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Anti-capitalism demo

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Saturday 4 April 2009 9.18pm
the police have a job to do...to keep the streets safe for the vast majority. sometimes that involves upsetting the tiny minority who go on protests. too bad
Saturday 4 April 2009 9.30pm
I thought the police response was very measured.

The police in London is generally good at controlling big crowds without simply stopping demonstrations.
Saturday 4 April 2009 9.49pm
I was very struck by the large number of people who turned up with their cameras, seemingly with the express purpose of capturing images of "police brutality". The police will never gets things quite right in everyone's eyes, but my impression was certainly not that the police "caused" the problems.
JC2
Saturday 4 April 2009 10.55pm
From my experience this article captured the evening events pretty accurately: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/03/g20-protests-police-tactics

You can see video evidence at c2mins-3mins here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t244-zEENSs

Below is a letter that I sent to the MP named in the article:

Dear Mr. Horwood,

With regard to your recent reported statement in today's Guardian, 'But one eyewitness, Martin Horwood, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cheltenham, said dogs were used on
protesters near the camp', I would like to know whether you intend to raise this issue in the House and directly with the Home Secretary? - and to urge you to do so for the reasons outlined below:

Right to Peaceful Protest

Both myself and my wife were in Bishopsgate on Wednesday evening between 8 and 10pm. We attended the demonstration as peaceful participants, along with many others, as we feel strongly about the issues under protest - and we intended to exercise our democratic right to demonstrate peacefully. The situation was terribly managed by an aggressive over policing strategy which created an air of confrontation and tension where one did not previously exist.

Police Aggression Around Leadenhall

I estimate that the police (note they were Riot Police in the main) outnumbered protesters by 2:1 in most areas. They were aggressive - at one point we were chased (along with c30 other people) by police with aggressive, barking dogs for standing in the street at c20.25 around Leadenhall.

The situation started when the police asked the group to move away - they did not provide an explanation as to why this was required and no threatening or aggressive moves were made towards the police - moreover, no criminal activity took place. The police then encouraged the dogs to become aggressive and suddenly charged us as a group! I have no idea why, it immediately created an air of hostility, violence and fear. If the police want to radicalise peaceful protesters, it will be by acts such as this. As a British citizen I believe that the police should have an active role in encouraging peaceful protest. Wednesday nights actions did not and will contribute to a declining security situation.

Police Aggression in Bishopsgate / Aggressive Containment

We went to Bishopsgate and were told that the 'Climate Camp' was sealed and that people were permitted to leave but not to enter the area. I asked the police where the camp's exit was and was told that people were able to leave in smal groups from the northern exit. This was clearly not true and another police officer told me that protesters were permitted to leave through the southern exit in small groups.

I spent just over an hour at the southern exit and did not see anyone leave - I understood from speaking with people on the inside of the camp that they were forbidden to do so. The situation was tense and the police were clearly waiting for those outside of the camp to leave before they cleared the area - it was very clear that clearing the area would be done in a violent and confrontational manner. During this time, there were c100 protesters at the south of the camp (outside of the camp). Amongst them, there was only one person who was acting badly (shouting and swearing/verbal abuse through a megaphone) - he could easily have been removed by the police (if they chose to) in a single action. He was small and clearly drunk - the police are used to dealing with this type of low level disorder in their day to day operations.

Absence of Normal Policing

The police seem able to deal with crowds of rowdy drunks in Soho most weekends of the year without trapping them in Old Compton street for 5 hours and threatening them with dogs. They have more credibility when proportionate means are used. If they were concerned about small numbers of violent people, they should deal with them on an individual basis - as they would at a football match. The means employed in the City were a waste of taxpayer's money, disproportionate, I suspect unlawful, undemocratic, counter productive and created a violent situation from a peaceful one.

Pre-Meditated Police Aggression

The police adopted a needlessly aggressive stance that was clearly pre-meditated; this was obvious due to the visible coordinated charging of protesters and the use of aggressive dogs to instil fear into otherwise peaceful protests.
Zoe
Sunday 5 April 2009 9.01am
I'm a little suprised that people are objecting to demonstrations because it caused inconvenience. Lots of things are inconvenient in London, it can be a very annoying place to live, but in a democracy the right to demonstrate is just that, a right, and people are allowed to do it, even when it's annoying. I wish more vigourous action was taken against people who are doing things that are meant to be illegal, such as ignorant illegal parking, or not cleaning up after your dog (a major crime in my eyes, and a problem everyday, not on just one day).

I do like the idea that Longlander got the impression that the police didn't cause the problems. Where do you get that impression from, our wonderful unbiased media?

The police indicated they were looking for a fight by saying that the demonstration was going to be violent. This meant that those of us who want to demonstrate peacefully didn't go, as we know the police would get nasty at the first sign of any trouble, and trouble makers were going to go, the police warning of trouble was red rag to a bull for them.

There was a completely unviolent demo on Saturday against the G20, but I bet you didn't hear much about that once the media worked out there wasn't going to be any trouble, they want some sexy violence to report on, not people being boring and peacefully demonstrating, they've got Madonna's adoption to report on instead, so much more important.

