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How can we trust police intent now?


5:05 pm - May 10th 2009

by Chris Naden    


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“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,” reports the Guardian today.

I really hoped that the assault on Ian Tomlinson had been an accident. It wasn’t. I really hoped that the police medics had not been engaged in violent assaults: they had. I really hoped that the police medical teams had been provided to care for the injured; in fact protesters were explicitly refused help, by medics, while bleeding. I really hoped that the police had not been targeting legal observers and arresting them, harassing them, stealing their recording equipment, defacing their notebooks. All of these things were happening.

But now there is much more.

Every time I held back from making a claim and waited for more evidence, the evidence has appeared. I was really hoping that at least some of my illusions regarding the British respect for law (as well as order) might remain intact; that at least some of the things people said about Operation Glencoe might, in fact, have been mistakes or smears.

But now I’m beginning to wonder about this journalistic integrity thing. I recently wrote the Feast of Fools and Culpability series; I kept seeing things in eye-witness reports which I either cited very carefully, noting that eye-witness reports were unsubstantiated, or left out altogether because there wasn’t enough data and I genuinely hoped they weren’t true.

But no. One of the things I didn’t say because I only had one, unconfirmed eye-witness report, was that police agents provocateur had been spotted in the crowd; that the crowd, having identified them trying to stir up trouble and cause the protesters to confront police violently, had turned on them, and that the officers in question had escaped by flashing ID at the cordons and being let through without query.

I have already argued, based on analysis of witness statements, video, admissions from the police themselves, and the Climate Camp legal report, that there was an intent behind Operation Glencoe. I have illustrated that the police prepared themselves for systematic lawbreaking by concealing IDs. That they had a clear agenda, indicated by their lies during and after the protests, by the pattern and scheduling of their actions, and by the nature of their tactics.

That the agenda in question was to punish dissent. All of this is by evidentiary deduction, but now I have my second source; an MP no less.

I can now safely say that the policing of the G20 protests was politicised with the intent to incite rioting among their enemies, so as to provide an excuse to break heads. The “who started it” debate is over; it’s not analysis or speculation now. It’s a Parliamentary inquiry and I bloody well hope it’s a criminal investigation within the month. If it isn’t then we will know for sure that the agenda of using paramilitary officers to punish dissent does not start with Sir Paul Stephenson, but with his political masters in Whitehall and Downing Street.

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About the author
Chris Naden is a real ale landlord, a Druid and a great fan of Spider Robinson. He is committed to making Britain better by persuasion, education and political action.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Civil liberties ,Crime ,Our democracy

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Reader comments


1. mellowmund

I share your feelings.

Seconded

And they expect us to agree to a DNA database! How do we know that some of the police won’t use it to fit up those they happen to dislike.

4. the a&e charge nurse

The portents do not look JQP – the police are impervious to scrutiny.

The Wikipedia page devoted to the toothless Indepedent Police Complaints Commission [IPCC] makes for grim reading.
For example, it has been noted that “no policeman has ever been convicted of murder or manslaughter for a death following police contact, though there have been more than 400 such deaths in the past ten years alone.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Police_Complaints_Commission#cite_note-6

So, if officers on the ground are never brought to book (unless they are all innocent, of course) how can we expect shadowy senior figures to be flushed out from their secret lair?

The only thing that surprises me is the strategic deployment of agent provateurs since the G20 demo was bound to attract one or two factions that were likely to engage in more volatile methods of confrontation.

Incidentally, will this parliamentary inquiry be conducted by the same MPs who have become rather preoccupied with expenses claims recently?

5. Stuart White

One or two of the people I spoke to outside the Climate Camp kettle suggested the police were trying to incite violence to justify the strong police presence and their rhetoric leading up to the G20 protests. At the time, I took note of this, but I didn’t mention it in anything I wrote on the Climate Camp because I believe in the principle ‘Assume cock-up unless conspiracy is proved.’

I still don’t think conspiracy ihas been proved. But we have evidence of conspiracy which is serious and warrants serious, independent invesitigation. We can’t rely on the police (obviously) to do that, and I don’t have much confidence in the IPCC. So the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee has to carry a lot of responsibility on this one. Well done to Tim Brake and others for getting the evidence out.

6. Shatterface

What’s really scary is that everytime a seamingly outrageous claim about the police is confirmed, another more paranoid claim emerges – and that’s later confirmed too.

This protest HAS to provoke an overhall of policing the like of which we haven’t seen for a generation.

This protest HAS to provoke an overhall of policing the like of which we haven’t seen for a generation.

But you know deep down, Shatter, that this will not happen at all.

People have been alluding to police heavy-handedness for years, decades even – and nothing was believed.

Really, truly and honestly – why do you really think that the police wanted the non-photography law brought in? Do people STILL believe that the police are those great saviours in shining armour?

If that is the case then I am really surprised.

The worst part about that – is you have successive governments, predominantly on the right – who go along with it.

The thing is – environmentalists have complained about this for years. Its only now, at G20 when the tide turned against the police, that these allegations are being taken seriously. Or at least being reported by the media in a big way.

I really hoped that the assault on Tolinson had been an accident. It wasn’t. I really hoped that the police medics had not been engaged in violent assaults: they had. I really hoped that the police medical teams had been provided to care for the injured; in fact protesters were explicitly refused help, by medics, while bleeding. I really hoped that the police had not been targeting legal observers and arresting them, harassing them, stealing their recording equipment, defacing their notebooks. All of these things were happening.

Interesting to see your bias. What did you make of the Jeff Gannon sleep over?

10. douglas clark

gyges,

What the heck has Jeff Gannon got to do with this?

I’m quite alarmed that our police would act like this, for I’d genuinely like to see them as representing us, rather than politicians.

