sarah taylor | 18.04.2009 13:40
After being unable to join the protest at bank on Wednesday 1st April a couple of friends and I decided to go to climate camp. My friends housemate was being held in the cordon around Bank and although he was worried about her there was no way the police were going to let us anywhere near the other protestors. On the way to climate camp we turned a corner and came up against a row of 6 policemen with dogs blocking one of the roads. The dogs were extremely agitated and the police officers did nothing to calm them even though there were no protestors in the area. A few people stopped to ask the police why they were intimidating people who were just walking past and why they were in the area even though there was no solid group of protestors around. One man who was obviously a little worse for wear and not at all coherent did a little dance in front of the one of the police officers, this was non offensive and he did not say a word the whole time. The policeman responded by loosening the dogs leash at which point the dog jumped at the protestor everybody ran however when we went back to see what had happened the man who had been maimed by the police dog was walking around in a complete daze with his upper right arm ripped through to the bone. A few people vomited and whilst fighting the urge to vomit myself a couple of us tried to guide the man to try to get him some medical help. We took him to a police block and asked them to call an ambulance to which the police officer replied “well you’ve got a mobile phone haven’t you’. Enraged at this we started shouting that we would call an ambulance ourselves if the police hadn’t blocked all the roads in the area! A police woman soon appeared and stated that the man was going to receive medical help and when we complained that we had effectively been turned away she took him away and the man was arrested soon after much to our disbelief. Later we went to climate camp but again were prevented from joining the demonstrators by riot police. We could see the police were mobilizing behind us and decided to leave. This feeling was further reinforced the next day when after hearing of the death of a protestor the day before, a couple of us left the demonstration at the Excel centre to go to Bank for a vigil and to pay our respects for the man who died. There was a one minute silence and every single member of the crowd observed this whilst sitting down. After writing a message of remembrance I looked up and saw in the time it had taken me to write my message the area had been sealed and we were surrounded by two rows of police officers. I overhead a girl telling her friends the police said they were refusing to let anyone out in case we went to protest somewhere else! Not only is this illegal but the fact the police officers refused to say anything further made us all feel so helpless and after experiencing what can only be called a panic attack for the firs time ever I was allowed to leave. I believe this is a as a result of being left quite traumatized by the police brutality that was inherent throughout the Gaza demonstrations in January. While I believe the actions of the police will unfortunately put some people off from attending future demonstrations it will only make the majority more determined.