British police arrest pro-democracy demonstrators, before the demonstrations begin
It is a sign of the deep-seated inequalities in our society, that the wedding of one couple is lauded over by the entire media, whilst so many family relationships struggle under the strain of daily life. As hip-hop artist and political activist Lowkey posted on his Twitter account this week, “How would you explain the concept of a monarchy to an alien?” The question got me thinking.
We have one family who are born into automatic privilege and wealth, and who symbolise the exploitation of empire and colonialism for millions of people around the world. We are taught that this one family of human beings represent our great British traditions and more importantly, represent us. They represent us in their huge palaces, whilst we live in council estates and work all day every day to make ends meet. When one of them gets married, thousands of other people fly in from around the world to take photographs and write about it, and everyone in the country is encouraged to have parties, stick up flags and join in the hysteria. Guests are invited from all the repressive regimes you can think of… unless, of course, we happen to be bombing the country at the present time, as is the case of Libya, or if we happen to be weighing up the pros and cons of further military intervention, as is the case of Syria. I hope the Bahraini ambassador is sitting comfortably at the royal wedding, happy with the news that four pro-democracy demonstrators were recently sentenced to death in his country.
In the latest step towards the increasingly Orwellian police state we find ourselves living in, the police seem to have used the occasion of the royal wedding as a kind of ‘free-for-all’. Special powers granted for the day mean that any pro-democracy activists attempting to demonstrate can be arrested and removed immediately. Not only that, but the preceding week has seen police conducting raids on social centres and housing up and down the country, with “stolen goods” being cited as one of the reasons.
Incredibly, when fanatical Muslims Against Crusades and English Defence League threatened to demonstrate, the police initially said they were in negotiations with the two groups. On the other hand, when an individual man handed in a legitimate application at Hackney police station to hold a peaceful demonstration along the route, he was described to the media by the police as “Middle Eastern”, provoking immediate retaliatory rhetoric from the EDL, despite no factual basis to the claim. Other pro-democracy activists have been arrested at their homes in “pre-emptive strikes”; why would you be arrested for intending to peacefully demonstrate your political belief in democratic rule rather than monarchical rule in a democratic society?
Earlier this week, several students were charged for taking part in the student demonstrations, including Alfie Meadows, who was charged with violent disorder. The name struck a particular chord, because I immediately remembered the photographs of Mr. Meadows lying in hospital after the injuries he sustained at the demonstration. Alfie needed emergency brain surgery to save his life. All of the students charged this week were banned from entering the City of Westminster, where the royal wedding is taking place, for a period of five days. No trial or sentencing necessary. Just enough time for a nice ceremony without those pesky troublemakers getting in the way.
I wonder if Alfie Meadows had died from his injuries, would he still have been charged with violent disorder? I wonder how many police commanders have been charged for sanctioning the use of “kettling”, which has since been ruled illegal by the high court? I wonder how many police officers have been prosecuted for charging into crowds of children whilst mounted on horses; something they initially denied, even when I had seen it with my own eyes – shortly after I was dragged out of my wheelchair by police officers – and continued to deny right up until video footage had been released showing exactly that. I wonder how many police officers will be charged for the batons I saw them using to beat the students they are now prosecuting for violent disorder?
Of course, none of them will be charged. Maybe they can beat us with batons, maybe they can arrest people for ideas rather than crimes, but they can never force us to accept an ideology of supremacy.Tagged in: Kate Middleton, Prince William, royal wedding, wills and kate
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