It shouldn’t really surprise anyone. The Metropolitan Police after all is the force which lied about and tried to cover up its murder of Jean Charles de Menezes, and which lied about and tried to cover up its responsibility for Ian Tomlinson’s death. Now they’re attacking thoroughly peaceful tax protesters with CS spray:
Hundreds of people staged peaceful sit-ins at high street stores around the country as part of the latest UK Uncut day of action, designed to highlight companies it says are avoiding millions of pounds in tax.
In London protesters had successfully closed down Boots in Oxford Street – one of the companies campaigners accuse of tax avoidance – when police tried to arrest a woman for pushing a leaflet through the store’s doors. Other demonstrators tried to stop the arrest and at least one police officer used CS spray, which hospitalised three people.
Jed Weightman, one of those who went to hospital, said protesters had joined hands to try and prevent the arrest.
“One police officer sprayed towards us and because I was tall I got a lot of it in my face,” he said. “My eyes were streaming and I couldn’t see anything.”
Let me make this clear: attacked with CS spray for pushing a leaflet through a door. How on earth can the police not insist that they’re not the violent enforcers of the state, when the evidence is so clear that they are? No doubt they’re following the ACPO line (remember ACPO is a for-profit, 100% unaccountable organisation), believing their violence is justified because of the inevitability of violence in anti-cuts protests. Pity for them they have no evidence for that.
Sir Hugh Orde, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), a for profit organisation, has warned that the police should not be seen as the means by which the ConDems’ will is enforced:
Asked if there was a danger to the police’s reputation by repeated clashes at demonstrations, Orde told the Guardian: “Yes, if it is allowed to be played as the cops acting as an arm of the state, delivering the elected government’s will, rather than protecting the rights of the citizen.
“We need to be clear we are doing it as operationally independent, and not subject to influence by anyone as to how we do it.
“As long as that is maintained we can rebut any allegations that we are doing what we are told by our political masters to advance a political agenda. The police are not against anybody.”
Far too little and far too late. It’s become plainly clear even to children that the opposite is true – they are the state’s enforcers. Rebel against it and face pre-emptive civil liberties restrictions and unprovoked violence. Want some proof?
Tahmeena Bax, a third-year history student at Queen Mary University in east London, said she was hit directly over the head at least three times by a riot officer when police charged a group of kettled protesters on the evening of 30 November.
The incident took place at the north east end of Trafalgar square, close to the National Gallery at around 6pm, as protesters some distance from Bax lifted barriers protecting the police line. The police charged the crowd. “The police suddenly rushed forward and I couldn’t escape. I was hit at least three times, mainly on the right side of my head,” she told the Guardian.
Bax, 20, who had become separated from her fellow protesters from Queen Mary’s, staggered 10m away from the police and collapsed unconscious on the ground.
A witness, Katia Ganfield, said: “I saw her curled up in a ball. There was no response from her. We were all in shock as we didn’t think a young girl would be hit to the ground like that.”
Mr [Jody] McIntyre described what happened: “I was in Parliament Sq with my brother and we saw everyone running to one of the corners so we ran and made our way to the front.
“One policeman hit me with his baton in the shoulder then suddenly four or five of them picked me up, and dragged me from my chair. They carried me quite violently and against my will and put me on the pavement.
“Eventually after about 5 minutes, my brother was let through.
“What was even more shocking though, later on I had moved to the other side of Parliament Sq and I was sitting in my wheelchair in space in the middle of the road. A policeman recognised me from the earlier incident and came running over, pushed me out of my chair and dragged me across the road. This was completely unprovoked.”
Mr. McIntyre has not yet decided whether he will make a complaint against police, but was eager to make the point that this is not an isolated incident. “I’ve been to a lot of these protests and people are always violent with me” he said.
“Even though I’m in a wheelchair, I like to think we’re all equal human beings. There was plenty of violence towards students yesterday, and even though I’ve had media attention, all of this violence is equally disgraceful. But this is standard police behaviour.”
The police watchdog launched an independent investigation today after a 20-year-old student was left unconscious with bleeding on the brain after being hit on the head with a police truncheon.
