Monday, 4 May 2009

Peaceful Protest..... yeah... of course it was.....

At the Mayday! demo organised predominantly by SmashEDO around 1000 (police estimates are usually lower and organisers usually much higher) turned up for a supposed peaceful street carnival. Because of the massive amount of negative press surrounding the G20 and police tactics, a more low key and standoff approach seems to have been adopted in deference to containing from the outset.

It didn't work, and it kicked off.

There were probably over 7000 people at the G20 on the 1st, I really have to ask myself what would have happened if we had just left them all to it, considering only around 1000 appear to have got the initiative in Brighton. Frankly, considering the huge lack of support we received from our bosses, numerous politicians and the majority of commentators in all the mainstream press, I think we should have just left them to it and I definitely think we should at the next big one, if only to prove a point. The lack of assertive action in containing a crowd that had violent intent has made the Op Commanders in Brighton look likes dicks and has caused the guys and girls on the ground to get more grief and suffer attack for the SMT's fear of looking bad on youtube and on Newsnight.

If you were one of the officers there then let me know how you think it went compared to G20 as I know there were a lot of teams from all over the place with us at Bank, so the comparison would be nice, especially so close to the last one.

There hasn't been much coverage on the news yet, but here's a couple of snippets about today's festivities down in sunny Brighton.

Fitwatch -

FIT teams have been forced to retreat from the Smasho EDO/ITT demo in Brighton. Due to a large number of participants engaging in Fitwatch tactics, they are not able to get any footage. People have physically pushed, shoved and kicked them out of the demo. A mobile CCTV van was blocked and forced to drive away. Two FIT officers trying to stop someone from doing graffiti were pushed away.This shows what can happen when we collectively resist our oppression. We no longer have to be passive victims to this policing - we can fight back and we can shut them down.

Congratulations to all those involved in Brighton and good luck for the rest of the day.

Indymedia -

After meeting by the Palace Pier, the protest moved through the centre of Brighton cheering and chanting. Four young anarchists climbed to the top of the Barclays building, where they hung a banner reading “Arms Dealers Out Of Brighton’. Barclays is notorious for being one of the banks most complicit in the international arms trade. The people responsible for the banner were welcomed into the crowd as heroes, and avoided arrest. After passing peacefully past the Clock tower, down Queens Road and through North Laine, the protest clashed with police on London Road.

A heavy police presence blocked part of the road outside McDonalds, and minor scuffles quickly escalated as mounted and riot police forced through crowds to protect the building. A smoke-bomb lit by protesters, combined with a push forward from mounted police, frightened shoppers and nearly split the protest in two.

From then on, the protest became a game of cat-and-mouse - although it was sometimes hard to tell who was the cat and who the mouse. Protesters managed to force back mounted police several times, while police hastily re-grouped around the protest as it moved into residential districts and through Preston Park. However, neither protesters nor police seemed to have a plan as such, and after much walking and a few minor scuffles - including the arrest of one man by riot police - the protest moved back into the town centre. On the seafront, for the first time in the day the police attempted to ‘kettle’ protesters by surrounding them on all sides.

However, protesters quickly skirted down onto the beach and back onto the road behind police lines. The protest moved on peacefully and, after more skirting through narrow lanes and moving around police lines, settled on the grass outside St. Peter’s Church to dance and relax.

Daily Mail -

A May Day protest descended into violence today as anti-war demonstrators clashed with police in Brighton, where thousands of visitors had flocked to enjoy the bank holiday.
Three police officers were injured after scuffles with mask-wearing activists who organised a march through the city's streets. One man was arrested.
At one point activists climbed up scaffolding onto the roof of a Barclays bank branch and unfurled a banner as part of the protest against an arms factory in the city. Graffiti was scrawled on windows and paint bombs were pelted at buildings marked out on an ‘anti-militarist’ map that included more than 30 banks and businesses.
The American Express building, police stations and several McDonald's restaurants were targeted.

