Category Archives: Protest

Inquiry: Police breached ‘fundamental rights’ at Sarah Everard and Kill the Bill protests

Clapham Common: police ‘failed to understand their legal duties in respect of protest’. That seems accurate – don’t you think?

Has the UK’s principle news outlet – the BBC – reported this in any way at all?

The report speaks for itself:

Police breached “fundamental rights” in their handling of the Sarah Everard vigil in London and Kill the Bill protests in Bristol, a parliamentary inquiry has found.

The Metropolitan Police and the Avon and Somerset force committed “multiple failings” in their response to the two events, according to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy and the Constitution (APPGDC).

Their report claims that both forces wrongly applied coronavirus lockdown laws and “failed to understand their legal duties in respect of protest”.

It also suggested that officers taking action against protesters – as opposed to engaging with them before the event – “may have increased the risk of COVID-19 transmission” at the Sarah Everard Vigil in Clapham, southwest London.

Officers in Bristol “failed to distinguish between those protesting peacefully and those engaging in acts of violence”, which resulted in “excessive force” being used, it added.

Both police forces mentioned in the report have rejected its findings, meaning nothing will be done to improve policing.

It comes just days before Boris Johnson and Priti Patel’s draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill returns to the Commons with its proposals to make protest events like those on Clapham Common and in Bristol almost entirely illegal.

The findings have led to proposed amendments to the Bill, including abandoning some of the new proposed powers – as they are “unnecessary” and have placed police in an “unfair position” – and suggesting a special code on how to police protests.

The inquiry’s chairman, Labour MP Geraint Davies, said: “The police must not become the enforcement agency of the state against those who choose to publicly and collectively call for change – political, economic, social or environmental.

“Parliament must protect our freedoms and reject attempts to increase police power and restrict our right to peaceful protest.”

And yet the news media are strangely unwilling to report on this.

If the public don’t know about it, they can’t support the proposed changes, or the criticism of the police forces, meaning they can carrying on doing exactly whatever they want, and Johnson will be able to curtail our freedoms in any way he pleases.

Are you happy for that to happen?

If so, then you don’t have to do anything. Just sit back and let him strip you of your rights and freedoms. It will hurt – but not until you have a reason to complain and then find out that you aren’t allowed to.

If not, then it’s time to stand up for yourself. You can start by simply making sure all your friends see this article. Or is even that too much because you’re worried about what they’ll say?

Source: Police breached ‘fundamental rights’ at Sarah Everard and Kill the Bill protests, parliamentary inquiry finds | UK News | Sky News

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Self-styled campaigner against anti-Semitism reveals his own Islamophobia after pro-Palestine demonstration

Islamophobe: David Collier.

How revealing.

David Collier is an infamous name among those of us who have had to fight false accusations of anti-Semitism.

If you’re not familiar with him, here‘s one critique. There are many others available on the interweb.

A fellow-traveller with such commentators – it’s as bland an expression for them as any – as the @GnasherJew Twitter troll network and Rachel Riley, he is often to be seen flinging bile at people he labels anti-Semites.

And now he is hoist by his own petard.

The IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism, used by Collier’s ilk to attack others, uses, as an example, “Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.”

Another example is “Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

Now consider Collier’s attack on the pro-Palestinian demonstration in London on June 12, together with Ali Milani’s response:

Isn’t Collier applying double standards of exactly the type that is considered racist against Jews in the IHRA definition he touts?

To paraphrase, isn’t he “requiring of Muslims a behavior not expected or demanded of any other ethnic group”?

And isn’t he also demanding that these Muslims somehow have a responsibility for “the slaughter of innocents in Yemen, the tragedy of the Uigurs, or genocide against Christians in Nigeria” by failing to protest against them?

Isn’t he trying to make them “responsible” for these “wrongdoings”? Guilt by association is a standard tactic of Collier and his crowd.

By his own standards, he has highlighted himself as a racist Islamophobe. No legitimate journalist or commentator has any business with him from now on.

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Join the day of protest against Hancock’s NHS privatisation

I found this on my brother Beastrabban’s Weblog and it is well worth passing on to a wider audience:

It seems Matt Hancock and the Tories haven’t given up on their wretched plans to privatise the NHS. The Health Secretary is planning to introduce legislation that will allow private healthcare companies on to the management of NHS organisations. Apparently, this has already happened with Virgin sitting on the board of the NHS in Bath And North-East Somerset. The anti-privatisation organisation We Own It is planning a day of protest against this latest move to break up the health service next Thursday, with symbolic tugs of war taking place between the public and private healthcare companies up and down the country. I got this email from them yesterday.