Alfie Meadows, a philosophy student at Middlesex University, was struck as he tried to leave the area outside Westminster Abbey during last night’s tuition fee protests, his mother said.
After falling unconscious on the way to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Mr Meadows underwent a three-hour operation for bleeding on the brain.
His mother Susan, 55, an English literature lecturer at Roehampton University, said: “He was hit on the head by a police truncheon.
“He said it was the hugest blow he ever felt in his life.
“The surface wound wasn’t very big but, three hours after the blow, he suffered bleeding to the brain.
“He survived the operation and he’s in the recovery room.”
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson this morning said:
“I think parents have a responsibility. I know what I would be telling my kids. My kids would not be going on a demonstration, because I do not think it is appropriate for 13 or 14 year children – not my children.
“That is for other parents to make their decision, but in coming to that decision, they’ve got to look at the events that have taken place. The vast majority of people who come have come wanting to peacefully demonstrate, but regrettably, there have been people who have turned it to violence.
“Do people really want their young children exposed to that? There’s a responsibility on me and there’s a responsibility on parents.”
Investigative journalist John Pilger said effectively the exact opposite:
Your action, and the action of your fellow students all over Britain, in standing up to a mendacious, undemocratic government is one of the most important and exciting developments in my recent lifetime. People often look back to the 1960s with nostalgia – but the point about the Sixties is that it took the establishment by surprise. And that’s what you have done. Your admirable, clever, courageous actions have shocked and frightened a corrupt political class – coalition and Labour – because they know you have the support of the majority of the British people. It is you, the students on the streets – not the Camerons, Cleggs and Milibands – who are the authentic representatives of the people. Keep going. We need you. All power to you.
Stephenson neglects to mention that the people who turned the last two protest to violence were the Met themselves. Silly him.
Priceless footage from yesterday’s #dayx2 #demo2010 student demonstration against the ConDem coalition’s planned huge rise in tuition fees and university budget cuts. Late in the day the Met swore blind they had no intention of kettling the student demonstrators on Whitehall (despite bountiful evidence and testimonies to the contrary), but the students themselves knew otherwise and the #catandmouse chase, as you can see, made fools of the cops.
The Met however remained determined to infringe the students’ right to protest peacefully, as you can see:
The territorial support group (TSG) riot officers even returned to their old tactic of covering up their identifying shoulder numbers. The more things change the more they stay the same.
Bob Broadhurst (the man responsible for the G20 policing disaster) is back on his high *ahem* horse today:
Commander Broadhurst said today: “The Met will always respect the right to protest peacefully, but I would urge all those considering taking to the streets of London again this week to think carefully about the consequences of engaging in violence and disorder.
“This behaviour doesn’t help anybody, least of all those who have a genuine and peaceful point to make. We will always work with protesters and consider their needs and aims, but we have to balance these against the needs and rights of other Londoners.
“While protesters should be able to march peacefully to highlight their concerns, they should not be able to seriously disrupt the lives of Londoners and prevent them going about their daily business. People have a right to go to work, go shopping or sight see without fear of violence and disorder.”
He continued: “We are gathering intelligence from a wide variety of sources and developing an appropriate and proportionate policing plan for the day of action on Tuesday. This plan will be flexible and be able to adapt to whatever unfolds on the ground.
“Again I would urge those planning to protest to get in touch and work with us to make sure that the point they want to make on the day is not lost in a sea of violence and disorder.”
The Met rarely respects the right to protest peacefully. They certainly didn’t last week, when they incited the very limited violence which did take place by students, were guilty of the rest themselves and then lied about it. Given his and his TSG goons’ behaviour last week, does he really imagine for a moment that the people organising tomorrow’s protest could ever consider making their names known to him, let alone communicating with him in any manner? Give me a break. Film maker Ken Loach argues that the function of the police is to enforce the status quo through violence. From the G20 through last week’s violence, manipulation and lies, Broadhurst has shown that that’s quite true for at least a corner of the Met. That leaves the situation quite ominous for the student protest tomorrow, and I’m quite concerned for people’s safety, despite supporting what they’re doing wholeheartedly.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has asked us to tell him what laws need repealing:
He’s a brave man, I’ll give him that. But the answers are there in front of his face. Let’s start with the case of Jules Mattson:
On Saturday 26 June, photojournalist Jules Mattsson, who is a minor and was documenting the Armed Forces Day parade in Romford, was questioned and detained by a police officer after taking a photo of young cadets.
