Kettling/Containment or Corralling is a British Police crowd control tactic I have seen being used more and more at demonstrations to the point where it has become routine, almost the default crowd control activity for the police. It is called ‘Kettling’ because of the effect it has on those enclosed, it is supposed to ‘let the steam out’ of the crowd slowly but I have only ever seen it escalate situations. It is a dangerous tactic that must be investigated. Corralling is a form of mass arrest despite no one being charged with an offence. It is dangerous; those trapped inside for hours denied even the most basic of rights – no food, water, shelter, access to toilets or medicines. It is my firm belief that it’s a miracle more people are not killed when the police crush thousands of people into tighter and tighter spaces for no apparent reason. People have a right to protest but when you trap them indiscriminately, it is hardly surprising that some will become angry. This is just basic human nature.
As readers of this blog will know I had the misfortune of seeing a man die from this ‘tactic’ at the G20 so I am speaking from experience when I say it can be fatal. Ian Tomlinson became trapped due to this police tactic at the G20. The police are indiscriminate about who they kettle, they shut off an area trapping all inside even if you are just a passerby. The first mass use of kettling (that I’m aware of) occurred at the Oxford Circus May Day demo when they locked in a heavily pregnant woman. The courts then threw out her case against the Met. An eyewitness from the Whitehall student protests said ‘One thing that I noticed is that it was mainly the school kids who got kettled in, in the cold, for seven hours. Many of the older students were aware of the danger and avoided the kettle.’ (So much for the Police’s Duty of Care)
Yesterday’s student demonstration reminded me of the Gaza demo I attended in January 2009, when due to the chaos I accidentally got separated from the group I was with and ended up trapped in a police kettle outside the Israeli embassy in London. The bus I went down in was due to leave at 5pm and I wasn’t let out of the Kettle until 11.30 at night, alone with nowhere to go and no way back to Manchester. I spent 3 days in bed when I finally got back to Manchester, exhausted with pains in my legs which I put down to being forced to stand in a small area in sub-zero temperatures for hours….all for peacefully protesting against a huge injustice that I felt strongly about, which is my right. What I witnessed yesterday on the BBC was police kettling protesters and then charging them with horses despite, as witnesses said, there being people in wheelchairs and children in the crowd….the police once again acted indiscriminately. Who knows if some of the people in that crowd where just passers by.
*I have just heard the Met Police are to be investigated after a protester, Alfie came close to death at the demonstration yesterday after being battered by police truncheons…..this wreckless tactic has to stop! The Young Greens have launched a petition against kettling which they plan to present to the Metropolitan Police Authority in January. Please get as many people as possible to sign it:http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/ban_kettling/ .Send messages of support for Alfie to +447870215764. SPREAD THE WORD!