Police claim they ‘showed restraint’ at student demo.

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Thousands of police were on the streets yesterday, many equipped with hard hats and weapons from the start, all intent on imprisoning protesters in a makeshift detention centre outside the houses of parliament. They viciously and repeatedly beat protesters around the head, leaving one twenty year old with life threatening injuries, and dozens more hospitalised. When protesters continued to push against their lines, they charged horses into the crowd. They threw a journalist to the ground from his wheelchair, and held others on the streets in freezing conditions without medical attention until almost midnight.

This, according to Sir Paul Stephenson, was ‘restraint’. On Radio 4 this morning he claimed we should be grateful that the police escorting Charles and Camilla didn’t open fire on the protesters who attacked the car with paint bombs, a rubbish bin and their bare fists. Given the show of ostentatious wealth paraded in front of young people denied even their EMA, I’d say it was the protesters that showed the restraint.

Hearing the police and some sections of the media dismiss the demonstrators as ‘thugs’ is sickening. The students and school kids out on the streets are fighting for their future, against a load of rich, out of touch MPs who think a £30k debt is mere chicken feed. What the hell are they supposed to do, write a letter?

The students acted with determination and courage. Their efforts to reach Parliament, get into the Treasury and attack Oxford Circus’s Topshop (with chants of ‘Pay your taxes!) stretched the police to breaking point. The gloves off brutality of the police showed how close they came to losing control of the situation.

Many demonstrators also understood the need to resist FIT teams. Even early on two FIT teams had to run away as they were pelted with smoke and paint bombs. Fitwatch would have had a lovely picture of the FIT covered in blue paint, but unfortunately our camera was lost and smashed during a later altercation with a police line, so you’ll just have to imagine it!

The police have promised once again for the ‘full force of the law’ to come down on student demonstrators. The FIT will be trawling though their pictures, and the details taken from students in the Westminster kettle who were forced to give their names before release. Fitwatch advice to students fearing arrest remains as important as ever.

21 thoughts on “Police claim they ‘showed restraint’ at student demo.

  1. i was there yesterday and this is my (as objective as possible) account:

    Our contingent from Birmingham University arrived at the demo at 3pm by which time, despite that everyone was in a good natured mood it was already kettled.
    It was possible to get in but after that it was impossible to get out but as we had come all this way to be at the demo the majority of us went in. Just as an aside at this point i would like to say that i heard the Commissioner of police on the radio this morning who was saying that the only reason that they employ “containment” tactics is to pacify the crowd. To this i would like to say two things; (1)the people were already passive so why imprison people excercising their democratic right to protest? (2) imprisoning people does not pacify them, it makes them angry.
    The ambience within the kettle was good natured, there were drummers and a mobile music system and people were either dancing or shouting slogans, in fact it was a pretty passive and laid back as demos go.
    At around dusk, on the West side of the square, police on horseback delivered an unprovoked attack on us. I was not an eyewitness to this but everyone said it was unprovoked and this was borne out by a friend who phoned me to say she had just seen it live on BBC news and apparently the reporter was clearly shocked. Funnily enough this report and film has disappeared of the BBC website overnight.
    At this point there was a general shift of people, of which i was one, to the East side of the square because the word went around that they were going to start letting people out but instead we encountered a wall of riot police who, by their body language, were clearly up for it!
    We started to shout that we wanted to be let out bcause we were cold, thirsty and needed a piss to which there was no response. A few people, clearly exasperated threw plastic water bottles and sticks at them, there being no other ammunition anyway.
    At this point one flank of the police charged us employing riot shields and and aiming for people’s heads with their truncheons. It was at this point that one lad got hit hard enough to be brain damaged.
    One of my companions went to the police line and demanded a medic for which he got punched in the face.
    Several people laid him on a piece of temporary fencing as a stretcher and carried him to safety. At this point things really took off, whilst we started using crowd barriers as battering rams against their shield wall several other students starte to try and break in to the Treasury via the windows, the irony of an occupation of the Treasury building was not lost on anyone. The police claim there were rent-a-mob elements involved, this is not true, i saw young girls trying to smash through the bomb proof windows too.
    Meanwhile we had built our own barricade by the corner of the Treasury building to stop them charging us and there appeared to be a bit of a stand-off.
    Suddenly a flash squad of police appeared from another direction and ran towards the people trying to break in through the windows.
    At this point, i didn’t see it, but i heard from different sources that one of the police ran over the boy with the head injury and used the opportunity to hit him on the head again.
    After all this the police advanced from all sides and concentrated us into an ever decreasing space and we shouted out that we demanded to be released.
    They said that we would be released in small groups but after more than an hour this was proved to be a lie.
    Eventually they said we could go but only via Westminster Bridge. At the time i thought this was odd and i realised that corralling us on a bridge was a tactical move on their part which it proved to be.
    We were held on the bridge for well over an hour bounded by riot police on both sides. Finally we lost our patience and the general feeling was that if 3,000 people were to push that we could push our way out but it would appear we couldn’t.
    The net result of this was that everyone was squeezed together so tightly that nobody could move their arms or breathe properly, it was not possible for us to spread out because we were penned in by the police on both sides. We endured this for more than half an hour and it started to get serious when a few people started to pass out.
    Finally they started to let us out one at a time and we had to pass through a 200 yard corridor of riot police and made to take our hats off so that we could be photographed.
    This is an account of what what was largely a group of teenagers could do and i’m hugely proud of them. When the protests start to involve fully grown men and women who are having their rights away i’ll tell you now Mr Policemen…