According to Mattsson, who spoke to BJP this morning, after taking the photo he was told by a police officer that he would need parental permission for his image. The photographer answered that, legally, he didn’t. While he tried to leave the scene to continue shooting, a second officer allegedly grabbed his arm to question him further.
According an audio recording of the incident, the police officer argued, at first, that it was illegal to take photographs of children, before adding that it was illegal to take images of army members, and, finally, of police officers. When asked under what legislation powers he was being stopped, the police officer said that Mattsson presented a threat under anti-terrorism laws. The photographer was pushed down on stairs and detained until the end of the parade and after the intervention of three other photographers.
Now I know Jules. He’s a good kid and a superb, passionate photographer, and this is is just appalling. Want proof? He recorded it:
The debate about the Metropolitan (and City) Police’s abuse of Section 44 has been waged many times and the arguments have been made more times than I can be bothered to think. But it’s now, once and for all, conclusively been ruled in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights:
In January 2010 the European Court held that section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (the broad police power to stop and search without suspicion) violates the right to respect for private life guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention on Human Rights (Gillan and Quinton v. UK4158/05  ECHR 28 (12 January 2010)). The claimants received £500 each by way of compensation.
The European Court has now rejected the UK’s application to appeal to the court’s Grand Chamber, meaning that the decision is final. This leaves stop and search powers in further disarray. The Home Secretary has already announced an “urgent review” of the powers after the recent admission by the Home Office that thousands of individual searches had been conducted illegally.
It’s clear that Section 44 has to go, but the risk remains that Clegg uses this scheme either to get the country to vent about laws they don’t like, or simply to delete specific laws without confronting the trends and behaviours which led to them in the first place. The cops who attacked Jules Mattson didn’t just cite Section 44 to try to stop him taking perfectly lawful photos – they made all sorts of garbage up in order to intimidate him into not taking photos. There is an institutional prejudice within the ranks against photographers, which was channelled by Section 44, and which would be much harder to root out and stop. New Labour made it abundantly clear they didn’t care one iota about the Met’s excesses. Time will tell if Theresa May cares any more, and this is what I want Nick Clegg to understand and tackle, more than anything.
It turns out the Metropolitan Police are a bunch of no-nonsense Tories:
A man who placed a poster of David Cameron containing the word “wanker” in his window has described how police handcuffed him in his home on election day, threatened him with arrest, and forcibly removed what they said was offensive campaign literature.
David Hoffman, 63, said police went “completely over the top” when they visited his home in Bow, east London, and demanded he take down the poster, which had been fixed to his window for weeks.
After he expressed concern at his treatment, Hoffman says, a local inspector told him over the phone that “any reasonable person” would find his poster “alarming, harassing or distressful”. The visit from police followed a complaint from a neighbour, who told Hoffman she found the poster offensive. The word “wanker” was printed beneath a photograph of a smiling Cameron.
Apparently he was handcuffed to ‘prevent a breach of the peace’ in his own home. Wankers.
The first prosecution against the Metropolitan Police for the violence it perpetrated against unarmed, non-violent protesters at the G20 protests last spring has resulted in an acquittal:
Delroy Smellie was suspended last year after video footage was posted on YouTube showing him back-handing a protester and striking her twice on the legs with his metal baton.
He was acquitted of assault by beating after a four-day trial in which his alleged victim, protester Nicola Fisher, declined to give evidence.
Smellie, from the Met’s territorial support group (TSG), a specialist public order unit, argued during his trial that he believed Fisher posed a threat to himself and fellow officers. He said he repeatedly struck Fisher, who was considerably smaller than him, after mistaking a carton of orange juice and digital camera she was carrying for weapons.
The district judge, Daphne Wickham, said there was no evidence that his use of the baton was not approved, correct or measured, adding that Smellie had a “mere seven seconds” to act, and other witnesses had feared for his safety.
Erm what? The TSG must be laughing themselves sick this morning. A big, burly TSG officer really, genuinely thought he had something to fear from a small, female protester attending a non-violent vigil for Ian Tomlinson? And a highly trained riot policeman really thought a carton of orange juice and a digital camera were weapons? Check out the video and see for yourself. Is there really any hope of justice for Ian Tomlinson?
We’re talking about Delroy Smellie of course, but what about the unnamed officer who caused Ian Tomlinson’s death? What about the senior officers who gave the orders for such violent policing? What about their role in the attempt to cover up the cause of Tomlinson’s death, blaming the crowd rather than their own? Tomlinson’s wife, as the run-up to the first anniversary of his death approaches, has gone on the attack:
Last August the CPS was asked to consider whether the officer should be charged with manslaughter and, weeks later, Starmer promised swift action. “My view on these things is we should move quickly,” he said, adding that he hoped for a decision “in a few months”. CPS officials later told the Tomlinson family they could expect a decision by Christmas.
“Keir Starmer has let us down personally,” said Julia Tomlinson. “Why did he say there would be a decision around Christmas? Why are we still waiting? My kids need to move on from this. They’re left without a dad now and their lives have been turned upside down over the last year, especially the four girls. He doesn’t seem to realise the pain we’re going through.”
She added: “We feel like there was a cover-up from day one, and we didn’t see it because we were nervous about the police. Now a year on it still feels like all of that is still going on. If it had been someone on the street, a civilian, who had pushed and hit Ian just before he died, and it was all caught on video, surely something would have happened by now. The officer needs to go before a jury. Let them decide what should happen to him.”
She’s right of course. It’s cut and dried what actually happened, so why are they still waiting? On the other hand I would also suggest that the TSG officer who attacked Tomlinson wasn’t the only one who deserves to face justice for causing his death that day. Putting just that officer on trial would entirely miss the point that the Met’s behaviour that day was entirely normal, and the smears against the protesters and lies about Tomlinson himself a familiar refrain when the Met’s policing has caused death or serious injury. I’m still disgusted at how long Jean Charles de Menezes was blamed for his own murder, and how effectively the system closed ranks ultimately to justify it; the same result is likely here. De Menezes’ shooter has never been charged with a crime, despite committing perjury and murder, whilst his commanding officer was promoted. Julia Tomlinson really ought not to expect much better.
It was obvious to those of us who saw the video of this horrible confrontation between the Met and G20 protesters:
but it’s finally been ruled unlawful and the Metropolitan Police are going to pay a heavy price:
The Metropolitan Police are facing a compensation bill of £250,000, after admitting a raid on a climate change group the day after the G20 protests in London last April was illegal.
Police burst into the Convergence Centre in east London carrying taser guns, and handcuffed protesters face down.The Met Commissioner admitted it was unlawful to arrest, search them, and force them to be recorded on film, but he refused to apologise to the protestors.
They were non-violent and there were no reasonable grounds for suspicion, but the Met didn’t care last spring. They’d decided, without any evidence whatsoever that there was going to be violent trouble, and went as far as indicating their preparedness to be violent in turn. Look at the story of Delroy Smellie:
The sergeant at the centre of allegations of striking a female protester with a baton during a heated exchange at last year’s G20 protest said he was acting in “self defence” after mistaking a carton of juice and camera for weapons, a court heard.
Sergeant Delroy Smellie, 47, said he struck Nicola Fisher, 36, in a “pre-emptive strike” after seeing both items in her hands. The confrontation outside the Bank of England, on April 2 last year occurred during a vigil for the death of Ian Tomlinson, a newspaper seller who died after inadvertently getting caught up in a demonstration the previous day. Mr Smellie, an officer in the Met’s elite Territorial Support Group, is accused of common assault by beating. He denies the charge, and his lawyers insisted they would argue he was acting in self-defence.
A highly trained riot police officer mistook a carton of juice and a camera for weapons eh? Check the video out and decide for yourself if he’d decided on his course of action in defiance of the evidence in front of him. Now then, why aren’t we still talking about Ian Tomlinson, whose death was directly caused by Met brutality?
