Thursday, 13 January 2011

Police drive to stamp out dissent

Edward Woollard has been jailed for 32 months for throwing a fire extinguisher off Millbank Tower. He is perhaps only the first such prosecution, as the police continue to release footage of protesters, which only indicates exactly how much the class war is heating up.

Guido Fawkes, who offered a reward to anybody who could identify the extinguisher thrower, is absolutely delighted with the news. As well he might be, the supposed "libertarian" getting a hard-on for state heavy-handedness once people he has ideological disagreement with are on the receiving end. But that is not his only hypocrisy, as Primly Stable points out when mentioning his convictions for drunk driving and that both Guido, like Woollard, "propelled a heavy lump of metal at great speed and with no control, an act that could have led to severe injury or death if someone had been unfortunate enough to get in the way."

The media is starting to show mixed reactions, however. The Guardian and even the Daily Mail are amongst those who ask whether he received too harsh a sentence. Not one for moral complexity, the Sun simply labels him a "thug" and leaves it at that.

On the other side of the fence to the establishment, there is a similar mixture of feelings. We all know what Aaron "despicable" Porter would say, but then we'd probably lump him in with the establishment rather than with ourselves. A more accurate reading of opinion is probably contained in the Facebook group “Free Edward Woollard – No Police State,” which states that "we do not advocate what Woollard did. We do, however, think that the sentance[sic] handed down is an indication of everything that is wrong with our civil rights in this country."

Indeed, when you consider that Guido got a three month curfew for his crime, for example, or that nothing at all has happened to the policeman who actually succeeded in causing serious injury to Alfie Meadows, 32 months for an act of idiocy and a near-miss seems obscene. But then, as the judge admitted, the point here was not "justice" but a "deterrent." We are approaching 26th March, when at least half a million people will be taking to the streets, and although it is likely to be tightly stewarded the police will no doubt relish any excuse to wade in and do as much damage as possible.

Hence, no doubt, why they're looking so hard for the supposed petrol-bomb thrower. As Ian Bone asks, "Parliament Square is the most cctv monitored place in the fucking country – so how come no one’s seen this before?" He reckons that "this reeks to high heaven of some Met stitch up," and also concludes that this could be "part of Met softening up for raids before March 26th."

What is clear is that the police are more determined than ever to get those who cross them. They want to batter us with the courts as readily as with truncheons. Which is why solidarity is important - as is wearing masks to cover our faces.