Protesters against police violence surround London's Scotland Yard

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Protestors rally at Scotland Yard

Protesters against police violence marched Saturday, May 23, from Trafalgar Square to New Scotland Yard in central London. The protest, organized by the United Campaign Against Police Violence (UCAPV) and with the support of several UK trade unions and activist groups, including from the 6th largest UK trade union; the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS).

Protesters marched against police violence in the UK, including as perpetrated by riot police against activist activities and by other police towards members of black and ethnic minority communities. The protest also called for an end to containment of protesters by police on demonstrations, a controversial tactic known as "Kettling" and for freedom to protest without intervention by police.

The march began in Trafalgar Square, central London, where police and private security attempted to move the rallying protesters, but did not succeed. Protesters marched on towards New Scotland Yard; the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service, passing Downing Street and Parliament in the Palace of Westminster, encountering minor police resistance and cheering Tamil Tigers protesters in Parliament Square as they marched past.

Slogans chanted throughout the march included "No Justice; No Peace" and calls for the dissolving of the police Territorial Support Group (TSG), who have allegedly perpetrated acts of serious violence against protesters; a large proportion of the allegations of brutality during the G20 summit protests accuse the TSG. Among these calls were questions of 'How many skulls have you cracked today' and call-and-response of 'Hey Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, The TSG Has Got to Go'.

The procession was accompanied by several police vans, officers on foot and Forward Intelligence Team (FIT) members. Policing of the event was mostly provided by CO11, the Metropolitan Police public order unit.

The protest crossed an SOCPA zone without police permission. Because of the illegality of the protest, it was not facilitated by police. Due to this, the police did not assist with traffic flow or close roads, including the road outside the main entrance to New Scotland Yard where the end rally was held.

The protest ended at the New Scotland Yard building, where activists gradually tried to surround the building by linking arms and hands, although did not succeed in fully encircling it. The attempted "kettling" of the building was followed by speeches from people affected by police violence, including member of the United Friends and Families Campaign, Doreen Bishop, mother of Ricky Bishop who died in police custody in 2001. Also speaking was Sam Rigg-David, representing the Sean Rigg Justice & Change Campaign; Chris Nineham from the Stop The War Coalition; Martin Smith from the Socialist Workers Party and political rap performer/poet Lowkey and many other representatives from campaign groups and those representing affected families and groups.

As speeches ended, protesters held an open mic in the road next to the entrance to the scotland yard building. The road had not been closed and police had allowed traffic to attempt to continue along the road. However towards the end of the rally, protesters blocked 2 coaches from attempting to traverse the road by blocking the roadway, some sitting on the ground.

Three protesters were arrested during the event. Wikinews learned from an anonymous legal observer from the Legal Defence and Monitoring Group on 28 May that one man arrested was believed to have an outstanding warrant following an animal rights activism related offense. A woman, believed to be his girlfriend, was reported to have been arrested for pushing and swearing at police after the male was arrested, and was arrested under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, for causing the police intentional harassment. The third, a man, was believed to have been arrested after allegedly urinating on the wall of the Scotland Yard building, in public view, and was arrested under either section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, for causing the police intentional harassment or for indecent exposure under Section 66 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003; reports are unclear as to which.

The three arrested were taking part in the surrounding of Scotland Yard, and were arrested by police on the side of the building away from the main speeches and people; protesters were not aware of this until towards the end. The three are believed to have been taken to Charing Cross police station.

According to the United Campaign against Police Violence; the protest organizers, they will be continuing to protest on this issue, the next protest being on July 10th 2009 outside the office of the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Furthermore, according to information released by the UCAPV; the University and College Union (UCU), representing lecturers, has officially affiliated to the campaign nationally.


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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.