Here’s a few dozen images from today’s #OccupyLjubljana demonstrations in the Slovenian capital, and a few scattered notes:
The crowd of some 3000 to 4000, which filled much of Kongresni Trg, or Congress Square, under the sunny mid-afternoon skies, certainly exceeded most people’s expectations. So to did the 50 or so demonstrators who decided to spend the night in tents in front of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange.
The bulk of the crowd was made up of students and younger faces, but there were lots of young families and retirees as well making up a significant minority. There was a mildly festive feel to the gathering, but there was an underlying sense of urgency. An urgency strong enough for police to cordon off – ahead of time – the street leading to Parliament. Security was also added to the area near the U.S. Embassy.
There was plenty of creativity in the signs, most variations on the theme, ‘We won’t pay for your crises’. ‘No Jobs, No Apples’ was one of my favorites. Oh, and quite of bit of good music as well.
When the open mic session – amplification was allowed – ended just before 5 pm, much of the crowd answered the call by one of the (non) organizing groups to march towards the Ljubljana Stock Exchange, or Borza. The kilometer-long walk, with a police escort, spilled out onto one lane of Slovenska Cesta. Quite a few people voiced their support through open apartment windows and passing cars.
Once at the bourse, the crowd remained fairly energetic but peaceful. There was one minor incident: using a pole holding one end of a banner, one demonstrator gave the letter ‘R’ from BORZA several nudges until it dropped from the archway on which it was mounted in front of the building. The removal was symbolic, leaving two words in its place. Bo za roughly translates to ‘to be for’. Speakers worked that into their speeches.
That, along with a smoke bomb that sent a few small puffs of red into the air, prompted a few police officers, on the flanks, to move a little closer to the front of the building. But the situation remained calm.
The crowd began to thin just before 7. Back at Kongresni Trg, several groups of people were still hanging out, perhaps a hundred or so, a little before 8.
Like much of what transpires in this tiny alpine nation, today’s start – and it is just a start, according to organizers – won’t create too many media ripples in the world at large. But the local coverage was significant, and for the most part supportive – supportive in the sense that the demonstrators and their frustrations with the current financial order weren’t marginalized. Both Slovenia 1 and Pop TV, the two largest networks, opened their 7 pm news broadcasts with fairly extensive coverage of the events.
A few more pics below and 21 in all on my flickr stream here. Tomorrow’s a busy day, but I’ll try to check in on the campers at the Stock Exchange at some point. And hopefully put together some video as well.