Mayday Mayhem For Police As Summer of Rage Continues!

The head of the march as it charged through the streets of Brighton

South Wales Anarchists joined up to 2000 people from around the UK in Brighton on May 4th for the largest demonstration to date against Brighton based ‘EDO/MBM’ bomb component factory, organised by Smash EDO.

The MayDay Mayday Street Party against war, the arms trade and capitalism was a lively and colourful march that started at Brighton’s sea front. It continued through the town and paid visits to a number of local branches of multi-national corporations, including McDonalds, RBS, HSBC and Lloyds which invest in ITT, the corporation which owns EDO.

Activists scaled scaffolding on Barclays bank to drop a banner demanding “arms dealers out of Brighton”. Police paid special attention to protect a branch of McDonalds which proved to be a flash point with a police van nearly being tipped over and a flare set off underneath it.

Mayday McMayhem outside a certain fast 'food' outlet that owns 61,500 shares in ITT

Mayday McMayhem outside a certain fast 'food' outlet that owns 61,500 shares in ITT

Compared with previous EDO demos, policing was relatively hands-off initially, without the automatic attempt by police to cordon every man, woman, child or dog in sight. However, batons and pepper spray were used on activists during the day as riot police attempted to control the march and activists successfully forced back mounted police a number of times. Of course, the police ‘Forward Intelligence Teams’ were present but were forced to retreat behind police lines as FIT- watching activists made their job of intrusively filming protestors more difficult.

A police officer attempts to de-escalate the situation...

A police officer attempts to de-escalate the situation...

It seemed that many activists had learnt from the G20 protests and refused to be drawn into long fights with the police. Activists instead found alternative routes and kept moving around the streets when unable to break through police lines quickly, outwitting the cops and leaving them stranded waiting for orders. At one point the cops themselves were ‘kettled’ (penned in) thanks to protestors’ quick thinking. The demonstrators’ refusal not to be kettled or subjected to violence by the police meant that officers were often surrounded and outflanked.

Towards the evening, as the march appeared to retire to the park by St. Peters church and just as riot police had storm-trooped away, the party took to the streets again taking us all by surprise! The streets were again re-claimed by activists and local young people, running through the streets of Brighton, through the Pavilion and back towards the beach for more partying.

Police on the back foot

Police on the back foot

Many felt that the police were on the back-foot at this time since the G20 protests and due to the associated bad press officers received for their tactics. While the police may have been aware of the public eye upon them and tried to behave themselves a bit more on this occasion, the fact is that the police continue to protect private corporations who profit from war and death; meeting resistance to this with violence and repression. While slightly less violent and oppressive policing may be an improvement, better still would be no police at all and the complete freedom to shut down EDO and all corporations who are responsible for the continuation of the bloody war machine.

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Mayday Protest against the Police

stationsteps2This Mayday, in the wake of the death of Ian Tomlinson, who died during the G20 demonstrations after being struck by baton and pushed to the ground by a member of the territorial support group (TSG), over 50 people gathered outside Cardiff central police station to protest against police violence. The protest was a lively one lasting about two hours, with music and singing throughout the demonstration. There was a mix of protesters from a cross section of the radical political ‘scene’ in South Wales, with representations from all the local Anarchist groups and Socialist parties, as well as campaigners for peace, social justice, human and animal rights.

ray-davies-v-copUnsurprisingly, following recent criticism of the Metropolitan Police over their thuggish behaviour during the G20, nearly all the Cardiff cops stayed behind closed doors, with only one coming out to attempt to talk to people in the crowd. What may have been an attempt at appeasing the demonstrators was, however, treated with scepticism by those who’d previously been on the receiving end of police violence during protests and are more than aware of the systematic and deliberate way in which public demonstrations are repressed and criminalised.

South Wales Anarchists not only condemn police violence, but will confront officers who commit violence against those who protest. We  oppose the continued deployment of “Forward Intelligence Teams” (FIT) who photograph and harass demonstrators. These tactics are unacceptable and we are committed to disrupt them as much as possible. More than that we see the role of the Police force as nothing more than the protectors of the interests of the rich and powerful, which cannot be reformed. The police are the violent arm of the state in our communities. They are the enemy of the working class!

