This is a guest post by Jo O’Reilly.
All protests it would seem are not created equal, or that’s how Tony Rayner, Chair of the Essex Police Federation would have it at least.
As was announced in the Guardian on Thursday, the Police Federations Chair
Paul McKeever has warned MPs that they could face the prospect of
police protests in response to the coalition funding cuts. The cuts mean
that potentially 20,0000 police jobs could go.
Back in Essex Tony Rayner the chair of the Essex police federation
agreed, and then some, tweeting ‘Paul McKeever is a diplomat. We’ll do
more than march.’
He doesn’t elaborate on what ‘more than march’ might actually mean
but it does sound remarkably like a threat of civil disobedience. This is
made all the more unexpected considering the heavy-handed response
by the police to last year’s student protests. I couldn’t help but reply.
‘Here’s hoping your colleagues don’t Kettle you on a cold bridge for five
hours, charge horses at you and hit you with batons’
I didn’t realise at this point that Rayner had already used twitter to make his feelings towards the student protestors known. When tweeting the outcome of the Edward Woolard trial, he added ‘Pity he couldn’t be flogged as well as jailed.’
He response to me was that protesting police officers would not
be ‘smashing up London’.
After I explained that not all of the protestors on the receiving end of
the MET’s aggressive tactics were responsible for ‘smashing up London’
He tweeted back:
‘Probably because they were kettled. Would you prefer water cannon?
Tear-gas? Tanks? This is minimal force.’
In case I wasn’t convinced that protesting police officers should be
treated differently to protesting students he followed that tweet up
‘Is there evidence that any protest by the police in the UK has ever been other than peaceful?’
When others posted links refuting this, or telling him that the law
should treat all protestors the same he tweeted a link to a blog post by a freelance photographer.
The blogs author is hit in the leg by a police baton whilst attempting to
get, ‘The shot that would catapult my days work onto the front pages of the next days papers’ but it is OK he tells us as he is earning money.
He goes on to express his distain for media savvy protestors who try
to bring to account police brutality when they are injured. He doesn’t
clarify however whether he would feel any different had a baton shot to
leg in exchange for a day earnings, instead had landed on the skull. Had
he been left in hospital with bleeding on the brain like protestor Alphie
Meadows it’s possibly he would feel differently.
So there you have it student protest require the ‘minimal force’ of
batons and kettling but police protests do not, and police violence is OK
if you’re getting paid to be there and take photos.