Sorry, I'll stop ranting now!
Sunday 5 April 2009 10.39am
I second the report above by JC2. The demonstration was (in the main - apart from one corner in which RBS got damaged, you couldn't even see that from the main demo) peaceful. THis means thousands of people, across several sites, were having a peaceful protest. Climate Camp in particular was just tents on the floor with some people cooking, some music and many local bankers and other local workers stopping for a chat and joining in (I know because I interviewed a number of them.)

The police turned up in riot gear and, as well as kettling the crowd for hours (and splitting families) created an atmosphere of fear, anger (it was completely disproportionate) and menace. If there was violence in the evening after the kettlign it is not surprising - people were cooped up for many hours in there without access to food, toilet facilities and sometimes, without access to other members of their family (such as their kids.) No wonder they were furious at the police. THis is why I said the police caused the violence. The media reported the violence because the police had primed them with the story, circulated for a few days in advance, that it would be violent. And guess what, the police made sure it was.
Sunday 5 April 2009 3.49pm
longlaner wrote:
I was very struck by the large number of people who turned up with their cameras, seemingly with the express purpose of capturing images of "police brutality". The police will never gets things quite right in everyone's eyes, but my impression was certainly not that the police "caused" the problems.

What usually happens these days is someone records someone recording the police, otherwise the one recording the police is attacked and the camera stolen. The purpose isn't to capture police brutality but to minimise it, and it works pretty well, thanks to cheap camcorders. Its not perfect though as the police still got away with stealing tons of camcorders at the demo against the massacre in Gaza in January, just before charging from both sides of a trapped peaceful crowd.
Sunday 5 April 2009 6.37pm
sputnik wrote:
the protesters were a mixture of ages, races and backgrounds. Whilst many were young, I met a number of middle-aged to senior citizens, some of whom had been made redundant recently, therefore it is not fair to say all present were middle class students

I said that those who were intent on disorder were young. You're right there were a broad range of ages, races and I'm sure some of them were appalled by the actions of their fellow protestors.

sputnik wrote:
the police caused the violence

I can't agree with this view, all people had to do was move on as directed. If they had done so there would have been no violence. Obstructing the highway and causing inconvenience to others is not an acceptable form of protest.
Sunday 5 April 2009 6.50pm
Zoe wrote:
I'm a little suprised that people are objecting to demonstrations because it caused inconvenience. Lots of things are inconvenient in London, it can be a very annoying place to live, but in a democracy the right to demonstrate is just that, a right, and people are allowed to do it, even when it's annoying. I wish more vigourous action was taken against people who are doing things that are meant to be illegal, such as ignorant illegal parking, or not cleaning up after your dog (a major crime in my eyes, and a problem everyday, not on just one day).
I do like the idea that Longlander got the impression that the police didn't cause the problems. Where do you get that impression from, our wonderful unbiased media?

The police indicated they were looking for a fight by saying that the demonstration was going to be violent. This meant that those of us who want to demonstrate peacefully didn't go, as we know the police would get nasty at the first sign of any trouble, and trouble makers were going to go, the police warning of trouble was red rag to a bull for them.

There was a completely unviolent demo on Saturday against the G20, but I bet you didn't hear much about that once the media worked out there wasn't going to be any trouble, they want some sexy violence to report on, not people being boring and peacefully demonstrating, they've got Madonna's adoption to report on instead, so much more important.

Sorry, I'll stop ranting now!

So how long should someone be able to protest? An hour, a day, a week... Should the Climate Camp on Bishopsgate have been allowed to remain there blocking the road in to the following day's rush hour?

If the Police has simply done nothing then there would have been a long line of people the following day complaining about how they couldn't get to work etc.

Peaceful protest in a democratic society such as ours does not require quantities of people to cover their faces and wear hooded tops. It also does not include criminal damage, there were no Police in full riot gear in Bank junction until the RBS branch was attacked.

That act of criminal damage was the kick off point, it was a Breach of the Peace. It is the role of the Police to prevent Breaches of the Peace and protect people and property. It is for this reason that they then sealed off the Bank Junction.

Everyone has a right to protest and everyone has a right to go about their business with out fear of violence or that their property might be damaged. It is a sad fact that in striking this Balance people are sometime inconvenienced and on occasion hurt.

The tactics used by the Police in this country are nothing compare to Mainland Europe and yet they're characterised and lacking in proportionality.

If the protest we saw on Wed had occurred on Paris or Berlin the water cannon and CS gas would have been out... that would have been disproportionate.
Sunday 5 April 2009 8.16pm
Peaceful protest is a good thing. Violence, looting and damaging properties are not. The fact that these required a huge number of policing, repair and cleaning, it is the tax payers who are ultimately paying the price.

The board of directors in those banks involved as well as the government who meant to be monitoring them are just to be blamed. What about many who gambled with the property market during the good times and over borrowed? These people have to take some responsibilities too. Unfortunately, under these large establishments, majority of staff are earning less than 25k. Hence, it is unfair to generalised and target these hard working staff just because they are working in the banks.

For the record, I don't work in the bank but feel sorry for the hard working people who are caught in the middle of this, lost their jobs if not at risk of being made redundant.
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