Tag Archives: vigil

Review whitewashes Metropolitan police behaviour at Sarah Everard vigil

Is anybody surprised that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has cleared the Metropolitan Police of any inappropriate behaviour at the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard?

The review said the force “was justified in adopting the view that the risks of transmitting COVID-19 at the vigil were too great to ignore”.

So that made it reasonable to kettle these people – crowd them into an ever-smaller space, making those risks much greater, did it?

That made it reasonable to arrest these people, did it? Were they crammed like sardines in police vans? Were they crammed like sardines into cells?

Forcing people into close contact with each other seems an extremely odd way to combat a disease that is spread by close contact – especially people who had been very recently injured.

The review said “officers remained calm and professional when subjected to abuse” and “did not act inappropriately or in a heavy handed manner”.

So this wasn’t heavy-handed?

How about this?

Or this?

Hmm.

Like many others, I notice that there was no problem with the Duchess of Cambridge attending the event that Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick branded illegal.

Why wasn’t Kate Middleton attacked with a baton and bundled into a White Maria?

Ah, but she attended during daylight. The police didn’t move in and start hurting people until after dark. Now, why was that, do you think?

The report by Sky News makes it clear that the atmosphere did not turn hostile until the police started kettling people. Oh, the cops were telling people to leave, were they? How could they do that when the uniforms were cutting off their ability to go?

The bandstand was soon almost surrounded by officers and the atmosphere started to become more hostile. It was at this point that a number of women appeared to be shoved and people starting shouting at the police.

It seems clear to me that HM Inspectorate of Constabulary came to the conclusion it usually reaches – that the police can do no wrong.

How many attendees at the event were consulted during this review?

None, I’m betting.

No wonder the result was one-sided.

Let’s have a proper, public inquiry – then we’ll hear some uncomfortable facts (but of course, that will never happen).

Source: Met Police ‘acted appropriately’ at Sarah Everard vigil, review finds | UK News | Sky News

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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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Public feeling about Grenfell is as angry as ever – but the authorities are still trying to screw the survivors

There was a huge turnout for a silent march in memory of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Sadly, the enthusiasm of the authorities in finding out the causes and identifying the culprits has been less visible.

Thousands took part in a silent march to commemorate the fire at Grenfell Tower – but a tiny minority of bureaucrats seem intent on preventing the survivors from getting justice for the dead.

The latest wheeze is a bid to wind up the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation – the body responsible for the management of the tower at the time of the fire.

If this happens before the inquiry into the circumstances of the fire is able to report, there are fears that those who may have responsibility for the tragedy will escape justice.

According to the Grenfell Action Group:

“1)   We understand that a motion calling for an adjournment of the vote on the resolutions was filed in time and in accordance with the relevant rules. It appears that it was nevertheless rejected by the KCTMO and was not sent out to members. We understand it will be proposed again on the day of the AGM

“2)  We understand that the venue for the AGM may have changed but formal notice of this change hasn’t been sent out.

“3)  If RBKC becomes sole member of the TMO there are concerns that:

  • The TMO might cease to exist as an organisation and therefore might not be subject to prosecution for corporate manslaughter;
  • If the TMO no longer exists liaison with the Inquiry, including on important matters of disclosure and witness participation and attendance, could be undermined.
  • Additionally, the TMO might not exist as an entity capable of being sued in civil proceedings for its acts and omissions prior to the Grenfell Tower fire;

“Crucially, all of these matters could prevent or undermine (a) the TMO being held accountable in relation to the fire and (b) prevent or undermine the search for the truth through all available legal avenues.

“4)  In any event, even if the TMO were not wound up, RBKC would have sole control over the manner in which the TMO interacts with the Public Inquiry and other criminal and civil justice processes including requests for disclosure.

“It is unclear why there is any need for haste in making a decision on this and a vote could be adjourned to allow for more information to be provided and further legal advice obtained.”

Clearly, the vote on Tuesday must be for the TMO to remain in operation. A future vote can demand that it is shut down – after the inquiry reports its findings and any further action, necessitated by that finding, is taken.

Any other course of action, it seems, would be an insult to this:

Plans to formally disband the Kensington and Chelsea tenant management organisation (KCTMO), the body responsible for Grenfell Tower, are being fought by survivors of the fire who fear that the move will allow officials to escape blame and scrutiny for their part in the disaster.

The proposal was first discussed in August by acting chief executive of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC), Barry Quirk.

But Grenfell survivors and other residents were alarmed when they received a letter from the tenant management organisation urging them to vote for it to be disbanded at its AGM on Tuesday 17 October.

Residents say that while they ultimately want the TMO to be dismantled, this must not happen before it has been scrutinised at the public inquiry.

Source: Grenfell survivors fear disbanding TMO will let officials escape blame | UK news | The Guardian


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Protest today against work capability assessment creator

Mansel Aylward, former chief medical officer at the Department of Work and Pensions: Architect of misery?

Mansel Aylward, former chief medical officer at the Department of Work and Pensions: Architect of misery?

The Disabled Activists’ Network Cymru (DAN Cymru) is organising a vigil and protest against a decision by the Socialist Health Association to give a platform to Sir Mansel Aylward, the man behind the Department of Work and Pensions’ Work Capability Assessment.

Data released by the DWP last month show that thousands of people have died after being found “fit to work” by the deeply flawed WCA, which was introduced by Sir Mansel while he was Chief Medical Officer of the DWP.