  2. “Given the show of ostentatious wealth paraded in front of young people denied even their EMA, I’d say it was the protesters that showed the restraint.”

    What a fantastic line, thank you for adding some real perspective and reality to this affair. Why the ‘royalty’ was allowed to beat police lines and brutality is my question.

    Keep up the excellent work, and see you on the front line.

  3. objective?? you moron……attacking the royal family, pissing on winston churchills statue and swinging from the flags on the cenotaph…forgot to include that did you?

  4. I couldn’t agree with the sentiments of this article any more if I tried!
    I’m glad someone is telling the truth as the mainstream media certainly isn’t going to the BBC news in particular offended me, Murdoch’s sky news was surprisingly less police apologist in tone.
    What happened in London yesterday was a direct consequence of oppressive policing there are lots of videos coming to light of police baton charging people who have nowhere to run too as they’re being kettled.
    It’s such a shame that even though Ian Tomlinson died due to these draconian police tactics the police are still allowed to beat innocent members of the public with impunity.
    I will continue to follow fitwatch I think you guys do a fantastic public service, thank you!

  5. dont be fooled with the pro neo con agenda that has been implemented here.
    I have a message for you government disinformers….YOU AINT EVER GOING TO WIN THE ONLINE BATTLE. Fuck the capitalistic fascist system, your ideals wont ever represent the truth and humanity

  6. Paddy Besiris, 20, a student at the University of the West of England, had five stitches after he was hit from behind by a large megaphone battery thrown by another protester. “They were aiming for the police but I was at the front. I am frustrated that there was violence. I picked up something to throw and put it down again, as I realised it was stupid.”

  7. @Ivan Thomas. I hope you have seen a lawyer as you appear to have been a witness to the police attack on Alfie Meadows, who was lucky to be alive after being hit on the head by the usual anonymous cop. Write down every detail of the moments preceding that attack as well as the aftermath.

    btw the cops commandeered the Chelsea and Westminster hospital and tried to stop NHS workers from treating him. Any cops here want to explain that away?

    RIP Ian Tomlinson

  8. @ivan thomas. Many thanks for this account – it matches very closely what others have told us. Fighting gets attention on the media, but the violence of imprisoning people in these conditions rarely catches the headlines.

  9. FITWATCH. Shame on you!! The original idea of Fitwatch, watching the watchers, was a sound one. However, like so many organisations before you (and the current administration) you have shown yourselves to be no better than that which you oppose. You castigate the police for their violence, yet support violence of a similar nature from “protesters”. Just as the police try to justify their actions and you call them into question, so you try to justify the actions of the violent protesters. The main difference though, whether you like it or not, is that the police have the rule of law on their side. Not a rule that they make up. If no one used violence, no one sought to cause damage, no one looked to desicrate a National memorial to the dead of this country who fought for your right to democratically demonstrate, then you would be in a position to take the higher morale ground.
    NOTHING can justify the level of violence and disorder shown by the crowds. To support such actions denigrates what you do. SHAME ON YOU!!

