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.

_gos=’c4.gostats.com’;_goa=354450;
_got=2;_goi=2;_goz=0;_gol=’Free hit counter’;_GoStatsRun();
Free hit counter
Free hit counter


Social unrest? Blame the internet!

12/08/2011

The past few days’ rioting in England are all due to the internet, says prime minister David Cameron.

So news of riots spread via the internet/facebook/twitter etc etc. So now Dodgy Dave says that Facebook, Twitter and Research in Motion (Rim), the maker of BlackBerry devices, should take more responsibility for content posted on their networks, warning the government would look to ban people from major social networks if they were suspected of inciting violence online.

Yes, the news spread via the internet. But it also spread via the telephone, snail mail, newspapers, television, word-of-mouth. So shouldn’t we just ban communication outright?

Heck, I better get this posted then get out of here, before the government bans me!

Riot police watch a London bus burn

[If you wanna see more pretty pictures of the riots in London, go to the Boston Globe’s “Big Picture” feature – link here.]

_gos=’c4.gostats.com’;_goa=354450;
_got=2;_goi=2;_goz=0;_gol=’Free hit counter’;_GoStatsRun();
Free hit counter
Free hit counter


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.

_gos=’c4.gostats.com’;_goa=354450;
_got=2;_goi=2;_goz=0;_gol=’Free hit counter’;_GoStatsRun();
Free hit counter
Free hit counter


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)

_gos=’c4.gostats.com’;_goa=354450;
_got=2;_goi=2;_goz=0;_gol=’Free hit counter’;_GoStatsRun();
Free hit counter
Free hit counter


%d bloggers like this: