I realized this was a relevant thing to post, considering the date. So last fall semester, I studied abroad in London. London is quite the city, and I had an extraordinary time while I was over there. There always seemed to be something big going on, and on November 9th, there were a lot of big things going on.
Early in the day, there was a student protest that had thousands of students marching through central London in protest of a 33% raise in the cost of tuition. This protest actually originated out in front of the University of London, which is where I was studying. Unfortunately, I wasn't there early enough to see the crowd, but from what I was told, it was nearly impossible to move down the street. After I got out of class, myself and a friend went out in an attempt to find the marching students, but our efforts were in vain. However, we discovered something else. We had heard the students would be marching past Trafalgar Square, so that's where we went. When we got there, we discovered a very confusing and very chaotic scene. Traffic seemed incredibly congested, there were loads of police officers, and a lot of horn honking going on.
After some investigating, we learned that this protest was one against minicabs. Minicabs are unlicensed, illegal taxis that prey on unsuspecting people, generally those coming out of bars. Rape and sexual assault are a serious problem with minicabs. The protest was for greater government regulation/total elimination of these unlicensed cab companies. The protest involved cab drivers simply stopping their vehicles in the roundabout at Trafalgar Square, which ended up backing up traffic for miles in all directions, as you can see in the picture. They also did a lot of honking, which made everything feel so much more confusing for us when we were trying to figure out what was happening. The police actually brought in a few tow trucks because the cabs wouldn't budge when they were told to. It was a very interesting thing to see.
But wait, there's more! Admittedly, I don't actually know what this final protest was about, but they sure called in a lot of police. They had helicopters flying overhead, police dressed in riot gear, large, semi-armored vehicles, and police buses that looked like they could hold a lot of detainees. They erected all sorts of barriers and at one point, my friend and I tried to go through an area but we were stopped and my friend says he was nearly hit with a riot shield. It felt like a pretty hardcore situation. We continued to walk along until we finally came across a ring of police that had surrounded a group of people I assume were the protesters (pictured at top). I guess we'll never really know what it was, though. Oh well. There will be many, many more protests to come in London.