Sunday, 26 December 2010

Student arrested for stroking a horse

A student from Bristol was arrested in a dawn raid and held without adequate food or legal representation by Avon and Somerset police following his involvement on the 25 November protest against fees and cuts to education, the Guardian newspaper has reported.

Paul Saville was accused of stroking a horse, which to people with half a mind might be somewhat less of a criminal offence than, say, charging a packed crowd of kettled teenagers with one. Police claim that Saville's stroking of the horse was a means to distract police while another protester threw a firework.

But this is not the first time Saville has been arrested for spurious reasons. In 2009 he was arrested for writing "Liberty. The right to question it. The right to ask: 'Are we free?'" in water-soluble chalk on a Bristol pavement. Saville claims he received compensation from the police for this arrest.

Saville claims that he was arrested in a dawn raid, which also resulted in the confiscation of his laptop, hard drive, mobile phone, note pads and even his coat. He was held without charge after his arrest at 5.30am, and not questioned for 12 hours. During this time he was denied two of his three meals, phone calls, and assistance when he suffered a panic attack.

As the mask continues to slip from the police force to further display their contempt for the democratic right to protest, it is clear that these actions are designed to terrify people off the streets. There can be little illusion now in the role of the police and the state in enforcing the illegitimate agenda of the liars and thieves in parliament.

But so far this tactic has yet to pay off. With every baton charge, attempted trampling by horses or Stasi style arrests, the student movement becomes angrier and more committed.

After the brief respite as the cops licked their wounds post-Ian Tomlinson, the force are back on the offensive as if nothing ever happened.

The tragedy would be if another person dies for daring to stand up for their beliefs. Or even if someone goes to jail for stroking a horse.

Saturday, 11 December 2010


Peaceful protest against police violence... Wear a hard hat!

Tuesday 14 December 1pm. New Scotland yard, 8-10 Broadway, London SW1H 0BG.

Alfie Meadows was brutally assaulted by police on the 9th. He suffered severe brain haemorrhaging and has undergone 3 hours of brain surgery. His situation is now stable. This is a call for all to show your solidarity with him and the fight for our civil liberties.

Here's a reminder of the last time we kettled New Scotland Yard:

Friday, 10 December 2010

Student protests: shaken government relies on vicious policing and media spin

“Attacks on police officers and property show that some of the protesters have no respect for London or its citizens,” so said Tory Home Secretary Theresa May, just hours after proving she had no respect for the young and the poor by voting to pull the rug of higher education from beneath their feet.

Last night’s student protest against the trebling in tuition fees has been characterised in the media as unprovoked mindless violence. But the main violence to be seen came not from the students carrying placard sticks or overturning litter bins. After all, shattered glass can be replaced--shattered futures can't.

The real violence came from the police force, seen to use horses to charge at dense crowds of people, beat protesters unconscious and even get caught on film pulling a student from his wheelchair.

One protester, Alfie Meadows, was beaten as he tried to leave the area. He fell unconscious and underwent a three hour operation for bleeding on the brain. Others report that police refused to allow another unconscious protester out of the kettle to receive medical help.

As one anonymous protester reported to the Guardian, “I was outside the kettle in Parliament Square yesterday watching as riot police fought with protesters and then split like the Red Sea to allow two charges of police on horseback into the crowd. It was absolutely horrific to witness. These are dispersal tactics used on the continent but the Met are using it against people who have nowhere to run because they are kettled. The horses charged at high speed and from where I was they seemed to end up wading through the protesters. It’s a miracle that no-one was seriously injured, or even killed.”

This was not simply the case of police responding to violence and disorder. Before the protest had even begun, Scotland Yard was already straining at the bit for a fight, using inflammatory language unseen since the G20 protests in 2009 which saw the death of Ian Tomlinson.

Meanwhile, David Cameron has moved beyond talk of a “violent minority”, now preferring to label most of those who came to stop the fees as “wanting to pursue violence and destroy property.” This is the talk of a man who is scared of opposition from the streets – it’s not easy to con the brave student movement into dropping their opposition to fees. They aren’t Lib Dems, after all. But it is also his attempt to brand all those wanting to stand up to his coalition of cutters as a violent mob, hell-bent of destruction.

But one thing is clear—the movement does not end here. In 1990, the poll tax became law, opposition on the streets continued, and police used horses and truncheons to beat protesters into submission. It didn’t work and the poll tax fell.

The gamble by the police was that using extreme violence against school students would scare them off the street. This gamble has failed. It has simply increased the anger of these young people, who have been taught a valuable—if painful—lesson in whose side the state is on.

This is still only the beginning.

Friday, 3 December 2010

333 custody deaths since 1998: IPCC releases grim statistics

Despite 333 people dying in police custody since 1998, no police officer has ever been convicted. In 2009-10 alone a total of 16 people were killed after police contact.

INQUEST, the campaign group for those whose friends and family have died in custody, outlined a series of major concerns which arose from the findings:

· 68% of people who died were arrested for non-violent, public order offences such as being drunk and disorderly and drug-related offences;

· Police force policy and procedure in relation to custody matters was breached in 27% of cases;

· Police failed to carry out necessary risk assessments in over half of cases booked into police custody where a risk assessment was required and there was a prevalence of incidents where custody officers had not conducted proper checks or rousing of detainees;

· 58 people had mental health issues, including 17 who were detained under section 136 of the Mental Health Act;

· 26% of people were restrained on arrest, in transportation or on arrival in custody. People from BME groups were significantly more likely to be restrained than white people. The study suggests restraint was directly related to death in 16 cases – a quarter of which were people from BME communities;

· Prosecutions were recommended against 13 police officers who faced a total of 36 charges yet none resulted in a guilty verdict.

As the police clamp down on student protests, it is important for us to understand the role of police in society, and the ability of the judiciary to cover their tracks. Perhaps rather than chasing after school students for fear they might beat the government cuts they should investigate the real violence perpetrated by police officers on such a massive scale.

Read the report in the Guardian.