Archive for the ‘anarchism’ Tag
A watchdog has said the Metropolitan Police’s planning for the London G20 protests in April was inadequate.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary said the force had responded well to some of the challenges posed by the world summit.
But it said the force had not planned for the peaceful but highly disruptive Climate Camp in the City of London.
One man died after the London protests and investigators are looking at other formal complaints about police actions.
In his wide-ranging report, the inspector of constabulary Denis O’Connor said police tactics had been far too focused on tackling violence, such as the sporadic clashes outside the Bank of England, rather than facilitating peaceful protests during other parts of the day.
A group of housing activists have entered and occupied the house of Anne and Alan Keene. Both Labour MPs they were known as “Mr and Mrs Expenses” two years before the MP spending scandal broke; Mrs Keen, a health minister recently admitted making an expense claim for private hospital treatment for a member of her staff. At the centre of their scandal was their double mortgage claim, where they illegally used Parliamentary expenses to pay interest on the mortgages of both their homes – one of which has now been occupied by outraged locals along with activists from all backgrounds and nationalities.
It was revealed several days ago that they faced having their Hounslow constituency home repossessed by the council after leaving it empty for over a year. The £385,000 three-bedroom terrace was being renovated whilst they stayed in their central home London near Parliament which they billed the public £137,679 for. After an alleged falling out with the builders the house was left empty, but at a local residents meeting a member of the public alerted activists to the location of the house, and 2 days ago it was occupied.
“Have you seen the Blues Brothers over there?” the police surveillance officer said. “Look – filming everybody else.”
It was supposed to have been a routine day of protest for Val Swain and Emily Apple, but at 1.31pm on 8 August last year, moments after being spotted by the surveillance unit, they found this was to be no ordinary demonstration.
After challenging a police officer over his failure to display a badge number at a protest against the Kingsnorth power station in Kent, the two women were wrestled to the ground, handcuffed and placed in a police van. They were held in custody for four days, three of which were spent in HMP Bronzefield.
Swain, 43, was arrested for assault and obstruction and Apple,33, for obstruction. The charges were later dropped.
The arrests were caught on police surveillance footage obtained by the Guardian and will be submitted to the Independent Police Complaints Commission tomorrow in a complaint lodged by the solicitors firm Tuckers.
Swain, from Cardiff, and Apple, from Cornwall, believe they were unlawfully arrested and detained because they campaign for Fit Watch, a protest group opposed to police forward intelligence teams (Fits), the surveillance units that regularly monitor political activists and demonstrations and meetings.
We’ve got the numbers, they’ve got the guns..
Our chants reverberated under the St. Paul skyway. The 2008 RNC protests were underway, the culmination of two years of anarchist/anti-authoritarian organizing materializing before our eyes. For once, we were many, and they were few… or maybe not. With 3500 cops and an uncounted number of National Guardsmen and Secret Service agents on the streets, this time they had both the guns and the numbers.
Overwhelming force was only one element of the state’s repression strategy. The main hub of direct action coordination– the RNC Welcoming Committee– had been infiltrated by at least one undercover cop and two paid informants almost a year prior. On Friday night, the hammer came down with a raid on the St. Paul Convergence Center. Cops busted in the doors with guns drawn, forcing about 100 people to the ground, zip-tying them, and then photographing everyone and taking IDs. What a start to the weekend…
The next morning, I got a call from a friend alerting me that the cops were raiding anarchist houses across south Minneapolis. Eventually, four houses had been raided, and eight members of the Welcoming Committee jailed.
Over the next week, over 800 people would be arrested in conjunction with the protests. Many would be injured by rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tear gas, pepper spray, and other weaponry. The state imposed a high cost on expressing dissent.
An MP who was involved in last month’s G20 protests in London is to call for an investigation into whether the police used agents provocateurs to incite the crowds.
Liberal Democrat Tom Brake says he saw what he believed to be two plain-clothes police officers go through a police cordon after presenting their ID cards.
Brake, who along with hundreds of others was corralled behind police lines near Bank tube station in the City of London on the day of the protests, says he was informed by people in the crowd that the men had been seen to throw bottles at the police and had encouraged others to do the same shortly before they passed through the cordon.
Brake, a member of the influential home affairs select committee, will raise the allegations when he gives evidence before parliament’s joint committee on human rights on Tuesday.
“When I was in the middle of the crowd, two people came over to me and said, ‘There are people over there who we believe are policemen and who have been encouraging the crowd to throw things at the police,'” Brake said. But when the crowd became suspicious of the men and accused them of being police officers, the pair approached the police line and passed through after showing some form of identification.
