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Brighton Police Attack on Demonstrations

Tony Greenstein | 09.09.2006 19:57 | Anti-militarism | Anti-racism | Repression | South Coast

Starting with violent attacks on demonstrations against the EDO bombs factory, Brighton Police - under their Divisional Commander Kevin Moore - swamped the last demonstration against the bombing of Lebanon, harrassing demonstrators, especially Arabs and Muslims and videoing everyone present. Moore later declared the march anti-Semitic.

Moore Must Go Campaign
Dear Friend,

On August 19th 2006 there was a demonstration against the bombing of Lebanon in Palmeira Square in Hove. The policing of this demonstration was extremely heavy with nearly as many police as demonstrators, including a contingent from Surrey. Police went around asking anyone Arabic or Muslim looking for their details, had about 4 video teams present (& even hired out a tourist bus!) and were extremely hostile to those present, including assaulting and being aggressive towards a number of people. They even confiscated a poster from an 8 year-old girl adorned with a picture of a swastika and star of David.

The pretexts for the Police behaviour were that a ‘serious racial assault’ occurred on a Jewish person at the previous demonstration on July 30th, that they had had no warning of the demonstration and that the choice of Palmeira Square was a deliberate attempt to incite hatred against the local Jewish community. All of these were deliberate lies and the so-called racist assault was nothing of the kind, merely an irate ‘half-Jewish doorman’ (Argus) motorist shouting ‘terrorist’ at the nearest Arab demonstrator and getting into a verbal altercation. Unsurprisingly witnesses to what happened haven’t been asked to give statements. Strange given that this was a ‘serious racial assault.’

In a taped conversation with one of the organisers of the above demonstrations, Tony Greenstein, Moore admitted that he had had warning of the first demo but that on the basis of one objection from a local resident, he had had no choice but to classify the second demonstration, a peace demonstration, as a racist event. He claimed he ‘had no choice’ under Police rules, as it is the perception of the ‘victim’ which defines whether something is racist. There is of course no law to this effect, as in law harassment (Race Relations/Sex Discrimination/Disability Discrimination Acts) is based upon BOTH the perception of the victim AND whether it is reasonable to perceive it as such. Moore there were too many police present and that he wasn’t aware that four years ago Palmeira Square was the choice of the Police for the demonstration! In fact Palmeira Square is in the middle of Hove’s growing Arab community and there is no specific Jewish area in Hove.

Moore’s behaviour is part of a general move to criminalise opposition to New Labour’s foreign policy as racist. It is in line with a recent Parliamentary Report which concluded that opposition to Zionism or support for the Palestinians is anti-Semitic . Of course Zionists have been arguing for years that opposition to the actions of the Israeli State or Zionism, the movement that gave birth to it, are inherently anti-Semitic. In the words of former President of the Jewish Board of Deputies, Jacob Gerwitz, ‘Although theoretical differences can be drawn between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, these are distinctions without a difference.’ Indeed ‘The fascists, odious as they are, have at least the virtue of candour.’ [Anti-Semitism, Zionism The Link, Centre for Contemporary Studies, Left and Right early 1980’s] Using the language of ‘diversity’ and multi-culturalism, the Right has increasingly taken on board the idea that the oppressed (if they are oppressors!) can define their own ‘oppression’ which the State can then use against those deemed a threat. So ‘anti-Semitism’ is to be taken seriously, unlike of course anti-Arab racism.

Nationally the Serious Organised Crime Bill has made demonstrations in Central London all but illegal and allowed the police to criminalise peaceful protests. Slipped through Parliament, one has to give five days notice of a demonstration, which the Police can refuse or insist on conditions before allowing it to take place. Even reading out the names of British soldiers killed in Iraq at the Cenotaph has led to arrest and conviction!

