Archive for the ‘Police’ Category

Yesterday the New York Police Department launched a campaign on Twitter which invited people to tweet pictures of themselves with “New York’s finest” using the hashtag #mynypd to promote a supposed good relationship with the community.

The tweet that started it all.

The tweet that started it all.

The campaign however didn’t work out too well for the NYPD as thousands of users sent in pictures of brutality at the hands of NYPD. Commissioner William Bratton pledged to make the use of social media one of the cornerstones of the NYPD’s effort to engage with the community, appointing Zachary Tumin as deputy commissioner of strategic initiatives to oversee the effort. However when asked about the negative depiction of the NYPD Bratton responded saying that he welcomed both types of photos. He said the department welcomed “the extra attention.”

“Was that particular reaction from some of the police adversaries anticipated?” Mr. Bratton said. “To be quite frank, it was not, but at the same time it’s not going to cause us to change any of our efforts to be very active on social media”

By midnight on Tuesday, more than 70,000 people had tweeted about police brutality, ridiculing the NYPD for a social media disaster and recalling the names of people shot dead by police.

 

mynypd1mynypd2

 

mynypd3mynypd4

mynypd5                                mynypd7

 

mynypd8              mynypd9

 

mynypd6

 

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Met police have announced that they will have baton rounds, which are like rubber bullets, at their disposal should Wednesday’s student protest get out of hand.

This action follows a year full of protests on issues relating to reforms in education, health and the public sector as well as the riots during the summer and the wave of Wall Street inspired occupations. 

Scotland Yard will have 4,000 officers available to police the protest, which they believe will see 10,000 students to march from Euston Road to London Wall once again demonstrating against the rise in tuition fees. 

 The protest is almost exactly a year after the first protest on the subject which led to violent clashes with police and the break in of a Conservative Party building on Millbank.  

Officers have confirmed that they are seeing good co-operation from the organisers of this week’s event and say that the baton rounds would only be used as a last resort.  

However use of such measures along with water cannons and CS gas will be met with great resistance from human rights groups and support from anyone who has seen the effects they have had in Oakland, CA. Wednesday’s demonstration, which will mark the first major action in the second wave of what has been dubbed by many the student revolt, comes as more than two-dozen universities have submitted plans to lower their tuition fees to below £7,500 for next year rather than the controversial top amount of £9,000. 

 A White Paper published this summer was used by ministers to announce that English universities who charged £7,500 or lower would be able to bid for a share of 20,000 funded student places. 

 The deadline for university places is less than three months away.

Alfie Meadows, a philosophy student at Middlesex University, was struck by police batons as he tried to leave the area outside Westminster Abbey during protest in December. Police attempted to block Alfie from receiving treatment in the nearest hospital, claiming it was for the treatment of police only. He was left unconscious with bleeding on the brain. Today the 21-year-old goes to court on charges of violent disorder at the same demonstration, and faces up to five years in prison. Violent disorder is defined as “where three or more people (including the accused) use or threaten unlawful violence and, the conduct of them taken together is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness to fear for their personal safety.” Mr Meadows, said: “I exercised my right to protest against something I feel strongly about. I ended up in hospital after being struck on the head with a police baton. I am now being prosecuted for violent disorder at that protest. “I strongly deny the charge. The outcome of the investigation of my complaint against the police is due shortly. “I hope it results in lessons being learnt by the police for the future policing of protests so that no one will ever endure what my family and I have. I am extremely grateful for all of the expressions of concern and support for me by members of the public.”

Unfortunately this is not a lone incident, but another to add to the list. Jody McIntyre was dragged from his wheelchair by police and hit with a baton during the same demonstration in December. Last month, an IPCC-supervised inquiry found that police actions were “justifiable”; the statement also said there was “evidence” that Mr McIntyre “was inadvertently struck with a police baton”.

Hundreds of protesters, including Mr McIntyre, are expected to demonstrate outside Westminster City magistrates’ court today, where Mr Meadows and 43 other student activists will appear over the next two days, charged with offences including violent disorder, affray and theft. Anger from protest groups against policing tactics has been running high, with campaigners from all areas being arrested and charged for an assortment of offences. Fifty-five people were detained in a string of pre-emptive arrests on the day of the royal wedding and 145 people were arrested during an occupation of Fortnum & Mason in March, the trial for which will be held on July 4th. Mr Meadows said that it was time “to show we have a right to protest – a right that has come under threat over the last couple of months”. He and a fellow protester, Bryan Simpson, have set up an umbrella organisation called Defend the Right to Protest to support arrested students and activists. “People can come together and realise there is a lot of strong unity behind the right to protest,” Mr Meadows said. “It makes you feel less isolated… Support and solidarity is what we need now.” Mr Meadows’ claim has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Scotland Yard denies that it is cracking down on protests. A spokesman said: “We understand the importance of the right to protest, but people who break the law and endanger those who wish to protest peacefully by committing criminal offences must face the inevitable consequences of their actions.” The solidarity picket will be held outside Westminster Court, 70 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2AX from 9AM.

