It was a nice day out, sun was shining on the strikers for most of the time. Except for the moment when the police decided to clear that sit in protest on Whitehall outside McDonald's (which had its own line of coppers). Section 60 was used as carte blanche to stop everyone who fulfilled a certain set of criteria: young, (mostly) male, dressed in black, (and apparently in a group with at least one person from BAME background - at least so it seems to your insignificant observer, but others have commented on this too). It was a clear tactic of intmidation, which hopefully won't work.
Generally the turn out was ok, the atmosphere was happy but unexcited, and everything was nice and colourful.
Police lines were also randomly selective about letting people leave the protest or not. If they liked your face, you were free to go where you please, if they didn't then your freedom to protest turned into the obligation to protest, whilst your freedom of movement was swiftly stripped. Obviously the coppers on the lines were asked to make a judgment and were helplessly overwhelmed. I wonder what kind of orders they get in situations like that? "You can let individuals through, but make sure the march stays on the route"? So if they decide you are "the march" you aren't allowed to pass? Or a more explicit: "You can let everyone through who wears a suit or has shopping bags, but if they look like protesters, make sure they stay in the designated protest area"? Or maybe the much simpler version (overheard at a police line on a different occasion) "Let them through if they're the right ones"?
There was a whole lot of stereotyping and profiling by coppers on the front line happening, and maybe it's time for some public enquiry into how they are trained to do - what exactly?
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Original article on IMC London: http://london.indymedia.org/articles/9467