“Matt Hancock is planning legislation that will let private companies make decisions about our NHS care.

“It’s already starting to creep in – Virgin were given a seat on the new NHS body in Bath and Somerset.

“You can help to stop this in its tracks by making an impression all across the country with a clear image: this is a TUG OF WAR between you and private companies.

“Will you join in the National Day of Action on July 17th and organise a local ‘tug of war’ stunt to say NO to the private takeover of our NHS?

I will join in the National Day of Action

“We think this legislation is coming to parliament quite soon.

“So NOW is the time to get organised.

“By organising an eye-catching ‘tug of war’ stunt, with private companies on one side ❌and US on the other ✊, you’ll be helping to get the news out and show our collective outrage.

“Don’t worry if you’ve never organised an action like this before, we’ve got you covered!

“If you want, you can come to a training session and there’s a step by step here.

“The stunt doesn’t need to be big. It just needs you, a few friends and a rope!

“Will you be part in the National Day of Action on July 17th to stop Virgin making decisions about our health and our NHS?

I’ll take part in the Day of Action

“The government is trying to put on a spin on this bill, saying it will end privatisation, because they know privatisation of our NHS goes down like a lead balloon.

“So it’s VITAL that together we get a huge amount of coverage for the Day of Action.

“Find out more about organising for the day, with our handy step by step!

“We can support you every step of the way.

“What about the rest of the UK? This bill will mean disintegration of our NHS in England. Luckily the rest of the UK is not going ahead with these plans yet.

“But it is not a good sign for the direction of our NHS as a whole, long term.

“We’ll have action for everyone take on July 17th to say no to this private takeover.

“Thank you for being part of this fight. You’re not alone in fighting for our NHS.”

This is a matter very close to the Beast’s heart as he is undergoing treatment for a long-term illness. While he can’t take part himself, he urges the rest of us to do our bit.

Sadly, it seems he has given up on Labour’s Keir Starmer:

“Starmer should be doing this, but like the good Blairite he is, when it come to tackling capitalism he’s nowhere to be seen.”

Source: ‘We Own It’ Planning Day of Protest Against Hancock’s NHS Privatisation | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

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Kidnap, rape and death of Sarah Everard means the police service is BROKEN. Can it be fixed?

This casts a huge shadow over the UK’s police services – not only because of the crimes admitted by PC Wayne Couzens but because of the way police across the country tried to suppress public protest.

Couzens, of Deal, has admitted kidnapping and raping Sarah Everard in a hearing at the Old Bailey (although he appeared by video link from Belmarsh Prison).

He also accepted responsibility for her death but did not enter a plea on the charge of murder.

Ms Everard, 33, went missing while walking home in Clapham, south London, on March 3. She was reported missing by her boyfriend on March 4 and her body was discovered hidden in an area of woodland near Ashford, Kent, on March 10.

Couzens…

pleaded guilty to kidnapping Ms Everard “unlawfully and by force or fraud” on 3 March.

He also pleaded guilty to a second charge of rape between 2 and 10 March.

So now we know that the man who murdered Ms Everard was indeed a police officer.

This fact raises serious questions about the trust we place in our police services – as does the way police across the UK handled the public reaction to this crime.

Remember the Clapham Common vigil that police officers deliberately escalated into a full-on confrontation? They kettled peaceful attendees – most, or all, of whom were women – provoked a violent confrontation and arrested them when they protested.

They were transmitting a very clear message to all of us:

Women in the United Kingdom should fear the police. Officers are able to kidnap, rape and murder them and when this causes protest, the protesters will be arrested.

That is what the police service now represents, and while the Conservative government may not be said to be directly responsible for the criminal behaviour of these uniformed thugs, it is certainly clear that the politicians in charge have done nothing to prevent it and everything to suppress protest against it.

A review of the incident by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) subsequently insulted all the women who took part in the vigil when it cleared the Metropolitan Police of any inappropriate behaviour.

It stated that the force “was justified in adopting the view that the risks of transmitting COVID-19 at the vigil were too great to ignore” and that it was therefore perfectly reasonable for burly uniformed policemen to inflict violence on defenceless women.

On March 14, a further public event – this time a protest demonstration against the policing of the Sarah Everard vigil – attracted a much more low-key police response but even then the officers attending could not hide their priorities.

They clustered around a statue of Winston Churchill that they had (allegedly) been told to protect “at any cost”:

On March 16 allegations emerged that a police officer guarding the scene where Sarah Everard’s body was found had shared an “inappropriate” message about her death with colleagues on WhatsApp.

We were told that it was believed the “inappropriate graphic” contained offensive comments about her death.

