ArtUncut protest not welcome at Glastonbury

Posted: June 25, 2011 in Tax Avoidance, UK

Last night U2 have made their first appearance at the Glastonbury music festival headlining the iconic Pyramid Stage. The band played a set including greatest hits With Or Without You and Beautiful Day, but as Bono and his band mates began their second song, activists from direct action group Art Uncut inflated a 20ft balloon emblazoned with the message “U Pay Your Tax 2”.

But as the campaigners tried to release it over the 50,000-strong crowd, a team of 10 security guards wrestled them to the ground before deflating the balloon and taking it away sparking angry clashes with 30 or more protesters including several demonstrators were pinned against a fence near the Pyramid Stage after attempting to hold on to the balloon.

One of the campaign group members said: “That was totally over the top. He threatened to hit me.” As another told of how they were confronted by a security guard saying, “Are you press? If you are I’ll have you.” Activist Steve Taylor said: “The intervention was totally out of order. We were assured by Glastonbury in advance that there would not be an intervention.” A handful of U2 fans looked on open-mouthed and booed as the security guards swooped. Gary Noble, 45, from Eastbourne, said: “It was all a bit shocking. I love U2 but I think everyone should pay their taxes. The campaigners have a right to voice their opinion.”

Campaigning is nothing new at Glastonbury. When it started in 1971, part of its mission statement was to be a platform for protests, whatever their cause. This year, Caroline Lucas MP and Tony Benn MP are among the guests booked to give politically themed talks.

Glastonbury organisers are committed to keeping the spirit of the festival about positive messages and have asked companies like Orange to keep corporate branding to a minimum on site.

 

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