Unmarked Photo Opp.

Posted: June 4, 2011 in Bristol, Police

Driving the the centre of Bristol, the wind in your hair and everybody turning to look as you pass. Sounds ideal? Well if you are an American Military Jeep hosting a troop of excited young women enjoying a night on the town then you are in the right place. On Saturday 4th May such a vehicle (fitted with four seats) had the pleasure of this experience, its six occupants (none of which are wearing seat belts) drove joyfully about, cheering and brandishing the beloved stars and stripes before an unmarked police vehicle switched its lights on and promptly pulled it over. The joy was yet over though for as the officers stepped out of there car little questioning was done as the coppers happily posed for photographs wit the jeep’s occupants before letting them get on there way, where the driver almost hit a passing cyclist. Another fantastic use of our boys in blue.

Last night saw simmering anger become a full scale riot in Stokes Croft, Bristol, after police in more than a dozen riot vans arrived to evict squatters from a property on Cheltenham Road. The property, known as “Telepathic Heights” and painted from top to bottom in murals, was raided by police at about 9.15 sparking a violent reaction amongst local residents in what led to the largest riot Bristol has seen since the St Paul’s riots of 1980.

There were helicopters soaring low and around 160 riot police from three different divisions including a large presence from South Wales. Pretty soon tension peaked as no explanation would be given for the roadblocks and there was intimidation on both sides. Cheltenham Road was closed by police and it was reported kettling tactics were deployed to try to bring order back to the street as up to 200-300 people gradually turned up, the majority of which were leaving pubs and clubs eager to find out what all the commotion was about. It culminated in both police and civilians being injured and a newly opened Tesco branch (which was the focus of a diverse campaign of resistance by locals) being attacked; the unrest carried on into the early hours of the morning. People using Twitter to report on the events told of their fear as they tried to make their way back home via Cheltenham Road. Others wrote how only Tesco had been targeted and that one person who threw a brick at the window of the Bristol Credit Union was hauled away by the protesters themselves.

Those involved in the No Tesco in Stokes Croft campaign also predicted the trouble. They even warned the council that its backing of the Tesco store was not something which would be accepted quietly like it has been each time the supermarket giant established its 31 other stores in the city. After a year-long campaign, during which 2,500 residents sent postcards to the council to show their opposition and others took part in sit-down protests when the store opened, it seems, for some, taking to the streets to show their dissatisfaction was the only option left. What happened in Stokes Croft does not stand in isolation; it is framed by the civil unrest already seen across the country over the past 18 months. But even without student protests and the anti-cuts movement, the way the story has developed suggests there would still have been a large and forceful opposition to the Tesco plan in Stokes Croft.

Many reasons have been offered as to why it happened, and what chain of events led to what was dubbed ‘The Battle of Bristol’ The police have said that they received intelligence of a plan to petrol bomb the new – and highly opposed – Tesco store opposite the building, and that members of the public had seen petrol bombs being taken into the graffiti adorned house. Supt Ian Wylie said: “There have been several significant incidents in this building during the past few days, which have caused serious concerns to police and local residents. “The safety of the public is paramount in a situation of this kind and we took the decision to carry out a robust and swift operation, following intelligence received about the criminal intentions of those who were occupying the building.

“Following the operation, it is unfortunate a small minority gathered and began attacking officers with bottles and other items.” But if the riot’s origin is unclear, its outcome was not: by 5am the Tesco was ransacked, and a police jeep left in tatters. Fifty-two people were arrested in all.

Questions have been raised over why the police decided to ‘raid’ the property on a busy Thursday night at the start of a bank holiday weekend when the area was full of alcohol fueled partygoers. It is perfectly understandable that if the police did fully believe that an attack on the Tesco store was imminent, then action needed to be taken to protect the lives of people in the area. The major question raised by both those present and following the story online is why did they have to show such force to arrest 4 people?

