After having planned to attend the demonstrations for the G20 conference, I ended up not being able to make it. Part of me is relieved given what went on but part of me is angry at myself for not going and standing there, if only to witness first hand just how far the powers of the law and police are being ever further abused.
Several of my friends were there and I heard first hand about what went on. I’d say it’s hard to believe some of the stories but, sadly, it’s really not. Peaceful groups of protesters being violently assaulted by baton wielding police is only too common worldwide nowadays, but having the police use a law designed to quell violent disturbances to remove all press photographers from an area, on pain of arrest for non-compliance, while they ‘attempt to resolve’ a peaceful protest is terrifying in it’s implications. Doing so basically shows that they are prepared to silence a free press while doing exactly what they like in the way of violence and there will be no evidence to show what really happened. All those surveillance cameras are only of use to them not the public, and you can be pretty sure we won’t be seeing much of that footage coming to light.
I must admit that I kind of expected it to kick off the way it did after hearing on the news before the event that a senior officer in the met (I don’t know who) was stating that it was going to be a violent protest. We know now that it was primarily violent due to the police instigating most of that violence. We’re now starting to see the video evidence of this, much of it contradicting police statements of what happened, and some simply showing outright abuse such as hitting peaceful protesters in the face for no reason, allowing dogs to attack protesters who are simply talking to policemen and others just randomly battoning non-violent demonstrators.
Now, don’t get me wrong, in general I admire the police for doing a difficult job in tough circumstances. However, with that comes a great deal of responsibility, and it will be interesting to see just what comes from it all in the way of prosecutions of officers. From the mounting evidence there seems to be plenty of scope for those, just take a look at the videos being compiled by the Guardian here, it’s horrifying.
Some people have said that if you’re not prepared for that then you shouldn’t have been there, but protesting is a fundamental part of democracy. We have a right to voice our concerns, we have a right to protest at injustices. Many people have lost their homes, livelihoods and life savings in the past couple of years through the greed of the banking system and then we’re asked to bail them out with tax money (an issue I’m not going to get into here). People are angry, and rightfully so, and we have a duty to protest, a duty to bring these people to answer for their mistakes.
Last year I was working around a bunch of city women who were discussing some of the financial packages they brokered and they knew that these packages were flawed, and that they were leading nowhere and would eventually lose people lots of money. They really didn’t care, they made their bonuses and just carried on. I wanted to shake them by the ears and make them realise that it’s other people’s money their playing with, that when the banks fail it’s the ‘little’ people that lose their livelihoods. I hope at least a few of those brokers are now out of work, though I doubt with their savings it will affect them greatly. I’d like, perhaps rather unfairly, to think that they find themselves out of work, with a big mortgage they can no longer pay and having to sell up at the bottom of the market. Maybe it will make them reassess their own lives. But I doubt it.
I’ll leave you with a rather good article about the day of protests from a wonderful ranty old chap I remember of old, Attilla the Stockbroker and his view from the inside of what went on that he put up on his myspace page, I hope he won’t mind me linking to it.