Dealing with the police

29/08/2015

I found this wonderfully uplifting article at  http://animalrightsuk.org/dealingwiththepolice.html (don’t worry, fellow carnivores, it’s not about meat it’s about protest). I’ve just stolen it verbatim, but the site does say “Anti copyrights, feel free to distribute”, so I’m distributing it. Under the same conditions: free (in all meanings of the word) to distribute. Don’t print it out and try to sell it (you won’t find many customers to make it worth your while anyway). Something you could do if your printer’s feeling all lonely and underused and you have loads of ink kicking around is print it and give it away at demos etc. If you do that, please include my url https://ihatehate.wordpress.com, and also http://animalrightsuk.org/ , that’s the url of the site I stole the article from.

Anyway, enough of my stealing, here’s what I stole…

General points
The most important thing to remember is that in general the police are not impartial. They are not interested in simply upholding the law and they are certainly not interested in upholding your rights; they are generally quite hostile to protestors. Years of collective experience have shown that the police generally consider it their job to stop you protesting if they can, or at least to make your protest less effective. Anything the police ask you to do or say at any time is for their benefit and not yours, and will often be detrimental to your interests.

The police are institutionally dishonest, and are full of dirty tricks. They will lie to try and convince you that your protest is illegal and that they have the power to stop you or move you. They will lie to try and convince you that you have to give them your details or that they have the power to search you. They will lie and exaggerate in statements to try and convict you of crimes you have not committed, and to cover up for themselves when they take unlawful action against you, such as unlawful arrests and stop and searches. The police lie most of the time. Most action taken by police against protestors is unlawful and is undertaken dishonestly and maliciously. These points cannot be emphasised enough, and they apply at all times: in the street, if you’re being raided, at the police station and in the courtroom.

Under these circumstances, the only sensible response is (1) non-cooperation with the police wherever possible, and (2) to assume that if a police officer is telling you something, he/she is lying. This applies during any contact you have with the police at any time. Don’t do anything the police tell you to do unless you have to. This applies especially if you’re under arrest and the police are very keen for you to do something (e.g. take a duty solicitor, talk during an interview, accept a caution, sign a piece of paper). If the police are putting pressure on you to do something, and making threats of what they’ll do if you don’t, this should set alarm bells ringing in your head. There’s a reason they’re keen for you to do it, so don’t do it (their threats will be empty threats). There are very few things that you have to do when a police officer tells you to, just the same as when anyone else tells you to do something. However, there are some circumstances where you have to comply with instructions from the police- see section 2.2. Therefore you should only do the things you have to do, and should not do anything you don’t have to do. Here are some examples, which apply in general (see here exceptions):

# If a police officer asks you to give them or show them something you are carrying, don’t.
# If a police officer tells you to stop filming him/her, carry on filming.
# If the police tell you to get out of your vehicle, don’t.
# If the police tell you to get in their vehicle, don’t.
# If the police ask to come into your house, don’t let them.
# If the police try and photograph you, turn and walk away.
# If a police officer tells you to sign something, don’t sign it.
# If a police officer tells you to go to them, stay where you are.
# If a police officer tells you to go somewhere, don’t go there.
# Unless you are being lawfully detained (e.g. for a stop and search, to use a police power to obtain your details, or you are under arrest; see section 2.2) you can lawfully walk or run away from the police.

Police will try to talk to you at a demonstration for one of four reasons: to give you an instruction or use some police power (such as arrest, stop and search, or gaining your details), to gain intelligence (under the guise of “friendly” conversation), to gain evidence against you to help them convict you, or to establish a rapport with you so that they can control you. If the police are talking to you, it’s for their benefit not yours, so don’t talk to them unless you have to. In general, you are under no obligation to speak to the police, or to answer any questions (see section 2.2 for exceptions). You can politely say you do not wish to speak to them, or you can remain silent. If you do have to talk to them, always record the conversation on video camera (see section 2.7 below). Do not engage in “friendly” chat with the police. In particular, respect other activists’ privacy: never discuss another person with the police. The police gain much of their intelligence from people who are willing to chat with them. What may seem like an irrelevant piece of information to you may be very important to the police. They want to know anything and everything they can find out about you and your friends. It is also important to remember that the police are not what you are there to fight against. If protestors become engaged in arguing with or talking to the police, this is a distraction from the purpose of the protest.

However, you will have to speak to the police if they are talking a lot of legal nonsense and telling you that you have to move, stop doing what you are doing or that they will arrest you; in other words if they are attempting to use their powers unlawfully. In these circumstances, a little legal knowledge can go a long way and you should calmly tell the police that they are talking nonsense- it is important not to become angry or aggressive. Remember to record any exchanges on a video camera. If they persist in talking nonsense, and they are attempting to use a police power unlawfully, it is best to stand up to them and not move or stop what you are doing, and not give your details when they ask. They may be bluffing; if so, you have won. If not, they will arrest you, but it will be an unlawful arrest and you may be able sue them (see section 5.2), in which case you have also won. Look upon unlawful arrests not so much as an inconvenience as a sound financial investment. However, it must be emphasised that you must be certain that the police are wrong, and you must record the arrest and the circumstances leading up to it on a video camera. Have the details of a friendly solicitor, or someone you know who has legal training/knowledge handy in case you need to take advice.

Non-co-operation with the police has its limits because there are some things that you have to do if the police tell you to, and not to do so is an offence…
Things Police Tell You To Do That You Have To Do
# If you’re actually under arrest, it’s an offence to actively resist or run away (sitting or lying down is passive resistance and is OK). Unless you are passively resisting, it also makes sense to get into a police vehicle if you’re under arrest. You are only under arrest once a police officer has touched you and told you you’re under arrest.

