London November 5th – A day to remember
9am to 5pm
Saturday November 5th 2016 saw one of the busiest days of the year thus far, for the Londons Metropolitan Police Force, 11 separate protests were staged to be held across the city starting from 9am and eventually finishing close to midnight. The first was the Youth March against the Tories from Trafalgar Square to Downing Street, and although small in overall numbers, this filled me with hope and reminded me of myself as a young teenager wanting to fight back against the government. The march passed without incident and was facilitated very well by the constables on duty.
Then came the Show Culture Some Love march which rallied at Trafalgar Square this was not long after lunchtime, backed by a brass band and union support, this demonstration filled the floor area of Trafalgar Square from the steps at National Museum all the way back to Nelsons Column, it was in my estimations attended by around 3,000 people all determined to stop our libraries and our museums from being closed and/or staff being made redundant and replaced by non paid volunteers due to central government cutbacks. This was a very well organised event and was facilitated very well by the police.
It was at this point I went for a wander around our fine capital city, to see what preparations were being put in place for the yet to happen Million Mask March which was due to start from 6pm onwards (in my opinion it would have started earlier if not for restrictions imposed on it by the police).
On my jolly around the centre of London I walked from Trafalgar Square down to Westminster, from Westminster to Buckingham Palace and up towards Regent Street and back onto Trafalgar Square. On the whole route that I followed I witnessed flatbed truck after flatbed truck unloading steel barriers and observation towers. The observation towers were being located every 150 yards or so and steel barriers were being laid to protect government buildings. It seemed at this moment the police obviously knew something I didn’t. How many numbers were they expecting? What was the mood going to be like? The police had already come to their conclusions it would have seemed. Although police numbers to this point had been very light.
As I made my way back to the Admiralty Pub off Trafalgar Square I joined ranks with a pro Kurdistan rally which was called after the Turkish security forces on the orders of President Erdogan arrested all of the officials from the HDP party, there was approximately 1500-2000 people at this rally supporting a free and independent Kurdistan and calling for the release of all HDP officials men, women and children were present and they stated their intentions to hold the rally everyday day until their demands were met.
However it was at this point you could sense that there was a change in the air from how the police were managing things for the upcoming Million Mask March.
Riot vans were starting to roll into Trafalgar Square and take up tactical positions, horse mounted units in riot gear were beginning to patrol the peripheries. You could sense the Police were getting ready for something big.
5pm – Midnight
It was at this point I took momentary shelter in a pub to refuel, rest my feet and recharge the electronics for the upcoming next four hours.
The enforced conditions, as issued by the Met, was nobody was to assemble before 6pm, was to be contained between Trafalgar Square, along the length of Whitehall and having its end point at Parliament Square.
From the outset it became very evident that police weren’t going to be pulling any punches, this was confounded when I saw a section of 28 riot squad officers being given a briefing down a side street by the section commander which was met by a group shout of “ooosh” obviously akin to their American brothers “Hoo-rah”. The squads were psyching themselves up for an event which was obviously different to the one that I was attending.
The march started at Trafalgar Square shortly after 6pm once Trafalgar Square had reached standing capacity. Immediately we headed for Downing Street, the home of our unelected Prime Minister Theresa May who had earlier in the day held a reception with a group of Royal Navy submariners. The march was in good spirits, it was loud and boisterous and nothing untoward. Flags were being waved, placards were being carried and the Guy Fawkes masks were adorned on every head I could see. Once we reached Downing Street was when the Met started sending in officers into the crowd to try and split us into smaller groups. Their actions from my point of view were that of deliberate antagonism, they would argue it was tactically necessary to ensure public order was upheld. From what I could see the only order they were upholding was that of the state. This was just the beginning of things to come for the rest of the march.
As I earlier said conditions were imposed on the march by the Met, to ensure public order, that the march was not to stray from Trafalgar, Whitehall and Parliament, however once we reached Parliament Square it seemed as is the Met, didn’t want us to assemble at parliament and again they were splitting the crowds by sending columns of riot officers into the crowd fully kitted up and ready to go. One thing that struck me as odd at this point, I noticed that for all of the route that we marched and where we now assembled outside the House of Parliament no road closures had been put in place whatsoever. The Police were allowing traffic to drive into the amassed crowd of protesters. Now for me this was concerning for 3 reasons.
One it was deliberately creating a flashpoint whereby trucks, buses and cars were coming into conflict with pedestrians (although we were protesting, we are still pedestrians on foot).
Two, some of these cars had young children in them, which for them would have been extremely frightening and upsetting to have your car suddenly surrounded by thousands of Guy Fawkes lookalikes waving flags and chanting “One Solution-Revolution”
Three, this was done deliberately to paint the March in a bad light.
However what the Met did not account for was the collective power and understanding of the group, whereby once we witnessed what was unfolding we formed human barriers to stop the Police splitting our lines and allowed safe passage for these vehicles to leave the scene.
At the moment we all realised the police were acting in a dishonourable manner.
This would happen again.
