Thursday, April 02, 2009 at 08:55am
Some old-fashioned British police work at the G20 street party:
Further images here.
UPDATE. The Age‘s Paola Totaro reports:
He came, he covered his face, he shimmied up a two-storey Corinthian column – and conquered the mighty Bank of England.
And when the protester’s black-and-white banner unfurled over the stone scrollwork, reading ‘Stop Trading on our Future’, the spontaneous roar and cheer of thousands said more than a million essays.
More than a million essays written by Paola Totaro, perhaps. Her early enthusiasm for the event slowly evaporated as the protesters reverted to type:
Unfortunately, the walls of the banks and every available corner were also used as urinals.
Typically, these carbon-hating clean-earth types trashed the place:
Protesters were still in the square burning effigies as night fell.
The cesspool they would leave behind, however, was probably the worst damage of the protest.
That cesspool says more than a million essays.
Back on Planet Earth, the Cesspools in Eden were the responsibility of the police, who employ a tactic known as ‘kettling’.
Outside the Bank of England, thousands were held for up to eight hours behind a police cordon, in a practice known as “kettling”. Parents with children and passers-by were told by officers on the cordon that “no one could leave”. According to witnesses, when they were finally allowed to go on Wednesday night, they were ordered to provide names and addresses and have their pictures taken. If they refused, they were sent back behind the cordon.
Paola failed to notice this; she did, however, assemble enough evidence to conclude that, on the whole:
The great majority of the police, seemingly ever-patient and self-controlled, stood for hours as kids baited and yelled, shoved and provoked. A handful of officers used well-placed elbows while batons were raised only in response to the vandalism.
For reportage see: Schnews, Friday 3rd April 2009 | Issue 671:
Despite the media’s apocalyptic predictions, the four horsemen (See SchNEWS 667) did at least make it to the Bank of England. Whether this was a good idea or not is open to question. It certainly brought a measure of mayhem to the financial heart of London, which seemed largely closed down for the duration. Our numbers were impressive – given the short notice and the media hype of extreme violence. But tactics adopted gave the Met free rein to place a huge cordon around the entire demo – the so-called kettle.
As soon as the final Black Horse (ironically the one symbolising land enclosure) arrived, police lines rapidly snapped into place across the streets surrounding the plaza that the bank sits on. Unfortunately – although many did successfully make a break for it – the majority of the crowd, with little idea of what to do (unless they’d read last week’s SchNEWS public order guide obviously) stood around as this manoeuvre was executed. Whilst we know that the protests were organised on very short notice, there seemed to be little aim other than simply getting into the area – there were no bust-cards, and no attempts at crowd co-ordination.
At first most seemed happy to be inside the huge kettle – a few soundsystems were blasting out and there was even a bizarre outburst of contemporary dance in front of the The Royal Exchange. As the hours wore on and the few city types caught in the circle had shown ID and got themselves extracted, it became obvious that if the police had their way no-one was getting out ‘til long after dark. No water, no food, not even a toilet. The reason given? – ‘to prevent a breach of the peace’.
By around half-one the kettle had been truly brought [to] the boil and fighting had broken out along Threadneedle St. A line of police were pushed back by a crowd shouting, “Let us out”. A few bottles were lobbed but even without these the cops were forced to give way to the sheer physical pressure. Alerted by the noise, support streamed over from the other exits to reinforce Threadneedle and push the cops back to the junction with Bartholomew Lane. This left the windows of Royal Bank of Scotland exposed. They were duly smashed, although rioters were outnumbered by photographers by around fifteen to one. However police lines here were too strong to breach.
At around 2.30, the crowd facing a thinner police line across Victoria St suddenly surged forward and by sheer weight of numbers pushed their way through. One of the shovers told SchNEWS, “It was amazing – we were resigned to being in the kettle until midnight but the lines broke right in front of me and confused police were shouting asking each other, ‘What’s the plan?’”. Despite the rapid deployment of riot cops, possibly up to a thousand people escaped at this point. Soon the windows of HSBC on Cheapside had gone in.
SchNEWS has heard reports that others managed to sneak or blag their way out over the next few hours but during the afternoon the noose was gradually tightened with baton charges. Eyewitnesses reported a sense of panic developing inside the pen. People were not allowed out until after 8pm and only then after being photographed.
One man, Ian Tomlinson is known to have died inside the cordon. SchNEWS has heard conflicting reports as to whether he was struck by police. Perhaps a coroner[‘]s inquiry into his death will expose police tactics to public glare (unless they invoke their handy new powers to keep it all secret of course).
See also : Ian Tomlinson death: G20 witnesses tell of dogs, batons and an attack by police, Paul Lewis, The Guardian, April 8, 2009 | G20 police assault on Ian Tomlinson | ‘Bristle’s Blog from the BunKRS’ has ace coverage of G20