Monday, 18 April 2011

Quote of the day... Liberty's comment (PDF) on the police heavy-handedness and brutality witnessed by protesters in Trafalgar Square on March 26th;
We are aware from media reports that a significant number of arrests were made later in the evening as a result of the events at Fortnum & Mason, and that the police were engaged in a number of separate public order incidents in central London long after the TUC march had ended. As these occurred after our observation had concluded we are not in a position to provide any comment.
 This might be fair enough if it was "no comment" in relation to direct legal observation, but there was separate comment from them when first-hand reports of the violence did come to light. This is emphatically not the case. On police violence against anti-cuts protesters, Liberty have been resoundingly silent.

Indeed, according to today's press release, the main issue was that "the fatally-flawed tactic [of kettling] was under near constant consideration." Which, again, is a significant point. Except that Liberty boil down the issue to a tactical one. It "is a blunt, resource-heavy and logistically difficult tactic and it is difficult to understand why it has become such a favoured option when policing protest." But the violence coming out of it doesn't even warrant a mention.

The 15-page report the organisation have released along with this is little more than reinforcement of the mainstream narrative.

They have "no doubt that the organisational cooperation between the Metropolitan Police and the TUC was a significant factor in ensuring that the vast majority of people who attended had a good day." Their "impression
was that the police reacted proportionately and gave appropriate consideration to the rights of the peaceful protestors on the TUC march."

Those who broke away are "violent individuals" who "affected" the peaceful marchers. They class as "the greatest policing challenge" on the day, and so their take on events can be readily dismissed. Far more important is that the police need better toys, because "communications technology between the SOR and officers on the ground could be improved." They do acknowledge "no evidence of a need for additional police powers," but that is perhaps the most positive thing you can say about the report.

This report only underlines what I said both before and after the TUC march. Whilst Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti speaks of "the right to peaceful dissent in the oldest unbroken democracy," her organisation is now safely assimilated within the establishment which views genuine dissent as little more than a "policing challenge."