Archive | November, 2012


17 Nov

‘Activist’ is no more a cohesive term than ‘voter’ or ‘customer’ – it is an activity which many people do and should be free to do. However, lately it seems that the mere act of protesting is getting the Jim Crow treatment .

While it isn’t illegal to protest per se, the authorities are increasingly employing dubious tactics to stop people from doing it. This covers both herding protestors into as small (and invisible) a space as possible, kettling them to stop their movements/punish them for coming out, brute force such as repeatedly dragging a disabled man from his wheelchair, horse charging an already kettled group which included pregnant women. And that’s just on the day. Later protestors can look forward to punitive, Kafka-esque charges for activities which have not broken any laws, bail conditions which restrict movements, and being prosecuted with trumped-up charges such as ‘violent disorder’ as the police try to cover their own arses for nearly killling someone.

I first became active when I had some first-hand experience of the very thin end of this wedge. (Background here if you’re not already sick to death of it.)

The two things I keep hearing from various acquaintances when I wax lyrical about any particular case in the huge portfolio of police abuses are:

a) “Well, what did they think would happen, being there/dressing like that/holding that placard?”
b) “Well it’s hardly Guantanamo/a police state/Nazi Germany/any other facetious example”

To the ‘what did they think would happen’ argument indicates that the person saying this already considers protesting to be a kind of war zone, or at least a state in which assault, threats, and abuses of police power are to be expected Continue reading