The Golden Tide: Simone’s street protest

oiled birdAcross the Foro Siracusa Simone could see the small group of Carabinieri. They looked relaxed, in normal dress uniform, high peaked caps and polished leather shoulder belts. She looked behind her.

The police are going to have a shock, she told herself. I don’t think they are used to street protests here. When we get going we’ll shake up that merde Regional President. We’ll take over his offices, turf that receptionist out, and we won’t give up until they put proper protection in place for the bird reserve.

She had spent the evening before and that morning organising the demonstration. She felt full of life and purpose. It was like the Erika days, when they burned down the offices of the oil company, Total. It took her back to the north of Spain, when they demonstrated with the fishermen hit by the Prestige spill. She had stood on a table in the hostel the night before, willing them to join her. She had spoken of the unprotected birds. She had told them that soft politicians always give in to hard street action. She had taken them with her, they were here now. All the activists who had come to Siracusa. They were young, they wanted to save the birds. They jostled for position, to be in the front.

She could see the posters calling for action. They were written in Dutch and German and English and Spanish and French. Not so many in Italian, she saw. And a pity that the fishermen had been so unenthusiastic about joining in the demonstration today. No local youths either, although she had sent groups of activists out to the bars and into the street to tell everyone about the demonstration and to call for support.

Simone was not worried. There were plenty of them, they were fired up, and the small group of relaxed policemen between them and the President’s office would not stand a chance. She stood on a small wall by a flowerbed to look further. She could see the media in place, she had made sure to alert the TV crews. Almost unconsciously she swept her hair back. She knew that made her look younger. The cameras would be on her, leading the charge on the offices. She checked she had her Marine Bleu flag, and turned to the restless crowd behind her.

Mes amis! My friends!” she shouted. “We are going to do this. We will occupy the office of that orrupt politician. We will show the world that these people are not acting. We are going to save the birds. Shall we do it?” she paused. “Can we do it?”

“Yes we can!” the crowd shouted, and as Simone jumped down and began to march across the square towards the police they surged forward behind her.

In front of her she could see the thin line of uniformed police squaring up. One produced a megaphone and stepped forward.

“Stop!” she could just hear the thin voice. “Stop now and leave the square.”

Simone laughed out loud. Did they think that would scare Marine Bleu? She could feel the adrenalin flooding through her. I wish Yves was here, she thought. No I don’t, she said to herself, suppressing the longing. Let the bastard stay at home. I am the leader now.

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