Heavy-handed policing at stop the war demo in london 5th August 2006

Taken from Indymedia UK

Between 8,000 and 150,000 people (depending on who you believe) marched in london on saturday afternoon, calling for a ceasefire now.

police seemed often heavy-handed and out of control, and there were at least a dozen arrests. there were several arrests, and then they were suddenly recalled and the march returned to peace. totally pointless!!

later i saw similar tactics near downing street. as i arrived a line of police were pushing people from the right hand side away from the gates of downing street. when challenged, the senior officer could not explain under what legislation he was acting. one member of the press was arrested in a scuffle.

the ‘rhythms of resistance’ samba band arrived and staged a die-in opposite downing street. others gradually joined the sit-down, although stop the war coalition stewards were urging the passing crowd to not join in, and police quickly surrounded the sitting protestors. after some twenty minutes, the samba band moved on, but some activists tried to use pipes to lock on on the ground, and were viciously arrested by police before they managed. i witnessed one young man being held face down on the ground with his neck bent to one side and his face being pushed hard down onto the road.

at this point, i witnessed the most pointless show of strength and bullying tactics as van loads of police poured out onto the road. they started pusfhing people randomly, seemingly confused as to their own orders, but then began ‘clearing the road opposite downing street. people on the pavement were left alone, but i witnessed another five arrests. after this little show, they all got back in their vans and the road filled with demonstrators once again. what the hell was the point of that other than intimidation and harrassment.

in parliament square, police were also involved in scuffles and several witnesses told me they’d seen a woman being kicked by police.

later on, barbara tucker and steve jago took up their customary position outside downing street. once again, for simply holding a banner with some words on it, barbara was violently assaulted. i saw the handcuff marks several hours later and her arm was swollen, and the skin broken. she was charged with ‘obstruction of the highway’ rather than the usual ‘unauthorised demo’ offence. steve jago was charged under section 5 of behaviour liable to cause harrasment, distress or alarm, and he received a beating and an £80 penalty fine (blair’s new summary justice!) – he will take the matter to court.

it is clear from today that police are instructed to use thuggery and violent tactics, and are particularly targetting peaceful campaigners against blair’s genocide.

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