Tuesday, 14 December 2010

My Take on 9/12 and the 'Brutes' of the TSG

Last week’s demonstration of students and their supports outside the House’s of Parliament against the raising of tuition fees has left a profound and perturbing effect on me, which I’ve had real difficulty shifting from my mind. To tell the truth I have never been or was ever so frightened in my life and I’ve seen some big confrontations that involved dissenters, pickets and protesters over the last three decades but never anything like this.

What I am considering, and what we should all be looking at is the role and function of the police in demonstrations and disputes, what their purpose is, why they are used, and why they are retained by the state?” If anyone thinks that they exist to prevent crime in the community, and I am talking miner crime, then  I would argue they are very much mistaken.

There is crime, of course there is crime in the community, that I will not dispute, and some of it is really terrible such as murder or crimes of a sexual nature. But still the police do not exist solely to prevent or solve these problems and these crimes in particular. The police have been portrayed as a rational solution to obvious problems of rising crime and increasing disorder. The implicit argument is that they were created, and steadily developed to protect the law-abiding citizen from the criminal and disorderly element which preys upon society. But the truth is they exist to protect private property and the system (capitalism) which includes its laws and its interpretative of what it considers to be order. Without such a body, an army to enforce and ensure observance of laws and rules, capitalism would not be able to exist as a system anywhere in the world. I was reminded of that most vividly last week in Parliament Square as our so-called seat of government was protected by hundreds of tolled-up riot coppers, not your ordinary policeman or women on the beat type you do understand, but the elite group known as the Territorial Support Group (TSG or CO20).

The police operation and its preparation must have cost the tax payers thousands when I recall what I saw on Thursday December 9. However before I get on to that let me just say a few things about the TSG. These are officers who we now know to be nothing more than thugs and strong-armours of the state, and without question.

So who are the TSG?”

Well apparently they are a uniformed unit of the Metropolitan Police Specials (MPS) that replaced the polemical Special Patrol Group in 1987. TSG units patrol the streets of the capital in marked police vans; officers can be identified as TSG from the distinctive 'U' in their shoulder numbers. Equipped with Speedcuffs, Monadnock fixed batons and CS/PAVA Incapacitated Sprays they are selected on merit and much emphasis is placed upon their personal policing ability, motivation, resilience, good communication skills fitness and stamina seen as essential attributes of TSG personnel.

More of a fuller account and description about the TSG can be found on WikipediA, but here is a paragraph from that site which I could not resist reproducing, just shows you what we are up against.  

One ex-Metropolitan Police officer suggested that TSG members "spend (their) days waiting for action, and far too many officers join seeking excitement and physical confrontation." Some officers are ex-military personnel and these are "the worst bullies" as "the laws of the battlefield are not appropriate to the streets of our capital."  

It is obvious that we have psychopaths and sick persons sorry to say employed as law enforcers and I would suggest deliberately so, and with the complete knowledge of both Labour and Conservative administrations, which says a lot about the last Labour government, and Labour members you should please take note.

On the day

On the day of the demonstration, I joined the march on the Strand walking towards Trafalgar Square where groups of students had been arriving from versus colleges and universities from throughout London and indeed from other parts of the country, every time a group arrived or were spotted with their banners and placards marching and making their way down the road a huge roar of jubilation and joy was thrown up, but most of all what was striking was that many had taken the time to make their own banners and placards which gave the feeling of organic and spontaneous action with passion. I looked in wonderment into the fresh faces of these kids all old enough to be my own children, yes I felt old and a wee bit of jealousy creeping in, but excuse me I was still part of the movement this was the second demonstration in support of students I had turned up to, and that’s what mattered.

Within no time at all there was thousands and not just students, many like me had turned-out to show their solidarity a word reborn and used on Twitter by an explosion of organised activism on the Internet.

The body of the march by now a beating hart of determination moved off and down the Mall through Admiralty Arch turning and passing Horse Guards Parade, people were looking out of office windows of government buildings as the march made its way to Parliament Square, looking back now and again all I could see was an overflowing dam of people. There were so many people that when we arrived in the Square   nothing looked familiar, over the years I had become well acquainted with the village green passing through from time to time, but this time it looked very different with all these people flooding in, and climbing onto a wall I sat next to a hod-carrier who said he was from Croydon, he had come along because he had two young children, it mattered he said; “that they should have an education, and going to university if that’s what they wanted.”
We talked while the crowd poured in, and then the fencing surrounding the Square was removed by the protesters and we all surged forward I found myself at the front facing rows of police guarding the Commons, the road was full of TSG vans and a new type of barrier structure had been set-up as a roadblock preventing us from crossing the road to the Commons but in front of that was the TSG cops dressed in full riot jump suits and helmets battens long hanging and dangling from their waists. They had two types of shields the round and the long body length blocks first used in 1977 at the battle of Lewisham which I happened to be at when the then National Front tried to march through the area only to be met by the Anti Nazi League.The far-right National Front (NF) intended to march from New Cross to Lewisham in southeast London this led to a counter-demonstrations and violent clashes. The day has been seen since as a turning point in the fortunes of the National Front and the 1970s anti-fascist movement as well as in policing -  as riot shields were used for the first time in England.

I have no idea why but the cops started hitting people with their battens, I was hit three times once on the head and twice on the shoulder and it fucking hurts. I am still black, blue and yellow. So after a while I pulled away from the front and moved back to the side of Westminster Abby which was full of cops, the devil was standing in the church yard I thought to myself. By this time the fencing around the Square was being used by those still at the front to protect themselves from batten blows which I could see were still raining down on protesters. I moved further back towards Victoria where things were beginning to hot up, here the protester pushed the police back then they sent the horses in and cavalry charging into people like it was the finishing home run of the Grand National. There is no doubt the police, this special force that trains with the British Army were pushed back and lost control of Parliament Square, and they lost control because of the numbers of protesters present, they were lucky on this occasion, for it was only the vans the horses that saved them on the day, oh and of course their violence and the kettling. Last night video footage emerged of a man being pulled out of his wheelchair and dragged across the road by an officer during Thursday's demonstration, this is in addition to the near murder of young Alfie Meadows who had to undergo hours of very delicate life saving surgery which I wrote about in my last post. And when we put it into real perspective, it really specks volumes when you consider that 43 protesters and six police officers were taken to hospital for injuries. Tomorrow I will consider what has been gained and as promised post my thoughts of where do we go from here.           

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