Mad Hatter's "Terrorise" Commuters with Free Cake

Around 80 turned up at St. Peter's Square, Manchester on Thursday 17 August for the "Mad Hatter's Tea Party" and to express their opposition to the recently passed (Prevention of) Terrorism Act. The location was the site of the Peterloo massacre of 1819, a notorious event in Manchester's political history when government forces charged a peaceful crowd of 60,000-100,000 people who were unhappy about an unjust political system. The militia killed 15 people and injured hundreds.

Dressed in some fetching headgear, the Mad Hatters handed out free tea and vegan cake, along with some leaflets about the Act. A banner ("We are not Terrorists") was visible to all passers-by, and set out next to an information display about the Act, the earlier April Fool's Parade and the Peterloo massacre. Shortly after 5pm a minute's silence was held next to a Peterloo memorial, in memory of the fifteen killed at Peterloo and for the victims of terrorism worldwide, past and present, whether executed by the state or otherwise.

There are reports that prior to the event Greater Manchester Police had issued warnings of "a possible riot" to local businesses, bars and pubs. In keeping with the nature of the Terrorism Act itself, police presence on the day was ridiculously over the top. A mobile command unit and "evidence gatherers" were present at the Square, and other police units were stationed around central Manchester, including mounted police and riot vans. There were no arrests. Some of us at the demonstration would like to thank the police for helping draw much needed attention to what is, after all, an issue of some importance.

Terrorist Tea Party, Dept. 29, 22a Beswick Street, Manchester M4 7HS. (0161 226 6814,

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© Networking Newsletter (Sept 2000)