Defend the Right to Protest

Working for the clampdown - the police and the cuts

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These are troubling times for the police. The march against cuts by 30,000 off-duty officers in May took place against a backdrop of widespread revulsion at police involvement in News International's illegal phone hacking operation, a scandal which has already led to the resignation of two of the Metropolitan Police's most senior police officers, Sir Paul Stephenson and John Yates.

The Leveson inquiry has revealed the scale of collusion between police officers, government ministers and News International staff, providing ample evidence of police complicity in a deliberate cover-up of illegal hacking. It would generally be considered unusual for the police to wine and dine with suspected criminals. Yet Paul Stephenson met with News International chiefs 18 times in the course of the "failed" investigations into hacking.

Our Right to Protest

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We are all familiar with the continuing attacks on the welfare state, public sector, and vulnerable groups in society by a raft of ideological spending cuts. In addition to that, we have seen a barrage of assaults on the basic democratic and civil right to assemble and protest, a phenomenon that has reached new heights of savagery in recent weeks.

The Royal Wedding was little more than a 24-hour suspension of civil rights. The so-called "Charing Cross Ten" were arrested for having placards wrapped in a bin bag - they weren't even demonstrating. They were shipped off to Surrey, where an entire police station's cells had been reserved for anyone unwilling to go along with the message of patriotism flooding the nation's screens.

Violence and Legitimacy

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Pat Stack argues that the media frenzy about direct action at recent student protests is based on the assumption that state violence is legitimate - and that we don't have the right to win


Photo: Geoff Dexter

When Edward Woollard was sentenced to 32 months in prison for throwing a fire extinguisher from the roof of Tory HQ at a student protest, there was no doubt that the British state was making an example of him to warn off student protesters.

The police - whose side are they on?

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The brutality with which Greater Manchester Police (GMP) attacked anti-fascists in Bolton last month shocked many.



In the run-up to the 20 March Unite Against Fascism (UAF) counter-protest it could have been anticipated that the English Defence League (EDL) boot-boys would use intimidation and threats. But it wasn't just the fascists who were out to crush their opponents.

Police: old Bill, new problems

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The front pages of the evening papers on 1 April reported a battle being waged by brave police against rampaging hordes of anarchists in the City of London. They were soon eating their words.

Alongside the death of Ian Tomlinson, last month's publication of police log entries from the day exposed the level of brutality meted out. "I punched him in the jaw and he moved backwards," wrote one officer, while another hit protesters with "shield strikes both flat and angled" and "open palm strikes...and fist strikes as well".

Policing the police

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The Territorial Support Group (TSG) - the "public order" section of the London Metropolitan police - has been accused of 159 assaults over the past year.

The 730-strong TSG has also received more than 547 complaints regarding their conduct during the same period - 29 percent of which were for assaults, including, disturbingly, sexual assault. Despite the complaints, no officer has been disciplined for their behaviour.

State violence exposed

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The death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests in London last month has reopened the debate on police accountability. Filmmaker Ken Fero remembers those who have died while in police custody and his fight to show the truth with his documentary, Injustice

Ian Tomlinson's death on 1 April during the G20 protests in the City of London was tragic and his grieving family and friends are demanding to know how and why he died. Establishing the cause of death is just one of many painful experiences that they will go through in order to find out the truth. Like the families before them who have lost loved ones after coming into police "contact" they will now have to suffer the indignity of Ian's body having three post-mortems.

Discontent and the police

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I have been on two demonstrations where protesters were killed and on a few more when I thought someone would be killed.

In every case there was a build up to the demo where the police, in particular, hyped up the threat of violence and the supposed need for aggressive policing. An atmosphere is created in which these police tactics are deemed acceptable and even reasonable, even though they rely on high levels of surveillance and violence.

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