Friday, May 6, 2011

Our right to protest - under attack!


Consider the evidence -

In the last few weeks we have seen -

- Blatantly partisan policing in Brighton to protect the racist EDL whilst attempting to criminalise and demonise the anti-fascist groups trying to oppose them. This included the arrest of anti-fascist activists and the imposition of a "bail condition" banning them from Brighton!

- Saturation policing of this weekends May Day protest.

- Raids and arrests in Brighton and London late last week of people who MIGHT have been planning protests around the royal wedding.

- Numerous arrests of people in London on the day of the wedding for the smallest displays of dissent from the mood of national joy which we were all supposed to be feeling.

- The revelation that police have been compiling a secret intelligence file on local peace activist John Catt, although he has never been prosecuted for any offence. Catt is now taking legal action. The intelligence-gathering in this case resembled the tactics of the Stasi.

We have seen police tactics of selective arrests of leaders, filming and photographing of protestors, violent mass arrests such as that of the UKUncut occupation of Fortnum and Masons on 26 March, and kettling of demonstrations.

The verdict in the Tomlinson inquest gives us a chilling reminder of where this state violence can end.

We have also seen this approach coupled with a slick media strategy in which a compliant media simply soaks up the police side of the story. Locally the Argus simply regurgitates Sussex Police press releases with no attempt to investigate what is really going on.

All activists should be concerned about these developments.

There is no doubt that Britain is not (yet!) a police state in the sense that I would understand the term. We have seen ruling classes in many countries being prepared to engage in mass murder of their own people to cling to power. This is clearly not where we are in the UK.

But we should not just "be grateful" as some suggest. We need to be saying that we are not going to put up with it.

As someone once said......

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

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