Once the main body of the crowd arrived at Parliament Square, it became very evident the Met were trying to take tactical advantage of the situation we were prevented from going past Westminster Palace and again columns of riot squad officers were sent into the crowd to try and split the group.
Once it became evident the police were doing their utmost to split the group and deliberately antagonise the situation by sending in agitators and riot officers, in attempt to cause our reaction it was collectively decided that we would take our route that wasn’t pre planned as by all accounts these were our streets. We quickly made off across Parliament Square and towards Buckingham Palace, it was at this point the mood of crowd began to change, our boisterousness amped up a little loud speakers and PA systems were now being employed for music and instructions, fireworks were being set off as we made off down Birdcage Walk in the direction of Buckingham Palace.
The march was still in good spirits, that was soon to change at the hands of police.
We arrived at Buckingham Palace within ten minutes of leaving Parliament Square. The scene we were greeted with was like something out of a dystopian view of Britains future, should ever the people of this country truly rise up against the Government.
The whole area was on a complete lockdown or so it would appear, there must have been at least 500 riot ready officers on the ground, attack dogs chomping at the bit, barking, every 5 metres, mounted police lining the perimeter fence of the palace and armoured riot vans sealing us off from marching up the mall back towards Trafalgar.
You could safely assume at this point we were being set up for an incident.
Once again the atmosphere and the mood was changing.
I made my way to the left hand side of the group whilst we travelled around the Queen Victoria memorial to try and count how many police dogs were on duty and I counted at least 25 in that contained area, it seemed, like we were kettled for an orchestrated flare up.
It was at this point I witnessed a man waving a black and red flag snatched out of crowd by his head, by 3 riot officers, he asked what he’d done “Your obstructing us from exercising our duty”.
Immediately I ran over, not to involve myself but to document what was happening as I was live streaming on Facebook and to make sure the police although they had just been in my opinion unfairly brutal, weren’t then gonna start throwing cheap shot punches. I got as close as I could and so did everyone else. We had the police surrounded, tactically they were now compromised. But did we engage them no we didn’t, because we were the bigger people. It was at this point we were charged at by around 30 riot squad officers I was nearly knocked from my feet, screaming at us “GET BACK, GET BACK”. An officer went to forcibly push me away, I informed him I was streaming and he backed down and winked at me as if to say “any other day I would have had you”.
It was at this point we noticed again a car with a young child in it trying to make its way through the thousands of us that were there. The police did not want to allow the car passage they had blocked the road with 33 strong riot squad for a single arrest. It was left upon us again the “bad ones” to form a human barrier to allow safe passage for the young girl and her family. The child was distraught.
It was at this point the Met split the march into two separate groups I remained in the front group whilst the rear group was kettled at Buckingham Palace. I had friends caught in that group who later told me the police carried on being as brutal as they began I know of one person who was trampled on the floor as 12 riots squad officers ran over the top of her to snatch their next victim, but I did not see this and can only write from what I saw with my eyes.
Once the group had been split the group I was in at the front made off through Green Park and back onto the Mall to regroup in larger numbers at Trafalgar Square, it was now very evident, the events at Buckingham Palace had been pre-planned, they were determined to split us into as many smaller groups as they could and kettle us away from the eyes of the general public. They did not want this level dissatisfaction and ill feeling towards the government to be seen or known.
On the way back to Trafalgar, snatch squads were entering the crowds and taking people indiscriminately and dragging them off into doorways and hurling them to floor, what had started very peacefully had all the potential to turn very ugly very quickly had us the “bad ones” not reacted to the polices behaviour.
Once we reached Trafalgar it was entirely evident the Met had turned this place into a fortress all side streets were sealed, all the entrances to tube stations were closed, and there was thousands of riot ready officers everywhere.
The scene was being set for a showdown, the Met wanted a fight.
We took and occupied Trafalgar once more the Square belonged to us, Nelsons Column was our headquarters and the lions were our outposts.
We simply wanted to protest against the rampant rise of free market capitalism, the unelected government, the fraudulently elected 30 Tory MPs, tax evasion and avoidance, fuel poverty, stagnating wages, the lack of real jobs, the lack of housing, the endemic racism with the Met and the mainstream media amongst a whole host of other things.
Eventually we filled Trafalgar once more, although the initial crowd was very much diminished in numbers from the earlier action at Buckingham Palace.
At this point Youtubes trollstation showed up and filmed “a prank” where a photographer bottled “a protester” wearing a mask.
These two idiots were quickly ejected from the crowd because they were not welcome, we weren’t there to commit violence, as were the idiots firing fireworks in the direction of the police again these were called out for the idiots that they were.
At this point I made off towards Downing street again as large group was assembling in Whitehall, this is where I witnessed the next arrest, 20 officers to take down one person.
We were now being told if we didn’t remove our masks we would face arrest under Section 60AA because they had intelligence that there was “hardened criminals” within our ranks and they needed to be able to identify us.
But again nobody reacted we weren’t the ones leading the antagonisms this night.
There was one group responsible for that and they tooled up and ready to go.
Whilst on Whitehall I witnessed a further 8 snatch and grabs from the crowd where individuals were wrestled to the ground by very over zealous riot officers and all the while more squads were pouring into the locality.