But this style of politicised policing is not new. The cops hid their numbers during the Miners’ Strike and during Wapping (legal obervers were beaten up, for example). Both of those strikes showed a level of brutal violence that wasn’t really highlighted as the media made out it was the protesters/strikers who were committing the violence (Orgreave…anyone). Sound familiar?

I was at the first anniversary demo at Wapping in Jan 1987, my first big demo and the memories are imprinted in my mind, the level of violence by the cops smashing up the make shift ambulance for people hurt, people running to the speakers’ platform to protect themselves from being baton charged by cops on horses, chased down side streets, and so on. And the level of violence of demos wasn’t just isolated with the G20 protests. The Gaza demos turned nasty (people being kettled in the underpass at Hyde Park) and the cops violence on the Israeli embassy pickets. This is a systematic and conscious increase in politicised policing. Again, historically, this isn’t a new phenomenon. Agent provocateurs aren’t new either.

The problem for the state in regards to the G20 protests it that they couldn’t keep the lid on the violence by the paramilitary style heavily tooled up cops as videos, cameras and mobile phones were documenting the evidence…and the invention of YouTube. Maybe just maybe people will open their eyes to the fact ‘British police are the best in the world’ belief and this could act as a watershed. I am pessimistic about these reviews of the police tactics as they are rather quick in publication (will they have meaningful representation?!). It also brings campaigns and other issues, rightly, to the forefront such as deaths in the custody of the state, and the appalling number of people who have died (2,533 since 1969….and that’s the ‘official’ figure and ones that are known about) and yet their family/friends are still figting to get to the truth. And Ian Tomlinson’s family will undoubtedly have an uphill struggle for justice.

Hi Harpymarx, I’ve seen the film Injustice (http://www.injusticefilm.tv/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=44&Itemid=39 for anyone who hasn’t seen it, it’s absolutely essential viewing) which says that over 1,000 died between 1969 and 1999 – do you have a source for the figure of 2,533 since 1969? That would make an extra 1,533 between 1999 and now – which is bloody worrying and hugely more serious than it already was.

Best police service in the world? What a joke. I don’t know about cops in general, but the ones they seem to round up for demonstrations are brutal thugs.

Rayyan, The film Injustice is excellent and I would recommend that people see it.

“Best police service in the world? What a joke. I don’t know about cops in general, but the ones they seem to round up for demonstrations are brutal thugs.” Again, I totally agree.

The figure quoted was from the UFFC (United Families and Friends Campaign) procession that is held every October to remember deaths in the ‘care’ of the state. They listed every single known person who has died, from police custody to other state custody (psychiatric and prison institutions). They were handing out A4 leaflets naming the dead and they also had a banner with all the names on which was at the front of the march. It was poignant, powerful and utterly heartbreaking seeing so many names and knowing that these people had been stonewalled and ignored by the state and the so-called invesigatory orgs like the former PCA/IPCC.

Thanks Harpymarx. Do you know if they have a website? I just tried searching but the Wikipedia article on UFFC had a broken link to it.

Glad to see the United Campaign Against Police Violence is taking off

Rayyan, they used to have a link but I don’t think they do anymore but this check this one out http://www.4wardever.org/

There’s a picket btw at Lambeth tomorrow from 6pm onwards as Nick Hardwick is speaking. The picket has been organised by the United Campaign Against Police Violence.

“People have been alluding to police heavy-handedness for years, decades even – and nothing was believed.”

Alluding is one thing, watching is another.

17. Chris Williams

United Campaign Against Police Violence?

From the looks of things, it’s another example of that old adage – you can tell when a potential mass movement of the left is arriving because the SWP turn up and create a front organisation to try and recruit off it.

Beware Trot vampires in this one as in any other: there’s always FITwatch, Defend Peaceful Protest, and Police State UK to support.

Gyges @10:

I’m slightly confused by your comment. Do you mean, I am clearly biased against the police (because I have noticed all the abuses I list) or that I’m clearly biased against the protesters (because I hoped the abuses weren’t true)?

Lee @17:

Spot on. The biggest thing that was different from the last time there was one this big is that this time, we are better at evidence-gathering and getting the word out, than they are at evidence-breaking and cover-ups.

Re Jeff Gannon – I was thinking about enculturation when I mention Gannon. There is a quote about the Jeff Gannon story (I think from Antiwar.com) that goes along the lines of … ‘if you or I had a prostitute stay over at our house, everyone would assume we’re whoring. When the President has a prostitute stay over, everyone is scratching their heads wondering what he’s been doing but can’t quite bring themselves to say the obvious.’

So, I’m not accusing you of witting bias; rather, bias through enculturation. The way I read your note, I got the impression that you couldn’t quite bring yourself to abduce the obvious.

Try harder and you may qualify as a conspiraloon!


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    New post: How can we trust police intent now? http://bit.ly/da2Cf

  2. Tom Griffin

    RT: @libcon New post: How can we trust police intent now? http://bit.ly/da2Cf

  3. Liberal Conspiracy

    New post: How can we trust police intent now? http://bit.ly/da2Cf

  4. Tom Griffin

    RT: @libcon New post: How can we trust police intent now? http://bit.ly/da2Cf

  5. Pigs « Ten Percent

    […] Pigs 10 May, 2009 — RickB 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. (ht2 LC) […]

  6. Wake-up…. « Harpymarx

    […] is the Political « Goldbug – Whole Lotta Love Wake-up…. May 11, 2009 I really hoped that the assault on Ian Tomlinson had been an accident. It wasn’t. I really hoped that the police medics had not been engaged in violent assaults: they had. I really hoped that the […]

  7. Say Hello to Your New Masters « Bad Conscience

    […] valiant defenders of freedom – the same ones who hid their identities and perhaps even used agents provocateurs to incite violent confrontation where there was none – are now being constrained by the fear […]





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