Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Questions raised by private security attacks on UK Uncut

I've already shared this video with friends on Twitter and Facebook. However, I'm posting it here because the events relayed within raise serious questions. In particular, in my mind it begs the question of stewarding at this kind of action.

There are plenty of legitimate criticisms of stewarding at demonstrations generally. With good reason, I might add, since on a march or at a demonstration the role of the guy in the hi viz jacket has long been to collaborate with the police and keep protesters to a designated route. In some instances, this role of policing the demo has even gone so far as handing people over for arrest. It is a collaborator's role and thus one typically shunned by demonstrations not organised by trade union or left leaders.

However there is another, far more positive, role that stewards can potentially play. In this instance I'm thinking of the kind of militant stewarding groups that Anti Fascist Action used to operate - their role being not to police demonstrators but protect them, whether that be from fascists or from the equally thuggish bastards that populate police units and private security firms.

The video above shows events that took place at the end of Saturday's UK Uncut action in Liverpool City Centre. This was after I and others had left, so unfortunately I don't have a first hand account to offer. However, what I have heard from a comrade is pretty damning. He and others who tried to intervene were told by one goon in uniform that he would "bite your fucking face of next time I see you," as well as being assured that bouncers "run this town." These people clearly think of themselves as a cut above, and so of kicking the shit out of students and kids during a protest as sport.

As more and more people are drawn into such actions, an increasing degree of political inexperience leaves people vulnerable. The choice for those of us who support more radical and direct action then becomes one of shouting indignation from the sidelines, or taking action.

For me, the latter course of action is the only one that can be justified. These people are nothing but jacked up bully boys, thinking they're hard because they can punch a teenager or a pregnant woman. With the possibility of their being violent stand alongside the long time threat of attacks by the far-right and police brutality, the case for stewarding groups and the physical defence of radical protest and direct action has never been more forceful.