The week of actions against the DSEI arms fair continued on Thursday night. The most powerful weapons buyers and sellers gathered at the Dorchester Hotel in London's Park Lane for a luxury dinner with arms deals on the side. The DSEi/DMA dinner is an important part of the DSEi week, both for networking within the arms industry and as an opportunity to make agreements for weapons sales, perhaps over a glass of blood-red wine.
A protest outside the hotel was called, and a Bikes Not Bombs Critical Mass gathered at the South Bank to move towards Park Lane. Earlier in the day the Princess of Wales fountain was dyed blood red to remember victims of cluster bombs, whilst police activity continued in Rampart Street where several people were searched and one arrested in relation to the DSEi protests.
Timeline Of Events: See full Ticker
The critical mass was prevented from getting into Park Lane, and at some point it was stopped by a police pen just two streets away from the Dorchester Hotel. But the massers also made sure their message was heard around town, and they kept cycling around central London with a mobile sound system, from which speeches were made explaining the outrageous business that was not only allowed to take place this week in London, but also protected by the State and it's police forces.
The police informed us that they were instructed to search anyone that wanted to enter the legitimate Protest Area. They also mentioned that they were informed that our group intended to do criminal damage to the Dorchester Hotel. I would love to know whether these instructions and information are actually official or made up on the spot. We had no choice but to co-operate, as we were determined to partake in the Demonstration, it was the main objective. I was searched by PC 256, who in all honesty was a very polite and helpful police officer. We had excellent rapport and he had no objection to answering all of my questions regarding being searched. The other people in our group were not as fortunate and they were getting the usual harassment, especially The Elder who they seemed to be taking their time with. Good Cop Bad Cop?
Our small group was then escorted across Park Lane to the legitimate Protest Area, on the opposite side of the road to the Dorchester Hotel. The area was packed with police officers and vehicles, overkill once again. However, we knew this was going to be different to the Demonstrations on 11/09/2007 at Custom House and the EXCEL Centre for the simple reason that we were now in the public eye. The police had a field day on the 11/09/2007, as their unprofessional, fascist behavior went un-noticed by the general public to a large extent.
As we approached the Protest Area under police escort, we noticed a set back … ‘Where is everyone? And why is the Protest area so narrow? It was wide enough to fit two rows of people. We were not fooled though. Although small groups filtered in between 19.30 – 20.30, it was obvious that the police had taken it upon themselves to determine what size they wished the Protest to be. I immediately began to take mental notes of the direct and indirect tactics they were using to ensure that they achieved this objective, once again all characteristic of a Police State.
Direct tactics were blatant physical interaction. They included repeatedly denying people access to the Protest Area and removing people from the Protest Area. The Critical Mass Cyclist did not arrive and there were reports amongst the wider Protest Group that they had been prevented from getting access to the Protest Area. We also heard reports that a Protester had left the protest Area in an attempt to establish what had happened to the Critical Mass and was dragged across Park Lane and held by the police. There is information about what happened to the Critical Mass in an article above written by Maquipix with the title, ‘Menu on the murderous dinner’. Indirect tactics were manipulative and scared people away from getting involved. They included intimidating visual statements of overwhelming numbers of police officers and vehicles, searching people and issuing Search Dockets, the use of negative body language, invasion of personal space by Police Photographers and the narrow Protest area which would cause the average person to feel claustrophobic.
‘The Ones That Made It In’ did a brilliant job, regardless of how few of us there were and how far we were situated from the Dorchester Hotel. We managed to keep the ‘Terrorist - Shame On You!’ chant with the Samba Band for at least half an hour and then started it up again a little later for about fifteen minutes. The dynamics in the music provided by the Samba Band were awesome and they really went all out to create a variety of dynamics and flavors with our repetitive chanting. This particular spontaneous Protest Song was definitely a winner, as we could all see that it even got some of the police officers thinking about ‘Who Was Who In The Zoo’, leading to them thinning out around the Protest Area in a major way. I eventually counted seven to eight police officers present during the time that we followed through with the ‘Terrorist - Shame On You!’ song until the Samba Band packed up and the rest of us started arranging a general consensus to concluded the Demonstration. In this sense, we were victorious.
While we were arranging the general consensus and got quieter, the numbers of police officers around the Protest Area began to increase again. The atmosphere suddenly changed and we could feel the police starting to get intimidating again. We approached The Elder and asked what he thought about us making a unified departure away from the Protest Area. He agreed and I must mention that his experience in Protest Action is irreplaceable. I do wish that I got his contact details, as he told our small group that he is involved in Protest and Freedom of Speech Art. Feel free to email me if anyone has his contact details.
His manic behaviour at the Disarm DSEI Demonstrations at Custom House and the EXCEL Centre were noted in an article that I wrote with the title ‘SCD43 – Brute of the Day at DSEI Demonstration 11/09/2007’. This Police Photographer, with a second Police Photographer, was seen again at the Dorchester Hotel Demonstrations on the 13/09/2007. Once again, he behaved in the same manner. The rest of the police officers and the other photographer seemed aware that unlike the11/09/2007 Demonstrations, they were now consistently in the public eye. The appalling and vulgar behaviour that they displayed would not go un-noticed at this particular protest. However, this Police Photographer seemed to have been ignorant to this aspect.
Before he arrived, the atmosphere was tense, no doubt. The direct and indirect tactics used by the police to compromise the Demonstration did result in Protesters being frustrated. I have noted these tactics in an article above with the title ‘Police Disruption at the DSEI Demonstration 13/09/2077 - The Ones That Made It In’. However, from the time that this Police Photographer arrived, the level of tension amongst both Protesters and Police Officers increased rapidly. His behavior patterns are that of a crazed person. He continually violated personal space with his media equipment, flashing lights everywhere and marching up and down the Protest Area. He could be seen repeatedly filming people for one to two minutes at a given time. I took note again of the look of hatred in his eyes. If the Protest Area was not so narrow, I’m pretty certain that he would of done his best to enter it, as he did at the 11/09/2007 Demonstrations.
As the level of tension increased from the time he arrived, so did the negative and physical interaction between the Protesters and the Police. After about 20 minutes, I noticed that a high ranking police officer, with a clip board, came to the front of the protest area. He individually spoke to several police officers. One of these police officers then went up to this Police Photographer and spoke to him. Both of the Police Photographers then packed up their media equipment and left. It is unclear what was said during the dialogue, but the tension began to decrease afterwards.
I feel that this Police Photographer blatantly instigates aggression levels and as a result manages to capture the worse case scenario on his media equipment. Whether he does this intentionally or not is unclear, the important aspect is the results that he achieves. The kind of evidence that he gathers can easily compromise the positive intentions of Protest Action, by negatively distorting the image received by Politicians and the Public. This is not the last time we are going to see this Police Photographer at Protest Events and a consolidated approach needs to be taken whenever he is present. The positive image of what Protest Action aims to achieve is of utmost importance.
I will be including the details mentioned in this article in the complaint about him that I mentioned in the articles titled ‘SCD43 – Brute of the Day at DSEI Demonstration 11/09/2007’ and ‘PC1545 - Issuer of Falsified Search Docket at DSEI Demonstration 11/09/2007’. This complaint will be sent to the New Scotland Yard Complaints Department and the IPCC. The details in this article will be part of a report that I am completing and sending to Ken Livingstone (see ‘Police Victimisation at the DSEI Demonstration 11/09/2077’ above)