  10. @Mad Mick. Fitwatch encompasses a range of opinions and mine is just one. Your opinions are also welcome, and I’m happy to have the debate.
    You claim that the protesters used violence of ‘a similar nature’ to the police. I beg to differ. If protesters had turned up with weapons like the police had, they’d have brought in the tanks. Instead these were young people who for the most part were guilty of a) trying to get out of a kettle, b) defending themselves from police aggression.
    I have known people get arrested and imprisoned for actions of self defence at demonstrations. Yes, you could say ‘they shouldn’t have been there anyway’ at a disorderly demo. They should stay at home. But then where is your right to protest?
    The police are well practiced at their use of the media, and the manipulation of public opinion is used as a weapon against political protest, just as the FIT camera and the police baton are. The police are now pushing a line that the protest was ‘infiltrated’ by violent gangs. What rubbish. This is just so they can spin the line in court that the people in the dock are not ‘passionate, angry students’ but ‘evil infiltrators’.
    FITwatch to me is not just about watching watchers. It is about challenging unnacceptable policing tactics. Including the cynical manipulation of the media that we are seeing now.

  11. “attacking the royal family, pissing on winston churchills statue and swinging from the flags on the cenotaph”

    You conflate three very different things, which doesn’t do your argument much good. The only thing they have in common is that they occurred after the police had provoked people by kettling various parts of protests, only letting people out after gathering information on the kettled to put into their dodgy databases. Kettling is designed to intimidate people and discourage them from demonstrating. It is difficult to think of a better way for the police to provoke a reaction. The police are either stupid or they want that reaction.

    So, to the OAPs. There is a rumour that they were bait, like the police van at an earlier protest. I think this unlikely. Having escaped from the kettle, which the police had tried to put them in, protestors were doing the right thing, being mobile to confund the oppressors. I think they just came across the OAPs, but maybe I am naive. I don’t condone what some protesters did, but I understand why people facing the loss of the EMA and increased tuition fees would react to the ostentatious display of wealth by the OAPs. If someone did poke one of the OAPs then they deserve to be prosecuted. As for the damage to the car, it can be repaired and us taxpayers will pay for that.

    Winston Churchill was a complex man, far more complex than most realise. In his younger years Winston Churchill might well have shot up a statue with a revolver, he would have pissed on one. In his middle years he might have advocated shooting the protestors, or using water cannons on them. In his later years he would have laughed at the whole thing and invited the pissers to tea in his club. He is a controversial man, on the one hand he believed in dropping poison gas on Kurds in Iraq (cheaper than using the army to shoot them) on the other hand he was a wonderful wartime leader and the chief reason the UK survived a threat to the life of the nation. Us taxpayers will pay to have the statue repaired.

    Swinging from the flags on the Cenotaph is not the action of a model citizen. It is disrespectful to those who have no other grave for family members. However, it is minor disrespect, the way politicians treat survivors and their families is vastly more disrespectful. Most of those who the monument represents would have said that the freedom to swing from the flags is what they fought for, even if they didn’t like someone doing it. Like most families there were a lot of people in my family who fought and that is what they would have said. Education of the flag swingers is what is needed. What concerns me far more is the desecration of the Cenotaph every November, when a bunch of f***ing politicians promote their current wars there. If that dammed man Blair had any conscience at all he would not have turned up.

  12. anyone would think you lot were the first protesters to see a police officer. I dont condone ANY violence, but if you want to go and stand at the front and chuck things, then dont be suprised if the police tell you to fuck off. and dont winge if your skull gets tapped with a stick, you certainly dont seem to mind ploice being injured. lots of us support the students, but muppets winging about lack of tiolets and drinking water is stupid.
    you stand there winding up the old bill because its fun, and then go crying to mummy when the big bad world bits you on the arse.

    carry on by all means, believe me the old bill love it as much as you, but just stop going on about it.

  13. Any truth in the rumour that Alfie was hit on the head by a lump of concrete and not a police baton? I notice no mention is given to the copper who was downed by unknown weaponry and put in hospital. No doubt the violence trolls will cheer this, but bearing in mind that the copper was in full protective kit, doesnt it go to show what level of violence the police faced?

  14. The press and media have spun all this into student violence. The student movement needs to get pr-wise quickly. Where are all the photos of the injured students? Nearly 50 sent to hospital and must be many more. Let’s see them – show them and all the details of police brutality – don’t let them get way with it.

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