Charlie Veitch of The Love Police shows up a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) for trying to illegally detain him merely for speaking loudly on a megaphone. The irony couldn’t have been lost on many on Camden High Street that they should have decided to exercise their power (of which arrest isn’t strictly one, and certainly not in this instance) on Veitch, when drugs pushers are walking past them and actively doing business by the dozen. Welcome to Britain 2010.
- Fifty police officers in riot gear crack down on peaceful protest by migrants demanding respect for basic rights
- Officers declare orders to destroy all migrant shelters in the area
- Escalation in repressive tactics leave migrants with nowhere to go
In a rare show of defiance, around 100 migrants camped around a gym which had been used by local charities to provide urgently needed night shelter over the harshest weeks of winter, before its closure on Tuesday. The migrants, primarily from war-torn Afghanistan, also burned some blankets and banners in opposition to the closure, which comes on theback of the repeated eviction of migrants from their camps. Within half an hour, scores of police officers descended on the site threatening to destroy the makeshift camp on failure to disperse. Following a stand off, the migrants were permitted to leave the area, but were closely pursued as they searched for alternative sites to shelter.
Having actually been advised by some police officers to do so, some men set up shelters on the site of one of the former camps, or ‘jungles’, and were given assurances that the police would not attack. But within hours, the officers had entered the camp several times, arresting six people, in what has now become a daily routine of arresting those without identity documents in Calais in an attempt to flush them out of the area. By midday on Wednesday, 20 CRS (riot police) vehicles had surrounded the new camp, and anything resembling a shelter was destroyed.
Following a relentless routine of police pursuit, arrest and assault this winter, the migrants returned in desperation to the closed night shelter and installed some of the tents that had been discarded by the authorities following the eviction that morning. The police promptly arrived at the scene, announced that they had orders to disperse assemblies and destroy shelters, before seizing the remaining tents.
Throughout the night, the hunt continued as migrants were followed by groups of police, who pre-emptively destroyed any half-erected structures they found.
“The police were quite literally swarming everywhere last night. They were pursuing migrants in case they dare set up shelter, or following any activists who might assist them,” said Joanne, a British activist from the No Borders network who is present at the scene.
“This is all part of a carefully planned strategy by the French and British governments to drive the migrants away from the area. But when you think that many of these people are coming from conflict zones like Helmand province, where else are they expected to go?” Joanne continued.
Alex has been involved in documenting – and directly intervening in – the police harassment in Calais for some time. “As shocking as it is, we find that the presence of European citizens during police raids can make a real difference, because the arrests are so arbitrary. It shows that ordinary people do have the power to help migrants defeat this enormous show of force by our governments. I really think that resistance from the migrants themselves and support from ordinary people is the only hope we have of stopping this horrendous repression.”
Met Police Commander Bob Broadhurst, in charge of the disastrous G20 policing effort in April, appears to have misled Parliament:
Commander Bob Broadhurst, who had overall command of the G20 policing operation, told the home affairs select committee in May that “no plain clothes officers [were] deployed at all” during the demonstrations in the City of London.
It has emerged that 25 undercover City of London police were stationed around the Bank of England to gather “intelligence” on protesters on 1 and 2 April. Broadhurst stands by the evidence he gave to MPs, claiming the deployment of undercover officers was unknown to him.
The proof is on a video on that page. Broadhurst can split hairs all he likes, saying that he was only talking about the Met, when the plainclothes police in question belonged to the CityPolice, but he still told parliament as the man in charge of the entire operation, that no plainclothes police were deployed when there were. And the City Police admitted it:
The assistant commissioner at the City of London police, Frank Armstrong, then told the MP that about 25 undercover officers were deployed during the protests.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the select committee, has written to Broadhurst suggesting the disclosure about plain clothes officers “contradicts” his evidence to MPs. Broadhurst claimed the officers filmed marching among Met and City of London riot police were “evidence gatherers” seeking to identify a certain protester.
It’s a terrible demonstration of just how inept he and the entire operation were that day, particularly when Armstrong continued to undermine Broadhurst:
[Lib Dem MP Tom] Brake said Broadhurst had “inadvertently misled” parliament, thus revealing a “startling lack of co-ordination” in the top ranks. “If plain clothes officers were only deployed to gather intelligence why is one clearly seen brandishing a baton?”
