 penalty.

Approximately 13,000 military, 13,000 police, 23,000 private security, plus VIP and sponsors’ security is to be deployed during the Games. Elite military units such as the SAS, Paras, and Marines are to be mobilised, and nations such as the US are to deploy at least 1,000 of their own security staff. Britain may never have seen so many firearms concentrated into such a small area. And according to the UK’s Independent newspaper - “the British Secret Service is carrying out its biggest operation since the Second World War with almost all of its 3,800 staff mobilised for the London Olympics which will take place amid rising concerns over the possibility of terrorist attacks.”

The London Olympics is not a sporting event.  It is a security event with a bit of sport on the side, and while the list of suspects, those that might cause trouble during the games, is endless, the shopping list of equipment designed to neutralize them is without limit.  One could be forgiven for thinking London 2012 is a giant security exhibition - “a once in a lifetime opportunity” for manufactures of security equipment to showcase their wares.

To me the London Olympics a muscle flexing exercise, but not that of the Olympic athlete, whose power and physical prowess is to be overshadowed by the state’s display of weaponry, a hijack of the state’s security apparatus as a projection of power - a display of machismo.  

We should ask who the Olympics are for?  As I pointed out earlier promises of benefits to local kids have proved hollow.  In fact just about every promise and statement made about the Olympics is a lie, the most impressive lies being embedded in ludicrous phrases such as the “Greenest Olympics Ever”, and the “Most Inclusive Olympics Ever”. But there is one place where the spotlight of truth shines on the Olympic project, unequivocally demonstrating who London 2012 is for.  That place is the VIPs lanes.  While ordinary people endure traffic chaos, and will receive automatic £130 fines for entering these lanes, VIPs will be seamlessly transported between their 5 star west London Hotels and the VIP enclosure in the Olympic Park, their BMW cars fitted with gadgets which will turn traffic lights green.   To ensure the VIPs feel at ease a clause in the Host City Contract states that the their chauffeurs will be required to wear hats - the green light red carpet treatment.

London Takes Gold is a reaction to my Olympic experience.  I hope you enjoy it.  It is my second film.  It is the first film I have both filmed and edited.  It is shot on a smart phone.  

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