As many thousands took to the streets of London last week to protest about the utter shambles the economic situation has been allowed to become.  It seems best summed up by the words of Einstein (as quoted also by Mark Thomas recently) “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

The media was quick to claim that whilst the demonstrations started peacefully as soon as “masked groups” turned up the atmosphere was very different.  The masked individuals they were referring to were those in black bloc which is a fairly common dress for those on marches, there is a lot of collective logic for it as it prevents the individual identification of some members who might otherwise be singled out for police attention both in the present and in the future.  One can choose to see it as a gang looking to cause trouble but I would be interested to know if any who would use that characterisation have ever actually seen any in black bloc cause specific trouble.  I am aware there have been incidences in Seattle and Genoa where damage has been mooted out on Starbucks and Gap premises, however these were protests involving a large number of black bloc participants, I have been on a number of demonstrations where people have been in black bloc and I am yet to see them as the ones who have started any trouble at all.  In fact the pictures that I saw of the trouble in the city showed a distinct lack of anyone in black bloc and seemed to be a scattering of individuals no more than 5 in number at any time surrounded by an absolute phalanx of photographers who seemed to be in an extremely organised formation.  Having been on marches and seen things occasionally get out of hand I can say with some surety that at least in my experience one thing that rarely happens is any pre-planned organised chaos.  Most of the time something sparks things off and some follow, others do not.  It would be staggeringly coincidental if rows of photographers had sat waiting at a particular window and that happened to be the one that was broken.  Furthermore the only person I have spoken to who was present at the time it was going on have said that whilst one person egged another on there were many voices calling for them to stop.  I doubt somehow the photographers were in the latter group.  The dispersal of people from a sparking point rarely makes national newsworthy pictures.  Most of the protesters I know are well aware that it only takes the odd action of a couple to be the entire story the media will focus on, leaving out the peaceful participation of thousands to concentrate on the actions of a handful.

I also wonder if one took a general cross-section of society and put them in that situation if there would ever be a group that was entirely without its idiots.  Certainly when one take thousands of police officers in my experience the results are far more brutal, the damage however being mooted out on people and not property.  In all the footage I saw on the mainstream media there were no signs of masked groups actively participating in anything violent, there were scenes of police charging with batons raised, scenes of individuals shouting in anger at the police lines, scenes of police kicking protesters who were already on the floor and scenes of groups of no more than 3 or 4 people causing damage to the bank buildings.  There were reports of injuries but largely on the side of the protesters, I did see in the Evening Standard  a photo of policeman who had allegedly been blooded but the photo was interesting because the blood was on outside of his helmet and jacket and didn’t seem commensurate with any wound he would have sustained.  Other than that I have heard of no other specific police casualties, though of course they have not yet had time to assess those that might have been stung by bees or tripped over whilst on patrol yet, I have heard about many protesters being badly injured including one man who died whilst caught near a police penning of the crowd around Bishopsgate.  It was said by official sources initially and by a subsequent police post-mortem that the man, Ian Tomlinson, died of “natural causes”, Tomlinson was 47 so this seemed somewhat unlikely.  Demonstrators have claimed that the problem was that medical attention was not able to reach Tomlinson soon enough and he was therefore untreated, other eye witnesses have said that he had been beaten by police shortly before he collapsed, and the Police Complaints commission are having to look into the case.  Whatever the reasons he thus becomes the first physical fatality of the London G20 protests.  Whilst it may not be as immediately newsworthy as someone being shot by police like Carlo Giuliani in Genoa in 2001 this event does show two rather critical points, the first is that the police are quite indiscriminate in their actions, Tomlinson was not himself taking part in the protests, he was not a young “anarchist” or in black bloc, he had not been seen creating any damage so could not have been singled out for any retaliatory action.  Secondly the speed with which the official police post-mortem issued its statement is somewhat indicative of a quick cover-up, and were it not for the fact that some witnesses recognised that the official line may not be anywhere close to the truth we might never be any the wiser.

This is not the first time, the Jean Charles De Menenzes case showed how a police action can go horribly wrong resulting in the murder of an innocent young man who effectively was only in the firing line because he was not white-skinned.  This should have illustrated once and for all that anti-terrorism measures are an infringement of human rights that are a great many steps too far and allowing the police to in any way conduct their own investigation into such a case was tantamount to not only allowing the lunatics to take over the asylum but giving them the budget for the next year as well.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

This is only the start of the anger and backlash against the bankers and the politicians that back them up.  As we are forced to provide more and more of our tax money to bail out financial institutions that are riddled with corruption and the corrupt there will be a greater number of people who feel that enough is enough and will join the dissenters.  However this means that this is only the start of the problems with the means by which the state chooses to protect itself, it’s going to get nasty comrades, Chris Knight was right.

Song Of The Day ~ Stiff Little Fingers – Bloody Sunday

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