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"You Can Shove Your Rubber Bullets Up Your Arse!": 'Total Policing' of N9 Demos

IMC UK Features | 15.11.2011 11:11 | Education | Public sector cuts | Repression | Workers' Movements

Students and construction workers got their first taste of the 'Total Policing' advocated by new Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe at the demonstrations held on November 9th in London.

The MET used intimidatory tactics on Student demonstrators, in the run-up to the day, with threatening letters being sent out to those arrested at previous demos, along with threats of rubber bullets broadcast via the corporate media.

The MET tactics appeared to have some success with numbers on the demo much lower than expected. Those that did join found that the whole march took place in an enormous kettle, which they were unable to leave, with all side roads blocked off, and police in riot gear at junctions. In addition to the thousands of uniformed cops controlling the route, plain clothes cops infiltrated the crowd, making an aggressive arrest.

The corporate media continued to mainly ignore the demos organised by the 'Sparks' and UNITE, for construction workers who are under threat from massive pay cuts as their employers ditch pay agreements. Sparks who wished to show solidarity with the Students, were prevented from doing so and found themselves kettled later in the afternoon.

Elsewhere in London, RMT affiliated cabbies brought Trafalgar Square and the Strand to a standstill, and UK Uncut disrupted the speech of the Permanent Secretary for Tax of HM Customs and Revenue at a Corporate Tax Conference

Further demos have been called for November 23rd and November 30th [more]

Previous Feature: Sparks Will Fly on November 9th!
On the Newswire:
Authorities panicking over November 9 protest! | Police harass activists traveling by coach to nov9 protests | a few pics and words on november 9 student protest | Nov9 The final kettle, arrests and dispersal | Cabbies Protest
Video: Nov9 Sparks push through police lines | #Nov9 Arrest of protester by undercover police | Violent arrest of a protester during #Nov9 by a large group of undercover cops
Plainclothes Cops: N9: Pics of moment undercover cops arrest protester | N9 arrest figures from Met police | Undercover Cop Faces at N9 | N9 new police tactics: Undercover cops active and aggressive
Analysis: After Nov 9: Where do we go from here? | N9: The Bigger Picture

Front of Student March - rikkiindymedia[at]
Front of Student March - rikkiindymedia[at]

In the build-up to the day, the Met sent out a clear message, in letters to people who had been arrested at previous student and anti-cuts demos, including those who had never been charged, or had been found not guilty, which warned:

"It is in the public and your own interest that you do not involve yourself in any type of criminal or antisocial behaviour. We have a responsibility to deliver a safe protest which protects residents, tourists, commuters, protesters and the wider community. Should you do so we will at the earliest opportunity arrest and place you before the court."

The Evening Standard once again was the METs preferred vehicles for pre-demo scare stories, publishing a double page spread which warned that police had been authorised to use rubber bullets. Organiser Michael Chessum, said: "What the police have done is extremely political and a cynical attempt to put people off from coming to a national demonstration. What they are doing is trying to put people off and pre-criminalising the process. They have made it more likely that trouble will occur."

On the day itself, actions started at 7am, when the 'Sparks' and supporters gathered at the Pinnacle building site in the City before marching to the Cannon St construction site, pushing through police lines in order to get there. They went on to undertake a flying tour of building sites in the City, and also called in at #OccupyLSX before joining the UNITE demo at the Shard at 11:30. The Sparks had planned to join the Student march in solidarity, but were actively prevented from doing so by the police. Towards the end of the day they found themselves in a kettle. One Spark noted, "Theres f'n more horses than the f'n Epsom Derby, vans galore, riot shields, they won't even let you get a sandwich' [Video]

Police continued their harrassment of student protestors with searches of coaches coming into London for the demo. Several arrests were reported. Once on the march, demonstrators found themselves in an enormous kettle, with police in riot gear and shields [Video] blocking off all side roads and junctions along the route thus preventing anyone from leaving the march, whilst a massive police bloc at the front dictated the pace of the march Plain clothes police inside the demo grabbed a young man in what witnesses described as an extremely aggressive arrest [Video]. Police intimidatory tactics appeared to have had some effect as numbers were lower than expected, which meant that the cops were easily able to prevent an attempt to Occupy Trafalgar Square. Later on a group of about 20 were kettled, arrested and taken to Farringdon Station where they were de-arrested after being filmed by the Forward Intelligence Team.

RMT affilliated taxi drivers undertook a tour of sites in the city centre before bringing Trafalger Square and the Strand to a halt at 4 pm in solidarity with the students and construction workers, while UK Uncut ended the day with storming the stage at a Corporate Tax Conference while Dave Hartlett, the Permanent Secretary for Tax of HM Customs and Revenue was speaking.

As capitalism teeters on the edge, and austerity starts to bite, it should surprise no-one that the state, police and the mainstream media are desperate to further undermine our ability to protest. But students reacted on the day by chanting, "You can shove your rubber bullets up your arse!" and immediately after the demo called another for Nov 23rd. More workers will join the day of strikes against the attacks on pensions on November 30th, and austerity and increased repression will only backfire in the long term.

IMC UK Features