Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Homes To Go To

Regarding 26th March protest: I've just watched video footage from the Guardian taken in and outside Fortnum and Mason's on March 26th after the short occupation of the building. Here protesters are given false information from the police about what would happen to them as they were 'allowed' to leave the building. I think it's extremely telling when the police officer says 'People have got homes to go to!', in a sort of quirky, light way. She seems to be empathetic with the people she's addressing at the same time as being complicit in their restraint. The mumsy comment sums up for me the whole way the police have operated over the business of kettling: the police officer entirely normalises the process. Just because a short sighted judge decides to look kindly upon kettling as a tactic means that now anyone's civil liberties can now be disregarded. Freedom Press give a brief history to kettling here:

'Although not defined in law (it still is simply a police tactic) it was given the green light by the High Court after some protestors questioned the legality of their seven hour kettling in Oxford Circus on Mayday 2001. The courts ruled that the police could under certain circumstances detain people against their will for long periods of time to prevent outbreaks of violence and criminal acts – and typically a breach of the peace. The example they gave was the detaining of football supporters in the ground while opposing fans left the area. The question of the fact most of the 2,000 people detained in Oxford Circus were in fact law abiding was described by the judge as “unfortunate”.'

She also reveals her own lack of authority and a ballsing up of communication, I could point out to be very kind, as a result of cuts and KPI based mismanagement that we're seeing all through the public services. I'm not feeling so kind though, after witnessing a mass compliance on the part of the police to entirely deny people their rights.

'Homes to go to' It's what you might say as a bar woman at the end of the night - haven't you lot got homes to go to, also perhaps a glib comment to a bunch of kids causing a little bit of disturbance in the street. But people were held against their will in a shop, and then kettled on their way out and arrests made.

The fact that I wasn't allowed to go home the other night, while being held in Trafalgar Square was distressing to say the least. Here the protesters ask what they've done wrong and aren't given a straight answer. The 'disorder' that the police say they have protected them from has subsided.

The question for me was, next time, when I have the chance to go out to protest and risk being kettled, will I go? Leave the safe zone of home. I put the kettle on, have a think, there's no question is there.

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