Protesters chanted 'Whose streets? Our streets' as they marched through the city, while police officers on horseback cleared the way ahead of them.
Organisers had instructed protesters to wear red, but many wore black with masks covering their faces, which they said was a stand against the country's surveillance society.
Daytrippers and tourists, many down for the launch weekend of the Brighton Festival, were forced to run into back streets for cover as the crowd surged through the busiest streets and police tried to cut them off.A police spokesman said: 'The protestors having been attempting to target some premises and there have been some flash points of violence.
'Missiles have been thrown at police officers and police horses by the demonstrators.
'Three officers have suffered minor injuries - I do not believe they need hospital treatment. The group of 500 or so is still moving around the city.'
Activists from peace campaign group Smash EDO were protesting against EDO MBM Technology, an arms factory in Brighton.

BBC -

Police have criticised May Day anti-war protesters for pelting officers with missiles and causing criminal damage. Sussex Police said three people were arrested, including one for assaulting an officer, amid some violent scuffles during the demonstration in Brighton.
Police say three officers suffered minor injuries like twists and sprains.
Campaign group Smash EDO, which wants local arms factory EDO MBM Technology closed, organised the protest which it described as a "huge success".

Smash EDO estimated about 1,000 protesters had gathered on Monday, but Sussex Police said it was about 500.

Brighton and Hove City Commander, Chief Supt Graham Bartlett, said: "Once again... we have seen unjustified acts of violence aimed at premises and police officers.
"Members of public including many visitors to the city have been clearly frightened and intimidated by a small minority of the group who have been verbally abusive, and throwing missiles at police.

Sussex Police said three officers were slightly hurt and three people arrested
"One member of the public was struck in the face by a missile and had to be treated by a police medical team." Police also criticised organisers for not telling them how many protesters were expected and what route they would take. Protests began with a street party in front of the Palace Pier before moving through the city centre and on to the factory to the north of the city. A small number of demonstrators surged towards officers in riot gear and flares were let off. And one small group scaled scaffolding in front of a branch of Barclays Bank and unfurled a banner.

Later groups of protesters gathered in the grounds of St Peter's Church and listened to music.
A number of others returned to the pier where they were surrounded by police in riot gear.
Smash EDO spokeswoman Chloe Marsh said the day was a "huge success".
"Large crowds arrived on foot and on bikes, bringing sound-systems, banners and a carnival dragon," she said. At least 30 protesters had reported injuries and some were struck with batons by officers concealing their identity numbers, she said. The march was a larger version of a demonstration regularly staged against EDO MBM Technology. The weapons manufacturer has never commented on the protests.

Lets see how many 'Police brutality' stories come out and short clips hit Youtube.

Same shit, different day.

Metcountymounty.

28 comments:

Sierra Charlie said...

So because of an understated police presence, unwitting bystanders were forced to run away and hide from the protest? Because of the "politics" of public order policing, public order was effectively allowed to break down? Whatever happened to preserving the Queen's Peace?

And once again officers on the ground are put in an impossible position and thrown to the wolves when things go wrong. It's not easy to see why anyone signs up for that.

Anonymous said...

What annoys me is that the EDO factory in Brighton is claimed by the national press and SmashEDO to be an "Arms Factory". What they actually make is a part that prevents the accidental release of a bomb! (Surely that's a good thing.) Claiming that it is an arms factory because of the making of this one part is like saying a wheat field is a bread factory!
With regards to the SmashEDO group, on looking at their website I notice they use quotes such as ;

""We recommend that people throughout the world launch nonviolent actions against US and UK corporations that directly profit from this war”

- 7th Recommendation of the World Tribunal on Iraq, June 2005; www.worldtribunal.org"

""No government's condemnation of terrorism is credible if it cannot show itself to be open to change by nonviolent dissent”

- Arundhati Roy"

Notice the "Non-violent" parts of those quotes, how is the throwing of missiles at the police, McDonalds, passers by "non violent"? How did 3 officers get injured if it was a "non violent" protest? Why was the pier itself targeted? (It had to close when protestors started "non violently" climbing on the roof and smashing the lights) Why did a small boutique have it's windows smashed? Why were they using wheelie bins to charge down riot police? I was near the pier yesterday and there were many people who were terrified by the situation they created. The mess they left in the form of broken bottles, cans and paint all over the street was appalling. I watched a woman with 3 kids trying to calm them down whilst they watched the "non violent" protesters attacking the police" In my opinion all they wanted to achieve is a ruck with the police and the publicity that would generate after the incidents at G20.
Marching down the streets shouting "Scum! Scum! Scum!" is hardly going to endear them to either the Police or the public. One of the most outrageous claims on their website is that these people are from Brighton however most of them were bussed in from other areas. So what the hell does it have to do with them?

