Kettling the powers of the police – October Policing

7 Nov

Protesters kettled and forced to give details at Occupy LSX

Protesters attempting to set up OccupyLSX on 15 October were kettled in the area outside St Pauls ‘to prevent a breach of the peace’, despite there being a completely peaceful atmosphere. They had attempted to occupy the privately owned Patnernoster Square but had been prevented from doing so by large numbers of police, including mounted officers.

One freelance journalist covering the event, Tom Stevenson wrote “ the police erected a screen which rolled the message “this area is contained to avoid breach of the peace” in deep red letters. Such is the irony of the idea that it’s necessary to surround peaceful demonstrators discussing, dancing and singing, with officers equipped with riot helmets in order to maintain peace, it’s surprising the screen didn’t short-circuit.”

The Met has previously said that “the police use of the tactic of containment (‘Kettling’, as it is referred to in the media, is not a term used by the police), is used as a last resort following violence or the threat of violence by protestors.”
When protesters were allowed to leave the kettle, they were searched, asked to give details and had their photographs taken by FIT officers. The vast majority of police only left after the Dean of St Pauls, Giles Fraser, said their presence was not necessary.

Tasers used during violent eviction at Dale Farm

Riot police broke into the travellers site at Dale Farm on October 19th to begin the eviction of the site. Police broke through protester defences at the rear gate, using both batons and tasers against demonstrators. Several people were injured, including a woman traveller who was later taken to hospital with a suspected back injury.

The use of tasers in a public order situation indicates a potential shift in ACPO policy and has raised fears that tasers may be deployed in other instances of public protest. The last use of these potentially fatal weapons in relation to protest was during raids on a convergence space following G20 protests in April 2009.

Superintendent Trevor Roe of Essex police insisted the use of tasers was in response to violence from a ‘specific individual’, but his account was not supported by eye-witnesses.

Jason Parkinson, a freelance photographer who filmed the incident, told the Guardian the police had only shouted a warning once, and had a hit a demonstrator who was not throwing missiles. “It was within two metres – people were very close. The police were on the offensive and they were not under threat,” he said. “I did not see what happened to him afterwards, but I believe he was one of those arrested.” Parkinson claimed to have heard police shout: “Fuck off or you’ll be shot.”

After the initial incursion by riot police, bailiffs were then held up by a further 26 hours by protesters who had ‘locked-on’ to scaffolding at the front gate. One woman has reported suffering nerve damage after having been lifted by her handcuffs. Others arrested have said they were kept for several hours without access to toilet facilities or water and that they also had their mobile phones seized.

Armed Police raid Kurdish tent at OccupyLSX protest

On 27 October, the Kurdish protest tent at OccupyLSX was raided by police armed with assault rifles and pistols. No unlawful items were found or seized during the raid which lasted for 45 minutes and which also included searches of Kurdish protesters present on the site. Photographer Guy Smallman was able to document what went on.

The Kurdish community frequently deals with harassment and intimidation from police and security services, and this appears to be yet another example. Those searched were young Kurdish people who were supporting the LSX protests, yet were treated as though they were terrorists.

Kurdish protester @Zurdosh tweeted;

So angry! Police raided our “Kurdish Freedom Tent”,apparently we have a “GUN” in there..Who would do such a thing? #TwitterKurds #OccupyLSX

Why the Kurdish Freedom tent? Who is fearing our tent? Kurds being targeted across europe (Germany, Berlin etc) #TwitterKurds #OccupyLSX

One of the Kurdish protesters, Deniz Cetiner, told the Socialist Worker “In Turkey we live with this kind of operation every day. It’s not new to us. They said there could be a gun inside here – but they found nothing.”

It is disturbing that Kurdish anti-capitalist protesters have come to expect Turkish-style harassment from the British police. It is also disturbing that there has been so little mainstream attention of an incident where lawful protesters have been subject to this sort of treatment by armed police units.

There has also been a distinct and worrying lack of coverage from the UK mainstream press about this incident, and it is very different from the reaction there would have been if any of the other tents at Occupy LSX were raided in this way.

TSG kettle families and children at Deaths in Custody Procession.
This account is reproduced with permission of BMH UK

Hundreds of peaceful demonstrators many of whom have personally lost a loved one in custody found themselves surrounded by streams of special Territorial Support Group (TSG) officers on Saturday’s annual march (29 October) against deaths in custody.
Parents some with babies and young children, whose lives have been touched by the issue of deaths in custody were caught up in the fracas.

‘The disregard for so many vulnerable people in the police’s treatment of those protesting has done nothing but reinforce the perception that the community are not safe at the hands of those who are paid to protect us,’ organisers of Saturday’s protest told Black Mental Health UK.

‘To see so many officers swoop down on such a small group of peaceful protestors with such military precision in what seemed like a matter of seconds turns one heart cold.

From the outset officers had seen that there were many families who had young children with prams among this group, as well as pensioners with walking sticks so it beggars belief to see them behave in such a way,’ an unamed protestor who lost their best friend in police custody just 12 months ago told BMH UK.

The arrest of one peaceful protestor who a team of TSG officers just pulled out from the assembly, but was released hours later without charge, is an indication of the intimidation protestors faced on the day.

During the terrifying incident protestors, saw pensioner and mother of Ricky Bishop Being dragged across the floor at Whitehall by uniformed officers.

This incident which has left many in shaken and in a state of shock has again raised questions over the way the UK’s African Caribbean communities are policed.

Protesters kettled and arrested at protest against criminalisation of squatting

Squatters gathering at Parliament Square on the night of the 31st October were arrested under SOCPA laws, even though they are due to be repealed. The small crowd had gathered to share food on the day new legislation to criminalise squatting was being heard in Parliament. They were surrounded by police, who made twelve arrests, mostly for breach of SOCPA legislation.

Videos of the police making violent arrests were aired on the BBC and Guardian. Footage on the BBC appeared to show police officers punching one of the demonstrators.
And eye-witness stated,

“They made a lot of random arrests – no targeted ones as far as I could see…they beat one or two, I couldn’t say how many but I saw batons swing at a totally peaceful and frankly a scared crowd.”

Earlier, eye witnesses reported police attacking a supporting critical mass bike ride. They described how one of seven police vehicles accompanying the small groups of cyclists appeared to deliberately drive into them.

According to one eye witness,

“[The] behaviour of the driver was consistently aggressive, and intimidated many of the cyclists on the ride. The van then drove into the mass, and the passenger door was opened onto the cyclists. One man was arrested and others were hit with batons , including one woman who was taken to hospital with head injuries.”

If you would like to suggest or contribute a story to future briefings, please contact info@networkforpolicemonitoring.org.uk.

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