Tag Archives: kettling

Police kettle women for trying to ‘reclaim’ the streets after policeman arrest for woman’s kidnap and murder

Kettled: hundreds of people – mostly women – were kettled on Clapham Common by police – mostly men.

Could there be a more strident declaration that the UK is backsliding culturally?

After a police officer was arrested and charged for kidnapping and murdering a woman, a vigil was organised on Clapham Common in memory of the deceased and as a mark of defiance against those who would put women in fear for their lives while just walking down the street.

In response, Metropolitan police officers kettled participants – boxing them in so they could not move freely – and then arrested them. Here’s how they carried out the second part of this operation:

The message is clear: in Tory Britain in the 21st century, women should feel afraid – all the time. The police will enforce it.

Possibly worst of all is the fact that the police acted this way not only after one of their number was arrested for the kidnap and murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, but also under the orders of a female commissioner, Cressida Dick.

Dick’s tenure has been controversial from the start – often due to racist behaviour by her officers. This incident has renewed calls for her resignation, with accusations of sexism against people of her own gender.

As I understand it, police say they acted as they did in order to enforce Covid-19-related laws on social distancing. It is unclear how they can say kettling people is consistent with that claim.

My understanding, again, is that people gathered on Clapham Common in spite of the fact that a planned vigil had been cancelled due to difficulty in securing police co-operation. Organisers of the cancelled event, Reclaim These Streets, have released this statement:

Women across the country are deeply saddened and angered by the scenes of police officers physically manhandling women at a vigil against male violence*.

From the start, Reclaim These Streets set out to work closely with the Met to ensure this vigil could go ahead safely, so women could stand together peacefully and safely to remember Sarah Everard and all the women lost to male violence.

The Metropolitan Police failed to work with us despite the High Court ruling yesterday that a vigil could potentially go ahead lawfully. In doing so, they created a risky and unsafe situation. It is their responsibility to protect public order, public health and the right to protest – they failed tonight on all accounts.

All the time they spent fighting us on a legal claim that the Judge agreed should not have been necessary and was caused by the Metropolitan Police’s stance, they could have been working with us to ensure the vigil went ahead in a safe way. The Judge was clear and the Metropolitan Police conceded minutes before the hearing that there was no blanket ban on protest under the current law. They then had an opportunity – and a responsibility – to work with us safely and within the law.

This week, of all weeks, the police should have understood that women would need a place to mourn, reflect and show solidarity. Now is the time for the police and the government to recognise that the criminal justice system is failing women. Tonight it has failed women again, in the most destructive way.

Possibly the most chilling comment on these terrible events came from Boris Johnson, who said he would do “everything I can to make sure the streets are safe”.

He’ll probably impose an armed curfew.

Whatever he does, it will probably backfire because people are angry.

One commentator – aptly – described the situation: “Peaceful protest against violence against women is broken up by state violence against women.”

If that’s how people are seeing it, then in a country that is a seething cauldron of frustration due to Covid-19 restrictions, I fear that feelings are going to boil over and we could see some real confrontations.

And people are seeing it that way:

The woman pictured being arrested, above, is Patsy Stevenson. She was interviewed afterwards and her words capture the feeling of the moment:

Note that she said the next thing that should happen is another protest – and bigger.

With the authorities reacting not only inappropriately but violently – against the victims, I can only see this situation getting worse.

I hope I’m wrong but I know how the current government mistreats ordinary people. Tories will not understand that they cannot expect us to comply with what they say when what they do is harming us.

*Some readers may object to the characterisation of “male violence”. If you are one such person, my advice is simple: get over yourself. These events happened after a woman was attacked and killed by a man. The scenes on Clapham Common involved many men attacking many more women. And the worst of it is that all the men involved have police uniforms. Women have been left in fear for their lives not only because they don’t know whether the next man they see is going to attack them but also because they now know they cannot trust the police to protect them. Many men are saying that they have nothing to do with attacks on women and wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing, and that may be true. But that doesn’t mean that no men are responsible for such attacks. Perhaps, until a way is found to ensure that women can once again walk the UK’s streets in safety, all men should take responsibility and try to help, rather than whining that it’s nothing to do with them.

Source: Sarah Everard: Met criticised over Clapham vigil policing – BBC News

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No lawbreaking required: Secret police are spying on students to repress political dissent

Caught with his trousers down: Herr Flick from 'Allo Allo' - possibly the last secret policeman to be revealed in quite such an embarrassing way.

Caught with his trousers down: Herr Flick from ‘Allo Allo’ – possibly the last secret policeman to be revealed in quite such an embarrassing way.

So now not only are our students facing the prospect of a life in debt, paying off the cost of their education (thanks, Liberal Democrats!) but they know they can expect the police to be spying on them in case they do anything radical, student-ish and treasonous like joining UK Uncut and occupying a shop to publicise the corporate tax avoidance our Tory-led government encourages.

Rather than investigate and solve crimes, it seems the police are embracing their traditional role (under Conservative governments) as political weapons – targeting suspected dissenters against their right-wing government’s policies, trying to undermine their efforts and aiming to apprehend key figures.

They are behaving like secret police, in fact. Allow this to go much further and we will have our own Gestapo, here in Britain. Before anyone starts invoking Godwin’s Law, just take a look at the evidence; it is a justifiable comparison.

According to The Guardian, police have been caught trying to spy on the political activities of students at Cambridge University. It had to be Cambridge; Oxford is traditionally the ‘Tory’ University.

The officer concerned tried to get an activist to rat on other students in protest groups in return for money, but the student turned the tables on him by wearing a hidden camera to record a meeting and expose the facts.

The policeman, identified by the false name ‘Peter Smith’, “wanted the activist to name students who were going on protests, list the vehicles they travelled in to demonstrations, and identify leaders of protests. He also asked the activist to search Facebook for the latest information about protests that were being planned.

“The other proposed targets of the surveillance include UK Uncut, the campaign against tax avoidance and government cuts, Unite Against Fascism and environmentalists” – because we all know how dangerous environmentalists are!

Here at Vox Political, it feels as though we have come full circle. One of the events that sparked the creation of this blog was the police ‘kettling’ of students demonstrating against the rise in tuition fees, back in 2010. It was a sign that the UK had regressed to the bad old days of the Thatcher government, when police were used (famously) to intimidate, annihilate and subjugate picketing miners.

Back then, BBC news footage was doctored to make it seem the miners had been the aggressors; fortunately times have changed and now, with everyone capable of filming evidence with their mobile phones, it is much harder for such open demonstrations of political repression to go unremarked.

In response, we see the police being granted expanded powers of arrest against anyone deemed to be causing a “nuisance” or “annoyance”, and now the infiltration of groups deemed likely to be acting against the government, even though they may not have broken any laws at all.

This would be bad enough if it was a single incident, taken in isolation – but it isn’t. It is part of a much wider attack on the citizens of this country by institutions whose leaders should know better.

The UK is now in the process of removing the rights it has taken nearly a thousand years for its citizens to win.

It is a country that abuses the sick and disabled.

And it is a country where free speech will soon be unheard-of; where the police – rather than investigate crimes – proactively target political dissenters, spying on anyone they suspect of disagreeing with the government and looking for ways to silence them.

Who voted for that?