Less freedom in Westminster’s Parliament Square than in Hong Kong! – The Ecologist

police kettling and breaking up peaceful protesters in Westminster [Image tweeted by Heather Croall].

Police kettling and breaking up peaceful protesters in Westminster [Image tweeted by Heather Croall].

Donnachadh McCarthy went to Parliament Square yesterday to address a peaceful rally about the failings of British democracy. The intimidatory, violent and inflammatory police reaction only confirmed everything he had to say – as did the dignified restraint of the Occupy Democracy protestors, according to The Ecologist:

Yesterday I was invited to speak about ‘The Prostitute State – How Britain’s Democracy Has Been Bought’ – at the Occupy Democracy Rally in Parliament Square.

The plan was to give the talk (which went well – despite being nervous) and meet up with a friend later for dinner.

Instead I ended up being threatened with arrest not once, not twice but six times and ended up sleeping rough in the open all night in Parliament Square with the amazing people seeking to establish the weeklong democracy Occupy Democracy forum !

The first near arrest was for holding on to a placard stating that “Occupy Democracy is a drug and alcohol free zone”.

Three policemen nearly broke my fingers to take it off me, whilst refusing to tell me on what grounds a peaceful protester could not have such a placard.

The second near arrest was when about 60 of us were sitting around in a circle on the grass discussing democracy and occupy. About 40 riot police surrounded about 20 of us and kettled us in. They then threatened us with arrest for refusing as peaceful citizens to give our names.

The third near arrest happened when I helped rescue one of the peaceful democracy debaters from a snatch squad.

The fourth near arrest happened when I saw the private security guard boss who disgracefully now police Parliament Square (AOS) , indicate uglily three peaceful democracy debaters whom he wanted arrested and helped grab them out of the way.

The fifth near arrest was when I argued that the police were guilty of unnecessary harassment and making a farce of the Metropolitan Police, in seeking to wake up one of the democracy debaters who was asleep, as they claimed the plastic bag he was using to keep himself dry was “an object assisting him to sleep” and that this was illegal in Parliament Square!

The sixth and final near-arrest was this morning when the police sergeant and four policement dragged me away from Occupy Democracy for the heinous crime of holding a placard with their values:

“Peaceful non-violence
No discrimination of any sort
No drugs or alcohol on-site”

They eventually tore it off me, after I exercised peacecful direct action in seeking to hold on to it, whilst asking on what grounds it was illegal to have such a sign and the sergent tore it to shreds.

Hundreds of police – but whatever for?

There were literally hundreds and hundreds of police surrounding the democracy debate.

Then another police cordon around the squares footpaths – within which the press were banned.

Then the entire boundary of the square was surrounded by police vans.

A police helicopter hovered overhead. Hundreds more police were in vans spread all around the vecinity.

This massive over-policing and attempts to shut the democratic forum down was truly shocking and outrageous.

However, despite repeated provocation the democrats remained peaceful, and with huge help from the legal team, Occupy faced down all of the attacks and is now proceeding peacefully with talks and workshops all week, including today.

Please go and support these brave protesters today or during the week if you can.

I am now going to crash … grateful for not being in jail and grateful for helping claim this space for open democratic debate for nine days, outside the Whore of Parliaments.

Vox Political wants your observations about this event, the issues surrounding it and the reaction of the authorities. If you were there, please tell us what you experienced; if you weren’t, tell us what you think of it.

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28 thoughts on “Less freedom in Westminster’s Parliament Square than in Hong Kong! – The Ecologist

  1. Thomas

    The problem is there are not enough protesters to make a difference. First you need a huge crowd out on the streets, second you then have to stop the huge crowd rioting, looting and acting like idiots.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      In fact the second part is quite easy, it seems, if you don’t have people in your crowd who were planted there by the police or the administration against whom you are protesting. Interesting, that…

  2. martin

    This comes as no surprise me in any way. The same thing happened when disabled people occupied the grounds of Westminster Abbey a few months ago, there were around 50/60 of us in wheelchairs and 200+ police with riot batons, tazers etc.

    At one point one small group of police got nasty and tried provoking the more able bodied of those who were our helpers/carers by pulling them on top of us who where in wheelchairs. but credit where credit is due some officers did stop their colleagues from turning our peaceful and non violent occupation into a bloodbath. Those who where trying to provoke us just showed the contempt those in power have towards those who stand up for their rights etc.. Also police refused to let us have water, food and vital medication but in the end, due to the intervention of a senior officer, the medication was allowed to be passed over the fence but only after it had been searched.

    I strongly believe if john McDonnell MP and various independent reporters hadn’t been there it would have been a very different outcome for all disabled who were there.. In other words there would of been mass violent arrests of us disabled who where protesting over the closure of the independent living fund…

    We disabled are literally in a battle with this Tory gov’t for our very lives; many of us have lost our lives due to welfare reforms. 10,600 have died in the first 11 months of 2011. We found this out via a freedom of information request to the DWP. Now the gov’t are refusing to release more up to date figures…

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      As one of the main people trying to get those up-to-date figures released – who updates readers on progress (or the lack of it) very regularly in this blog – you don’t have to tell us about the death figures, Martin!
      Hopefully there will be another twist in that tale soon, although it would be wrong of me to suggest that you should get your hopes up.

  3. Hex Austen

    The 9 Peelian Principles….

    1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.

    2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.

    3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.

    4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.

    5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.

    6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.

    7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

    8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.

    9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

    The Review will relate specifically to policing in England and Wales drawing on the experiences from Scotland and Northern Ireland where policing is a devolved issue and taking note of lessons learnt internationally.

