Sunday, 26 December 2010
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
Friday, 10 December 2010
“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.
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.
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.
Friday, 3 December 2010
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.
Read the report in the Guardian.