Brighton is one of the most liberal and free thinking cities in the country and most people I have spoken to and I personally have no problem with a truly non violent protest, if they just went to the pier and all sat down for a few hours, it would probably achieve more positive publicity for them rather than the riot that actually happened. They probably would have engendered a lot more support for their actions from local people. They hypocritically quote Gandhi on their site too, if they actually believed their own blurb and actually followed a Gandhiesque (made up word?) strategy this would never have happened.

As it stands, the vast majority of people in Brighton and the surrounding area are angry, it was a Bank Holiday weekend, one of the most crucial times for this area, traders have lost out on a lot of business and many have repairs to pay for. These aren't the multinational companies that these Eco/Anti Capitalism/Antiwar warriors were supposedly targetting, these are one or 2 man operations that are and have been struggling just as everyone in the country is at the moment.

Spleen vented

Clive

Jenn said...

I live on Stanford Ave here in Brighton. I come from California in the USA and have lived in New York City for years, have seen what REAL police brutality is. I went down to the protest to see what the fuss was as I had no idea then and I must say everything I saw the Police do should be commended. I feel Brighton and Sussex Police did very WELL with how things were handled. The pressure was high and the so called peaceful protesters did not make anything easy. I am proud to be here in Brighton every time I have needed the Police for anything large or small they have always been very kind and very helpful. Crime here is no where near what it is in the states and a huge part of that is the police force.. I thank each and everyone of the police force for all they do on a daily basis but a bigger thank you for how you all handled the so called peaceful protesters.
Cheers
Jenn

Concerened about the police said...

30,000 at the G20? Didn't seem that many when I was there.
I can understand the need to contain violent demonstrations but the G20 didn't seem to be violent whereas the one in Brighton yesterday was altogether different.

Metcountymounty said...

concerned about the police - there were around 30k people in total who attended the G20 - including by the way a group of people in an armoured personnel carrier with the occupants in full riot kit - not just at Bank or Bishopsgate. You seem to have completely missed the point though. There was violence at G20 and there were lots of groups openly advertising and planning violence but the reason it didn't decend into anything like Brighton (in terms of scale) was because they were contained and prevented from having free reign - albeit along with many other people who were nothing to do with the demonstrations.

Because of the bad press that the tactics of G20 received in the press, sussex tried a different tactic by not containing the groups when they first started gathering, it didn't work and turned violent.

PC Plastic Fuzz said...

Good post MCM, have linked and done a post of my own about it.

Jon Silver said...

Unfortunately you'll probably despise my blog entry on the matter, though you'll see I'm not exactly friend of the protesters. The trouble is, even as a largely law-abiding citizen (hey, at least I'm honest), my experiences with the Police have been mostly negative. I am therefore of the opinion that some Police officers aren't doing their jobs well, in large enough proportion to make it harder for the rest of you to get majority public opinion on your side. It's therefore in every officer's interest to make sure that the bad cops are dealt with and ejected - the thugs, bullies and idiots, the officers who are there through nepetism or worse, and the ones with deep-seated personal problems they like to take out on members of the public. Let's get back to a Police force that's admired and respected... one which my children would aspire to join.

Pete23 said...

Im starting to lose faith in our ability to affect change at all.

1,000,000 march peacefully in london to protest out involvement in the Iraq war. No result.

Thousands peacefully form a climate camp protest at the g20. Although bigger than the violent protests, it attracts little media attention. Having agreed with police to a 48 hour protest - it is instead violently evicted by police during the evening once the bored media journalists have left.