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Some People Push Back

g20-police-medicOne 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.

g20-protests-g20-protests-012On 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.

Anarchists fight with police…and win!!!

From our G-20 Meltdown correspondent

We’ve had a great day. It’s been fantastic! We said we’d storm the bank and we did. They couldn’t stop us. We broke through the police lines and the royal bank of Scotland was trashed.  We’ve won! We’ve done what we said we would. It feels fantastic. We’ve had a brilliant day!

rbs-smashedWe estimate numbers of demonstrators at 8,000. The police were saying about 4,000 in Threadneedle St alone so add on a few thousand to that.

The journalists caused horrendous problems. When we wanted to get through police lines, they were pushing back against us. They were real nerds. They kept pushing in between us and the cops, which was a real problem because when the police were hitting people the journalists were stopping us getting to the injured. Their presence was also stopping demonstrators from going through police lines. In terms of numbers there, half were protestors and half journalists.

The police have used batons on people. They’ve used horses but not for charging. It’s been baton charges. It is arguable that they were less aggressive because the press was there. They could’ve been more aggressive. It could’ve have been worse. Whether the presence of the press tempered them is a possibility.

 

For more news direct from the streets, check out Indymedia.

Check out this brilliant sequence of photos of the day.

It’s tasers all round, thanks to Jacqui Smith!

jacqui-smithIn the effort, perhaps, to distract public attention from serious allegations of corruption, “two homes” secretary, Jacqui Smith (left) has been  doing the media rounds to announce her updated counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST 2, designed, as usual, to make people even more afraid than they already are.

In the meantime another connected and more sinister announcement has gone unnoticed by the main stream media. On 19 March Ms Smith said that UK police inc. will get up to 10,000 new tasers and £2.3 million to pay for cartridges. South Wales cops will get 120 and the gun-toting Gwent force  will get an extra 100.

taser-copIt isn’t simply the huge number of these lethal weapons that needs to be highlighted and condemned, however. Of more significance is the fact that tasers, which deliver 50,000 volts in 5-second bursts, will no longer be issued exclusively to firearms officers, who, at least, have a modicum of training (so we’re told). From now on, ‘specially trained’ police response officers will be able to get their hands on the weapon, which since its introduction in the US has contributed to the deaths of 351 people according to Amnesty International. And what of this ‘special training’ received by the plods? “Kaiser Bill”,  posting on the Police forum blog, gives us an insight:  

“Training?….hahahahaha. Response is the lowest of the low…response policing tends to be something people try to escape at the earliest opportunity…. the blind leading the blind quite often.”

The blind leading the blind! Hardly fills you with confidence, does it? Neither does a recent episode when coppers in north Wales tasered a confused 89 year-old man, who’d wandered out of his care home. Jacqui, however, has no qualms: ‘Everyday the police put themselves in danger to taser-jacqui-smith2protect us, the public. They deserve our support, so I want to give the police the tools they tell me they need to confront dangerous people.  That is why I have given every police force the number of Tasers they have requested.’

 We wonder if Ms Smith will still have her tongue firmly inside the police’s arsenal of lethal weaponry when numbers killed by tasers start to mount…

Could it be that tasers will be deployed on the streets of London during the G20? As interest grows in the April Fools Day gathering at the Bank of England, the MET are starting to get worried. And if they want to resort to tasers, they can rest assured that they’ll have another 150 of them to play with thanks to Jacqui’s generosity.

Protestors beware!

Here comes the summer of rage!

storm-banksAs the economy drops deeper into recession, and the banking elite book their luxury holidays with taxpayers money, the G20 are coming to London to rub our noses in it. Time to take to the streets.

The Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (G20) acts as a forum for cooperation and consultation on international finance. Its members are drawn from 19 of the world’s 25 largest national economies, plus the European Union (EU). These economies comprise 90% of global gross national product, 80% of world trade (including EU intra-trade) and two-thirds of the world population.

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The G20 are hoping to meet in London to discuss how they can keep the bankers and their rich friends in luxury whilst the recession bites into everyone else’s lives. There will be numerous protests, demonstrations and actions to disrupt the summit and show the bankers and their political masters that we aren’t going to allow them to get away with the crimes they’ve committed. South Wales anarchists will be there. Join us!