    1. Gordon Powrie

      The police were founded to protect the property and interests of the ruling class, whether aristos or bosses. It is the sole reason for their existence, and the reason why crimes against property generally carry harsher sentences than crimes against the person. Also why ‘lower class people are imprisoned, while those at the top walk free.

  4. Kevin Mallen

    I support free citizens discussing the future of the planet. I believe these forums hold an important place in the future, and I encourage free citizens to speak their minds; it is such a pity that the governments of the day do not encourage citizens’ participation in the Democratic Process beyond rubber stamping corrupt bureaucrats in their continuing plunder of the resources of this great planet.

    1. C2H4n

      …… it is such a pity that the governments of the day do not encourage citizens’ participation in the Democratic Process.

      They wouldn’t dare because if they did they would have to take notice of the electorate!

      Finally the way it works, at present, can hardly be called democratic.

  5. harry

    Mike…God bless people like these. They are doing exactly what is needed. Our Parliament, along with its denizens might as well be on Ebay. It is indeed the Whore of Parliaments.

    What is needed is for the nation entire to rise up peacefully and end this corporate free for all in politics. Our silence is their consent. The corporate coppers are indeed a farce, albeit an evil farce. The incorporated MP’s within the incorporated, trading for profit Parliament is the bane of all of our lives. Our political system entire is quite literally owned by the City of London, which is a Foreign and sovereign state.

    I am 100 percent in favour, and admire these brave souls who challenge our entire farce of a demockery and legal system. The entire edifice of British democracy is a cruel facade, while our legal system, based on trickery and fraudulent language and corporate thuggery is really completely evil. and served by secrecy.

    It is my hope that this protest will escalate peacefully (leave the violence to the corporate thugs disguised as police officers), until this nation which exists under the thrall of a very unusual apathy, even while a suffocating panopticon of evil proportions beyond even the imaginings of Bentham himself is erected around us, rises as comprehension dawns that the slavery must end: Once and for all. The Wars must end: Once and for all.

    What I cannot grasp is why people remain quiescent in the face of the actions taken by this, the most evil of governments in modern history.

    These occupy people are pioneers: I pray that they stay the course and that others follow until one hears the noise of millions of scales falling from the eyes of the people of Great Britain.

  6. wildswimmerpete

    The Corporate State in all of its……..err………glory. The Met at least represent the interests the ruling corporate elite, although Greater Manchester police are trying to emulate the Met. I’m surprised the Met’s snatch squads didn’t machine the protesters, the Met loves gunning down the innocent then asking questions. The above report shows that the Met is partly composed of ill-trained, out-of-control thugs that have a strong mob instinct. It must be borne in mind that a few years ago UK constabularies between them bought in some 5,000 machine guns. Why?

    1. Tony Dean

      “5,000 machine guns,” can you provide a reference for that please. Because machine gun is a specific term. I am someone who used to work for a firearms dealer who spent significant amount time converting fully automatic firearms to semi-automatic only for use by the police.

  7. hstorm

    How can MPs keep bemoaning a lack of engagement in politics among so many of the public, when as soon as Westminster faces the slightest whisper of a protest, they send in the heavies and have shiny new water-cannon on standby?

  8. amnesiaclinic

    Very sad state of affairs but this has been the case for a long while now. Doubly sad that the thugs, corporate enforcers as has been pointed out are also part of the 99% and they need to remember that. They are losing out on pay and pensions like the rest of us and being privatised which means fewer jobs for less pay etc.
    I hope they stick with Occupy and manage to educate a few of the police as well.
    Democracy – did you see part1 of ‘The Power of Nightmares’ screened on the BBC recently. Very interesting perspective of the neocons fabrication of the cold war. Just make it up!

  9. Chris Griffiths

    I agree with most of what Harry says….I do believe the police are on the Governments side….I call them the ‘Queens bully boys’….I witnessed police brutality at the Poll Tax demo…..and the fact that press and tv were not present in numbers is because they are told not to report events….that is unless it gets out of hand, then they will because it throws bad light on the demonstrators……we need many more demo’s and many more people to join…..and carry it on for longer like they are in Hong Kong……and if these demo’s do not work….then we really do need a serious revolution…..I wouldn’t call what we live in a ‘democracy’ any more…..it is more like a Corporate dictatorship and a police state…..

  10. houteklomp

    Also, members of the public should serve their country and not career politicians. A fair cross section of society, similar to jury duties. Appointed for 4 or 5 years max. and staggered. This will prevent big companies to establish relationships with those running the country and politicians getting into vested interests.
    Besides that there should be an independent organisation that provides data on anything that is needed to make decisions about.
    Any ministry should have a spokesperson from the group that has been there the longest (3+ years), by rotation.
    The public should get involved directly through either government or public called for democratic referendums.

    Career politicians are raping democracy.

  11. sarah Barratt

    I knew things were bad but I hadn’t realised quite how bad. This has opened my eyes. How can we the public be so apathetic?

  12. Tony Dean

    Lynn said:

    October 20, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    H&K MP5. Can be fully automated or semi automatic at the flick of a switch. Hope this helps.

    Lynn the H&K MP5 is NOT a machine gun. it is a submachine gun and I spent a long time converting ones for the police from full auto, to semi auto.
    That the police have 5000 machine guns is hyperbole and I really would like to know the origin of it so I can correct the person’s wrong ideas.
    I prefer people who debate to do so using informed and accurate information.
    Such hyperbole undermines contentions and sensible debate.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Just to remind everybody we’re discussing the police here.
        In context, the description might be appropriate.

      2. Tony Dean

        Mattoid that is just the kind of hyperbole that loses you any credibility.
        The ONLY time is it possible to see a police officer with a fully automatic firearm of any kind it would be an MOD police officer and if you have got a security pass. If you have not got a pass you should not be there anyway.

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