Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/386/4366

From The Socialist newspaper, 2 April 2005

Judge backs false imprisonment of May Day protesters

THE JUDGEMENT in the May Day case, delivered on 23 May, made it a sad day for democratic rights. Judge Tugendhat ruled in favour of the police, saying that their containment of up to 3,000 protesters on May Day 2001 was lawful.

By a socialist reporter

The May Day detainees always maintained that the containment was illegal and that human and civil rights were denied. On a cold, wet day protesters were held with no water, food or toilet facilities.

The police's court defence claimed that a breach of the peace was so imminent when the containment was first put into effect, that no other tactic was open to them but to hold the crowd this way. They said they used 'breach of the peace' powers under common law to justify this action.

The police said the crowd's behaviour in Oxford Circus when the cordon was put in place, was such that containment, a 'draconian tactic' (in one police officer's own words), was necessary.

The May Day detainees always said the police's actions exaggerated the danger of violence before, during and after the demonstration. The police's own logs, from officers stationed in Oxford Circus before and during the containment, describe the crowd as "bored but calm".

Authoritarian

In fact, the minutes of police meetings deciding operational policy on May Day show that no other strategy, apart from full-scale containment of the whole group, was ever discussed. As far back as February 2001, the minutes show the police had decided that containment was the tactic they would use on Mayday, three months later!

May Day detainees wondered how the Met's 'thought police' could have known what the crowd's mood would be this far in advance? How could they claim that containment was due to an imminent breach of the peace? Did the police have no tactic ready for use other than containment, one of the most extreme and authoritarian tactics for dealing with demonstrations - a truly Orwellian tactic!

The judge ruled that the containment was not unlawful under the Human Rights Act, even though it clearly states that the police can only detain an individual to arrest them and bring them before a court. Clearly all 3,000 protesters were not arrested or brought before a court.

The most worrying thing about this judgement is that the police will see it as giving them the green light to use containment on future protests. Will they now feel even more confident to imprison protesters falsely at July's G8 summit in Gleneagles or on future anti-war protests?

The judge argues that experienced protesters should have known that there would be a violent contingent on the May Day 2001 demonstration and cannot be surprised when they are held along with them. The police also argued at the trial that non-violent protesters and political activists acted as a cover for violent protesters.

May Day detainees believe this criminalises protesters. The overwhelming majority of May Day protesters were peaceful. Most of the crowd, to their credit, remained calm despite police provocation and their irresponsible tactic of pushing everybody closer together into the centre of Oxford Circus, risking a crush.

False imprisonment

To say that because some protesters were violent, all demonstrators had to be treated the same, or that they acted as a "cover for violence" is an outrage.

There is more violence at an average football match or town centre on Saturday night than there was on May Day 2001. Do we ban all football matches? Or imprison all Saturday night revellers? This judgement could hit demonstrators now and the trade union movement when protests grow in future.

The detainees still maintain this was false imprisonment. This judgment is designed to strengthen police powers when dealing with protesters. It aims to put people off coming on future demonstrations.

Certainly on May Day 2001, rows of riot police brandishing truncheons and shields, photographing and harassing young people as they left the containment was clearly enough to frighten any first-time protester.

For the detainees, all this talk of violence diverts attention away from the political issues. The anti-capitalist movement, involving tens of thousands of people globally, has been motivated to take action against third world debt, poverty, environmental destruction and now war and occupation.

The legal and political establishment want a muted opposition. This judgement, they hope, will go some way to give them that. In the current post-9/11 climate of a strengthening of state powers, like detention without trial, it seems the powers that be believe legislation to impede the right to protest can go through unchallenged.

The detainees will continue to challenge undemocratic laws and restrictions on our right to protest. They have been given leave to appeal and are considering doing just that.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 2 April 2005:

Liar Blair must go!

No PFI or hospital closures in Bristol!

General election - main parties offer no solutions

Stop these deportations

Asylum and immigration - what we're thinking

Judge backs false imprisonment of May Day protesters

Can we save the planet?

Peter Taaffe's Asian tour

Kyrgyzstan and the ‘Tulip revolution’

Delegates vote to keep up pressure over pensions

Coventry: Save Peugeot jobs

Pensions: postal workers must show solidarity

Fighting cuts at the Housing Corporation

College lecturers fight for pay deal

UNISON National Executive Council elections


 

Home   |   The Socialist 2 April 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

May Day:

triangleThe real origins of May Day

triangleDerby Socialist Party: The origins of May Day

triangleHelp fund your paper!

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: Tories out! Corbyn can win on socialist policies

triangleMay Day greetings in the Socialist

Socialist:

triangleBirmingham Central Socialist Party: The rise of Militant - lessons from our history

triangle110 years ago: massacre at Santa Maria school in Chile - commemorate 21 December 1907

triangleThe Socialist's 2017 quiz

triangleTwo in five 'right to buy' homes now for let

Police:

triangleIrish capitalist state: rotten to the core

triangleOrgreave campaigners' Halloween 'Death of Justice' march

triangleThe "club no-one wants to be part of" - march by families of those killed in police custody

Protest:

triangleTrump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian conflict

triangleUnite day of action against blacklisting

Football:

triangleGentrification on the terraces: fans say twenty's plenty

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

16/12/17

Haringey

Blairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

16/12/17

North West

Arriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise

14/12/17

Waltham Forest

Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

13/12/17

London

Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

13/12/17

Fracking

Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

13/12/17

Devon

Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

13/12/17

Miners

Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated

13/12/17

Bradford

Bradford campaign to save children's services launched

13/12/17

South London

South London health bosses' cover-up

13/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite day of action against blacklisting

13/12/17

Brighton

Brighton victory

13/12/17

Newham

Newham anti-academies strikes

13/12/17

Tamil Solidarity

Tamil Solidarity and Refugee Rights activists meeting

12/12/17

Woolwich

Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

7/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite protest against blacklisting

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle16 Dec Blairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

triangle16 Dec Arriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise

triangle14 Dec Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangle13 Dec Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangle13 Dec Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

triangle13 Dec Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangle13 Dec Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian...

More ...

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

triangle6 Jan Socialist Party national women's meeting

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2