"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Monday, 27 April 2009

Selective Perceptions of Police Brutality

If you listen to many sections of the media, you will come away with the impression that police brutality marred an otherwise peaceful demonstration at the recent G20 summit.

I am not fully defending the actions of the police; as they increasingly seem a politicised, paramilitary force, it becomes harder and harder for me to do so.

The facts of the matter are these; a man, believed to be an innocent bystander, is now dead after being attacked by at least one riot officer at the G20 summit. A woman claims she was beaten around the legs and then slapped by a Sergeant (who had his ID number covered) for no more than shouting at him.

This paragon of anti-capitalist virtue is now represented by PR man Max Clifford and is seeking £50,000 in damages.

This has become a circus, in other words. Whatever the police did wrong, the truth is that hundreds of demonstrators showed up looking for trouble. Many of them found it, but the actions of the police meant a lot more did not.

Until I've faced down a screaming mob with nothing more than a plastic shield and a hollow baton, I think I'll reserve judgement.

The floodgates are open, however. Now scores of people are claiming they were assaulted by the police, and the Left-wing media is wringing its hands - it's typical, isn't it, the fascists beating up a few poor innocent crusties who just want a better world.

The Mail's token Left-winger Suzanne Moore is in fine form:

Was the policing at the G20 demo any different to the policing of many protests during the past 15 years? Not in my experience. Finally, though, complaints are being taken seriously because we have the technology. All those phone cameras mean the police cannot carry on as they always have. I never wanted a camera in my phone, or a toaster in my hairdryer, or all these dumb multifunctional devices ...but this time, you know, I see the point. The surveillance society is turning its gaze right back. And the police are in trouble.

Up to a point, I agree. The problem I have is thus; I don't think the Left is complaining so loudly because they resent police brutality, but because on this occasion that brutality was aimed at them - or at the very least, groups for which they have some sympathy.

In 2004, there was a London protest organised by the pro-hunt lobby, those in favour of reversing the ban on fox hunting.

It was brutally put down by the police. Dozens of the protesters outside Parliament were left bruised, bloodied and injured. Many members of the public described the carnage as the police clubbed the marchers as 'criminal'.

I didn't hear the likes of Ms Moore complaining, though - after all, these people vote Tory and only got what was coming to them.

But I have something even more tangible to compare this with; let's look at how Muslim protesters and native British protesters are treated by the police.

Here is a video of Muslim demonstrators, who had turned up to heckle a homecoming parade for British troops, being protected by the police from an angry mob of Britons back in March. The reason?

Well, the Muslims had applied for a permit to demonstrate and received one. Take a look:

Now, here is a counter-demonstration by British people in Luton earlier this month. Unfortunately, these people did not apply for a permit and that is why, so we're told, the police met them forcefully (not that this was widely publicised in the press, despite several protesters being injured, including two who had teeth knocked out):

Can you see the difference? The protesters in the latter video are clearly frustrated by what is happening in this country, just as the G20 crowd were - but it seems it is OK to treat one group like cattle.

Perhaps Ms Moore would have preferred it if the police had acted like this towards the Left-wing demonstrators:

Yes, the now infamous footage of British police running away from a largely Muslim crowd during January's round of Israel-bashing.

Oddly, Ms Moore didn't comment on this either.

I'm certain that if one of the poor dears screaming 'poof', 'kuffar' and 'cowards' at the police had been hurt, that would have piqued her interest.


Dr.D said...

Permits for a parade or demonstration simply mean that something is planned ahead of time. This precludes recognition of the fact that there are entirely valid reasons for people to assemble and respond spontaneously to events as they happen. Not everything in life is planned, even in the UK!

I would think it should be a criminal offense for an officer to cover his/her badge number. The purpose of the badge number is to identify this officer for various purposes, including possible wrong doing. This is no different from putting on a mask to rob a bank (I presume that is not allowed for Her Majesty's police, or is it?). This is a very serious matter! It is clearly intended to cover illegal actions by the police.

WAKE UP said...

Perhaps the only hope is that the more the politicians piss off the miltary, the sooner the police will realise they are backing the wrong horse.

LibertyMine (retired) said...

I refuse to comment directly on the man that died. One snapshot of video does not give me the whole picture.

What I do know, is that for no money would i want to do the sort of policing that the government requires of police officers in these heated protests.

The G20 protest was, as with so many of the May Day protests of the past filled with people determined to cause trouble.

I know that dealing with aggressive, threatening people who "know their rights" and know exactly what buttons to press is very difficult. No amount of shields, batons, armour and helmets will protect the emotions and stresses of policing such an event.

I have heard officers talk about the stresses from the moment they woke up that day, knowing what was to come. I have heard them speak of faulty radios, garbled, confused messages overlaping each other. Of officers retreating under fire. Of others not even equipped with helmets because they wanted a softly softly approach.

Quite frankly I care nothing for that woman who got tangoed by that cop without a number. I couldn't care less.

I do think that as the police continues to be an instrument of government policy rather than law and order it is losing the support it needs. It has been going on for two decades now since recruitment restrictions were relaxed. Now we have hobbits on the beat and plastic policemen who cannot swim. We promote sociology graduates rather than ex-servicemen (and women).

It won't end until we return to the traditional recruitment methods of height, strength, authority, honesty and recognising ex-servicemen and women are often very well suited. Remember that soldier refused entry to the police because he had England tattooed on his arm?

In my work we have had to call the police on a regular basis. I amazed what can turn up. One day you might get a man-mountain who is easily able to subdue an aggressive situation. The next day you might get Little Bo Peep!