A statement by DAN Cymru declared: “As disabled people we are dismayed at the lack of solidarity shown to us by Socialist Health Association through their decision to give legitimacy to Sir Mansel and the discredited ‘biopsychosocial model’ of disability on which the WCA is based.”

The biopsychosocial model on which the WCA is based is a brainchild of the US medical insurance industry, particularly Unum, which funds Sir Mansel. Unum Provident Insurance were fined $31.7 million in 2003 in a class action law suit in California for running ‘disability denial factories’ in which they use the pseudoscientific and discredited biopsychosocial model to deny medical insurance payouts to thousands of ill and disabled Americans.

Dr Liza van Zyl, a disabled member of DAN Cymru, said: “A lot of disabled people who become involved in DAN Cymru initially found us when they were searching the internet for ways to commit suicide because the DWP stopped their income after the WCA found them fit to work.

“The WCA has been the cause of so much suffering and destitution of disabled people in Wales. It is staggering beyond belief that the Welsh Government has appointed the man responsible for the WCA to chair Public Health Wales.”

Rob Marsh, convenor of DAN Cymru said: “The biopsychosocial model is a cargo-cult science with no credibility in the medical and scientific establishment.

“The British Medical Association has condemned the WCA and called for it to be scrapped. The BMA has found that eight out of 10 GPs report that their patients find the WCA and the DWP-administered benefits system so stressful that it causes mental ill-health in those patients who did not previously have mental health conditions.

“And over half of WCA assessments are overturned on appeal, at huge cost to the taxpayer. It is staggering that Aylward is considered an appropriate person to advise the Welsh Government on public health and disability matters”.

A summary of the Work Capability Assessment, the Biopsychosocial model of disability, and its introduction into the UK welfare system by Sir Mansel Aylward can be found here.

The protest will take place at 6.30pm today (Tuesday, September 8) outside the Unison Wales offices on Custom House Street, Cardiff CF10 1AP.

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Vigil to support judicial review for ESA claimants with mental health issues

Vigil: This was taken when the case was appealed in October 2013.

Vigil: This was taken when the case was appealed in October 2013.

Does anybody fancy helping create a stir outside the Royal Courts of Justice next week? Don’t worry, you shouldn’t get arrested.

The courts will be the venue for the judicial review of government policy regarding claimants of Employment and Support Allowance who have mental health issues, from July 7-9. That’s between Monday and Wednesday next week.

On Tuesday (July 8), the Mental Health Resistance Network, supported by Disabled People Against Cuts, will be holding a vigil at the front entrance of the Royal Courts of Justice building on The Strand, between midday and 2pm.

The aim is to highlight the important issues around the case.

This should help: Buses 4,11,15,23,26,76,172 and 341 all stop at the front of the Royal Courts of Justice, 171, 188, 243, 521 and X68 stop at Kingsway and Aldwych Junction nearby. The nearest underground station is Temple (District Line), Holborn (Central and Piccadilly Line) and Chancery Lane, (Central Line).

Anyone with stories of how you have been affected by the Work Capability Assessment is invited to come and share them – and support the fight for justice.

So how about it?

DPAC’s website has this to say about the judicial review: “Two people who claim benefits on mental health grounds initiated a judicial review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), supported by the Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN). In May 2013, the judges presiding over the case ruled that the WCA places mental health claimants at a “substantial disadvantage” and that the DWP should make “reasonable adjustments” to alleviate this.

“Often mental health claimants struggle to provide further medical evidence to support their claim for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and may not be able to accurately self report how their mental health conditions affect them, either when completing forms or at face to face assessments. Many claimants are wrongly found fit for work and subjected to the stress of appealing the decision.

“The claimants who brought the case, DM and MM, asked the court to rule that the DWP should be responsible for obtaining further medical evidence at every stage of the process to improve the chances of a more accurate decision being reached about whether a person is able to work or to start preparing for work and to avoid the need for a face to face assessment in cases where this would be especially distressing for the claimant. In addition, claimants who are at risk of suicide or self harm would be more likely to be identified. In such cases, regulations 29/35 would apply. These regulations are intended to reduce risk of harm but the DWP often fail to identify who they apply to.

“The Department for Work and Pensions appealed the judgement. Their appeal arguments were mainly concerned with legal technicalities but in December 2013 the judges issued a ruling that upheld the original judgement in May. The DWP did not launch a second appeal.

“Under the Equalities Act of 2010, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to mitigate any disadvantages experienced by disabled people. The forthcoming hearing will be concerned with establishing what adjustments the DWP should make to the WCA process. We already know from the original hearing that they plan to run a pilot study to assess the “reasonableness” of obtaining further medical evidence. We want to ensure that any study will be fair, honest and approached with an open mind. Unfortunately we find it hard to trust that this will happen.

“In his witness statement of July 2013 Dr Gunnyeon, Chief Medical Advisor and Director for Health and Well-Being at the DWP wrote, ‘ESA was designed to be a different benefit from Incapacity Benefit (IB), being a functional assessment rather than a diagnostic one. The face-to-face assessment is a key part of this process as the only truly independent part of the process. Moving away from this would, I believe, be a retrograde step which would seriously undermine the way in which the assessment process has been conceived and designed. It would represent a return to the position in Incapacity Benefit (IB), where claimants were “written off” on the basis of their diagnosis’.

“Most people would be amazed to learn that the DWP are fighting tooth and nail against having to consider a person’s actual problems when assessing them for benefits.”

For those who cannot attend the vigil, it is still possible show your support on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #wcamentalhealth

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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