Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Signs of things to come - the UK Police State

Today we saw an 18 year old protestor and his family rewarded for 'doing the right thing' by being locked up for 2 years and 8 months. In this sentence, the Judiciary have given a clear warning that those who break the law whilst demonstrating against this undemocratic government and its policies will be dealt with particularly harshly. This is to be compared with the lenient treatment meted out to the sick perverts who ruin lives, and the lack of action against murderers in police uniform. When taken together with recent comments by senior police officers and the activities of undercover police officers against legitimate even non-violent protestors, there is a clear warning that, without the intervention of the organised working class, the defenders of capitalist interest will have no compunction over trampling on the Human and Civil Rights of those campaigning for a fairer society.

Edward Woollard was one of a number of protestors who broke into the Millbank building on 10 November during the National Demonstration against tuition fees. Caught up in the exuberance of the moment, having threatened the Headquarters of the Conservative Party, he threw a fire extinguisher from the roof. The fire extinguisher did not hit anybody, and no-one was injured in any way as a consequence of his actions. After his actions were publicised, he gave himself up and today expressed his remorse and apologised for putting anyone in danger. As a result he is to be incarcerated and has been excluded from his college, having originally hoped to be the first of his family to go through higher education.

Compare this treatment with the sentence meted out on the same day to the sick pervert, masquerading as a religious teacher, who was tried (didn't admit) and found guilty of 13 counts of sexual assault on 6 girls aged as young as 4 years old, who received the barely longer sentence of 39 months; or the sentence of 28 months given to the 34 year old who admitted sexually assaulting a woman, but denied attempted rape.

The message is clear so far: the State will no more tolerate protest against the imposition of cuts necessary to protect the millionaires' profits than it will the sex offenders who threaten women and children.

Then we have one rule for the police, and one for everyone else. Where is the criminal investigation for the attempted murder of Alfie Meadows? The IPCC has been investigating this now for 1 month. We hear of no progress, no update on their web site, I will not be holding my breath to see anyone charged for this crime.

Even worse is the fact the PC Harwood, the murderer of Ian Tomlinson, escaped any criminal charges whatsoever. So if you are a young exuberant protestor who does something stupid in a moment of not thinking, as a result of which no one is hurt, and for which you apologise, you get 32 months in jail, but if, as a highly trained police officer, you happen to kill a protestor in the heat of the moment you get off scott-free.

If this weren't evidence enough of our descent towards authoritarian rule on behalf of the capitalist class, we also have the role of undercover police and other specialist units operating against legitimate groups of protestors. PC Mark Kennedy spent 7 years deep undercover in various organisations until rumbled by a fellow protestor. His role as agent provocateur has been well publicised and led to the collapse of the trial of six activists. It appears that he has had a crisis of conscience for the role he played. Not so other members of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit, or the Forward Intelligence Team, all police units set up to undermine legitimate protest. In fact the National Public Order Intelligence Unit appears to have very limited accountability and to have links to private security operators embedded in protest movements, according to a former undercover police officer interviewed for last night's Newsnight programme on BBC2. The link between private corporate security operating on behalf of big business and the shady world of undercover police operations must ring very loud alarm bells for anyone concerned with progressive politics and the right of protest.

Finally we have the Chief of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Paul Stephenson, effectively saying that protestors who surrounded the car of Charles and Camilla Windsor were lucky not to have been shot by armed protection officers.

Wake up Britain, before it is too late, and we have thugs in black shirts, paid for and trained by private security firms, sharing intelligence with the police and trampling on our rights to fight for our schools, our NHS, our libraries, our nurseries, our jobs. The message is clear - the criminal justice system, Police, CPS and Judiciary have already shown whose side they will be on.

Report of Woollard's trial
Report of child sex offender's trial
Attempted rape trial report
Report of decision not to prosecute PC Harwood
Report of Specialist Police Units operating against political activists
Newsnight Programme
Report on Windsors' car 'kettle'

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