Socialist Worker

Riots that the right wing cheer

Issue No. 1831

A MOB rioted around parliament on Monday night. Rioters hurled fireworks and scaled the gates of the House of Commons. The crowd burned an effigy of Tony Blair, sat in the road, climbed traffic lights and tried to smash their way through police lines. Imagine the uproar if this had been an anti-war protest, a May Day march, a group of strikers or Asian youth defending themselves in Bradford, Oldham or Burnley.

The media would have gone completely crazy. Anyone arrested at such events can expect vicious charges and 'exemplary' sentences. But this time the protest was by hunting supporters, the Countryside Alliance and the Countryside Action Network. Much of the press was sympathetic. The Daily Mail's headline was 'Return Of The Countryside In No Mood To Compromise'. Eight were arrested. Their treatment is revealing.

One man arrested in possession of an offensive weapon has been released with no further action. Another received a formal caution following his arrest for theft.

Another man received a formal warning following an arrest for obstruction and another was released with no further action after arrest for breach of the peace. Four will go to court. Will they get the same treatment as anti-war or anti-racist demonstrators?

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Sat 21 Dec 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1831
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