Was the cop in question in the video instructed to brandish that baton or was that rogue behaviour? The fact is the cops were out of control that day, pumped up largely by Broadhurst into an expectation of the need for violence which never resulted from protesters. Today’s report is sorely needed.
A request made under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed some appalling figures detailing complaints made about the Metropolitan Police’s Territorial Support Group (TSG):
The TSG has been the subject of 5,241 allegations since August 2005. They include 376 allegations of discrimination and 977 complaints of “incivility”. More than 1,100 of the allegations concerned what members of the public said were “failures in duty”. However by far the largest number of complaints – 2,280 – were categorised as “oppressive behaviour”.
Just over 2,000 (38%) were “unsubstantiated” by the Met’s department for professional standards, while the rest were resolved at the police station, dismissed, discontinued or dealt with in other ways.
It left just nine complaints ‘substantiated’ by the Met. The Met responded to the figures:
Senior Met officers say the TSG’s work, involving drug raids and demonstrations, means they are more likely to face complaints than other officers.
Of course this is a ludicrous defence, which would suggest a thoroughly implausible situation whereby thousands of people regularly make unfounded allegations against the TSG – the unit’s attack on Babar Ahmad was only the tip of the iceberg. And Ahmad’s lawyer Fiona Murphy points out why:
The reasons are clear: the commission continues to rely upon poor-quality local police investigations and adopts a decidedly “arm’s length” approach to its supervisory and management responsibilities. In consequence, it has failed to identify the inadequacies in those investigations at a sufficiently early stage to have any prospect of remedying the evidential deficiencies. This formal system is permeated by a lack of will, and the outcomes stand in marked contrast to the redress achieved by individual victims on their own account in the civil courts.
Compensation claims are a flawed and inadequate response and have proven wholly ineffective in the face of oppressive and discriminatory abuse of powers by the TSG. Officers continue to enjoy an effective immunity from criminal and disciplinary sanction.
Babar Ahmad’s attacker continues to get away with it, and Ian Tomlinson’s attacker has still not faced justice for his actions. For all the Met’s mealy mouthed words about changes in policing after the G20 fiasco, they’re still quite literally getting away with murder.
2pm, Wednesday 30th August 2009. Parc Saint Pierre, Calais
Benjamin: This is Benjamin, I am from Iran. I just came in Calais, like,three weeks ago. From three weeks ago the police authority and Frenchgovernment I think they decide to destroy the jungle. First they destroy thePashtun jungle, after that they destroy the Kurdish jungle. All people, theymoved to the town from jungle. Now we are in town. And Iranian jungle theydestroy as well. Now we are in town and the police disturb us every morningevery night.
Ali: Four O’Clock in the morning. And at night, 2 pm.
Interviewer: Where are you sleeping?
Benjamin: In the parks, under the bridge. Ali: They are all the time taking us in detention for a few hours. They wantto make us crazy. What are they doing? We don’t know. Nothing.
Benjamin: They just trying to disturb us to leave Calais. And now we startto have a hunger strike to get help from other countries. We ask for otherWestern countries to come and help us. And we start hunger strike from today12, at noon. We need help. We need help actually. And we don’t want to stayany more in France because of police and because of government. They don’trespect anybody. They don’t respect anyone in Calais and in Paris it is thesame. Our situation is very bad. We have no good food. All the time we aregetting is the same food, same as yesterday, usually only bread and bananas.We have nowhere to sleep. We are looking for somewhere safe at least tosleep, to get some respect from people, from government, frompoliceauthorities. Actually I can tell you about one day, the police come,just like five days ago, they come, they talk with us; they hit a friend ofmine next to me, they hit him with a stick into his head, and we havewitnesses and evidence of this too. We said stop this, they say they dontcare, they will do anything we we want. And they searched our bags andbaggage and
(interview pauses, as two police vans and more police on footappear from around the corner, gesturing; Video ends here, as interviewer,friends and migrants are asked for ID and dispersed for being a larger crowdthan three people)
VIOLENCES POLICIERES ENVERS LES MIGRANTS A CALAIS Août 2009
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