A few young kids learn over a few years that by extreme acts of violence they can attract the worlds media attention, and so do, and do.

It was the same in Paris the day Sarkozy got elected, there where riots and burning cars, and it was pretty much 100% kids doing it.
So where lies the middle ground for those who wish to make a stand on these issues.

Peaceful and your issues are ignored. Violent and you are not ignored but your issues will be replaced by only discussion of violence.

Personally i spent the day talking to shop keepers and passerby about the reasons people where protesting. I found *nobody* who knew about the issues involve, the closest i found was one group of lads who told me its about banning the bomb - very 70s(!?). I found that once told 100% of shop keepers expressed support, although few thought it would change anything. Out of the passers by less interest was shown in the issues.

Anonymous said...

The problem is with the police is they have their hands tied..

Its a case of "your damned if you do and damned if you don't"

Personally I would have pulled police out, let the protesters do what they wanted and let the citizens of Brighton deal with the scum as they felt fit.

Would have saved time

Anonymous said...

The people posting here about a 'riot' are absurd.

There was no 'riot'. There was no real problem. The blacl bloc mask up because of police (FIT) tactics, which are aimed at supressing lawful protest by intimidation.

FIT & other surveillance go: masks come off.

Unfortunately, when the public see a mass of people in masks and hoodies, they imagine danger that isn't there.

I personally saw an old guy in his 70s or 80s, who had been accidentally swept up, taken gently, kindy and politely to a safer spot by 2 masked protesters. I, along with another protester, spent an hour comforting a member of the public who'd had a panic attack.


What's particularly sad is that in all the debate about the protest's legitimacy, the manufacture of mechanisms for "the safe carriage and release of weapons" by EDO, and their loophole sales to the Israeli army, contrary to legislation, has been forgotten.

And out of petty vandalism, and international arms crimes, I know which one causes the more distress and human suffering. And I know which I care about more.

sntpc said...

Policeman smacks a woman. Endless reams of paper.

"Peaceful" protestors wreck Brighton. Half a paragraph in this morning's Metro.

Best we let them get on with it, while we sit in the nick drinking coffee and eating doughnuts.

Also, I know I normally go on a 'peaceful' march with smoke bombs. Or not!

BrightonBeachBingo said...

@MCM
there were around 30k people in total who attended the G20There were about 5,000 at Bank and 2,000 at Climate Camp, where were the rest hiding?

the occupants in full riot kitYour 'full' riot kit is now just a NATO helmet and non-fireproof overalls? I think you've been had.

Was it their lack of epaulettes which completed the kit?

Because of the bad press that the tactics of G20 received in the press, sussex tried a different tactic by not containing the groups when they first started gathering, it didn't work and turned violent.It did 'work' until the police attacked the demo, as at G20. Some of the same cops involved too...

Take a bow, Chief Inspector Mills:
1, 2, 3, 4@Anonymous-clive

They hypocritically quote Gandhi on their site too, if they actually believed their own blurb and actually followed a Gandhiesque (made up word?) strategy this would never have happenedGandhi's 'Quit India' campaign in 1942 used the slogan 'do or die', and included attacks on anything seen as a symbol of British authority, such as courts, police stations (from which arms were looted), power lines, railway lines, post offices, telephone lines, revenue offices, were sabotaged, set on fire or occupied.

"I will prefer anarchy to the present system of administration because this ordered anarchy is worse than real anarchy. I am sure that the anarchy created by our efforts to mitigate this dangerous anarchy will be less dangerous. The violence exerted then would be just a trifle compared to the existing violence."
- Gandhi, 28th May 1942.

Dan said...

"Also, I know I normally go on a 'peaceful' march with smoke bombs. Or not!"

They were flares. And they were lit in protester areas, not chucked at police lines or anything.

Let's keep a sense of perspective eh? ;)

pete23 said...

Well, it seems both sides are pissed with the medias coverage of recent protests.

How about a temporary truce while we team up and take them out? You guys could keep them all kettled up and we'll go and hang a banner on their roof.

Anonymous said...

" including by the way a group of people in an armoured personnel carrier with the occupants in full riot kit "

You might want to check your facts there- you know, just so what you say doesn't come under libel legislation.

