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report and pics from j30 events in london

rikkiindymedia(At)gmail[dot]com (rikki) | 02.07.2011 17:55 | J30 Strike | Public sector cuts | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements | London

from the use of 150 officers to remove a small peaceful occupation camp from trafalgar square early in the morning, through the use of tsg officers to conduct targetted snatches, searches and dodgy arrests throughout the day, to the use of lines upon lines of police to clear the whitehall area later in the afternoon, the j30 protests were characterised by repressive, stupidly expensive, and unnecessary shows of force from the authorities.

from the eviction of trafalgar square onwards, it was clear the met believed their own hype, trumpeted in the evening standard the previous evening, that j30 would turn into riots, however despite continual provocation, it turned out a very relaxed and english affair, and of the 30 arrests reported, many were of children, some clearly unlawful, and most pointless.

an NUJ journo told me he'd watched a 14 year old boy being arrested for arguing with the police when his friend was pulled out of the crowd for wearing a hoodie. i spoke to another young man who had a bandana round his neck. it was stolen from him by police under the guise of section 60, even though he had at no point used it to cover his face. he was given no receipt or paperwork. because he was wearing black, a smart pair of jeans and a t-shirt, he had been stopped and searched on three occasions by mid-afternoon, and on one of those, taken down a side street and roughed up in the process.

as the march passed charing cross station on the strand, a team of tsg were pulling people from the crowd, mainly black and asian along with some white teenagers. a muslim girl was told to remove her religious face covering, and a 12 year old boy, on the protest with his mother, a teacher, was handcuffed and hauled away when a search found a small paint canister in his bag. as he was taken into the station, a crowd of concerned protestors (made up of a real cross-section of ordinary people) surrounded and shouted at the police. although this crowd was angry, their anger was vocal not physical, but it gave the excuse for some of the tsg thugs to become violent. i watched one in particular, constable webb, U3543, assault several people in succession, coming up from behind and without warning pushing people out of the way. when i tried to report the assaults to other police, i was of course met with stony silence, despite the fact that his actions were not dissimilar to those of pc simon harwood, now finally facing a manslaughter charge years after iain tomlinson died.

aside from the anti-cuts protest, a small group from were staging a protest outside the department of culture media and sport on the day the vulture secretary, jeremy cunt, was due to announce in favour of rupert murdoch's controversial bskyb monopoly bid.

meanwhile, down in parliament square, a squad of riot police in their silly blue baseball caps were busy conducting searches on passers-by, including a journalist with a press card, while a forward intelligence photographer took close up face shots of some of those searched, even though nothing incriminating was found.

outside the queen elizabeth conference centre, a spanish-style 'people's assembly' formed, and an open mike was made available to speakers, while uk uncut organised football and other games.

a group of black-clad anarchists marched past the centre and acted as pied pipers to some of the crowd who followed them up whitehall, where they pulled over the central line of metal barriers in a token act of defiance. dozens of police trotted along behind them, and inevitably at the trafalgar square end of the road they were met by a large police presence, and became cordoned in by the officers behind them.

there were a few scuffles at this point, and several overly-violent arrests. it really seemed as though the police were hyped-up for violent confrontation, and every attempt was made to inflame the situation, including tsg officers striking out at press photographers as they dragged their arrestees out of sight behind police lines across side streets.

i also saw a man snatched by plainclothes police who looked much like your average football hooligans. they used plastic wires to tightly restrain his wrists behind his back even though he appeared calm and offered no resistance.

in protest at all this violence, a small group of people, some of whom i recognised as part of an explicitly peaceful campaign group, staged a sit-down protest at the north end of whitehall. more people joined them, until around 30 were sitting in the road, despite a short wet rain shower. police numbers built up, tsg officers also moved in, and among the ensuing confrontations i again saw card-carrying press being pushed around and refused access, as the sitters were picked up and moved to the pavement.

then lines of police, sometimes 5 or 6 thick, began pushing people down whitehall, and then left down horseguards avenue to the embankment, leaving the upper end of whitehall clear of all except police.

as most of the protestors had left the area, i joined a small group, including several colourful clowns, who decided to stage a good-natured anti-cuts protest outside 'boots' and 'tesco' opposite westminster. their singing and banners managed to close the 'boots' store ten minutes early, and their boisterous song outside 'tesco' amused and interested many passers-by, several of whom agreed not to shop there after speaking to the protestors.

small shops across the nation, killed by tesco's monopolisation
small shops across the nation, killed by tesco's corporation

rikkiindymedia(At)gmail[dot]com (rikki)
- Original article on IMC London: