“Call the Super—the faucet is leaking, and there are missiles on the roof!”: Olympics Edition

by Eric Daryl Meyer

So far, coordinated dissent has been specific: bus drivers went on strike to demand a bonus for transporting an extra eight hundred thousand passengers; protestors gathered in Trafalgar Square as part of a global day of action against Dow Chemical’s sponsorship; and East London residents resorted to legal action to try and stop the installation of High Velocity Missiles on their building’s roof. Last week, bus drivers accepted a new offer of a £577 bonus to recognize their increased workload; Dow Chemical is still sponsoring the events; and the High Court ruled in favor of the Ministry of Defence (MOD), agreeing that a tower block was a suitable site for the missiles.

The missiles, put in place as part of an air security plan to protect the Olympic site from terrorist attacks, cover most homes in East London: residents within range must like it or lump it. In an article for The Guardian, Stephen Graham, author of Cities Under Siege, places the missiles in the context of a larger “total security” operation, which will leave a legacy of its own: “The security preoccupations of the Olympics present unprecedented opportunities to push through highly elitist, authoritarian, and speculative urban planning efforts that otherwise would be much more heavily contested–especially in democracies.”

Via: Guernica, The Grand Project of the Olympics (Natasha Lewis)

So, this story demonstrates excellently how a planned event can serve as the trojan horse for all sorts of public security policy changes that, inevitably, do not go entirely back to “normal” afterward. The military may remove the missiles from the roof, and the “dispersal zones” may not become a permanent part of crowd-control and the restriction of public assembly in London. But London will have been a place where, in order to feel safe, society was subjected to a quasi martial-control for a time. At the next sign of instability, those measures are all the more ready-to-hand if needed.

The story also contains a heckler shouting “You prick!” at everyone’s favorite big society thinktank guru Philip Blond.