The family of Ms Everard were informed of the incident but we were not told whether they had received the grovelling apology that they deserved.

The incident also served as a reminder that only last year, two policemen caused a scandal when it was revealed that they had taken selfies of themselves with the bodies of two murdered women and shared them on WhatsApp.

While we were all told at the time that “lessons have been learned” it became crystal clear that this was not true and that all women could be sure of getting from the police was contempt.

Four days later – March 20 – a serving police officer who assaulted a woman while she was walking home late at night (a direct parallel with what happened to Sarah Everard) using police techniques walked free after magistrates let him off with a fine and a curfew. He was excused community service because his lawyer said it would be hard for him to work with criminals, even though he is now a criminal himself.

The first thing Warwickshire police had done on receiving the victim’s complaint was to ignore it.

The victim then had to undergo an uphill struggle to get that police service to take her seriously, and it is unlikely that she would have had any justice at all if she had not been able to find CCTV footage of the assault.

It showed that Oliver Banfield, 25, hurled a stream of misogynistic abuse at Emma Holmer, 11 years his senior, as he tried to employ techniques he learned from police training to drag her to the ground and put her in a headlock.

I stated at the time: “Apparently this has been described as an ‘unlawful arrest’. I’m sure you can think of a much better description for what is clearly a hate attack against a woman.

“And let’s remind ourselves that Sarah Everard was ‘just walking home’ (the words have been used as a slogan ever since the incident) when she was attacked” by another serving policeman.

I added: “Two incidents cannot suggest that such behaviour is epidemic in the UK’s police. But they are enough to instil fear in every woman who has to walk home in the dark because they know they cannot automatically rely on the police to keep them safe.

“When a trust is betrayed, it can be extremely difficult to win back. Sometimes it is impossible. It seems clear that the police – and the justice system – isn’t even bothering to try.”

It is clear that we can no longer trust the police to uphold the law and protect us against crime. That contract has been broken by the police themselves.

Today, the police are able to commit crimes against us with impunity, with protests silenced by heavy-handed colleagues and suppression by both individual police services and the government, and their actions whitewashed by so-called watchdogs.

This cannot be allowed to continue.

This corruption must be purged. But how can it be done when nobody who is in a position to do it can be trusted to?

Source: Sarah Everard: Wayne Couzens admits rape and kidnap – BBC News

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Peace and Justice Project update: fighting for the right to protest – and for security WITHOUT war

Positive change: Jeremy Corbyn’s Peace and Justice Project is working to improve the lives of people in the UK and across the world. Isn’t that better than Boris Johnson’s determination to crush anybody who disagrees with him, and to launch pointless wars abroad?

Jeremy Corbyn’s Peace and Justice Project has had a busy month after the Johnson Tory government put forward plans to curb your right to protest and to escalate involvement in pointless wars across the world.

The attack on your right to protest is now well-documented; Boris Johnson and cronies like Priti Patel want to arrest you if you “annoy” them with protests against their increasingly unfair, fascist new laws.

And the plan to spend billions on new nuclear arms and become involved in more foreign wars over lengthier periods of time has also been well-reported.

Here’s Jeremy Corbyn to outline what the Peace and Justice Project has been doing about it – and on all the other issues it is taking forward:

This is worthwhile politics – actually working to make the UK, and the wider world, a better place in which to live.

It is sad that the UK’s system of government has now become so corrupt that the only way of achieving positive goals is as part of a campaigning organisation – but that is the situation that the last 42 years of neoliberal politics has created.

We can either work within that situation or give up and accept slavery to the likes of Johnson, or Keir Starmer, or the next would-be dictator.

If you want to be part of the movement for change, details of how to join the Peace and Justice Project are in the video.

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Why were these pro-Palestine protesters hit by driver?

Two sides of the same coin? The hit-and-harm attack on pro-Palestine protesters happened around the same time the occupants of these cars were (allegedly) spreading anti-Semitic propaganda around a predominantly Jewish London neighbourhood.

At first, I was going to say this was the flipside of the anti-Semitic behaviour we’ve seen in the UK since Israel started its latest military purge of the population of Palestine.

But that would be simplifying matters.

The incident, resulting in the arrest of one man who apparently drove his car through a crowd of pro-Palestine protesters in Nottingham, could have other causes.

Perhaps the alleged perpetrator had a grudge against the victim(s) and merely used the pro-Palestine protest as cover.

Perhaps the injured person wasn’t the intended target at all.

It will be educational to find out, if a trial results from this arrest.

My bet is on it being the work of a pro-Israel nutcase, though. Occam’s Razor – the most obvious alternative is probably right.