# Under certain circumstances the police have the power to give you directions as to where you must stand and how long you can remain there (for example under sections 12 and 14 of the POA 1986, and section 42 of the CJPA 2001, or if there is an injunction in place)

# There are certain circumstances where not to do what a police officer tells you to do constitutes the offence of obstruction of a police officer in the course of his duty (see under “Trespass” and “Breach of the Peace”).

Unfortunately, you also have to do the following (this list is not exhaustive):

# Stop your vehicle if you’re on a highway and the police signal you to stop (See under “Being stopped in a Vehicle”)

# Give your details in certain situations (see under “Giving Your Details”)

# Let the police search you in certain situations (see under “Stop and Search Powers”)

# Remove a face covering or give the police something they believe may be used as a face covering in certain situations (see under “Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (CJA)”).

# Let the police take your fingerprints, DNA and photograph if you’re under arrest

# There is one thing worth signing, and some bits of paper that you have to take, when you are under arrest (see under “Getting Arrested”), but don’t sign anything else, under arrest or otherwise.

Voluntary Exceptions to Non-Cooperation with the Police
There are also rare occasions when you might choose to talk to or co-operate with the police. These are:
# The police liaison person (see section 2.4).
# If someone commits some crime against you and you want to make a complaint. In general, such complaints don’t go anywhere and are a waste of time, but a few do succeed.
Police liaison person
Not withstanding the above, sometimes the police are not too hostile, and if this is the case, nominating a protestor as a police liaison person can be beneficial. When the police arrive, the police liaison person goes to meet them and introduces themselves in a friendly way. They may say something like, “Hello, I’m John and I’m the police liaison person today. Shall we just go over here where we can hear each other better for a chat?” They then take the police to one side. This takes the police away from the other protestors, who can carry on the protest and not be distracted by the police. The liaison person will then talk to the police about what they’re doing and say things like, “As you can see we’re just holding a peaceful and lawful protest against XXXXX, we’re not going to be causing any trouble, we won’t cause an obstruction, etc., etc.” This may take the police by surprise, and may make them behave much nicer towards you, and allow the protest to continue without disruption. The conversation must be recorded with a video camera. If the police start talking nonsense about what you can and cannot do and using their powers unlawfully, the liaison person can then argue (politely) with them, and the other protestors are not involved. Again this will only work if the police are not entirely hostile; if they are hostile, it will become obvious quite quickly and the police liaison approach can be abandoned. Then it’s back to the non co-operation approach as outlined in general points

Giving your details
The police will always want to know who you are and where you live. You do not have to give them your details except under a very few circumstances:

# if you are driving a vehicle and you have been stopped
# if you have been arrested (unless it’s to prevent a breach of the peace)
# if they reasonably suspect you of committing an offence and they want to report you for a summons or issue a fixed penalty (see below).
# if they reasonably suspect you of anti-social behaviour, which is defined as behaviour likely to cause alarm, harassment or distress. Anti-social behaviour differs from a section 5 POA 1986 offence in that it does not involve being threatening, abusive or insulting. Anti-social behaviour is not a criminal offence but suspicion of it does give police the power to require you to give them your details. Refusal to do so is an offence. This has been used to try and get protestors’ details, but remember that holding a peaceful and lawful protest is a guaranteed right and is not anti-social behaviour.

So, if you are just taking part in a peaceful demonstration, in general you do not have to give your details, and you should refuse. If they say that they need your details because they suspect you of an offence, ask them what offence they suspect you of, and on what grounds they suspect you. Normally they will come out with a load of nonsense, and you should challenge them on that. Police will often try do deal with minor offences by way of fixed penalty (on the spot fine) or summons, i.e. without arresting you, because they know that if they do this, if it turns out later that there is no case against you, you cannot sue them; you can only sue them if you have spent time in custody. If, however, they arrest you and then it turns out there is no case against you, you stand to make a lot of money by sueing them for false imprisonment, assault, interfering with your human rights and possibly malicious prosecution (see section 5.2). If they say you have to give your details because they suspect you of anti-social behaviour, you should ask what you have done that’s antisocial and what their evidence is, and remind them that peaceful protest is not anti-social behaviour. Normally when they say they suspect you of committing an offence or anti-social behaviour they are lying; they are merely trying to stop your protest and get your details.

Normally, we would recommend that you do not give your details if the police say they suspect you of an offence or of anti-social behaviour because the police usually do not have reasonable grounds to suspect protestors of these things. If you do not give your details, the police will either back down because they were bluffing all along (quite common), or they will arrest you for the suspected offence. However, it must be emphasised that it is only worth not giving your details and risking being arrested if you know the arrest would be unlawful and you can prove it, because then you may be able to sue them later (see section 5.2). It is important to video all arrests and the events leading up to them for this purpose (see section 2.7). The arrest is unlawful if they do not have reasonable grounds to suspect you of any offence, or of anti-social behaviour. You need to decide based on the circumstances whether or not the police have reasonable grounds to suspect you of these things. If they do have reasonable grounds, or if they don’t have reasonable grounds but you can’t prove it, you should give your details. Reasonable grounds for suspicion of an offence are that a genuine offence has been committed (i.e. not one dreamed up by the police by twisting the laws to suit their needs) and they have reasonable grounds to think you have committed it (for example they have a complaint about you from a member of the public, or the police witnessed you committing it themselves). If they suspect you of an offence and they arrest you because you do not give your details, you do not get yourself into any extra trouble, even if the arrest is lawful. However, if they have reasonable grounds to suspect you of anti-social behaviour, you commit an offence by refusing to give your details, so that one’s a bit more risky.

