Researchers question violence and harassment against protesters and police’s role in seeking to undermine the legitimacy of the protest
A new report on the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) operation at the Barton Moss Community Protection Camp in Salford from November 2013 until April 2014, produced by researchers from Liverpool John Moores University and the University of York, has raised serious questions about police violence and harassment against protesters “including gendered violence experienced by women” and “the dominant media and public portrayal of the protest and the protesters, including the role played by GMP in influencing this portrayal”.
The report’s key findings highlight how, although the Barton Moss protest was overwhelmingly peaceful, the nature and scale of GMP’s operation had the effect of undermining the right of protesters to protest peacefully. It argues that “violent behaviour and harassment were central features of the policing operation”, with several women reporting “sexualised violence by GMP officers”, drawing particular attention to the role played by the force’s specialist public order Tactical Aid Unit. Read more
Netpol has called for an end to “extremely broad and deeply authoritarian powers” allowing the police to apply stringent bail conditions against protesters following arrest but prior to deciding upon formal charges.
In a submission to a consultation by the College of Policing, we argue that the repeated use of conditions that are poorly defined, disproportionate or bear little relation to an individual’s circumstances are infringing on the civil rights of protesters.
When combined with an increased tactical use of mass arrests, however, police bail becomes something more: “a means of disrupting protest activity… without the inconvenience of dealing with a formal legal process.” Read more
The following statement was made by the stopG8 group in response to the excessive level of force used against protesters yesterday (Tuesday).
StopG8 held a “Carnival Against Capitalism” in the West End of London today (11 June), demonstrating against 100 murderous banks, corporations, “dens of the rich” and other hiding places of power in the run up to the G8 Summit.
The carnival went ahead despite extreme pre-emptive violence from the Metropolitan and City Police, which caused a number of protesters to be injured. The police surrounded the StopG8 Social Centre on Beak Street, W1 from 10am, and then broke in through the front doors and from the roof later in the morning. At the demonstrations starting at 12 noon in Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus, police snatch squads violently arrested and assaulted more demonstrators.
People present in the Beak Street building report that the police used tasers, chemical sprays, and dogs, and hit unarmed people with shields and fists as they held their hands in the air or covered their heads. We are currently gathering witness statements and will release soon a detailed account of the attacks and injuries. We know that at least two people received serious head injuries, and many more were beaten. We are still waiting on reports from at least 30 people who were arrested.
“I could hear tasers going non stop for at least a minute,” said one witness, “I never heard anything like it in my life.”
A StopG8 spokesperson commented: “The police claim that they raided Beak Street because they suspected there were weapons on the building. In fact the only weapons were the police tasers, batons, shields, chemicals, fists and dogs.”
On Saturday 1st June the police arrested 58 people who had been protesting against plans by the British National Party to march to the cenotaph in Westminster. Anti-fascist protesters had breached restrictions imposed on their protest, having refused to be contained within an area designated by the police. Police confronting them used considerable force – eye-witnesses have described officers punching protesters, and one woman was taken to hospital with a broken leg. The police then carried out ‘snatch squad’ style arrests until two buses had been filled with handcuffed people.
The 58 people were all arrested for breaching conditions imposed on an assembly. They were taken to police cells, but none were charged with any offence. Instead they were released on police bail with instructions to return in July to be told whether or not charges would follow. Most were also given highly restrictive bail conditions, banning them from any form of protest and excluding them from much of central and west London. Read more
On Friday 27th July, 182 cyclists were arrested by the Metropolitan police for straying too close to the Olympic venue. Netpol have been given a number of eye-witness accounts from participants in the Critical Mass which tell a highly disturbing story.
Those arrested were forced to tolerate poor conditions of detention, with some spending the entire night detained on a bus at Charing Cross, waiting to be booked into custody, without adequate access to water or toilet facilities. Some people were forced to spend an excessive amount of time in handcuffs, and access to legal representation and advice was patchy. All have also been subject to highly restrictive bail conditions, which in some cases have left people unable to work without breaching the conditions of their bail. Some have had to face a significant struggle to reclaim their own cycles.
But even more disturbing perhaps, was the disturbing ease by which the Metropolitan Police have felt able to carry out a strategy of mass arrest against a group of people whose primary offence appears to have been the act of cycling into East London. Read more
Last night, as the Olympic Games Opening ceremony began, police arrested over 130 cyclists for cycling near Stratford. The cyclists were part of Critical Mass – a group who do regular cycle rides through London on the last Friday of the month and have done so for years.
The riders were stopped, kettled and arrested under Section 12 of the Public Order Act. Some arrests were extremely violent. British Transport Police officer 4125 was filmed by multiple sources hitting both a male and female cyclist. When a disabled man tried to stop him, the disabled man was reportedly sprayed with either CS or pepperspray. A police medic is seen also hitting crowds.