>Yesterday, on the G20 march through London, a couple of thousand flyers were given to trade union participants, raising the issue of police surveillance on demonstrations. Yet, given the policing style used on the march (anarchist block excepted) they could be excused for wondering what all the fuss is about.
The trade union delegations were lightly policed with surveillance kept at a discrete distance. Other similarly peaceful and co-operative protests in London have not been so fortunate. Take the marches for Burmese or Tibetan independance for example, large good natured protests that were subject to intense surveillance.
Trade unionists should also take a careful look at the policing of the climate camp last year in Kent, at which police appeared to have a free hand to harass and intimidate protesters and journalists who had done nothing unlawful (see the Guardian). They should also note the careful police surveillance carried out on union members on picket lines during the recent oil refinery dispute.
If all protest was policed with the respect shown to the trade unionists yesterday, there would have been no reason for the Joint Committee on Human Rights (not exactly a militant group!) to condemn last week the way that protest is surveilled and criminalised.
Trade unionists with no direct experience of just how unpleasant, aggressive and violent the policing of protest can be, may find it difficult to understand the more confrontational attitudes expressed in some postings on this blog. What I hope they do understand is that there is no one set of views or opinions attached to FITwatch. This blog is used to document and monitor the activities of Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT), but is also a forum for authors to express their individual views and opinions on protest policing. Readers, supporters and other FITwatch authors are free to disagree with what is said.
Support for this initiative extends from the confrontational to the liberal, and people have responded to the issues of surveillance and harassment in many different ways. Alternative approaches, new or traditional, are always welcome.