If you get a summons, you should normally plead not guilty, and you must get a solicitor as soon as possible. If you get a fixed penalty, don’t pay it. On the back of the penalty notice is a form you can send off to request a court hearing. Fill in and send this form; they may or may not send you a summons, to which you should normally plead not guilty.

Stop and search powers
Under normal circumstances, the police have no right to search you. The situations when they can search you are:
1. If they have reasonable grounds for suspecting that you are carrying stolen or prohibited articles or articles with a sharp point or blade. Prohibited articles are offensive weapons (articles made or adapted for causing injury or carried with the intention of causing injury) and articles made or adapted for use in committing burglary, theft, fraud or criminal damage or carried with the intention of committing these offences. (S1 PACE).
2. Police may search anyone they reasonably suspect to be a terrorist for evidence that he is a terrorist (Section 45 Terrorism Act 2000)
3. If a Section 60 (CJA) authorisation is in effect, police can stop and search anyone in the area covered by the authorisation. This can only be used if there is a risk of serious violence, and you can only be searched for offensive weapons.
4. If a Section 44 (Terrorism Act 2000) authorisation is in effect, police can stop and search anyone for items that could be used in connection with terrorism. They can search pedestrians, drivers and passengers in vehicles. However, S44 has been found to be illegal by the European Court of Human Rights and so should not be used.
The main point to remember here is that unless a section 60 or section 44 authorisation is in effect, the police must have some sort of reasonable suspicion that you are carrying something you shouldn’t be before they can search you. Searches of protestors are normally carried out unlawfully. Therefore challenge the police officer searching you. Ask them under what power they are searching you, and their reasons for searching you. If they are searching you under Section 1 of PACE, ask what they suspect you of carrying, and their grounds for suspicion. If you have been stopped and searched, you do not have to give your details (they will ask), but the police officer must give you a record of the search with his details and the reasons for the search. It’s best not to carry wallets or other personal items that will give the police your identity if you are searched. However, it may be wise to give your details if you want to make a complaint about the search later (see section 5.1). If you know that the search is unlawful and you can prove it, it is best not to co-operate with the search; if they arrest you for obstructing a police officer because of your non-cooperation, the arrest is unlawful and you may be able to sue the police. It is important to video all arrests and the events leading up to them for this purpose (see section 2.7). You can only be searched by an officer of the same gender as you.

Cameras

Video cameras will protect you against false and malicious allegations (from the police and members of public) and will prevent some of the excesses of police behaviour. They will also help you sue the police and make complaints (see section 5). The video camera is your friend; for most protests they are essential. We recommend recording all exchanges with police, community support officers, security guards, etc.; we do not talk to the police unless there is a camera rolling. It is also important to get a lot of general footage of the protest, both before and after the police arrive, to show what you were doing. In the past, we have been victimised by police to the extent that we have had to record the entire protest and everything that happened in order to protect ourselves from malicious allegations from the police. However, the police do not like having cameras pointed at them, precisely because it protects us and prevents them making up lies about us, telling us lies or abusing their powers. They will tell you that you’re not allowed to film them, that it’s against their human rights to photograph them without their permission, that it’s a security risk. These things are not true. They may threaten to seize the camera, but they are not allowed to do this unless they believe it contains evidence of an offence. They may try to physically stop you filming them, but this is an assault. You are allowed to video the police (or security guards, or community support officers or anybody else). However, beware of the following:
# Get the permission of the other protestors before you record them
# Be careful not to use tapes/memory cards that have material on from previous protests that you don’t want the police to see, in case you get arrested.
# If you are arrested with a camera, the police will seize it and retain it as evidence. It is therefore a good idea, if arrests take place, that the cameraperson avoids arrest if possible, for instance by complying with any police directions even if they are unlawfully imposed. If you are arrested with a camera, it may be possible to hand it to someone else before you get carted away.
# However, even if the cameraperson is not arrested, the police have the power to seize anyone’s camera if they believe it may contain evidence of an offence. The police often use this power dishonestly to confiscate any footage that might show they are acting unlawfully. Be aware that if people are videoed being arrested, the police may suddenly grab the cameraperson or their camera for this reason.

Being Stopped in a Vehicle
If you are driving a vehicle on a highway and a police officer signals you to stop, you must do so. The driver must give his or her details if the police ask for them. It is also sensible to answer questions related to the legality of your driving, e.g. whether you’re insured or not, etc., but do not answer other questions. However, no passengers are required to give their details (unless the police suspect them of an offence or anti-social behaviour) or speak to the police. The driver does not have to get out of the vehicle, or open their door or window more than is necessary to speak to the officer. Typically what happens when an activist’s vehicle is stopped is that the police will try to open the driver’s door and remove the key from the ignition. They may also try to open other doors. This is unlawful unless they are arresting someone or have power to stop and search the vehicle or people in it. Whenever you are stopped in a vehicle by the police, it is best therefore to lock all doors and remove the key from the ignition. Someone should video the incident from inside the vehicle. The driver should wind his or her window down about a couple of inches. If the window is opened any more, the police will reach inside and unlock the door. Let the driver do the talking; everyone else should stay quiet. The police may ask the driver for ID or driving documents, but you are not required to carry any. They will probably ask who owns the vehicle so if it is not yours, you must know who it’s registered to (it is sensible to answer this question). They may give you a ticket (known as a producer) that requires you to produce your licence, insurance certificate and MOT certificate at a police station within 7 days. Needless to say, any vehicle used for activism must be 100% legal and roadworthy.


Protest at Israeli drone factory in Birmingham planned for July 2015 – everyone welcome!

24/06/2015

Activists standing in solidarity with Palestinians will attempt to shut down an Israeli arms
factory in England next month, on the anniversary of Israel’s military operation ‘Protective Edge’, which caused massive  destruction and loss of life in the Gaza strip last summer.  And to counteract the violent nature of the factory, the protest will take the form of “a creative and positive space that meets the needs of justice and solidarity, and not the needs of Israeli multinational corporations that export death for profit.”

Last year, news of the Israeli attacks on Gaza led to demonstrations such as nine activists who occupied the roof of he UAV Engines Ltd factory in Shenstone, near Birminham, which is owned by the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. They shut down the drone engine factory for two days costing the company more than £180,000.

Rooftop protest at Elbit Systems last year.  This year's planned even will be far more peaceful and suitable for all the family.

Rooftop protest at Elbit Systems last year. This year’s planned even will be far more peaceful and suitable for all the family.

This year, on 6 July (the anniversary of the start of the onslaught on Gaza), a more organized demonstration  at Shenstone is planned.  “Block the Factory” will “be transforming the space around the arms factory, converting it from a site of destruction into a fun, creative and child-friendly environment”.

Elbit Systems makes engines for drones, surveillance equipment for the militarized USA/Mexico border and the Israeli Separation Wall, which breaches international law and stretches for hundreds of miles, dividing families and confiscating large swathes of fertile Palestinian land as it goes.  Elbit Systems is just one part of the massive arms industry that makes Israel  the largest per capita arms exporter in the world. Israel is the world’s second largest exporter of military drones, selling thousands all over the world.  And who makes the engines for the drones?  UAV Engines Ltd, whose factory is in Shenstone, near Birmingham.

From Mondoweiss.net:

‘Block the factory’ aims to turn the space around the factory into a fun, creative and inspiring place, rather than one associated with death, destruction, and injustice. Whether it’s by telling stories or holding workshops, making art or flying kites (not drones), playing music or sharing food together, it will be a space for activists to build support networks, find new allies and make new friends.

This mass action is part of the wider Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions  campaign (BDS) and the Stop Arming Israel Campaign, which call on the UK to end its extensive collaboration with the Israeli weapons industry and to institute a two-way arms embargo.  Many groups are involved in the day so far, including:

Boycott Israel Network, NUS Black Students’ Campaign, West Midlands PSC, Drone Campaign Network, Coventry Friends of Palestine, Smash EDO, Manchester Palestine Action, Glasgow Palestine Action, Campaign Against Arms Trade, Stop The Arms Faircoalition, War on Want, and London Palestine Action

The organisers want to make this an inclusive and family friendly affair, believing that diversity makes us better and stronger. So, whether you have never been on a protest before or are a seasoned activist, whether you are disabled, an older person, a younger person, whether you have five children or none, you are encouraged to come and help make this the biggest, most beautiful action yet at an arms factory in the UK.

Better still, there are ways to get yourself or your group actively involved. That could be running a workshop or a creative space, playing music or organising food, or even creating an activity session for children. The organisers stress that the action is what people make it, and welcome ideas and input.

Getting to the demo

Shenstone is a small village outside Birmingham, accessible by National Rail trains. If you are coming from outside Birmingham, this generally means travelling to Birmingham New Street and changing there.

Trains run roughly every 20 minutes from Birmingham New Street, and tickets cost around £4.50. Earliest trains are at 06:01 and the last train returning to Birmingham is at 23:32.

More info at www.blockthefactory.org.

blockthefactory.org


Thank the Goddess I’m not a Palestinian – cos the Israeli “defence” forces are wiping them out!

18/11/2014

First, a truly incomprehensible attack on innocent Jewish men, women and children, using the excuse there are a lot of Israelis “in danger” from “Palestine officials”.

Let’s examine the charges by Israeri concerning the “oh-so-dangerous Militants”:
Here’s the low-down on why Netenyahu is overseeing these brutality. The Israelis have state-of-the-art firearms, whereas the Palestinian community have virtually nothing left.

Sling vs helicopter gunships, automatic rifles, grenades, the rape of Palestinian women and children... how can any sane person see the Israeli response as proportional???

Sling vs helicopter gunships, automatic rifles, grenades, the rape of Palestinian women and children… how can any sane person see the Israeli response as proportional???

An example (thanks to the Guardian: after Palestinians allegedly killed in a terrorist attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, 2 PFLP suspects (note that word: suspects) killed “in retaliation by Israeli “security” forces. Netenyahu ordered the destruction of the homes of alleged suspects (no judicial oversight, no rule of law, Netenyahu decides these men did the attack, and not only killed the “suspects” but also ordered the demolishment of these so-called “suspects” homes. Was that proportionate action? Making families homeless, even though the people living there would have had no idea of what, if anything, the “suspects” may have been up to. This is not justice: it’s a bare-faced landgrab, designed to make Palestinian families homeless and leave the way clear for more Kibbutzin and other illegal “settlers”.

US leader Obama criticized the attack on the Synagogue, which killed four innocent people, including US citizens Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine, and Moshe Twersky, and injured several more. He said:

There is and can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians.

“The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the victims and families of all those who were killed and injured in this horrific attack and in other recent violence. At sensitive moment, it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence and seek a path forward towards peace.”

So you can see, Obama deplores the attacks on the Jews in Synagogue, but didn’t make any mention of the fact that the families of the alleged killers have had their homes demolished. Isn’t there something in American society about the right for private, family life? Oops, I nearly forgot: Any provisions in the US constitution only apply to US citizens. Palestinians being forcibly removed from their homes is okay as far as Uncle Sam is concerned. Plus Israel is an important ally of the USA’s. Whereas the USA, like Israel, consider Palestinians to be the enemy. Even the children are viewed as terrorists-in-waiting. It’d be funny, if you didn’t realize it was about actual living human beings. Fucking Netanyahu, fucking Obama.

This is a public service announcement... with wrecking balls!!!

This is a public service announcement… with wrecking balls!!!

Why oh why doesn’t someone put an end to the Israeli’s war on innocents and its seizure of Palestinian property? Can someone explain to me: let’s assume one of the “suspects” did something wrong. Surely the suspect should be arrested and face a fair trial. But no, the “suspects” are killed, or tortured, or similarly disappeared. And an entire family is made homeless. Is this right? I’d love to hear a rational argument from pro-Israeli figures on this subject.

The Israeli government is despicable. Collective punishment, ghettoization, arrest and murder of innocent people. That’s the kind of crap the Nazis got up to. And now the Israelis are up to it. Makes me feel disgustingly sick. I hate the authorities in Israel, and I hate the Western powers (eg USA, UK, France) who support them. Leave the Palestinians alone FFS! Even the Nazis didn’t keep up their war of terror for this long!

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Plebgate: ‘lying is good’, say the police.

15/10/2013

Remember when Andrew Michell, the then-Government Chief Whip in the House of Commons, was forced to resign in the aftermath of the “Plebgate” row, where police officers claimed he had called them “fucking plebs”. The insinuation was that Mitchell was a liar: after a meeting a year after the Plebgate affair with Police Federation representives from the West Mercia, West Midlands and Warwickshire forces, Ken Mackaill, chairman of the West Mercia federation, said Mitchell’s position was untenable. He resigned a week later.

But it was later alleged that they lied about what went on in the meeting – which had been taped – in order to support their colleagues in London. They were accused of deliberately misrepresenting the meeting and calling Mitchell’s integrity into question. There are even murmurings about a conspiracy to get rid of Mitchell.

IPCC deputy chair Deborah Glass said on Tuesday (15 October) the officers should face disciplinary panels to decide whether they lied. She said:

“In my view the evidence is such that a panel should determine whether the three officers gave a false account of the meeting in a deliberate attempt to support their MPS (Metropolitan police service) colleague and discredit Mr Mitchell, in pursuit of a wider agenda.

“In my opinion the evidence indicates an issue of honesty and integrity, not merely naive or poor professional judgment.”

If the IPCC has elected to investigate the case themselves, they would have the power to direct the forces to convene misconduct proceedings but have chosen not to exercise these powers. The Crown Prosecution Service is to review the relevant proof; but no officers are going to be prosecuted, are they? If the police can get away with murdering innocent bystanders (think Jean Charles de Menezes or Ian Tomlinson, or any victim of police brutality) what chance does Mitchell have? Very little. Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, said at the weekend prosecutors would come to a decision on whether any officers or members of the public should be charged “as soon as we can”. I think we can all assume what that means.

Please comment on this story, it would be good to know what public opinion is about police dishonesty. There’s a Comment button below. 😉

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Robin Walker – what a nasty piece of Tory to find on the sole of your shoe!

01/05/2013

I am a member of online campaign groups like 38 Degrees and Open Rights Group. These are groups that ask members what campaigns it should get involved with, then the group will call on its members to send to local MPs. ministers and other such, so our will is focused and targeted and helps ensure that the government and others can’t just ignore us. Divided we are nothing. United we can do anything… well, the government can’t just ignore us.

My local MP is the Tory Robin Walker. Incidentally, his late father Peter Walker (1932-2010) was MP for Worcester until 1992, when he resigned as MP and was sent to the House of Lords to do his masters’ work. Robin has been a pretty engaged MP – he has replied to every email I’ve sent him (he uses official House of Commons writing paper and envelopes – you would have thought that Parliament had discouraged use of snail mail) but only once has he expressed agreement with my point, about the Defamation Bill). Most recently he sent me a (probably form) letter telling me how important it was that the government keep my communication and other logs for all eternity just in case I were a terrorist or paedophile. He wrote:

Communications data is vital for the police in their fight against crime, including serious offences, such as child abuse, drug-dealing and terrorism.

Note the use of the “big 3″: child abuse, drug-dealing and terrorism”. The suggestion is that opposing the Data Communications Data Bill is, or supports, nonces, pushers and suicide bombers. Thanks Robin; yet another reason to avoid voting for him when the general election comes round.

Right now, I don’t have a clue who’ll get my vote: it won’t be the Conservatives, the Lib Dems are no longer a viable choice…if Ed Miliband can drag Labour back to the left I might put my mark by his name; but how likely will that happen?

Brits are wage-slaves, with mortgages and their children’s educations keeping the populace keeping their nose to the stone, while bankers, corporate directors and other vested interests keep their money in tax havens. But don’t worry: the Conservatives want your personal data, phone logs, emails, bowel movements, whatever, stored for all eternity in a massive computer system that probably fail (as do most government-contracted computer systems do). We’re stuck with this situation unless someone does something about it.

Who’s your MP? Does he care about you? I’d love to see along string of Comments to this post, telling us how our MPs act for our best interests. And my current voting advice regarding the next election: go to the voting station, spoil your ballot (I like to write at the bottom of the voting card “None of the above” and a X in a box next to it), put it in the black box, and be on your way. This is not apathy, this is showing the establishment that the status quo must end.

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4 years for “inciting” non-existant riots… WTF are the British authorities up to?

17/08/2011

Yesterday (16 August 2011) Chester crown court sentenced 2 men to 4 years imprisonment for “trying” to incite riots that never actually happened. And David Cameron, who is supposed to be the prime minister of Britain, not a judge or legal commentator, said it was “very good”, adding:

“What happened on our streets was absolutely appalling behaviour and to send a very clear message that it’s wrong and won’t be tolerated is what the criminal justice system should be doing.”

Of course it’s terrible that riot and looting went on across England. But what do the riots that actually happened have to do with what Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan did? Moreover, Blackshaw and Sutcliffe-Keenan pleaded guilty to the charges – which makes me wonder what kind of low-grade legal advice they’d been given – and an early guilty plea is supposed to result in a reduced sentence. So this pair of clowns would have got maybe 10-year sentences if they’d pleaded not guilty? 10 years for not inciting a riot? What are our judges smoking before entering their court rooms?

MPs and civil rights groups have spoken out against the sentences, unsurprisingly. But what should be surprising is that prime minister Cameron said the sentences were “very good” – before adding that it is down to the courts to decide sentences. So, which is it, Cameron? Do judges have the discretion on sentencing here? Or are you sending (barely) concealed message to the court that anyone who says anything not in line with his beliefs deserves to rot in jail for as long as possible?

In Britain, the government proposes laws. Parliament debates, fine-tunes then passes the laws. And the police and courts enforce those laws. Cameron shouldn’t be telling judges how to do their jobs. Lord Carlile, the government’s former terror advisor accused ministers of appearing to “steer” the courts into handing down the more stringent sentences. Lord Carlile, a barrister and former Liberal Democrat MP warned that the sacrosanct separation of powers between the government and the judiciary had appeared to have been breached by some of the messages coming out of government since the riots engulfed neighbourhoods last week.

Fortunately, not all judges have been castrated by Cameron and his henchmen. The same Evening Standard article reports that a court in Bury St Edmund’s let a teenager walk free after his guilty plea. He had sent Facebook messages saying “”I think we should start rioting – it’s about time we stopped the authorities pushing us about. It’s about time we stood up for ourselves for once so come on riot – get some – LoL” Bad, to be sure, but hardly evil. His barrister said his client “had been a bit of a prat” – which pretty sums up Blackshaw’s and Sutcliffe-Keenan’s actions too.

Also, a Lambeth teenager who had been caught on CCTV hurling sticks and spades at officers, was allowed to walk free after his uncle, a Premier League football player, offered him somewhere to live outside of London.

This variation in judicial decisions is good, as it demonstrates that not all judges are bowing and scraping before their governmental overlords. But it is clear that a substantial number of judges are all too keen to please their masters. In the Guardian, Lord Carlile said:

“I don’t think it’s helpful for ministers to appear to be giving a steer to judges. The judges in criminal courts are mostly extremely experienced and well capable of making the decisions themselves. Ministers should focus on securing the safety of the public.”

The lord, who served for six years under Labour and the coalition until March as the government’s anti-terror adviser, added: “”Some judges may feel that and some ministers may feel that they have had a responsibility to use the language of sentences rather than policy.”

The authorities doubtless think it’s important to stamp down hard on some people’s recent behaviour. But that doesn’t mean the courts should become kangaroo courts blindly following the government’s instructions. Every single case is different, and each should be dealt with on its own merits. The government is beginning to see the consequences of its actions and policies; and they are scared of those consequences. Instead of knee-jerk reactions, they should try to fix the damage they have done. Otherwise today’s Britain will be just like the 1980s, when widespread civil unrest rocked the country.

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What ya gonna do about Syria then, NATO?

25/06/2011

Western powers, operating under the NATO flag, have involved themselves in the Lybian civil /war, on the grounds that Gadaffi is using his armed forces to terrorise and kill civilians in his own country. This is very laudable and all that; but governments frequently use terror to silence their people.

I could break open the history books to demonstrate how often this has happened without any outside interference. But I don’t need history to show I’m right – cos it’s happening right now. Look, for instance, at Syria. Yesterday (Friday 24 June) up to a thousand civilians have fled across the border to Lebanon after demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorial regime. Troops used tear gas and live ammo to disperse the crowds of demonstrators. It is estimated that 20 people were killed by troops – at least 6 Syrians died in Lebanese hospitals after they were taken across the border. It’s very difficult to get reliable figures from inside Syria. Syrian state-run TV has claimed that the shootings were carried out by “unidentified gunmen”.

So here we have a situation very much like that in Libya – government forces are trying to kill critics and demonstrators. So will US/UK and its NATO allies going to involve themselves in Syria like they have in Libya, carrying out air strikes against government forces? And what about all the other places in the world where governments use terror to silence their critics?

I guess it depends on whether or not there’s oil in the region. Because, believe it or not, that’s why the US/UK “intervened” in Libya – and before that, in Iraq – and, before that, in _______ (insert country of choice). There’s nothing “humanitarian” about the West’s involvement in these places. It’s time to wake up and smell the crude oil.

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Ian Tomlinson was unlawfully killed by Met cop Harwood – and that’s official!!

03/05/2011

Today an inquest jury delivered a verdict of “unlawful killing” in the case of Ian Tomlinson, the newspaper seller who died after being attacked by a Metropolitan Police constable.  And the copper in question is PC Simon Harwood, a member of the Met’s infamous “Territorial Support Group”.

This blog has covered this case a couple of times – like here, and here – but here’s a quick recap.  On 1 April 2009 there was a demonstration in central London where the G20meeting was taking place.  Some demonstrators had gotten a bit rowdy, as had a number of the coppers policing the event, and the “Territorial Support Group” was out on the streets to restore “order”.  At about 7.20pm by the Royal Exchange Building, Ian Tomlinson was making his way home after a day’s work selling newspapers.  There were protesters nearby, and TSG officers, but Tomlinson was categorically not involved in the protests so it’s not at all clear why he attracted the attention of police officers.  But he did\get the attention of PC Simon Harwood.  There is CCTV footage of Mr Tomlinson walking past Harwood and other cops: then, for no apparent reason, Harwood is seen to run up behind Mr Tomlinson and shoved him forcibly in the back. It later transpired that Harwood had hit him with a baton.  Mr Tomlinson fell heavily to the ground and died.  There were a total of 4 postmortems carried out on Mr Tomlinson’s body: the first pathologist, Dr Freddy Patel, found that he died of a heart attack caused by coronary disease; but 3 other pathologists contradicted him, saying the cause of death was internal bleeding in the abdomen.

The Met tried hard to sweep this tragic event under the carpet: first of all he was painted by them as a violent protester; then, when it was made clear that he wasn’t involved in the demonstration, it was suggested that he was injured by protesters, and that he died because protesters prevented the heroic efforts of police officers to render first aid.  But of course, the CCTV footage put the lie to that bunch of crap.

Still the authorities tried to cover up for one of their own: the Met and the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge Harwood with any offence, even though the video and the testimony of witnesses attested to the cop’s vicious attack.  They tried hard to hide the truth; but public outrage finally forced them to hold  a public inquest into Mr Tomlinson’s death.

And that inquest has now found that Ian Tomlinson was unlawfully killed.  The jury declared that Tomlinson was, beyond reasonable doubt, killed by the baton attack and the shove.  Harwood’s attack was “unreasonable”.

The jury went on to say:

“As a result, Mr Tomlinson suffered internal bleeding which led to his collapse within a few minutes and his subsequent death.” The jury decided that at the time of the strike and push Tomlinson was was walking away from the officer and “posed no threat”.

The verdict was “unlawful killing”.  The killer was officer Simon Harwood.    So now Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, is going to have to decide whether or not to charge Harwood with the killing; and his decision last year not to charge Harwood with manslaughter is going to be reviewed.  Maybe, just maybe, the family of Ian Tomlinson will see justice done.

A still from the CCTV footage showing Harwood deliver the fatal blow

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Check out the IFJ’s Survival Guide for Journalists.

09/02/2011

After my recent post on “How to survive a riot”, I have discovered the International Federation of Journalists’ Survival Guide for Journalists.

The IFJ guide is not riot-specific – it covers a variety of dicey situations, such as “war zones and conflict areas”, “riots and civil disorder” and “abductions, hostage taking and targeting journalists”. It also has chapters on emergency first aid and post-traumatic stress disorder”.

I haven’t read the Guide yet – Goddess, I only just found the thing! – but its blurb makes it sound pretty useful, lots of advice in one handy volume. And what’s even cooler, you can download it for free in pdf format from here

So check it out. Who knows – maybe one day it’ll save your life.

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How to survive a riot…

26/01/2011

With anti-government demos set to continue today, I figured maybe a little guide to surviving demos/riots would be useful. So here I am reproducing some stuff I found on the internet. A lot of it is written from the viewpoint of helping journalists survive such a situation, but there’s plenty there that any demonstrator might find useful. Also, this was written with the post-election demos in Iran in mind; but it’ll still be useful. Especially interesting is the material by “skip” on how to mitigate the effects of tear gas (CS gas). If you can get hold of baking soda or sodium metabisulphate (often sold as “Campden tablets” to sterilize home winemaking equipment), then make up a bottle of 5% baking soda in water, and another bottle of sodium metabisulphate/water solution). I have no personal experience of this, but it seems these solutions can help when you’ve been tear-gassed.

Egyptian demonstrators amassed in central Cairo last night, with reports suggesting many are preparing to return to the streets today.

Okay, so here is my guide to surviving a demo/riot. Please note, I am not encouraging anyone to go out and do bad stuff. But if you’re planning to go out anyway… check out the guide.

RIOT SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR JOURNALISTS

Many advices for Journalist get public how to survive in a War zone how to dress and move not to get in too dangerous situations when working as a Journalist in war zones. Our aim is to limit risk and to take responsibility for anyone working on our behalf in war zones.
As the Iran civil war and street getting somehow more dangerous than a war field and the classical TV Journalist get banned from government to stay in there hotels or leave the country.
The public Journalist report with there mobile YouTube and twitter from the streets. Most of these people have no experience in moving in areas where gunshot snipers from the roof and other crowd weapons are used like tear gas.
In Civil war zones you cant see who is enemy and who is friend many secret agents can be hiden in the crowd. As seen on some pix from iran some Basiji are dressed like civilian demonstrators to eleminate target peoepel.
Sierra Leone Yugoslavia Afghanistan was a similar situation like in iran .

The following is a re-post of a insider from the other side if you have to protest like in Iran it could help you not to get injured by any force.

This is a document that a Iranian-American police officer has put together. He is the member of the SWAT team and he’s an expert on anti riot tactics. he has been watching and studying the videos and the tactics that basij has been using and he put the document together. It would be great to spread this document and pass it on to the kids in Iran. It might save their lives. – SB
Here are some simple ways of defending yourself when attacked by Basij or Security forces.

Anti riot attacks
Once caught by security forces, the best way to break free is by swinging relentlessly in all directions. Keep in mind that security forces have to hold on to you, which means they only can use one hand to deflect the blows. Brass Knuckle is extremely effective when trying to break loose from the grip of security forces. Wooden brass knuckle is strong and simple to make. The image above is a sample of a basic wooden brass knuckle that can be made with a piece of wood, a cutter and a drill. It should not take more than 30 minutes to make a wooden brass knuckle. Wooden brass knuckle is extremely strong, light weight and versatile. Make sure that the top edges are sharp and round.