Demonstrator have been detained on the pretext of ‘new crimes’, such as protesting too close to Tony Blair: during the last Labour Party Conference, Moore’s force detained over 4,000 people, including Walter Wolfgang and John Catt (an 80 year old man who had an anti-Blair T-shirt on!). The concept of ‘disrupting the life of the community’ has been translated by the police into that of ‘disrupting shopping’; so that demos are criminalised if they are too visible to shoppers. During a Smash EDO march protesters were physically assaulted by Moore’s men for leafleting passers by or going on the pavement. Liasing with the police has become increasingly difficult as Organisers are threatened if they don’t cooperate in all that the Police demand.

Moore’s Police encouraged the failed civil injunction by the bomb factory EDO against Smash EDO campaigners and his forces withdrew charges against protesters rather than disclose evidence of their communications with the EDO’s management concerning the obtaining of the injunction. It is believed that Police deliberately arrested people in order to provide evidence for the need for an injunction. Now Kevin Moore is overtly taking sides with individuals and pressure groups who try to criminalise the anti-war movement and brand it as ‘anti-Semitic’.

With his outrageous letter to the Argus and in his phone call to Tony Greenstein, Moore has exposed his own far Right politics. We are proposing to launch a campaign to counter Sussex Police’s political policing. Fortunately Moore, when sent a letter threatening defamation proceedings, rang Tony up oblivious to the fact that his force might not be the only ones to monitor peoples’ conversations!! This issue should be addressed by all campaign groups. We are facing a new level of repression directed at all grass roots and radical campaign groups. We therefore have to respond together.

Tony Greenstein

Enc. Tape Transcript and File

Tony Greenstein
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TRANSCRIPT: Chief Superintendent Moore eaten for breakfast by Greenstein

10.09.2006 11:02

Transcript of Phone Conversation between Chief Superintendent Kevin Moore and Tony Greenstein 30th August 2006

