Socialist Worker

Media lies over demo ‘violence’

Issue No. 2245

The press, police and politicians released a howl of rage after the demonstration.

Newspapers devoted pages to the “violence” of protesters. TV and radio news interviewed police and MPs who denounced demonstrators.

All said that a minority of people, separate to the TUC demonstration, were intent on violence. Here’s what really happened.

People occupied the posh food shop Fortnum and Mason, in protest at the company’s £40 million tax dodge. Thousands more supported them outside.

Later, hundreds of people gathered in Trafalgar Square in another peaceful protest.

Trade unionists were part of both events. They are angry at how the right wing press has lied about the actions.

One teacher in the NUT union told Socialist Worker that the mainstream media had ignored the “peaceful, party atmosphere of the day and that the direct actions were by people from across the spectrum of marchers”.

She continued, “There was no mention that in the occupation of Fortnum and Mason, which I participated in with other trade unionists, protesters were again peaceful. People even tidied up after themselves.”

She added that police had “provoked” protesters in Trafalgar Square by moving in with riot gear.

At a rally during the Trafalgar Square protest, speakers included Labour MP John McDonnell and a lecturer from the UCU union. This wasn’t a “riot”.

The violence came from the police. In the square, they kettled peaceful demonstrators until the early hours of Sunday morning and refused to let them leave.

Police batoned protesters. John McDonnell returned to support the protesters after police moved in.

Bob Broadhurst, the police commander in charge of the operation, exposed the real attitude of the police. “I wouldn’t call them protesters,” he said. “They are engaging in criminal activities for their own ends.”

Some demonstrators targeted symbols of corporate power during the day—such as Starbucks, banks and luxury car dealerships. A few windows were smashed, a handful of fires burned and some protesters sprayed graffiti.

But the press has whipped up a huge panic over small-scale damage.

Protesters are right to be angry. It’s no wonder that, after politicians have ignored mass opposition, that people feel they need to do more to make their voices heard.

Police have been exposed in the past after planting undercover officers within campaigns and on protests who act as “agent provocateurs”.

Campaigners have already spotted footage from Saturday’s protests that shows a hooded individual apparently showing a pass to officers before walking through police lines.

Tory cuts threaten to wreck more than a few windows. Socialist Worker stands on the side of the protesters.

Stop rise in police powers

The Tories are using the media frenzy over so-called violence to attempt to increase the state’s power at the expense of our rights.

They want to hand police more draconian powers. They are considering banning people from protests, and extending police powers to forcibly remove face coverings, and to stop and search people.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2010 that police stopping and searching people without any grounds for suspicion was illegal. This led to the scrapping of section 44 of the 2000 Terrorism Act—which allowed such stops.

The Tories know how unpopular they are. They know that there will be more resistance to their cuts—more demonstrations, occupations and strikes.

They want to increase police powers so they can try to limit the impact of action against them.

We must fight this.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.