Source: Man arrested after car hits pro-Palestinian protesters in Nottingham | The Independent

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How could police raid G7 activist’s home without warrant or reason?

Police: it seems they are expanding their powers unilaterally, so they can harass you even before you have given them any reason to.

It seems Boris Johnson’s fascist government has decided to accelerate its attack on your right to protest by putting planned restrictions on your freedom into action before legislation has passed through Parliament.

How else are we to understand the raid at G7 activist Rob Higgs’s Cornwall home, workplace and the business where he keeps his boat, last Thursday (May 13)?

Rob, who is a theatre maker and co-founder of climate action group Ocean Rebellion, said of the raids: “They searched the premises without any warrants, interviewing all my neighbours and tenants, asking about me, what I do and telling people at the boatyard that I am a ‘person of interest’.

He told CornwallLive: “The police’s quote was, ‘We’re just letting you know that we will not in any way stop peaceful protest but we can arrest you at any time that we believe you might be considering disrupting the G7 Summit’, which wouldn’t be legal as normally you’ve got to break a law to be arrested, unless what they’re hinting at is conspiracy charges.

He added: “It’s because I’m a co-founder of Ocean Rebellion, which is an entirely peaceful, legal organisation trying to raise awareness of the oceans.

“We basically make photo shoots and small pop-up theatrical performances that gets good media and global coverage about ocean degradation and how the seas are dying. We’re trying to raise awareness of that and push legislation from the UN to reverse the ocean degradation.

“For the last few months the G7 police have been asking what our plans are and made contact early on saying they’d like to facilitate a peaceful protest. We said ‘thanks but generally you stop it whenever we tell you what we’re doing.’

“We’ve got a dedicated police liaison officer already who has been in discussion with them for months now trying to get them to tell us what we can and can’t do and where we can and can’t go, and we will design all our actions around that to stay within the legal frameworks. I don’t want to break any laws.

“They have refused to let us know, specifically on the water, where the exclusion zones are. They come back to our police liaison officer asking what we’re planning and we tell them we can’t say until they tell us where we can do it!”

Mr Higgs is filing an official complaint to the police and had also taken it up with the Cabinet Office.

What a bizarre situation – it seems the police are being deliberately obstructive of these campaigners’ attempt to mount legal protest, in order to have a reason to arrest them!

I think it would be hard to make a conspiracy charge stick when this group has a police liaison officer who has been trying to plan legal activities but has been foiled by the police’s refusal to co-operate in any way.

But it seems clear in any event that the police are being used as political tools – sent to harass this organisation in order to frustrate its efforts.

And what is the terrible, terrorist act that Ocean Rebellion wants to do?

It wants to raise awareness of the fatal effects of climate change and pollution on sea life – effects that will eventually impact on human beings like you and me in possibly catastrophic ways.

Bang goes Boris Johnson’s attempt to claim environmental credibility.

I can’t wait to hear him try to justify it but I bet he won’t even acknowledge that it has happened.

Source: G7 summit activist in Cornwall files complaint after police ‘raid’ his home and work – Cornwall Live

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Humiliation for Patel as crowds block immigration officials from removing Muslim immigrants

If anybody was still in doubt that Priti Patel is an insensitive bully, then those doubts should be dispelled now.

She has just tried to detain – in order to deport – two Muslim immigrants who had settled in Scotland, during a Muslim Festival: Eid al Fitr.

Some on the social media consider it an attempt to bully the Scottish people after they returned another SNP government to the Scottish Parliament and leader Nicola Sturgeon immediately announced that there will be another referendum on Scottish independence from the UK:

If it was, then it has backfired badly because Patel’s immigration officials were forced to release the men after hundreds of residents of Pollokshields in Glasgow surrounded the Border Agency van in Kenmure Street and refused to let it leave.

Officers said they were freeing the men for the safety of everyone involved following a stand-off in Glasgow that lasted for nearly eight hours.

The pair, both Indians, [had been] detained on suspicion of immigration offences and were released on bail pending further investigation.

Video clips on the social media show how public feeling against Priti Patel’s heavy-handed bullying grew, from this…

… to this, as the men were released:

And opponents of Patel and her continuation of the Tory government’s illegal “hostile environment” policy have made their feelings clear:

Sadly, we know Patel will not learn from her mistake. This message strikes as being all-too-accurate:

One other person will be regretting the incident, despite the fact that his heart was in the right place: Howard Beckett, candidate for leadership of the UK’s biggest trade union, Unite.

Mr Beckett tweeted in anger when the situation in Glasgow became clear, and his words were ill-chosen, for the reasons described in Owen Jones’s tweet:

But the Unite leadership candidate recognised this, acknowledged it, deleted his tweet and apologised:

He then (rightly) published further messages attacking Patel’s shockingly inappropriate and oppressive behaviour:

While his initial message was wrong in the language and concepts it used, it would have been equally wrong for him to back away from the issue after realising his mistake.

By the same token, it would also be wrong for anybody watching and commenting on what happened (Owen Jones take notice) to side with Patel against Beckett because of it:

If either of them is a racist, it could only be Priti Patel.

Source: Immigration officials release two men after crowds block van | The Independent

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Israeli Jewish racists condemned over ‘Death to Arabs’ street demonstration

Violence: after far-right Israelis marched through Jerusalem shouting ‘Death to Arabs’ it didn’t take long for violence to happen. Who do you think suffered the most harm as a result?

This is what happens when a country’s government demands that anybody not belonging to a particular ethnic/religious group must be second-class citizens.

The right-wing government of Israel has enacted laws to put Jewish citizens above anybody else who lives there – and has actually walled off Palestinian settlements (until such time as Jewish settlers can turf out the residents and take their homes).

It was only a small step from there to the scenes we witnessed in Jerusalem’s Old City, when hundreds of far-right activists took to the streets, shouting “Death to Arabs”.

It is an insult against their own history. After the Nazi Holocaust, Jewish people should be on the side of the oppressed, never that of the oppressors.

But it does conform to a very sad social phenomenon – that a proportion of people who suffer abuse go on to become abusers themselves. It is well-documented among individuals; now we see a society going the same way.

Let’s see some of the evidence. I present it with comments from Twitter users who provided it:

The obvious response to the young woman in the last clip is that her sentiment was shared by people in Berlin in the 1930s and 40s – but they were referring to Jews.

 

In fairness, this was just one gang of far-right racists. Other Israelis have been lining up to condemn what happened.

But the only reason it happened at all is because their government created the conditions that allowed it.

Source: ‘Death to Arabs’: Chaos erupts in Jerusalem after far-right march | Middle East Eye

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Unforgivable: anti-lockdown protesters compare masks and vaccines with the Holocaust

I was going to avoid reporting on anti-lockdown protests, because in a time when wearing a mask and having a vaccination injection could save many thousands of lives, I would have hoped anyone with sense could see that these people are wrong.

But some of the protesters who were out in London today (and elsewhere, I dare say) took the opportunity to take their silliness across the line into the unforgivable. I refer to this:

It is bad enough that people like this … lady … have chosen to mock the memories of more than 150,000 victims of the Covid-19 virus by announcing their ignorance of its threat all over our streets.

But then they had to pretend that measures designed to safeguard their lives are somehow similar to the systematic persecution and extermination of Jews by Nazi Germany.

It isn’t very often that I agree with David Baddiel on matters concerning anti-Semitism but this was an offence, not only against the 150,000 who have died over the last year or so but also against the six million Jews who were murdered in the Nazi Holocaust.

In that context, I think his tweeted “Take. That. Off.” was remarkably restrained.

Others who took to the social media to express their outrage were more explanatory. I won’t publish the actual tweets because they feature the full image, including the woman’s face, and I don’t want to give her the publicity.

The Auschwitz Memorial Twitter account stated, “Instrumentalization of the tragedy of Jews who suffered, were humiliated, marked with a yellow star, and finally isolated in ghettos and murdered during the Holocaust, in order to argue against vaccination that saves human lives is a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decline.” This was also remarkably restrained, in my opinion.

Heather Rufus tweeted: “To anyone wearing the Star of David as a lockdown protest, you’re totally lacking in awareness. Millions of Jewish people were murdered during the Holocaust and you are likening lockdown to that. You should hang your head in shame. Gross.”

Ian Moore went further: “If you wore a Yellow Star today to protest against facemasks that protect others, you are a stain on humanity. You ignorant, privileged morons. Whatever your perceived grievances are, how is that Holocaust level? Vile.”

Benjamin Cohen, CEO of Pink News added: “If you really want to be a crank and protest about the Covid lockdowns that have saved lives, do not then appropriate a symbol from the Holocaust that led to the murder of six million Jews and permanently diminished Jewish population, destroyed Jewish culture and history.”

There’s this, from @HowardA_Esq: “Being asked to wear a mask or be vaccinated is not like having your family burned alive, gassed to death, starved to death or worked to death because of their religion. This is the symbol of our religion and our persecution. Take it off, bigot.

“My family were murdered by people who force them to wear the Star of David. Playing holocaust victim because you were asked to wear a mask, it’s reprehensible on every level.”

Damn straight.

Source: London protest: Thousands gather for anti-lockdown march after pubs and shops reopen – Mirror Online

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