It was, of course, expected that the TUC would work with the police in the planning of their protest on the 26th March. But the TUC has not stopped at discussing logistics and route planning. For this demonstration the TUC has been co-opted into the entire policing operation, bringing about a whole new level of police control.

Senior TUC stewards are receiving training directly from the Metropolitan police. The police and TUC stewards are sharing communications, and listening in to each other’s radio conversations. The TUC has a ‘pod’, a location in the police operational command centre, so it can play a part in the wider policing operation. In return for such ‘openness’ from the Met, the TUC will be expected to fully cooperate with policing strategy and tactics. In short, TUC stewards are expected to become some sort of temporary police specials for the day.

The role of stewards will be much more than just guiding the march on its agreed route. Senior stewards will share intelligence with the police via their radio communications and have agreed strategies on how to bring the police in if ‘trouble-makers’ infiltrate the march. The TUC is also working closely with the police to deliver ‘key messages’ to those participating in the demonstration.

TUC route stewards are being trained to be a ‘first response’ in a similar way to stewards at football matches. They will alert senior stewards, and thereby the police, to any incidents, including the approach of ‘troublemakers’. They have been instructed to deal with minor incidents – a group of people doing a sit-down protest en route, for example – on their own in the first instance. If or when the stewards don’t get a positive response, or if things escalate, the police will move in. It appears to be very much a ‘zero tolerance’ approach.

In a move that is completely new, the police have even dictated who will provide legal observers on the demo. Approaches from established legal observer groups were turned down by the TUC, who said having legal observers gave ‘the wrong impression’. But when the police suggested that Liberty should do the job, they were more than happy to go along with it. Liberty have very little legal observing experience, but they too will be helping to plan the police operation, sharing ‘intelligence’, and sitting in police central command.

Meanwhile, some of the comments made by Asst Comm Lynne Owens suggest the police will not tolerate any protest not under police control. Occupations of public areas by protesters may not be unlawful, but she has pledged regardless to deal with them ‘robustly’. Plans are being made to implement kettles if they are ‘necessary’, and the
police are monitoring social media networks to gain ‘intelligence’. The Met are also on the look-out for the sort of people, ‘anarchists, football hooligans and criminal gangs’ that were ‘responsible’ for violence back in December.

The stance taken by TUC and Liberty is at best naive, and at worst complicit. Protest should be independent and not state controlled. These actions are being justified under the guise of protester safety, but this level of collusion between protest organisers and the police is unprecedented and unjustified. Freedom of expression and assembly is not just about marching from A-B, and by adopting this stance, Liberty and the TUC seem happy to adopt the police’s view of dissent. This is a dangerous step and has to be resisted.

At around 4:30pm on Thursday 3rd March, bailiffs entered a property in Bedford Square owned by Royal Holloway, University of London in order to violently evict protesters. This is the first use of bailiffs against students by their own university in Britain in decades. Students and activists had taken over the property to create an “Anti-Cuts Space.”

The Anti-Cuts Space was created as a resource and meeting-place for activists and anyone involved in new social movements to fight the Government’s austerity measures. It was opened on Friday 25th February in a large Georgian house. The space aimed to revivify the student movement by making connections with wider anti-cuts struggles across London.

Throughout the occupation there was little negotiation offered by the university, and where communication existed the university Registrar, Mr. Simon Higman, backed up offers of discussion with threats of violent removal. Nonetheless, many members of staff, including many members of university unions UCU and Unison across the University of London, had expressed support for the occupation.

The occupiers received a notice to quit on Tuesday, followed by the delivery of court papers on Thursday only an hour before the case was to be heard, leaving no time for a legal defence of the protest to be prepared. By Wednesday afternoon a possession order had been issued by the high court.

During the eviction, bailiffs damaged the external and internal doors of the Grade 1 listed property. Upon eviction, the activists took to the streets, blocking Gower Street protesting that the bailiffs had prevented access to their property that had been left in the building. The police were forced to intervene, demanding that the bailiffs allow students access in order to retrieve these items.

The use of such force by a university against its own students marks a sad day for Higher Education in Britain. That an institution would inflict such violence upon its own members demonstrates the total alienation of students and managers within the sector.

We believe that such violence is never necessary, and hope that during imminent future occupations universities will feel no need to resort to such means. We hope that victimisation and abuse of protesters yesterday will serve as a stark reminder that education is about people, not buildings, about learning, not institutions.