TG: Hi
KM: Hullo there
TG: Yes, you got my fax
KM: That’s right and I have drafted, it’s obviously got to be typed yet, but I have prepared a response for you.
TG: Fine, fine, but you do know that the facts that you gave in the Argus, or almost all of them, are incorrect?
KM: No, I dispute that fact actually.
TG: Well, for a start, your claim that you were give no notice of the first demonstration is incorrect. We have it on authority that you were given 5 days notice by a Brenda Brown
KM: Well, yes
TG: which is not what you said in your letter.
KM: I’m talking about the more recent one on the 19th August.
TG: You referred to both of them in your letter.
KM: Well we didn’t get official notification of the first one either and what she said was there was going to be 70 odd people and then said that she wouldn’t be taking part herself. And then we were left with a situation where we didn’t know who was organising the event.
TG: But you received the 5 days notification. Because that’s what she’s told me.
KM: Well, we received a form of notification but not the sort of notification that we would have wished for and no dialogue took place about what the intentions of the demonstration were and how many there were going to be and where they were going to go.
TG: You never never know how many people are going to be on a demonstration.
KM: Well I appreciate that but you know obviously when we talk about how many police officers we need to deploy we need to have some form of estimation otherwise we end up with a situation like we did on the 19th August where we have too many.
TG: Well yes, you had far too many and they were far too intrusive. But all the other facts, like the serious racist assault never occurred. I witnessed it. Others witnessed it.
KM: Yes but the point is that’s your interpretation.
TG: No, I saw it, I saw it.
KM: That’s your interpretation of what you saw..
TG: Well why did you make a judgement on the basis of one person?
KM: Well the person who was the victim of that assault is still alleging that he was assaulted.
TG: Yes of course, he is ideologically motivated, clearly someone who is an extreme Zionist who made up a load of nonsense. I heard him shout ‘terrorist’ at someone who is an Arab for no other reason than he’s an Arab.
KM: Well that’s your interpretation of what you saw.
TG: Yes of course it is.
KM: We have to investigate what is alleged and the allegation to us amounts to a serious assault.
TG: And the assumption, the assertion that the intention of the organisers was somehow to incite hatred against the Jewish community. I’ve never heard such nonsense. By meeting in Palmeira Square. That was the Police’s suggestion 4 years ago.
KM: Can I just make the point that actually at the end of July we actually received a telephone call from a resident in Palmeira Square who said that in her opinion that was what was happening.
TG: Well again she’s entitled to her opinion but it wasn’t based on any factual circumstance.
KM: Well that’s, you’ll see this in my letter but a racially motivated incident is one which is declared by any person to be racially motivated, and she was saying and suggesting that that was the case.
TG: She phoned up, she phoned you up and said she saw a racially motivated incident?
KM: No, what she’s saying is that she viewed the gathering as being racially motivated.
TG: And you took that on board as a racially motivated offence?
KM: We have to, we’ve got no discretion.
TG: That is utterly absurd. A gathering, a peaceful demonstration, which someone politically objects to
KM: Well can I say Mr Greenstein that I don’t make the rules.
TG: But you interpret them, you interpret them.
KM: Absolutely and I have to, I can’t just ignore the views of people who make contact with us, just the same as we can’t ignore your views.
TG: Well you seem to have been doing that. Because you made a declaration that a gathering to protest at the bombing of Lebanon is in itself anti-Semitic. That’s in essence what you’re saying.
KM: No, that’s not what I said.
TG: Well you did.
KM: I dispute that. A lot of what your letter and indeed the e-mail you distributed to many other people
TG: Mmm (yes)
KM: says is very much an interpretation, your interpretation of what I’ve said
TG: How can I interpret it in any other way?
KM: No, you can’t put words into my mouth. I know what I intended to say and what I’ve actually said and that’s my interpretation.
TG: That’s fine then maybe you can explain that.
KM: Well I’ve done that in the letter that I’ve sent you
TG: Fine well you rang me up and presumably you wanted to talk about it and that’s why I’m talking about it.
KM: Well absolutely and I’m trying to explain to you exactly that situation. In addition
TG: Fine, someone rang you up, about a demonstration they saw out of their window and they said, they obviously objected to it, which is absolutely fine, and then they said they thought it was anti-Semitic, and you profile that or record that as a racial incident.
KM: Yeah.
TG: I’ve never ever heard of anything so nonsensical.
KM: Well that’s what we have to do. That is the interpretation of what is happening in any given event.
TG: That’s an interpretation, it’s not an offence, there’s no offence there.
KM: Well no, but we have to record that and
TG: Why? Well if I see a demonstration anywhere
KM: Well what you’re suggesting to me is that if somebody rings up about something and we think to ourselves oh there’s probably nothing in that we won’t bother with that we can just do that. I’m afraid things don’t work like that.
TG: Well what you said in your letter was that ‘I can only assume that the intention of the demonstration in an area where there is a large Jewish population” I’m quoting exactly ‘was a deliberate attempt to provoke and incite’. So you’ve taken that on board as your own view.