Really Fit said...

Peaceful? Non-violent? Don't remember ever pretending to be any of those things.

I do have a problem with the small number of people who make shit loads of money from exporting bombs, missiles, tanks, aircraft etc to whichever government pays the highest price. All for England? No. All for the Swiss bank accounts of the very rich while the rest of us poor sods get shot at by the armaments we sell to the 'other side'. Whoever that is.

We armed the taliban, remember? And if Islamicists take over Pakistan, they'll have nuclear capability which we helped them to get. And because we also armed their old adversaries India, we're probably sure of a good war to empty the arsenals, so we can sell weapons to both sides all over again. Good for business. And jobs. And the economy.

This isn't about pacifism or non-violence. It is about objecting to a trade that doesn't give a shit about 'our soldiers' or us public, or the citizens or soldiers of anywhere else.

All the writing letters and parliamentary lobbying that has gone on, and that point still hasnt got through. Maybe, just maybe, it takes a bunch of masked and hooded 'scum' rampaging through Brighton before anyone is prepared to pay attention.

It isn't for the police to 'put down' protest. Dealing with protest is ultimately a political issue.

Stressed Out Cop said...

MCM

I would like to see the estimate for G20 - but I think nearer to 5,000 is about it.

Only a few hundred at Excell too.

30k attended the TUC march on 28 March - which I think doesn't count as part of the G20.

Metcountymounty said...

Stressed out cop - You're right about the estimate being for the TUC demo, lots of groups who went to that also went to the BofE but there were no where near 30k people at Bank on the 1st and 2nd, I'll amend the post.

BrightonBeachBingo - we were going past towards Bank when the APC was stopped and people were getting out in NATO's and coveralls, we were told over the radio they were in full kit when the call came out and I haven't heard anything since about it other than a photo on Sky I think.

Anonymous said...

"we were told over the radio they were in full kit when the call came out and I haven't heard anything since about it other than a photo on Sky I think."

And the public were told from a police press release that Mr Tomlinson died of natural causes and the policemen who were helping him had missiles thrown at them by protestors.
Funny what comes over the radio.

Anonymous said...

Really Fit,
So you are self proclaimed non-violent and non peaceful.

Just remind me again when it was that I (as a member of public) gave you the mandate to express your opinion through violent protest.

Is it possible that your campaign isn't successful because the majority of people disagree with your opinion?

PC Plastic Fuzz said...

Anon @ 15:05 – It was ‘technically’ a Riot. Sorry, but it was.

The Public Order Act 1986 replaced various common law offences, introducing new offences and powers with respect to the preservation of public order. Section 1 creates the offence of riot.

1(1) Where twelve or more persons who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence for a common purpose and the conduct of them (taken together) is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety, each of the persons using unlawful violence for the common purpose is guilty of riot.

1(2) It is immaterial whether or not the 12 or more use or threaten unlawful violence simultaneously.

1(3) The common purpose may be inferred from conduct.

1(4) No person of reasonable firmness need actually be, or likely to be, present at the scene.

1(5) Riot may be committed in private as well as in public places.

Anonymous said...

PC Plastic Fuzz-

my definition of a riot is policemen lying bleeding in the street.

It has happened before, and will happen again.

Probably involving a lot more than the 12 people your law defines as a riot.

And your imaginary person of reasonable firmness, how ever likely he is or not to be at the scene will probably be joining in.

But he will deny being there, likely to be there or even being present. This person of reasonable firmness I imagine throwing petrol bombs.

Good luck imagining that reasonable person of firmness standing at the barricade, petrol bomb in hand.

Sean O'Neill said...

Interesting post - some very pertinent points.
Linking to it on The Times Crime Central blog (www.timesonline.co.uk/crimecentral)

Anonymous said...

It seems to me, that those who organise protests do intend them to be peaceful. They however, cannot totally control the actions of every single person present at the protest, and some may well be hot headed and kick off. The press then blow it up out of all proportion, to dramatise it. It sells newspapers and makes the TV news appear more dramatic too, as they concentrate upon any negative aspects of a story.

