6 May 2009

Have police infilterated campaign to stop Staverton expanding?

Well the bad news is that the Airport extension is one step closer after last week's vote - see here - they got three out of the four planning applications with the last one deferred. I still find it difficult to understand how councillors can support this move in the face of the evidence about climate change. I can only muse that they have not read or don't believe the evidence.

Photo: From Citizen

Anyhow onto a related matter - I read with concern that Austrian tourist Klaus Matza and his son were banned from taking pictures of buses in Walthamstow - see Guardian here - the two policemen forced them to delete the photographs from their cameras in the name of preventing terrorism. After the Tomlinson incident and reporting of G20 it seems that even the wider press have started to get concerned by police tactics. I personally have not had a problem or even witnessed one but have heard a number of first-hand incidents that have raised alarm bells...

One of the most recent concerns were the revelations that Strathclyde Police attempted to plant paid informants within the aviation direct action group, Plane Stupid. It raised the question amongst local airport campaigners whether the police had tried to infiltrate our Gloucestershire campaign. I have to say I think it would be very unlikely indeed.

Anyhow in response to the Strathclyde revelations Caroline Lucas said: "These revelations today are sinister and shocking, and come at a time when public confidence in police tactics is at rock bottom. At a time when there is already concern and controversy over policing of the climate camp at Kingsnorth, the G20 protests, and the mass arrests near Nottingham, it is clear that a review of police tactics is long overdue. The police should not be obstructing our right to peacefully protest. We should make it abundantly clear that intimidation, infiltration and bribery are not legitimate means of policing non-violent protest. We need a police force which understands the vital democratic right to peaceful protest, which acts proportionately, and which can be held properly accountable."

And here is the commitment that the Green Party are seeking from the police to halt:

* infiltration, bribery and intimidation of activist groups who are part of non-violent protest
* the filming of activists by police officers when activists have committed no crime
* an end to police officers at direct protest events appearing without ID numbers on their uniforms (as occured recently in a climate change protest at E.ON's headquarters in Coventry, and at the G20 protests) - see here. The comments by Denis O'Connor, the Chief inspector of constabulary are very welcomed on this when he told MPs on the Commons home affairs select committee that it was "utterly unacceptable [for police] to be not wearing their numerals" on the G20 protests. See here.

And to finish this blog here is a comment by a campaigner on the BBC coverage of Strathclyde: "You ran a piece last night on Strathclyde police's attempt to recruit a spy from Plane Stupid. Plane Stupid is avowedly a non-violent protest group. Yet you accompanied text from the police conversation relating to 'terrorism' with images of violent protest at the G20 events (no connection with Plane Stupid) and the violent break-up of the Climate Change camp by police, with no reference to the fact that the violence was inflicted by the police on the (peaceful) protesters. You therefore successfully portrayed violence as a natural component of dissent, and police action as fully justified in the general cause of defeating terrorism; and Plane Stupid as an organisation somehow connected with violence. Why did you do this and what action will you take to correct what is either lazy or biased coverage?"

No comments: