Monday 28 March 2011

Thoughts about Saturday

So Saturday was the Big March.

Anywhere between 300 and 500,000 peaceful protesters protesting. All magnificently managed by the Met supported by other forces. The TUC stewards creating safe cordons and providing lots of infomation for attendees. Liberty supporting the operation. A real test of collaboration and co-operation.

Alongside that a bunch of people intent on causing mayhem, teasing the police, running around and the naive hiding behind the aggressive. Stand behind someone damaging property, then walk inside and play innocent. Then whinge when you are arrested.

And of course, then moan about "the police did this", "they did that" then "they shouldnt do something else".
The officers, I believe from what I saw, behaved with extreme consideration and with a determination not to provoke any missunderstandings. Despite this they were harrassed and goaded by several who were out to make grief.

What some people seem to forget is that you cannot have rights without responsibilities. We all have the right to demonstrate and we alll must therefore shoulder the responsibility to do it peacfully and with regard to others. In a previous life, I have marched into Birmingham about cuts in education. I have led demonstrations and have experienced the pain of negotiating routes, rules and requirements with the local police. It has to be done. And on Saturday there was massive evidence of such negotiation, and this has been supported by many commentators since.

Then of course we have the ex cops who are rolled out whenever they need someone to say something controversial. Usually from an era when such painstaking care was not as visible.

My sympathy and concern goes out to those officers and staff injured or covered in paint by those causing grief. How does throwing paint over a police officer indicate your understanding of what is happening. Cops have rights.

So well done the Met at the weekend I say. You did a great job. No doubt there were things to learn but most of all a large and peaceful demo took place involving hundreds of thousands of people, safely. The antics of Oxford Street et al, clearly distracted from the main event.


  1. I felt the police at times were too lenient, exemplary patience & restraint. It seems there may never be a right answer to policing such events, I do feel however we do much better than any other country in the world.

    I agree with your point on wheeling out retired officers, isn't hindsight a wonderful thing. Jon Sherlock.

  2. From recent media coverage I believe the Metropolitan Police Service displayed considerable professionalism and personal strength when faced with such extreme provocation and individual danger. As such I have terrific respect for all who played a part in policing the event which allowed the vast majority to attend safely.

    I find it difficult to understand the “somewhat “unhelpful remarks made by ex-senior officers who have exited the organisation. I think it is entirely wrong and potentially dangerous to offer such sentiments when not in receipt of the necessary information, which allows for the all-important informed decision making.

    Another point ,all be it made previously, is that the officers involved are predominantly none specialists , as such they volunteer for such training which then allows them to undertake such truly hazardous duties . The policing of such events will always and appropriately prompt reflection, what cannot be diluted is the personal sacrifice of the officers involved on the “front line”

  3. If I did that anywhere else in the world. At best I would expect to be arrested at worst shot.

    I have no problem with people demonstrating or voicing concerns. I do have a problem with damaging other people belongings. Whether it be a posh shop and its windows or graffiti. Freedom of expression is one thing! Violence is another


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