London Indymedia

Angry police shove peaceful protestors

Rebel W | 23.05.2004 01:29 | Anti-militarism | Repression | Social Struggles | London

When nearly 1000 pro-Palestinian activists gathered opposite Downing Street gates, little did they know that they would see a truly momentous attempt at a mass sitdown end with Police lifting and shoving demonstrators around. Even Jeremy Corbyn MP suffered perpetual pushing from police who were increasingly keen to move the barriers closer to the kurb.

The crowds gather on the road. Most people stood up till the police got to work.
The crowds gather on the road. Most people stood up till the police got to work.

Large flag from previous weeks demo. Rumour has it the police ripped it badly.
Large flag from previous weeks demo. Rumour has it the police ripped it badly.

More people milling around in the street. This weeks paper, anyone?
More people milling around in the street. This weeks paper, anyone?

This is (not) what democracy looks like!!
This is (not) what democracy looks like!!

Talk about attitude!
Talk about attitude!

When we reached the site of the action, demonstrators were congregating behind around 50 meters of barriers, which the police were obviously only just putting in place. Half way across Whitehall, they were assembling another line, which would, it turned out, come in rather useful as a tool of repression. Word went round that some activists were considering ceasing the road, and when the initial surge took place, even leading lights in the SWP didn't quite realise what was coming (and Lenin said revolution wouldn't come. Two weeks later...)

The crowd hastily moved into position on the road, causing police to shut one half, and creating a road block 10 meters out into the road by some 30 meters long, at which point the police dragged across their assembled barrier, and used it to cordon the demonstrators. When a woman broke free and moved across the road, the police surrounded her and marched her off, presumably for arrest. At one point it seemed as though the police used a public service bus as a visual shield between the protesters and the new arrestees. One failing of the demonstrators was the lack of apparent attempts to form a solidarity picket at Sloane Sq Police Station (might have the name wrong).

As time drew on, chants changed, bottles of water were shared, and the police started to get impatient. The head of PSC made a speech in which she announced that we would be moving on at 3:30pm, but immediately afterwards, the police begun 25mins of near continuous attempts to clear the road. Working in from both ends and pushing on the road side; so much so that a senior SWSS official fell on top of PSC's leader. This all happened within metres of Jeremy Corbyn MP! Also, the police paused their work everytime a bus went by, especially for tourist buses. Seems they weren't too proud of their work after all!

The last few people managed to remain in the road just until 3:30pm, but by then, the police had everyone on their feet and were just pushing everyone back to the pavement. We did see one or two attempts to reclaim the street (no pun intended), and someone, at a point I cannot remember, attempted to walk in front of a bus with a placard, in a way which reminded me only of the film of Tienamen Sq, with the guy in front of the tank (perhaps I'm over reacting).

From a personal point of view, this was the first time I had been carried away from a road block. The police used usual methods of elbow manipulation to unlink me from my nieghbour, and the megaphone which was on my lap fell between my knees, and I lost grip of the hand set. I ended up basically being told to get up, and did so as I was completely surrounded by around 6 police. They then shoved me towards the pavement, which didn't work too well, as this meant pushing me against a large number of people already assembled in my pathway.

When I was reunited with my own megaphone (having been handed the other one by a stranger), I started some wonderful rant at the police about how they had broken up a perfectly peaceful protest, which cars were infact able to move around, just 20 minutes before it was set to end. It was then that I realised just how many people were around. As the crowd started to disperse, and gaps appeared on the pavement, I could see even further, and this hinted at a number approaching the 1000 mark, but not quite. That the police felt they had to break up such an event, despite the end being in sight, gives the impression they were looking to repress the issue. However, like driving tanks around a refugee camp makes Suicide Bombers, the police repression today only seemed to make people more determined to act. Perhaps police aggro has its place afterall.

For the benefit of novices, here's my tips for sit downs:
-If you don't want to stand on the road, stand on the edge of the pavement, and only let people through if they obviously want to. This slows people down if they don't want to go.
-Link arms; the police know how to unlink you, but it does make things look better.
-Stay calm, and try to ignore the police. If they pick you up, try to relax. Anything else, and you risk hitting them inadvertently and being arrested for it. Otherwise, you'll find yourself on the pavement and free to move on (normally speaking).
-Have a demo buddy. Always very important; and never leave the area without establishing where your buddy, and preferrably where all other friends are, unless forced to.
-Don't have your mobile on your belt unless it is absolutely fixed in place. Thankfully the police found mine, but not before the screen was scratched!