The same can be said of the police force, the vast majority of whom are good officers who do their jobs well. But even within the police ranks, there is an element who will behave with "attitude" and hasty violence towards others. Their fellow officers may well even turn a blind eye to their colleagues bad behaviour.

All the recent news about the scandal involving MP's abuse of their expenses system, just goes to prove, that there is an element within ANY group of people, whose bad behaviour gives the rest a bad name. They ALL get classed as rogues, thieves and cheats, and the good ones amongst them suffer.
And there are some good ones in all the political parites.

The same has been done in the past to single mothers, the unemployed and those who are sick and on benefits. A small number are shown up by the press, because they broke the rules, and EVERY single mother, unemployed person or those who are sick, gets treated with contempt and like a criminal benefits cheat, because of bad press that has focused on a few.

If there is one thing that the police, public, government and the media should learn, it is to STOP tarring everyone with the same brush, because of the questionable actions of a few, who spoil things for everyone else.

The Tabloid "Red Top" press who print lies and nonsense about people, give the decent journalists a bad name and foster mistrust of the media generally.

The MP's who have fiddled their expenses, have tainted the reputation of MP's generally and provoked disgust and mistrust of ALL MP's. That's not fair on the good ones. But perhaps this recent experience will make them realise that the tick box, one size fits all culture of classifying people, is outrageous and unreasonable.

A few bad cops in the past, and present, does not make the whole force rotten. A few rebels within a group of activists, whose aim IS peaceful protest, doesn't make the whole group violent scum.

And in the 60's the Mods and the Rockers used to gather in Brighton and fight with each other, and the police! That was before the 1967 "Summer of Love", and the birth of the Peace and Love movement - the "Hippies."
I witnessed uniform cops having a whale of a time at a few music festivals, where there was no trouble at all, and the cops were massively outnumbered.

Peace and Love all round....Until Maggie Thatcher and the establishment decided to STOMP on the very peaceful pot smoking "alternative" community. She and her government declared "war on the hippies" because the so called "underground" movement who were concerned about the planet, and anti nukes, scared the government, because they couldn't control them, and they would not conform to an oppressive system.

Some things, it would seem, just do not change, and the media always look for a scapegoat to take all the flack. There appears to be a collective need in society, for a "whipping boy", or girl, as we are now apparently equal. However, some are still more "equal" than others.....

M.T.Minx

Anonymous said...

i see bob broadhurst's reported as saying that cops at the g20 only got a couple of day's 'crowd control' training in the last year. if he wasn't happy about this, and it's reported he wasn't, then all the guff about the met being world leaders in public order appears somewhat undermined.

but is it true? unless broadhurst was on about level 2 officers, sounds like a load of rubbish to me.

Metcountymounty said...

I watched it on sky yesterday, yes he was talking about L2's. Level 2 public order training is two days once a year and courses like method of entry or rapid entry are additional and voluntary but bloody hard to get unless you arrange them yourself. The rest of the experience comes from actually doing rapid entries, cell relocation's, high cat football and high tension demos. Most L2's have pretty much done nothing but public order since January because we've been hammered with aid requests. As old rusty said, the amount of public order we're doing is directly impacting front line policing because the majority of L2's are borough level response officers. As there is no money, when we're taken off team they hardly ever back fill so everyone is affected.

TSG are L1's and get one weeks training every five weeks, but this includes CBRN, siege, rapid entries etc and not just public order.

blueknight said...

Our level 2 PCs used to get 4 consecutive days a year, Tues to Fri, with Sgts and Insp getting 5 days by doing the Monday as well.
I was EGT, so I got an extra day for that and we all got an extra day for prison tactics.
Two days a year is not enough.

Dave Pie-n-Mash said...

MCM - This is my first time reading your blog and I am fascinated with your commentary. To say you and your colelagues have a tough job is a gross understatement. You are damned if you do and damned if you dont. TAs for te Brighton, G20 and Israeli Embassy riots? What a bunch of wankers. How can you claim to be a peace protester when you go there to attack and fight someone?