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G20: Did police containment cause more trouble than it prevented?

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guardian1

The controversial ‘kettling’ tactics employed at yesterday’s London demonstrations left many peaceful demonstrators trapped, as Duncan Campbell explains

Police hold G20 protesters outside the Bank of England. Photograph: Martin Godwin

Police hold G20 protesters outside the bank

For more than seven hours yesterday, police prevented people from leaving the area of the London G20 demonstrations near the Bank of England.

Protesters who had wanted to demonstrate against the British banking system and capitalism in general, but who had also wanted to protest about climate change or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan elsewhere in the capital, were hemmed in.

Officers forming a wall of fluorescent yellow told those who wanted to leave the area and were puzzled that they could not: “Don’t ask us, ask the gaffer.”

The area became a public lavatory as people unable to move away used the entrances to Bank underground station as a urinal.

In nearby Bishopsgate, at the Climate Change camp, the same policy of containment was used until later into the night and this morning.

This is a strategy called the “kettle”, which sees protesters herded into an area and kept there for hours. Its stated aim is to contain a protest in a small area so it does not spread.

It was justified by the former assistant commissioner (special operations) at the Met, Andy Hayman, in an article in the Times earlier this week.

“Tactics to herd the crowd into a pen … have been criticised before, yet the police will not want groups spilintering away from the crowd,” he wrote.

The containment was backed up at the Bank, first with mounted police and then with police dogs. As people were eventually allowed to leave at about 8pm, they were funnelled out down a narrow exit with a police officer grabbing them by the arm as though they were under arrest, again regardless of age or demeanour.

One officer, asked why people were not allowed to leave under their own steam, replied: “They might fall over.”

People were then asked for their name and address and required to have a photograph taken. They are not obliged to do so under the law, but those who refused were put back in the pen.

The aim of the day’s protests had been “to participate in a carnival party at the Bank of England, support all events demonstrating against G20 and overthrow capitalism”.  –more–

Written by morris

April 8, 2009 at 1:40 am

Posted in activism, G20, Police, protests

Tagged with , , ,

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