Tony Greenstein | 06 May 2023 | Post Views:

Police Arrest Protesters for Exercising their Democratic Right to Protest Against Monarchy

Democracy British Style

It was less than two months ago that the Metropolitan Police were described as ‘institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic’. Baroness Louise Casey said that the Black community were ‘over-policed and under-protected.’

Murdered by the Met

It was little more than two years ago that Sarah Everard was murdered by a Police officer, Wayne Couzens, who had been systematically protected by fellow officers when reports of  him exposing himself were made. The last incident was six days before he went on to kidnap and murder Sarah, when Police were given his car registration number and his bank card details by a fast food restaurant.

If Couzens had been arrested at the time Sarah Everard would still be alive. As it is Couzens was given the nickname ‘the rapist’ – a ‘joke’ that fellow officers in the Nuclear Constabulary found highly amusing.

Casey Response to Met Reaction to Report

Couzens was not of course the only incident. 18 months ago two police officers, Deniz Jaffer and Jamie Lewis, were gaoled for sharing  pictures of two dead Black women, nicknamed ‘dead birds’ in two WhatsApp groups, one of which had 41 fellow officers as participants.

Anti-monarchy arrests during UK coronation

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick resigned after a series of scandals. An independent police watchdog revealed shocking evidence Feb. 1 that officers in Charing Cross station had engaged in conduct involving misogyny, homophobia, bullying and sexual harassment between 2016 and 2018.

The report claimed that officers had engaged in sexual activity while on duty, joked about hitting and raping women, and mocked the deaths of black babies and the Holocaust. In published Whatsapp messages, one male officer told to a female officer: “I would happily rape you…if I was single I would happily chloroform you.” Two of the officers investigated were promoted, while nine were left to serve in the Met.

Cressida Dick’s replacement, Sir Mark Rowley shows no inclination to improve matters, having rejected Louise Casey’s finding of institutionalised racism. The National Black Police Association offered to meet him to highlight areas of concern and collaborate on how to change the systemic racism within the force, but was snubbed. 

The Inquiry chaired by Nuala O’Loan, the former police ombudsman in Northern Ireland into the murder of Daniel Morgan, a private eye, found that the Police investigation was riddled with corruption.

The report accused Dick of ‘placing hurdles’ in their path by refusing to give them access to a vital police database. The HOLMES system which is used by UK police forces to investigate complicated crimes such as serial murders and high-value frauds.

Access to the database was ‘essential’ because many of the documents were only available in online form, and her refusal caused ‘very significant delays’, the report stated.

‘The Metropolitan Police’s lack of candour manifested itself in the hurdles placed in the path of the Panel, such as (then Assistant Commissioner) Cressida Dick’s initial refusal to recognise the necessity for the Panel to have access to the HOLMES system,’

Who then was better placed to be given additional powers under the new Public Order Act than the Metropolitan Police? Indeed such was Cruella Braverman’s trust in the Met Police’s ability to abuse whatever powers they were handed that the implementation of the Act was fast tracked just one day after receiving royal assent. Normally it takes months to implement legislation and sometimes parts of that legislation are never implemented.

The POA means that anyone who blocks roads, airports and railways could be jailed for up to 12 months — while anyone who glues themself down could face up to six months behind bars or an unlimited fine.

Police will also be able to stop and search protesters for items such as padlocks, superglue and digging tools if they suspect they are intending to be used at a protest. People caught with these items, with the intention of using them to cause disruption, will also face criminal charges.

In short the POA is an ideal piece of legislation  to hasten the arrival of a Police state. It is the type of legislation which the press would fall over themselves to criticise if Putin or China were to introduce it.

Only one thing will render this Act null and void and that will be a refusal to comply with its provisions by direct action protesters. This is a government that detests any form of direct action whilst being immersed  in serious corruption and law breaking – all of which have gone without investigation by the Met.

According to Transparency International 2021 was the year corruption took centre stage

From the British Government’s COVID-19 response to ministers’ and MPs’ conflicts of interest; from the businesses caught up in bribery scandals to the devastating effect of corruption in defence forces around the world which triggered or aggravated conflicts or led to the total collapse of government.

Its effect was of course felt on the public

Whether that was UK hospitals unable to access high quality or reasonably priced personal protective equipment (PPE) for their staff and patients, planning decisions seemingly based on who you know rather than the public interest, or millions fleeing their homes and countries when the safest place to be should have been at home.

It is therefore no surprise that the Metropolitan Police should pull out all the stops to prevent protests at the Coronation.  It is a case of one undemocratic institution, the Met, giving its full support to another undemocratic institution, the Monarchy.

However the Met Police commanders are nothing if not stupid. They have enabled millions of people to see for themselves the hostility to the democratic right to protest of the Police. The publicity garnered by the protesters because of the decision by the Police to arrest its organisers was invaluable. Even the ever loyal BBC was forced to carry news reports of the heavy handed response of the Met. In that sense and in that sense only, we should be grateful to Mark Rowley.

However we have to ask why the government gave a bunch of racists, rapists, misogynists and corrupt bigots even more powers than they already had given their penchant to abuse their existing powers. There was no popular mandate for the new Public Order Act and it says everything about Starmer’s Labour Party that it failed to make any protest about the new powers still less pledge to repeal it.

Tony Greenstein

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Tony Greenstein

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