Spring is here! It’s a bank holiday weekend! The lockdown has very slightly been relaxed! No wonder people can’t wait to get out and enjoy themselves. But when the Met go on Easter Parade it’s very different. Hundreds of people get attacked with batons and shields, pepper sprayed and kettled. At yesterday’s Kill the Bill demonstration in London there were also 107 arrests. We don’t have a full breakdown for exactly what yet, but it includes assault on an emergency worker, violent disorder, obstruction of the highway and “preventing a breach of the peace” (which isn’t even a crime). Yesterday we saw another example of what we have seen in Bristol, London, Manchester and Brighton these past weeks – arrests are a result of police attacks on protesters. Every arrest is an act of violence and potentially a threat to life, the more so if you are not white, government funded reports notwithstanding.
A quick recap of what else the police have been up to recently. One of them kidnapped and murdered a woman and when there was a vigil for the victim the police battered the attendees. An inquiry into the incident it, done by ex-police officers, said it was perfectly fine and attacked those who criticised the police for not even waiting for the cover up to exonerate themselves. There is a new Bill to give the police extra powers and to show the need for it the country’s police forces have united to attack anyone demonstrating against it. In Bristol over 80 people are facing jail time for serious charges despite the police admitting they faked injury reports on their officers. By the way if you are wondering why you are seeing police officers from far away forces in your home town this weekend it has a simple explanation. Double time on bank holidays for “mutual aid” deployments. Yes the cops really do call it Mutual Aid.
Like an ill trained dog, it’s the owners who are really at fault. Boris and Priti are obvious here, but even Jeremy Corbyn, who spoke at yesterdays demo, was calling for ten thousand extra police officers in the last election campaign. Everywhere we can see politicians- many of whom are in postions of oversight – run cover for their police forces. Just as we rightly condemn police violence, we should condemn those who facilitate its continuance.
It’s important that we understand the role of the police in society and acknowledge the cunning of the founder of modern policing, Sir Robert Peel, who came up with the idea of combining the roles of community safety with protecting the ruling class from attacks on their property and collective resistance to their exploitation of the working class. All societies will have some violent and dangerous people who, at times, will have to be dealt with. But it’s not the best idea to chose the people who like beating people up for the job. Whenever the police commit crimes there’s always a new outcry and a new group of people outraged over policing’s fundamental character. There are always calls for “an inquiry”, or for someone to be sacked.
As ever they want to deal with the “bad apples” or, in the best of cases, call to “defund the police”. But dealing with the bad apples or tinkering with police funding was never enough. Radical reform literally means from the root. Abolition of the cops is the minimum demand because it strikes at the root of the inequality that policing protects.
Today’s Easter sermon is from Matthew chap 7 vs 15-20. ‘Judge the Tree by it’s fruits and it they are rotten “hew it down and cast the tree in the fire”’