Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Everywhere I look - policing without consent

I seem to be in danger of turning into an 'all coppers are bastards' stuck record at the moment. I don't mean to give the impression that I'm vehemently anti-police - some of my best friends are coppers  - well come to think of it they aren't, nor are they ever likely to be -  but that's not the point.

It's just at the moment everywhere I look  I seem to see hordes of police intimidating - or actually attacking - legitimate protest. 

The latest was at the council meeting in Lewisham last night where anti-cuts protesters where met with riot police and a mounted charge. This came at the end of the same day when it was announced that the Met were disgracefully finally getting round to looking into possible 'misconduct' on the part of the TSG's PC Simon Harwood who attacked, and very probably killed  Ian Tomlinson last year. 

And today we see a repeat of the scenes from last week, in Whitehall (although the snow has ensured it is on a smaller scale)  -  as I write  mounted police are again charging students - many of them young school students.  

The Met have also  taken the opportunity today  to warn the parents of underage protesters (and most importantly I suspect potential protesters) that they should be aware of the dangers of protesting. In effect we are being told that we enter our own streets at our our own risks.

It's becoming a dangerous time to be a protester - but it's also becoming a dangerous time for authority. The state in this country has always rested on the idea of policing by consent - it's what gives the basis for our supposedly 'peculiarly english' tradition of shying away from political confrontation. Now, probably more so than at any point since the miner's strike of 84-5, that consent appear to be  being withdrawn.

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