1 Apr 2009
G20 demonstrations marred by police violence
Just listening to a good report from Ch 4 news which asks 'did the met hype up threat of violence', hoping the cops let everyone go home, currently lots of people penned in
From Payam of Green Left
Peaceful demonstrators gathered today outside the Bank of England to press for a better world. The protesters arrived at the Bank of England from 4 different directions representing 4 horsemen of the apocalypse (red horse against War, green horse against Climate Chaos, silver horse against Financial Crimes and black horse against Land Enclosures and Borders).
The financial crisis has led to a great strength of feeling by demonstrating the shortcomings of neoliberal capitalism and has also led many to conclude that this is a historic moment of opportunity to push for change. The protest was very good natured with music, banners, dancing and impromptu speakers talking about their visions for a different world. A broad cross-section of society was represented including factory workers, teachers, cleaners, academics, nurses, unemployed people and pensioners all coming together to press for a change in system which has resulted in so much human suffering.
Sadly, the protest was marred by violent and provocative tactics used by the police in their attempts to contain demonstrators. Thousands of demonstrators including pregnant women and young children were ‘kettled’ in to a small area immediately outside the Bank of England with only those who had work ID for the local area or were NUJ members allowed out of the police blockades. Protesters were denied access to food, water and toilets for over 2 hours. A small minority of protesters trying to escape from the enclosure early on were arrested by the police. Furthermore, police on horseback appeared rapidly to prevent protestors advancing down a side street. The use of police on horseback against pedestrian demonstrators is wholly inapprorpiate and stokes up violence and fear in protestors unneccesarily.
Many police medics were present and did not speak out against the tactics: shame on them. Other police officers on the ground were invited to behave in a more human manner by some protesters but all (that I saw) followed orders that were patently unjust and unfair to peaceful protesters.
It was only after the police on horseback appearing (very suddenly) and the police running into the crowd and hitting people with battons that some protestors broke windows at the Royal Bank of Scotland to cheers from the majority of the crowd in that corner: such was the strength of feeling against both the system which has let the world down, and against the police who were detaining peaceful demonstrators for no just reason. Whilst I do not approve of violence as a solution to conflicts, it did not feel unjust that some protestors broke the windows of a bank that had presided over such gross misuse of funds. It was clear that there were no bank staff in the building who might have been physically hurt by the actions of that group of protestors. The financial loss to the bank pales into insignificance when compared to bonuses and pensions paid out to the management.
It was only due to active defense against such unjust imprisonment (in the form of large numbers of demonstrators pushing against the human police barrier in a non-violent way) that the police were overwhelmed by the numbers and some of the crowd was able to leave the area.
Several prominent Greens attended the protest including Cllr Romayne Pheonix (Lewisham) and Shan Oaks (parliamentary Candidate against David Davis in the Haltemprice and Howden by-election last year) and the response from the crowd to the Green Party banners was overwhelmingly positive. I am proud to have been part of such an important protest.
I will be writing to Green Party Assembly Member and member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, Jenny Jones, to describe my personal experiences of police violence and inapprorpriate tactics and would urge any others present to do the same. The wholly inapprorpriate tactics used by the police made peaceful protesters feel that they were doing something illegal and could have resulted in significant injury to both protestors and police had protestors not managed to break free. Some protestors remained behind with the radio saying that the barriers were only finally completely lifted at around 6:30pm.
At Bishopsgate, police confiscated tents from peaceful demonstrators trying to set up camp on the street earlier on although latest reports from other London Greens suggest that police have allowed the climare camp to set up and that demonstrators are chalking slogans onto the pavement and that the atmosphere is very positive.
Workers for the World Unite! We have only one world and only one chance to save it.