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Police Aggravate Peaceful G20 Climate Camp in the City of London

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opednews.com Headlined to None 4/4/09

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Location Reporters: Patrick Henningsen and Brian Viziondanz

Authors’ Note: There were approximately 4,000 peaceful protesters at the City's second main demonstration area at Bishopsgate dubbed the "Climate Camp" Wednesday afternoon. This was a relatively mild affair compared to the larger and more pressurized gathering outside the Bank of England.

From the morning onwards, Climate Camp was clearly a festival atmosphere complete with live music, food, street theatre and dozens of small camping tents erected on the road in front the European Climate Exchange building on Bishopsgate. Activities included seminars being held to highlight some of the problems with Carbon Trading

See video footage of the Climate Camp festivities here.

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From approximately 5pm, hundreds of auxiliary police in riot gear began to seal the entire encampment, including all entrances and exits along this city block. Any peaceful protester who requested exit from the area were flatly refused on the grounds which police repeatedly told people including, "It is not safe to leave the area", and "We do not want people to leave and go on to join the other demonstration sites" and "We cannot risk you leaving the area and then throwing projectiles from behind our police lines." 

Police in a show of force during G20 Summit (Photo: Patrick Henningsen)

What ensued after 7pm can only be described as a total 'Lock Down' of the public, after which protesters were hounded by a series of random forward surges by riot police, including incursions deep into the gathering. Note that by this point in the evening police forces had successfully "penned-in" approximately 4,000 peace protesters from both sides of this city block in a tactic which has come to be known as "Kettling". This restriction of the public's movement was extended to all protestors including anyone under physical duress, children, elderly, members of the Press and even passers by who happened into the area. The thousands who crowded at the four corners of the exits were in effect, forced to stand waiting for more than 4 and a half hours.
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This eventually caused frustration in the crowds and inevitable pushing into police lines, followed by police retaliating by pushing back into the crowds. A recipe for disaster. We witness such an incident at 11pm at the north end of Bishopsgate where pushing nearly triggered a full scale brawl, narrowly averted, as cooler head prevailed. At 11:30pm police finally allowed the public at the north end to exit one by one. Just prior to 12am, Police moved to clear the peaceful sit-in with a further series of symmetrical surges, where a number of people and innocent bystanders were injured, including some hospitalised for injuries from falls and police baton blows.   

Police clash with G20 demonstrators (Photo: SKY NEWS)

An April 2nd article in the Guardian newspaper notes one eyewitness testimony: 

"Another protester recounts the way that police at the end forced them out without giving them time to get their tents or belongings, after holding them there for five hours. ‘It was all done in a mood of violence,’ she said. ‘It had been really peaceful all day, so I don't understand why it had to end like that.’"
See video footage of the Police incursions on the Climate Camp here.

Also, there are multiple reports of police getting climate campers and press with video cameras to delete images and tapes on the spot, or face threat of seizure. See a full analysis these incidents at UK Indy Media.

What these reporters experienced at the Climate Camp protest was those whose job it was to 'keep the peace' and ensure public safety, behaved in a totally opposite way- with police repeatedly instigating crowds, in effect stimulating a breach of the peace. Predictably, this created a climate in which public health and safety was indeed compromised- and in many cases, endangered. Similar operations were also used on crowds out in 2005 at the G8 Summit in Edinburgh. The question for the public remains why would police follow through with a technique that is shown time and time again to create an obvious pressure cooker? The results of this were in plain sight and are by now well documented in the mainstream media.

It would be a gross oversight for apologists to describe such crowd control tactics as the result of multiple instances of rogue police, or police under stress. These apparent crowd control tactics of "sealing in" the public were in fact consistent throughout the main demonstrations in the City that day, which would lead the casual observer to conclude that this show of force was clearly a predetermined police plan, with command and control-level orders executed on the day. 

Police officials had apparently summoned Climate Camp organizers in the days ahead of the April 1st demonstrations, but judging by the results of the day, this dialogue was completely ineffectual. The fundamental question still remains: how can Police foster a healthy relationship between the public and the police, especially between young people (who are the majority of demonstrators) and the police?
Is this the shape of things to come, or can police and demonstrators coexist in public spaces without the pressure created by "Kettling" crowds?  More importantly, are civil liberties still applicable in 2009? The public and rights advocates will be expecting answers to these important before the next big demonstration.

Reporters: Patrick Henningsen and Brian Viziondanz



Patrick Henningsen is managing editor of 21st Century Wire online journal. He is a writer and communications consultant for the hi-tech, entertainment, charity and government/political sectors in Europe and the US. When it comes to political (more...)

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There have been public gatherings on much larger s... by Patrick Henningsen on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 8:58:31 AM
It looks like police are trying to agitate and agg... by Hillbilly on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 12:45:39 PM
I didn't want to get too deep into the subject so ... by Patrick Henningsen on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 1:15:11 PM
The most disturbing part is that police department... by Sister Begonia on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 2:53:10 PM
We don't need to know your personal details to rea... by Sister Begonia on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 2:49:52 PM
The PIGS (People behInd Goverment?) do not want&nb... by BajaWind on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 12:36:15 PM
I have been told in confidence by one of the 'PIGs... by Sister Begonia on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 3:00:06 PM
When in doubt, start up the trouble yourself and b... by Sister Begonia on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 2:46:44 PM
Amen Sister Begonia, for a convent girl you're pre... by Patrick Henningsen on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 2:52:22 PM
I'm an "old convent girl" at that...Imagine what I... by Sister Begonia on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 2:56:51 PM
... there we were in this little valley surrounded... by Mr M on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 5:25:49 PM
Thanks for sharing that Mr M.... by Theresa Paulfranz on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 9:20:44 PM
Cause & Effect.  All playing out within t... by shadow dancer on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 5:33:05 PM
Thanks for that one Shadow Dancer, indeed, the sto... by Patrick Saint James on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 9:52:34 PM
Didn't certain police undercover agents get unmask... by Archie on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 6:13:48 PM
Mr M. they learned from the 60's.  They l... by shadow dancer on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 6:42:26 PM
to "Serve & Protect" the interests that are not in... by Stanimal on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 7:36:12 PM
Thanks for the comments and for some of the histor... by Patrick Saint James on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 9:54:30 PM
Patrick Saint James, or say for myself at least th... by shadow dancer on Sunday, Apr 5, 2009 at 12:23:50 AM
Shadow, What do you think of this New World Or... by Patrick Saint James on Sunday, Apr 5, 2009 at 7:44:31 AM
Let Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security ... by William Whitten on Sunday, Apr 5, 2009 at 4:59:13 PM