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Saturday, 11 April 2009

Imagining the wonder of a communicative police force

At the start of this, month I, like many of you I suspect, was out on the street protesting to try to get my small voice heard by the g20 leaders meeting in London.

I spent the day mainly at the climate camp near Liverpool Street and was pleasantly surprised by the nature of the policing. Protesters and police chatted happily and the only thing exchanged other than kind words was a flower given to a smiley policeman. What a joyous scene!

But as night fell the attitude of these previously so amiable coppers changed and they donned their riot gear. This sudden change of character was a little surprising, but what really surprised me was the lack of any type of communication to the protesters about their plans. Being mostly peaceful hippy types, the protesters were relaxed about the situation, wanting to protest, but not to the point of getting their heads beaten in. However there was no indication from the police if or when this time might come. It seems to me foolish to think that action without warning will not cause at least a little confusion and thus bad feeling.

There was no sense of attempting to work with the protesters to work out a solution for both sides, but more to beat or break them in some way to show some type of supremecy. It is this strange mentality of competition and confrontation that made the situation more difficult for both sides. The protesters, because of the unpredictable and intimidating tactics of the police, and the police, because of the resolution that they had brought out in the protesters to fight for what they believe in, even if it meant sitting down and waiting to be physically picked up and moved.

It is however not the individual policemen that I am criticising, but their tactics of intimidation and unwarned violent action, that can clearly only breed bitterness. This leaves you considering, in a street of only protesters and police, who are these people protecting? Are we not the people that they are supposed to "protect and serve"?


Cerisa said...

agreed Frank. A friend of mine went to Strasbourg to protest. He's a peaceful hippy type, and would never provoke violence. But he's new to protesting and wasn't expecting the tactics the police employed, including giving beatings to people seated on the ground or using tear gas on peaceful protestors. People died because of poor crowd control skills. Have you read Night Watch?

Frank said...

i think that it is also disturbing to note how frequently these incidents happen, if it was one incident at one time then you can put it down to chance, but when these tactics of intimidation and violence are used repeatedly you have to look at how the police are trained and disciplined and what tactics they are told to use. I have never read night watch by the way, who is it written by?

Cerisa said...

It's written by Terry Pratchett, in the fantasy / satire genre. You might find it quite interesting.