Wednesday, November 24, 2010

G20 all over again

In the UK, a familiar police response to outraged protestors:
Police risked controversy today as they "kettled" several hundred protesters after clashes during student tuition fee protests.

Demonstrators were penned in by riot squad officers in Whitehall after a stranded police van was attacked and vandalised.

Scotland Yard said it will bring in portable toilets and water but said it was unclear how long people would have to remain.

The tactic, which police call "containment", was heavily criticised after up to 5,000 people were held during G20 protests in April last year.

Denis O'Connor, HM Inspector of Constabulary, said the move carries risks, particularly if vulnerable people are caught up inside.

He called on police to show greater flexibility, including allowing a controlled release of people.

Hundreds of people chanted "let us out" as a line of police officers reduced the size of the Whitehall pen.

Many argued the police were punishing everyone, rather than the handful of troublemakers.

At some point, all over the western world, we're going to wake up, look around and go "Hey, where did this police state come from?"


toilet guy said...

I stumbled upon your post while searching for portable toilets for my company. May I make a small comment while I'm here; while I agree that the containment tactic is too all encompassing, I do think that if the legally demonstrating crowd took a little more responsibility in distancing themselves from the violent elements and even perhaps assisted the police in identifying or apprehending them, then the police would have no excuse for using the containment tactic. The right to demonstrate is at the heart of our democracy – it’s the violent thugs who are hijacking it not the police. Thanks.

Cliff said...

And to an extent I agree with you. There are a small fringe of violent thugs spoiling things for a majority who often do try to control them, however:

There have too many cases of the scary, violent masked thugs turning out to be police themselves making sure things kick off. Montebello is a perfect example.

Violence by some in a protest crowd serves the aims of those who want an aggressive police response to be justified too well to ignore the possibility that it was deliberate provocation.

Kettling is a lousy method of separating peaceful protesters from violent ones and is infamous for scooping up the innocent.

Additionally its part of a continuum of policies that encourage police officers to view the public as a enemy to be controlled rather than a public to serve. A mindset that leads to tragic examples like the death of Ian Tomlinson.

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