Reflections on Demo2010 Vote Day March
What happened on Westminster Bridge has to be treated with the levity it deserves. Earlier protests in Parliament square, which I was in the front line of, were tit for tat affairs. There were violent elements but also a lot of angry protesters. I’m not sure where the line is to be drawn in terms of rightful police response, but the coppers were their usual incedinary selves. On a purely logistical level however, initiating a cavalry charge into a group of people (tarring innocent with agitator as the media so love to do) who they then sought to kettle seems like forehead slapping stupidity if they genuinely wanted to diffuse a riot like situation (unlikely given that student misbehaviour would guarantee the coppers came out tops in the media, which they accomplished in time for todays front pages).
Long after the media spotlight had gone elsewhere one of the greatest injustices occured. On Westminster Bridge thousands of people were detained. The cops gave conflicting reasons, one of which was that they needed to get our details the other that we had to be safely escorted. This is illegal, pure and simple. They gave us no time frame for getting out of the kettle. They tried to intimidate us stating that they had requested additional police officers to help clear the backlog (they were escorting 20 protestors a go, from a crowd of thousands). This was crowd diffusion done terribly, a crowd that the coppers had riled up in amazing fashion with their earlier behaviour and ‘containment’. Those of us on the bridge began to walk forward, hands in the air, in a peaceful attempt to escape this illegal confinement. The police were unprepared, lashing out against the non violent advancing people with truncheons and when their line was broken they attempted to reestablish it a chaotic manner which easily could have lead to people being trampled. There was a moment in that press where the whole mood of the evening changed and I’m certain it’s because the thought of a potentially fatal stampede crossed more than one mind. The coppers lie about awaiting additional officers was shown up in full force and police vans rerouted from one side of Westminster Bridge to the other and suddenly the police numbers swelled once there was a chance that their illegal kettling containment method was threatened.