Friday, 20 January 2012

An update from the Merseyside Police attack on anti-cuts protesters

Since I reported the police attack on a demonstration outside Liverpool Town Hall, all of those arrested have been released. However, it seems that the incarceration was not without incident either. The task now is to take action, and let the police know that their behaviour will not pass without opposition.

All but one two of those arrested was given a fine for breaching section 5 of the Public Order Act (or, in essence, swearing). I'm told that they are refusing to pay and will be going to court to contest the charge instead. Whether it succeeds or not, this is good because it is vital that this kind of action doesn't go unchallenged. With luck, their days in court will see solidarity demonstrations and an opportunity to raise awareness with the public about the true nature of the police.

Of the two not originally charged with public order offences, one eventually left with a fine as well, but it is telling that he was originally arrested with assaulting an officer. Reaching the station, the police essentially freed and immediately re-arrested him, with a charge of breaching section 5. Clearly, the cops were quick to realise that whatever story they had concocted wouldn't stick. At this point, the other arrestee is still being charged with assault, though obviously it is hoped that this charge will also be dropped when all the facts come to light.

One horror story of the night was the response to one woman who refused for six hours to give her name. The police responded by stripping her of her clothes and leaving her with just a blanket, claiming that she was a suicide risk. To say that this is fucked up is an understatement to say the least, and may even be tantamount to sexual abuse by the state. (This PDF provided by a comrade makes interesting reading on the matter.)

Occupy Liverpool, whose members were the majority amongst those attacked, held a meeting today to discuss how to respond to the attacks. Despite some worryingly liberal and hippy-pacifist attitudes from supporters online, those who were there appear to have had their eyes opened. They are seeking legal advice and will likely be taking action against the police in response. As well as those arrested contending their charges, as already mentioned.

Tellingly, in a follow-up report in the Liverpool Echo (whose original report was utter watered down shite at best), Joe Anderson's only response to this is to worry about being insulted;
Everybody inside the chamber could hear what they were shouting – they were calling me a fat bastard and a lot of the councillors were worried about what might happen when they stepped outside.

I have no problem at all with people demonstrating, but I don’t want to have to hear this kind of insult.
Well, fucking diddums. As one of the people who called him a fat bastard - and, as he forgets, pointed out that he lied about being assaulted - I can safely say I don't feel bad in the slightest. Innocent protesters, most of them young, were assaulted and a woman was stripped in the cells. Next to that, the fat waster can shove his hurt feelings up his arse.

As Mark Hoskisson of Liverpool Trades Council noted;
People were being arrested and mistreated simply for being on the demo. Like Anderson, the police want to shut us up and scare us away.

This was an attack designed to try and brand the anti-cuts movement as violent troublemakers. They have no answer to our arguments against the cuts, so they are now trying to silence us by physically attacking our protests.
There can be no doubting that what happened on Wednesday was an attack on demonstrators by the police. In Liverpool, this marks a significant up-shift in the antagonism between the two groups, and one that will need to be guarded against in the future.

In the meantime, those who suffered at police hands deserve our full support. Whether that is in the form of turning up when they face the courts, demonstrating against police brutality or supporting legal action against the force, we should help in any way that we can. When, in defence of capital, the full force of the state is waged against us, solidarity is our greatest weapon.