Rebel W
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Hide the following 13 comments

Dear sirs

23.05.2004 05:47

Dear sirs

This is outrageous but expected.The people of this earth must not allow to have these murderers walking about the planet killing whoever they fancy ,without having to answer for their actions.
This is not funny any more,we are in danger ,imagine that USA soldiers are allowed to rape in the countries they have bases on or occupy and noone can touch them.They can kill your kid or your husband or your wife and walk away ,without worrying for a second that they might get caught and have to answer for their crimes.
This is an emergency ,we must all help to stop this madness.
Announce it on the news,talk about it,provoke reactions from the people because we are in danger ,great danger .
Imagine, you are at the mercy of the american soldiers ,of every one of these who tortured the iraqi prisoners.
No thanks.
Join with your voice the fight to stop the abuse on our freedom and the attempt to destroy humanity as we know it.
No more "american democracy" dreams please.You are responsible for uncovering in front of the eyes of the public the lies and the crimes of the USA and the UK goverments.And i hope you can cope with this burden,our hopes are with you partly ,as the voice of reason in todays UK society and beyond.
George Soilis

George Soilis
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23.05.2004 08:59

So a call for a great rallying of the Jew haters and what do you get - 1000 (or "around 400- 500" as AP said). Despite the best attempts of the Jew haters people can see you for what you are, Rascists. We are not fooled by your claims to be interested in Palestian problems.

The people of Britain have seen your bigotry and rejected it - a 1000 people, what a joke !


Anti semitism

23.05.2004 09:43

It gets very tiresome having the accusation of anti-semitism thrown at you just because you protest against the Israeli government.

Myself and the majority of protestors for Palestinian rights have absolutely no anti-semitic sentiments.

You simply use the anti racism accusation because you cannot build an arguement to support Israeli war crimes. The actions of the IDF are indefensible.

For example, how was the demolishion of the zoo in Rafah supposed to stop terrorism? Where there some miltiant Emu's posing a threat to Israel!

Mr Andy C
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23.05.2004 09:54

Hmmm racist, are you sure about that. Looks like a group of peace activists from different races protesting for peace. Admittadly there are often problems with anti-semitism when it comes to debate about Israil, but that does not mean that all arguments should be ignored. What the israili government are doing is fucked up, buldozing houses, political assasinations and shooting at peaceful demonstrators, IT MUST BE STOPPED and you can scream "anti-semitism" til the cows come home but the arguments will win through. 1000 people, wonderful. I'll be there next time and I'm sure there will be more of us, an the movement will continue to grow.

Solidarity with Palestine

WELL DONE EVERYBODY! (but sit down in the road more quickly)

23.05.2004 16:05

It was great to see the spontaneous sit-down protest yesterday. It was very effective in drawing the attention of the passing public to the plight of the Palestinians.

Well done everybody!

I was impressed how quickly many people sat down in the road when the police moved in to push them out of the way. However, a lot of people continued to stand up and were easily pushed aside by the police.

To avoid being quickly pushed back by the police, its important to sit down straight away - this immediately slows down the police in trying to clear you out of the way.

It takes much longer to move somebody sitting down.

It's much safer to sit down - it avoids crushing.

It allows everybody to see whats going on

It makes communication between demonstrators much easier

It increases the feeling of solidarity

If the police act aggressively (as some did yesterday) their behaviour is more easily re easily exposed to the public




23.05.2004 16:32

Peace protestors were brutally attacked by the police
on Saturday as they demonstrated outside Downing St.

At least two arrests were made, and some were very
badly beaten. A Palestinian man was violently attacked
by the police as he was leaving the demonstration.

A witness said: The police have the same brute
mentality as the US soldiers who torture Iraqis. We
wont be intimidated by this - it only makes us

The non-violent protest, called for by the Palestine
Solidarity Campaign (PSC), began after the Stop the
War Coalition demonstration had finished in Trafalgar

Around 500 people gathered in Whitehall, and blocked
off part of the road, chanting Free, Free Palestine,
and Israeli Terrorists - Out of Rafah. Drivers and
tourists on open-top buses gave overwhelming support
to the protest.

At 3.10pm the organisers called for the sit down
protestors to leave the road at 3.30pm - peacefully
and together.

Mike Marqusee and Jeremy Corbyn MP were about to speak
to the demonstration, when the police began violently
shoving and manhandling protestors in order to move
them back onto the pavement.

People argued and resisted peacefully, calling for
calm, but the police continued to use excessive force.
One protestor was left with a broken finger, and many
others had cuts, bruises, and black eyes.

When a Palestinian man was leaving the demonstration,
around five police officers kicked, punched, and beat
him with a baton. They threatened to break his arm
when they handcuffed him, and then hit his head
against the van door.

The other protester who was arrested had cuts left on
the wrists due to extremely tight handcuffing.