An attempt to block Channel 4 News from broadcasting a report about the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protest in London has failed.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission – which is questioning a police officer in connection with the death of Mr Tomlinson – sought an injunction preventing fresh pictures of events preceeding Mr Tomlinson’s death from being broadcast.
Tonight a judge refused to grant an injunction, and Channel 4 News and More 4 News intend to broadcast the item tomorrow.
The report from our home affairs correspondent, Simon Israel, includes a frame-by-frame analysis of events leading up to the moment when Mr Tomlinson was struck at by a police officer and fell to the ground.
In its attempt to secure a court order preventing the broadcast of this report, the IPCC argued that the material could be prejudicial to its investigation.
ITN, which produces Channel 4 News, said tonight that “this is a responsible piece of journalism that brings important new information into the public domain”.
Footage of police officers hitting out at the G20 protests has dominated the news for the past fortnight. But what impact has the proliferation of cameras had on policing?
If there is one recurrent theme in the images of the recent G20 protests, it is what’s held in the hands raised in the air.
Hundreds of cameras rise out of every sea of protests. In the foreground are the digital SLRs and full-size video cameras of the professional media. But in the background there is a profusion of smaller devices.
They are in the background of shots of Nicola Fisher, struck in the leg with a baton, and of Alex Kinnane, hit in the face with a riot shield.
In a time of complaints about the surveillance society, cameras are being used by ordinary people to monitor the activities of those in authority. And the kernel of the idea goes back some years.
“It has been a topic among criminologists ever since the Rodney King incident,” says Prof Philip Stenning, a criminologist at Keele University. “It’s the first obvious example of how the police were brought to book as a result of a camera in the hands of a private citizen.”
Senior police officers face serious questions over the “unacceptable” trend of officers disguising their identity during clashes with protesters, the chair of the independent police watchdog warned yesterday, as it began formally investigating a third alleged assault on a G20 protester.
Nick Hardwick, chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), called for a national debate over how police maintain public order and demanded much tougher political accountability, warning that police should remember they were “the servants not the masters” of the people.
He is also seeking the necessary resources for the watchdog to conduct more investigations independently from police – as it is doing over the death of Ian Tomlinson, the news vendor who died after being caught up in the G20 protests – and expanding its remit in cases where there is evidence of wider systematic problems.
The latest investigation concerns a 23-year-old man who claims to have been assaulted by a Metropolitan police officer in the early evening of 1 April at a police cordon on Cornhill in the City of London, adding to two existing investigations into the death of Tomlinson and claims by a woman activist that she was attacked.
Hardwick told the Observer the latest case would “not necessarily” be the last taken up by the IPCC, which is still sifting almost 90 complaints about the use of force and examining CCTV footage.
He made clear his concerns about incidences of officers disguising their identifying numbers, which should always be displayed on the shoulders of their uniforms, arguing that colleagues should have reported such wrongdoing.
The ACPO has responded to the conclusions:
The head of the Association of Chief Police Officers today rejected a watchdog’s criticism of the way officers handled the G20 protests, claiming tear gas or rubber bullets would have been employed in any other country.
Sir Ken Jones described the approach to tacking demonstrations as “proportionate” despite a series of videos which have provoked anger at officers’ actions.
He was reacting to comments from Nick Hardwick, chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, who said that allegations of brutality against individual officers raised “serious concerns”. Mr Hardwick, who pointedly reminded police that they were “servants, not masters” of the public, has called for a review of police tactics during demonstrations.
The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office is preparing to drop terrorism charges against the so-called RNC Eight, according to a source close to discussions about the high-profile prosecutions. The group of activists, who have been accused of a criminal conspiracy to disrupt the Republican National Convention, will still face felony charges of criminal conspiracy to riot and damage property.
This means that the defendants will no longer be subject to a possible 50-percent enhancement in their prison sentences if ultimately convicted of the charges. The RNC Eight (pictured) are believed to be the first defendants ever charged under the Minnesota version of the federal PATRIOT Act.
The decision to reduce the charges comes as the terrorism prosecutions have received heightened scrutiny from the media. It also comes as the calendar for Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party gatherings gets crowded, including a debate for gubernatorial candidates next week at St. John’s University. Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner is hoping to win the party’s backing for governor and has been receiving criticism from party activists for the prosecutions.
Jordan Kushner, an attorney for one of the RNC Eight defendants, believes the decision to reduce the charges is entirely political. “She obviously got too much bad publicity about it and she’s backing away,” he says. “But the problem is that all the charges are politically motivated and unjustified.”