Motorcycle attacks

Iranian Basij motorcycle units use attack and retrieve tactics which is meant to create fear more than anything else. The same tactic was used by US police forces on horsebacks when confronting the civil right protestors. The advantage of utilizing motorcycles in urban environment is obvious: motorcycles can go places that cars can’t. However, motorcycles have disadvantages which can handicap the force that uses them.

The most effective way of disabling motorcycles is using tire spikes. Though made of carbon cratnor material, the Basij motorcycle tires cannot withstand multiple punctures. The easiest way to spike Basiji’s tires is by using a simple tire spike system called Iron Caltrop. This simple device can be made in a matter of minutes by wrapping two pieces of nail together in a 65 degree angle. By dropping a handful of Iron Caltrop on the ground, you can deflate the tires of Basijis’ motorcycles in a matter of minutes. If you ride, you know how difficult it is to steer a motorcycle with two flat tires.

Tear gas
A fabric socked in vinegar can very well protect you against tear gas. Cover your nose and mouth with the fabric and keep plenty of water around to wash your eyes if you come in direct contact with tear gas. Urban Legend: burning tires will reduce the effect of tear gas. Not true, it actually increases the effect and it smells bad too.
Additional with some swimming glasses you can protect your eyes and sight.
——–
Addition:
Dealing with CS Gas (Tear Gas)
Contributed by skip on July 5th, 2002
(yeah I know it’s a bit old, but it’s just as applicable now as it was back then.)

# Gas mask- only use current military or police designs. Don’t try any old ones you may come across in markets or army surplus stores as many used asbestos in the filters!
# Mask/hood- offer limited protection. Also useful for disguise
# Goggles- for eye protection.
# Neutralizer #1- Carry a bottle of solution made up from water with 5% Baking Soda.
# Neutralizer #2- Carry a bottle of solution made up from water and sodium metabisulphate (sold as Campden tablets used in home brewing). Note, this needs to be made fresh and doesn’t work if over a day old.
# If you are asthmatic tell the people around you before the action starts, so that if when sprayed you have a bad reaction they’ll be able to act appropriately by giving you your medication or getting a doctor.
What to do when sprayed
If you are in the line of spray move backwards out of range rather than sideways where the spray may still be able to reach you. If you are in a building move outside. Your eyesight may become blurred and it is easy to lose awareness of what is going on. Do not run blindly into the arms of the police, or worse still, into traffic. Act calmly and stay aware of your surroundings whilst moving to a safe area.

If possible stand upwind of where the spraying happened and expose the affected part of your body to the wind. This will help disperse the gas quickly.

Flush the affected area of the body with the solution mentioned earlier or just water if this is not available. Do not touch it as you will spread the chemical around and rub it into your pores. It may be possible hat you can rejoin the action right away, as small amounts should only affect you for a few minutes.

ASAP, have a cold shower for 3-5 minutes (hot water opens the pores and allows gas particles in), then proceed with normal showering. Showers flush the chemical away whilst a bath will just re-distribute it.

For gross contamination, wash with Neutralizer as mentioned above.

After the action you should hang your clothes up in a well ventilated area to disperse the last remnants of the gas. When they have hung for a day or so wash them twice- first in cold and then in hot water-and they’ll be okay to wear again.

CS Gas is fat soluble so never coat your skin in petroleum jelly or similar substances for protection as some people have tried. When sprayed do not treat the area with any cream, jelly or ointment, unless advised to by someone who knows what they are talking about. The best treatments are air, cold water and time.
—–
References
Do or Die Editorial Collective. “Do or Die No. 7 Voices from Earth First!”

Headquarters, Department of the Army. Nov. 1985. “FM 19-15 Civil Disturbances”

Hoffman, Abbie. 1996. “steal this book”. Four Walls Eight Windows
——–
Batons
Riot police is trained to use batons. They understand that it’s easy to hit a stationary target and much easier to hit a target that is running away. Hitting somebody with baton is a matter of timing. The worst thing you can do is to run away from baton whirling security guards because it allows them to time the strike perfectly. The most effective way to counter a security guard with baton is to throw off his timing by going directly at him. That’s right. Run away and turn and go directly at him. When you go directly at the guard and close the distance, you completely screw up his timing. A boxer cannot hit a person that is standing 2 inches away from his face. That’s why boxer bounce around. A baton whirling guard is just like a boxer, he needs to time his strikes. By going directly at the guard and closing distance you mess-up his timing and might even be able to take him down.

Riot formation
Basij and police security guardsmen perform best when crowd disperses and becomes separated. The worst scenario for the riot police is when the crowd is together and inseparable. South Korean labor protestors in the 90s were the best organized units in history of rioting. Thousands of them held on to each other (locked arms) and no matter what, they did not let go. It made it impossible for the riot police to disperse them.

Oh, one other thing: you can see this guide is written in English. This will make it utterly useless to the folk out there who don’t know how to read English. So if you can, please translate this into appropriate languages and get your translation out there on the internet. This may be the beginning of the end for US-sponsored dictators like Mubarak.

(If you have any comments or criticisms of this guide, please use Comments to share your thoughts. I very rarely delete Comments, so long as they’re not spam or don’t launch ad hominem (personal) attacks on myself or other blog readers gratuitously. I believe in freedom of speech. Unfortunately, WordPress.com do not believe in freedom expression. So please keep Comments sort of polite and cut down on the profanity. Cheers! ~Martin X)

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