Today (Saturday the 17th ) a couple of police officers were acting on complaints from the owners of the corn exchange. They made use of the Obstruction of Public Highway (section 137 Highways Act 1980) to try and move on groups of people. One cop informed us that they didn’t really need this dispersal order because they could move people on with section 137. However they soon wandered off without actually managing to move anyone. Make of that what you will…
When we talked to the group it became apparent that they were not aware of the dispersal order, despite it affecting all of them directly, and the attendant cops obviously didn’t want to tell them about it. The police apparently did an investigation into what was happening around there and couldn’t find anything to pin on them… presumably this is why they haven’t ASBO’d them all already, but if this dispersal order goes through it will effectively criminalise a group of people just because local businesses don’t want them around. The only reason this is happening is because recent ‘developers’ in the area have more power than a group of kids.
Listening to stories from the corn exchange crowd today it seems like they have been the target of a lot of police bullying; being picked up for things like dropping cigarette butts, swearing and play-fighting. The corn exchange has been associated with the ‘alternative’ crowd for at least ten years now, they congregate there to meet with like-minded people, not to cause trouble, and there is definitely a feeling of ‘safety in numbers’. When you dress differently you are subjected to verbal and physical abuse from narrow-minded members of the public. These young people may not be angels, but they’re not criminals either. Basic human entitlements such as the right to freely assemble should not be sacrificed for the sake of yuppie development opportunities. We are currently organising to oppose these impending draconian measures- check indymedia for details of the forthcoming meeting regarding this.
Peace, Love and Empathy – da kidz