I thought to myself at this point I’m going to engage the officers at the side and attempt to plant seeds into their thinking by engaging them in polite and well mannered discussion.
Asking them questions “Do you think, that your pension will be safe at the end of your service, because I have it on first hand information that a family member was very nearly screwed for £20,000 of his pension due to the reforms the government you are representing brought in”. I was met with the conditioned response “I cannot officially comment”.
I asked another question of how they thought the evening had progressed and I was met with response of “So far it was gone really well, apart from the few anarchists we’ve had to deal with”, I quickly responded with “well your misdefining anarchism there aren’t you” so the officer asked me to define it for him.
So I did, officer “Anarchism is a political philosophy, a belief in the abolition of all government and the organisation of society on a voluntary, cooperative basis without recourse to force or compulsion”.
His response “you’ve rehearsed that”.
Mine “officer I read books”.
I then started questioning them into whether the they served the government or the people.
I was told “they were here to facilitate peaceful protest, and that as long as we stayed in the confines of law, then we would all be going home to our beds”.
Or in other words “do as we say and you are free, because if you don’t you belong to us”.
I now thought this is the perfect opportunity to drop in some comments about Tory Election Fraud. So I said to the officers at the side, if as alleged the government in situ had arrived in power fraudulently and your powers are given to you by the government, but the government’s power is derived from the people, your power ergo is by the people’s consent. How does your power hold legally at this moment?
I was met with firstly I’m not a lawyer and secondly with what fraudulent election?
I thought to myself, “this is what we are dealing with a government in power that is there by fraudulent means, and it’s frontline upholders of law, that aren’t even aware of said government breaking the law to put themselves in power.
I started making my way back to Trafalgar as the crowd Whitehall had thinned, again the riots squads had split out numbers.
On my way back to Trafalgar, there was a wall of riot officers stretching across the street just about where the silver cross public house is.
I noticed something about their lines.
A couple of Royal Navy submariners had joined their ranks, so I immediately went to the section commander to question him about it.
I asked “does the Met have a submarine division?”
He looked back at me all gone out.
So I pointed and said “Are the Met employing Royal Navy Submariners on public order duty?”
His response “sometimes the lines in tactical decision making become blurred”
My response “Sounds very much like Orgreave to me”
He asked how did I know what went down at Orgreave, I wasn’t old enough to have been there.
So I told him in no uncertain terms “Your mob, under the direction of South Yorkshire Police force, on overtime were contracted in to destroy what was left of the mining industry, and you did it indiscriminately, you beat men and women who were unarmed. All in pursuit of free market capitalist ideology. And I know that horses that you sent into charge at the miners weren’t police horses and were in fact military”
So he said “ so your telling me that we sent the military in against civilians?”
Me “Yes you did”
The section commander asked me for proof.
So I asked him “are the rear right ankles of police horses tattooed?”
He assured me they weren’t.
So I responded “well I have it, from a first hand witness account that horses sent in that day, did have said tattoos and the only armed force that does that is the Household Cavalry”
And promptly left him with those thoughts.
I made my way back to Trafalgar, Nelsons column still belonged to the protesters although we now vastly outnumbered by the police riot squads everywhere you looked, there was a riot van with blue flashing lights, and squads of riot ready officers 30 deep.
We were easily outnumbered 10-1 at this point but we still held the column and the lions, that monument belonged to us, it was our last castle.
Again columns of riot ready officers were splitting the crowds, we were now being informed that we would face arrest if we did not disperse at 9pm it was now 8:45pm we were being given a 15 minutes lights out warning. A police officer came and spoke to me individually and stated that there was conditions imposed that I must disperse peacefully by 9pm and that if I didn’t he would arrest me.
I told him “you arrest me, you best make sure you arrest all the other journalists that are hear too, from The Telegraph and The Mirror and RT”
We held the column until 10pm, when we decided to disperse of our own accord.
The police were now being deliberately obstructive in attempt to further flare tensions amongst the protesters who were trying to leave the area and make their way home. One officer would send you one way, for you to be met with a wall of officers 50 strong telling you to go back the way you came.
They were told “And you wonder why we protest, it’s because of attitudes like that”
The reason I have written this dialogue of events, is because broadsheets like The Telegraph would have you believe that we were an angry mob, hell bent on causing as much disruption to central London as possible. When in fact the opposite of that is true, it was us who allowed safe passage to civilians in cars out of the area, because the police failed to close the roads. It was who was maintaining our own self discipline through the use of sound equipment and instructions, and it was us the that retained the moral high ground in the face of continued antagonist behaviour from the Met all night long.
We went out to protest the system that is subjugating people worldwide, and we did exactly that with respect for person and property.
We were not an angry mob hell bent on skirmish and fear that honour falls very rightly at the door of Londons Metropolitan Police.
November 5th 2016 is the day we planted seeds in concrete streets and now we will watch them grow.
MMM2016 Vid Credit Ed Clarke for Unity March News
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Pic Credits – Ed Clarke for Unity March News