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  • Outside the Ecuadorian Embassy where Julian Assange has been granted political asylum that traps him inside, a collection of people has gathered. Most are police and press; Political correspondents doing live updates for news channels, photojournalists and a collection of Anonymous and other Assange supporters. They're making notes, using computers, setting up equipment, quite a sea of bustle considering there’s nothing much going on. Along the road huge broadcast masts rise from tops of innocuous white vans sending footage out to a world that wants to know. Wandering past on the pavements are the regular folk, interested, bemused, just plain gawking.

    The police keep everything friendly. They're the diplomats here. Taking time to chat, with the Anonymous support in particular, making sure crowds don’t gather on the pavement on the embassy side, answering questions, getting mocked via loudspeaker and told to think for themselves and stop obeying their 'masters' without question. The cops take it mostly cheerfully, some seem bored. All look hot in the baking sun.

    All in all the support for Assange is thinner than the number of police and journos. Even a member of Anonymous exclaims ‘What, only fifteen of us bothered to show up?’ The bystanders are largely those who’ve been visiting Harrods, wealthy locals and tourists, willing to stare but not here to get involved. Along the road, expensive cars drive slowly past as their drivers take in the scene.

    The young men of Anonymous are a powerful symbol and they know it. They use their bodies to make a statement. Flesh on display with words of indelible ink scrawled on skin. They don their Guy Fawkes masks and drape blankets like cloaks around themselves, stand in a certain way, to challenge, to defy, to maximise their young strong sex appeal. They are there to fight established ideas with the idea of themselves as banners for a better type of world. I wonder how much they truly want that type of world or if they just enjoy being the symbols, the excitement, the attention. I wonder that sometimes about Julian Assange, despite liking what he does. But then he’s a symbol too and we only get to see an idea of him, not a real person.

    Anonymous are organised. They've come prepared with amplified mics, a steady supply of water for the heatwave, blankets to lounge on, laptops to broadcast their ideology. They’re very comfortable with the cameras and attention. They have a better support system in place than the journalists as they appear to have access to a house behind their cordon and things are brought to them. They need to speak to the police a lot, it’s part of their important representation. They have stuff to say. It’s not just Assange they’re here for, messages of anti-war and other people they’d like to see made free splat the sight lines. Pussy Riot for one, other names scrawled on makeshift sign. Bradley Manning’s smile shines up from a couple of roughly laminated photocopies. All the names and banners are symbols that the world is not working right and that these young people are the answer, or at least a symbol of a future we could have. But no symbol is as powerful as the iconic young men.

    I look at these living symbols and they are compelling so that I want to believe in their promise and trust that it is a good one. But then the masks come up and there are kids and odd sorts of adults underneath them and I sense a mixture of agendas underneath the avatar outer image. I wonder where their idea of a different world will lead anywhere and if there is truly something here that we can all identify with enough to believe in and make happen?
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