Another witness statement of police violence and provocation of violence at Demo2010, London

Ivan Thomas writes in a comment on an article in The New Statesman on the 10th of December 2010 at 17:01:

“Our contingent from Birmingham University arrived at the demo at 3pm by which time, despite that everyone was in a good natured mood it was already kettled.

It was possible to get in but after that it was impossible to get out but as we had come all this way to be at the demo the majority of us went in. Just as an aside at this point i would like to say that i heard the Commissioner of police on the radio this morning who was saying that the only reason that they employ “containment” tactics is to pacify the crowd. To this i would like to say two things; (1)the people were already passive so why imprison people excercising their democratic right to protest? (2) imprisoning people does not pacify them, it makes them angry.

The ambience within the kettle was good natured, there were drummers and a mobile music system and people were either dancing or shouting slogans, in fact it was a pretty passive and laid back as demos go.

At around dusk, on the West side of the square, police on horseback delivered an unprovoked attack on us. I was not an eyewitness to this but everyone said it was unprovoked and this was borne out by a friend who phoned me to say she had just seen it live on BBC news and apparently the reporter was clearly shocked. Funnily enough this report and film has disappeared of the BBC website overnight.

At this point there was a general shift of people, of which i was one, to the East side of the square because the word went around that they were going to start letting people out but instead we encountered a wall of riot police who, by their body language, were clearly up for it!

We started to shout that we wanted to be let out bcause we were cold, thirsty and needed a piss to which there was no response. A few people, clearly exasperated threw plastic water bottles and sticks at them, there being no other ammunition anyway.

At this point one flank of the police charged us employing riot shields and and aiming for people’s heads with their truncheons. It was at this point that one lad got hit hard enough to be brain damaged.

One of my companions went to the police line and demanded a medic for which he got punched in the face.

Several people laid him on a piece of temporary fencing as a stretcher and carried him to safety. At this point things really took off, whilst we started using crowd barriers as battering rams against their shield wall several other students starte to try and break in to the Treasury via the windows, the irony of an occupation of the Treasury building was not lost on anyone. The police claim there were rent-a-mob elements involved, this is not true, i saw young girls trying to smash through the bomb proof windows too.

Meanwhile we had built our own barricade by the corner of the Treasury building to stop them charging us and there appeared to be a bit of a stand-off.

Suddenly a flash squad of police appeared from another direction and ran towards the people trying to break in through the windows.

At this point, i didn’t see it, but i heard from different sources that one of the police ran over the boy with the head injury and used the opportunity to hit him on the head again.

After all this the police advanced from all sides and concentrated us into an ever decreasing space and we shouted out that we demanded to be released.

They said that we would be released in small groups but after more than an hour this was proved to be a lie.

Eventually they said we could go but only via Westminster Bridge. At the time i thought this was odd and i realised that corralling us on a bridge was a tactical move on their part which it proved to be.

We were held on the bridge for well over an hour bounded by riot police on both sides. Finally we lost our patience and the general feeling was that if 3,000 people were to push that we could push our way out but it would appear we couldn’t.

The net result of this was that everyone was squeezed together so tightly that nobody could move their arms or breathe properly, it was not possible for us to spread out because we were penned in by the police on both sides. We endured this for more than half an hour and it started to get serious when a few people started to pass out.

Finally they started to let us out one at a time and we had to pass through a 200 yard corridor of riot police and made to take our hats off so that we could be photographed.”

I find this as just chocking as the witness statement I posted yesterday. I’ll post more when I find them, and I suggest others to do the same.

 

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