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Sunday, 29 March 2009

G20 march

Yesterday, on the G20 march through London, a couple of thousand flyers were given to trade union participants, raising the issue of police surveillance on demonstrations. Yet, given the policing style used on the march (anarchist block excepted) they could be excused for wondering what all the fuss is about.

The trade union delegations were lightly policed with surveillance kept at a discrete distance. Other similarly peaceful and co-operative protests in London have not been so fortunate. Take the marches for Burmese or Tibetan independance for example, large good natured protests that were subject to intense surveillance.

Trade unionists should also take a careful look at the policing of the climate camp last year in Kent, at which police appeared to have a free hand to harass and intimidate protesters and journalists who had done nothing unlawful (see the Guardian). They should also note the careful police surveillance carried out on union members on picket lines during the recent oil refinery dispute.

If all protest was policed with the respect shown to the trade unionists yesterday, there would have been no reason for the Joint Committee on Human Rights (not exactly a militant group!) to condemn last week the way that protest is surveilled and criminalised.

Trade unionists with no direct experience of just how unpleasant, aggressive and violent the policing of protest can be, may find it difficult to understand the more confrontational attitudes expressed in some postings on this blog. What I hope they do understand is that there is no one set of views or opinions attached to FITwatch. This blog is used to document and monitor the activities of Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT), but is also a forum for authors to express their individual views and opinions on protest policing. Readers, supporters and other FITwatch authors are free to disagree with what is said.

Support for this initiative extends from the confrontational to the liberal, and people have responded to the issues of surveillance and harassment in many different ways. Alternative approaches, new or traditional, are always welcome.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was on the trade union part of the march yesterday and was amazed how lightly policed it was. Possibly a PR stunt by the police?

They can then say " Look at how we treat reasonable protesters." and justify heavyhanded tactics next week. Its their fault we had to beat the shit out of them, you see? They weren't reasonable.

Goodluck for next week, working meself.

Anonymous said...

Actually not a conspiracy just a response to the potential threat. The trades unions police their own demos very well and their issues get greater government attention.

Threaten to act up and generally misbehave and the response is different - this isn't really had to understand is it?

Anarcho said...

3 million unemployed so far; the attention the TUs are getting is evidently working a treat for workers.

Ditch these no mark groups, they offer nothing.

Anonymous said...

Union issues get greater government attention? Perhaps because of the money the unions give the Labour Party? Does it do the union member any good?

The answer to that would, frequently, appear to be a resounding 'no'.

Anonymous said...

You don't have to go out looking for trouble to be the subject of the Forward Intelligence Team. FIT officers appear on pretty much all demonstrations, and they claim to have information on thousands of people. This means that they will have information held in their database - and that database's legality is uncertain. This is the sort of policing more commonly associated with the type of state found across Europe before 1989, not the sort of policing traditionally associated with a so-called liberal democracy. The maintenance of such databases, the collection of data on protesters committing no crime, the constant photography and the harassment - if it happens to anarchists and football supporters now, and if it happens to people out for a drink (see Hampshire Police's Operation Sadler) then it will happen to trade unionists.

And given the current economic situation, that malign attention's likely to be turned to trade unionists sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone identify the copper who killed Ian Tomlinson?

jezcuthbert said...

Just watched the guardian/police footage of the "numbers request" arrests. I am sorry to say I'd not heard of you before but having been a victim of similar attention and tactics for many years during the 80's & 90's it's refreshing to see people engaging in some direct action and turning the tables on "the watchers".
Keep up the excellent work and if there is any way I can lend my support I am more than happy to do so.