Category Archives: Andrew Grimes

Happy Human Rights Day

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!

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My letter to the MEN regarding the G20 Protest

Once again Andrew Grimes proves himself to be a poor substitute for serious journalism in his comment on the G20 protests in London (April 3). I don’t know who he is referring to with his throw away remark “Some had come to save the planet by torching buses”?

I had gone down to the G20 especially to see the urban eco-village being created on Bishops gate by the ‘climate camp’. It was inspiring and engaging and above all peaceful. Colourful pop-up tents and flowers. A bicycle powered sound system, vegan kitchen, farmers market and workshops on everything from climate science to the role of banks in a fossil fuel economy. All erected outside the European Climate Exchange to protest peacefully against the woeful ‘carbon market’ system.

However the behaviour of the police was the worst I have seen on any demonstration of late. It was in the evening, on April 1st, we got a call from a friend trapped in the police cordon outside the Bank of England. He had been there for several hours in the heat with no water after receiving a head injury. We were concerned for our friend and others trapped in these conditions. We wanted to bring them water but the police, for reasons best known to themselves, would not allow us into the kettle. A few minutes later we crossed the road and saw several medics begin CPR on a man lying on the ground. We later found out this to be Mr Tomlinson, the man who died. I certainly didn’t see any of the paramedics being pelted with bottles or stones as reported by the police.Mr Tomlinson became trapped due to police tactics on the day. The police are indiscriminate about who they corral at these protests. They shut off an area trapping all inside. This occurred well before any hint of a riot occurred. Parents and children, the elderly and passers-by can often get caught up in the tactic known as ‘Kettling’ because of the effect it has on those enclosed. It is a dangerous tactic that must now 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. It is my firm believe that it was a miracle more people were not killed as the police crushed thousands of people into tighter and tighter spaces for no apparent reason.People have a right to protest but when you trap them indiscriminately and have dogs bark at them, its hardly surprising that some will become angry. This is just basic human nature. What I witnessed has given me a new perspective on the behaviour of our police force. The force my council tax has just increased to fund. A full independent inquiry needs to be held, not only regarding the police crowd control tactics into the police tactics but also into the tragic death of Mr Tomlinson.

Gayle O’Donovan
Secretary of Manchester Green party