One of the most important points to be made about the policing of the G20, other than the attempted cover up of the death of Ian Tomlinson, is the fact that heavy handed policing is not uncommon. Events such as the climate camp, the G8 summit protests and, more recently, the protests against the blockade and invasion of Gaza have all been met by brutality from the police, resulting in injuries to protesters.
Throughout the G20 demonstrations there were baton charges and aggravation by the police, who claimed that their policing was a response to the violence initiated by protesters. As many who attended would agree, this was not the case. After being penned into a kettle, without food, water or toilets, tempers are clearly going to rise. Even so, it was not the protesters who initiated the violence. Standing on Threadneedle Street in front of police lines, in a huge crush of people, we noticed the police starting to advance, though quite where they thought we’d go was anyone’s guess. When they met with the slightest resistance, they drew batons and lashed out. This provoked a response from those in danger of being hit, and ultimately turned a peaceful protest into the scenes witnessed later on.
On the other hand, one of the biggest successes for protesters that has not been reported was the effectiveness of group action. Soon after our arrival at the Bank of England, it was clear the police were trying to pen us in. A group of 20-30 protesters, wearing masks (to both conceal their identity and as a show of solidarity to make it difficult to apprehend specific people) formed a square block and walked quickly into police lines, in a non-violent manner, to assert their right to move freely. It worked to great effect. With the police not yet organised and caught unaware, 75% of the group made it out of the cordon before the police could reform. Despite the attempts by the police, those remaining managed to prevent any arrests being made.
This minor action shows the importance of working together and quick decision making in protests. If we as activists don’t like the tactic of kettling, it is not up to us to wait for any authority to prevent it; we need to take matters into our own hands. Working as a group is extremely effective and using directly confrontational actions can produce excellent results, as shown by those who broke out of the block and didn’t have to spend the day trapped in a cordon.
Leave a comment
No comments yet.