As Jack Straw and Condoleeza Rice were given the chance to say pretty much anything they felt like saying in an interview with Jonathan Dimbleby at the Merseyside Maritime Museum, the police outside were doing everything they could to make sure that the voices of the people of Liverpool went unheard.
The museum was closed at two for an interview starting at five and by half past four a small crowd had gathered alongside the media’s cameras, which remained resolutely turned off. The police cleared the area, physically dragging away a group who refused to move, and the crowd of protesters was penned up behind barriers and lines of officers some distance away from the entrance. Some people were forcibly removed from the whole dock area and made their protest at the main gates, surrounded by horses and yet another police line. With all that overtime, we must have paid for a few officers’ holidays…
As Rice and Straw arrived they were greeted by loud and angry chants from the crowd, which the police line did all it could to render invisible. Banners placed on railings were removed and the police, working with dock security, seemed quite determined that nothing should ruin this carefully choreographed propaganda stunt.
Two hours later, the party re-emerged, and drove towards a more distant exit from the docks, in an obvious move to avoid the cries of ‘murderers’ coming from the remaining protesters. A number of the fitter protesters, however, managed to make it to the junction in double quick time and came within feet of the motorcade before being pushed away by plain clothes security.
When leaving the area a group of five people were stopped by three police vans, briefly detained and some of them searched, either under section 60, or because of an 'incident on the road'. The police didn't seem quite sure - perhaps they had to make up an excuse after they'd started?
The torturer and her apprentice could have been in no doubt about how unwelcome they were, and those opposing the visit were left in no doubt exactly who the local authorities are working for.