The attack was out of order and deliberately
provocative, Betty Hunter of the PSC told the Police
afterwards, and said she will be making an official

If you have any video footage or photographs, or if
you saw or experienced police brutality on the
demonstration, please get in touch with the PSC:
020 7700 6192

Please circulate this widely to anyone who might have
been at the demo.

mail e-mail:

Not racist etcetera...

23.05.2004 17:35

The Jews are hardly a race.... the original Jews were either wiped out or converted to Christianity by the imperial Romans, and then again to Islam during the Arabic sweep west from the arabian peninsula all the way to Spain, during the 8th & 9th. The Ashkenazi Jews of today (which is who we're talking about, as the Sephardim in modern Israel are clearly second-class citizens, barely above the level of arab-israeli citizens) are descended from a 7th-Century Turkish tribe, the Khazars, who converted to Judaism for political-intermarrying reasons at that time. The current fascist state of Israel is comprised of white-supremacists who represent (along with anglo-Saxon imperial interests) a Turkish sect, not a race.

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Export of policing practices.

24.05.2004 03:28

Note that the immunity enjoyed by American combatants in Iraq is merely an export from American police departments. :-)

Blue Zappa

Jew haters?

27.05.2004 16:51

Was it "Archie" who made the "Jew haters" comment?

If Archie had been there he could have had a chat with the half dozen or so Orthodox Jews who had walked down from Stamford Hill to join the protest. They were proudly holding banners condemning the IDF actions in Rafah and would not have been best pleased to be called Jew haters. Nice to see peace loving Jews and Muslims protesting together against the violence of the IDF.


Ian Gregory
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Peace Loving Jews

28.05.2004 10:43

Ian Gregory. The "peace loving jews" you refer to are actually the jewish equivalent of islamic fundamentalists. I won't bother detailing the numerous violent incidents they have been involved in, suffice to say that they are well documented elsewhere on the web (just do a search for "Neturei Kartah"). They oppose the State of Israel for purely religious reasons and not because they give a toss about the Palestinians. Does Nick Griffin's support of Farrakhan because of common goals make him an ardent Black Rights activist?

Izzy Ajioc

Oh and by the way............

28.05.2004 13:25

You're not racist? Well I don't see you or anyone else disagreeing with the revisionist crap posted earlier in this thread by "Muhammad". Looks like tacit acceptance to me.

Izzy Ajioc

god i hate liberals

01.06.2004 00:03

''Anti-semetism'' what the? well as much as i dislike some of the fringe groups organising the protest the main wing were the ISM, jews for justice for palestinians and the SWP, the first two can not be called anti-semetic by any means and the third, while i Totally disagree with their politics are not frickin anti semetic.

Every time the anti-war movement kicks off something about palestine in london, we get criticised of being''anti-semites'' by some fucking lame liberal.

Sure some groups we have to work with might harbour reactionaries, that is the problem with the nature of national liberation movements, but unless your offering them support in some way against imperialism, how can you then go on to criticise the racist ideology and machinations of the arab bourgeoisie who make up a section of the national liberation struggle.

Effectively all your doing is abandoning the palestinains and labelling them anti-semites, which is appalling and extremely racist.

And muhammed, whoever you are, shut the fuck up, it doesn't matter what bourgeois concepts you invent to classify races (because lets face it, the notion of race as a whole is pretty much a fallacy), however it matters what people see themselves as, some jewish people see themselves as a race, most others see themselves as an ethnicity, my dad was never very religious at all, but he always saw himself as ethnically jewish, altho he would have been skeptical of the word 'race' but then shit he grew up in southwark, and tryin to trace ancestry in the lodon docks is pretty pointless.
Just shows what a joke the concept of race is really.

To summarise: do some research before spouting crap


Peace Loving people

01.06.2004 19:49

Thank you Izzy for keeping me on my toes.

My main point of course was to point out to Archie, or anyone who read his comment about "Jew Haters", that in fact some of the people he was tarring with this extremely broad brush were in fact Jews.

I am an Atheist myself but in common with many Jews, Muslims and Christians etc I am opposed to all violence. I would like to think that the majority of people at the demonstration were there to protest against the destruction of innocent lives which was undoubtedly taking place in Rafah, and to put pressure on Tony Blair to do something about it. I always find it reassuring on a demonstration to find a wide cross section of society represented, including those of various faiths and of none. However, I am well aware that different groups, whilst temporarily united in action, may have widely differing motives for participation.

I must admit that I did not chat to any of the Jews who were there (there were plenty of others who did though), so I am ignorant of their motives.

Regarding your comment about Griffin and Farrakhan, their common ground would appear to be their espousal of racial segregation as a solution to the problem of inter-racial tension - interesting idea, but not one with which I have much sympathy:-)

Ian Gregory


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