KM: Well no, I’ve said that that is an interpretation.
TG: No you see ‘I can only assume’
KM: Sorry?
TG: You have said in the letter ‘I can only assume.’
KM: ‘I can only presume’
TG: In fact the original reason for going to Palmeira Square, was four or five years ago, there was a similar demonstration, and the Police said we should go from there. It was the Police who decided that.
KM: I can’t comment on things that happened five years ago when I wasn’t here.
TG: Well if it was anti-Semitic today presumably it was anti-Semitic then
KM: All that I can say as well is that obviously in preparation for the event on the 19th August we made contact with the local Jewish community leaders within the synagogues and obviously they were of a similar impression to the extent where on at least one of those places they were keen to finish their worship that morning earlier so that people could get away earlier.
TG: Well it was utterly absurd, because there were a number of Jewish people on the demonstration. It was not racial.
KM Well I’m sure there were. Just because there were a certain number on the demonstration doesn’t mean say that all Jewish people in the area were quite happy about the situation.
TG There’s no situation where that is the case. A majority of Jewish people may well not have agreed with it.
KM: That’s your interpretation and you’re entitled to your opinion but you’ve got to bear in mind there are a quarter of a million people living in this city who undoubtedly will have different views.
TG: A majority of people I think in this city would have supported this demonstration.
KM: Well no, that’s again is your interpretation. We’ve had different feedback.
TG: It’s not for the Police actually to gauge it. The Police are there simply to ensure that the law is obeyed. Nothing else
KM: Well we were trying to do that but of course on many occasions but as I’ve demonstrated on previous occasions with a number of demonstrations in this city we are always hamstrung because organisers refuse to co-operate, when I say co-operate, they are obliged by law to do certain things and they singularly fail to do that on every occasion.
TG: Well the Police’s behaviour over EDO, where they were working with the management of the factory of course was disgraceful.
KM: As I have stated, quite categorically and publicly I have never, to this day, in the 17 months that I’ve been based here, had any contact whatsoever with the Managing Director of that company. I’ve never even spoken to the man.
TG: The Police were working hand in glove, that’s why they wouldn’t disclose the evidence. But my main point is of course not on EDO, it’s on this. The Police adopted a political view, via your letter, that the demonstration was a deliberate attempt to provoke and incite. That is outrageous.
KM: Well that’s your interpretation.
TG: Well of course it’s my interpretation. Everything is for everybody’s interpretation.
KM: Absolutely. You’re entitled to an opinion the same as I am.
TG: That’s right and that’s why I wrote the letter to you. You do not have that right as the Police. You should remain politically impartial. And you broke that.
KM: And I can assure you Mr Greenstein that that is exactly what I am. I police the City neutrally.
TG: No, not at all. Not at all.
KM: I police it, I police the City, in general terms, in the way that the public actually want me to police it.
TG: You’re going out to make an interpretation of what you think people want.
KM: In 28 years police experience Mr Greenstein what I can tell you is that the public actually want strong, firm policing. And that is what I provide.
TG: They also believe in democracy and it seems you don’t believe in democracy.
KM: What you should remember, in terms of democracy, is that the laws of the land, were brought in through a democratic process,
TG: There’s no law of the land which says for instance that you go intimidating demonstrations
KM: There is a law of the land which says that organisers of demonstrations must contact the Police with suitable notice.
TG: That may be so, but the first demonstration as we’ve seen you were contacted and the second demonstration, even if you weren’t contacted, the fact that the demonstration itself was lawful and the Police should not have behaved as they did.
KM: Actually the demonstration was unlawful because you hadn’t notified us of it.
TG: Well regardless of that, the fact is that the Police’s behaviour was outrageous.
KM: That again is an interpretation from you, not from me and certain things that you’ve alleged in your letter are a matter of dispute, under dispute anyway..
TG: Well I think we are going to have to agree to disagree but as far as I’m concerned your letter was libellous.
KM: And I would say the same about your e-mail that you’ve widely distributed to a number of people. That is a personal attack on me.
TG: It’s not a personal attack on you. It was written to you as your role as Police officer in command of Brighton. I don’t know you from Adam.
KM: The point is that it’s a personal attack on me. It mentions me by name.
TG: Well of course, you wrote the letter to the Argus.
KM: None of what I’ve written mentions anybody by name. [indecipherable] therefore by definition of defamation and libellous. It cannot be either.
TG: Well if I can be identified, which quite clearly I am….
KM: Well it doesn’t identify you Mr Greenstein I’m afraid (indecipherable)
TG: We’ll leave that to the lawyers.
KM: You can pursue it in whatever way you want but I can assure you I shall be doing likewise what I perceive to be a libellous and defamatory e-mail and letter that you’ve have distributed widely.
TG: Excellent. I look forward to the court case
KM: Ok Mr Greenstein, thank you very much.
TG: Thank you. Goodbye.