Saturday, February 11, 2012

institutionally violent

When police attack protesters the right wing press are always quick to talk of a peaceful march hijacked by those intent on violence and how the police had to step in. Police forces abroad may attack those who pose no threat of violence, but our jolly old British bobbies would never do such a thing and you'd have to be a soap-dodging anarchist to suggest otherwise.

One of the interesting things about the coverage of the Mark Kennedy affair is when he got beaten up by police. At the first Climate Camp, at Drax power station in Yorkshire in 2006, Kennedy was part of a small group that was trying to get through the perimeter fence. Officers in riot gear set upon a woman getting through the fence, batoning her legs, so Kennedy intervened and the officers hospitalised him.

They kicked and beat me. They had batons and pummelled my head. One officer repeatedly stamped on my back. I had my finger broken, a big cut on my head and a prolapsed disc.

I can't find any right wing media or pundit questioning the veracity of Kennedy's story. As there are pictures and it's verified by the activists with him at the time as well as Climate Camp medics, it is indisputable.

Leaving aside the hilarious irony of coppers laying into one of their own, the acceptance of this is profound. It is the acceptance that yes, the police will seriously injure people for no real reason, far beyond anybody's definition of reasonable force.

This is not one officer losing their head in a volatile situation, but the generic workaday tactic of armoured officers against defenceless nonviolent citizens.

It's the same casual blase use of violence that we see in the notorious footage of PC Simon Harwood's deadly assault on Ian Tomlinson. It's the same thing seen a thousand times the day Tomlinson was killed, and on countless other days elsewhere.

It appears that we've reached a stage where, with its wealth of incontrovertible evidence, this is broadly accepted. If that's so it shouldn't just be quietly known but declared and acted upon.

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