Image © Alex Mannion-Jones.
3rd Jan, 2009: Thousands gathered in London today to protest the Israeli bombing of Gaza. Speakers demanded that UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown use all our nation’s diplomatic and economic leverage to ensure Israel’s assault on the Palestinian territory ends immediately.
After a bill of rousing speakers, the protest officially ended, but thousands more marched to the Israeli Embassy to continue their protest. Fights broke out as police pushed back the crowd, but otherwise the day passed peacefully.
The number of protesters was almost overwhelming, and their passion encouraging. I only hope we have made a difference by coming out in such numbers; I only hope our government will listen to its people.
Weeks of intensive research have culminated in the launch of an online, interactive multimedia map. It documents events surrounding the Smash EDO demonstration in Brighton on October 15th. Clicking on markers brings up raw evidence, such as photography, eyewitness reports, and video footage.
The map makes for harrowing reading. It shows how police invoked anti-terror laws against suspected protesters. It also describes how one disabled observer was arrested and denied access to a doctor, and how peaceful protesters were attacked by police dogs.
While assembling the interactive online map of the Smash EDO demonstration, I came upon several harrowing stories. This was by far the most distressing. The student writing the letter is still under bail terms.
I am happy to tell you about what happened to me on the 15th.
My experience of the protest was quite tame. Anti-war protesters marched towards town but were blocked by a barricade of vans and police in riot gear. A few scuffles between protesters trying to break through and the police. But nothing too serious. This is Brighton, after all. This is a nice town.
But the more I talked to people, the more scary it got. One friend of mine attacked by a police dog. Protestors trapped in a ‘kettle’ – a brickwall of police – for over 45 minutes, right in the North Laine where gentle Brighton folk like to go shopping. And at least a dozen arrests, most of them under Section 60AA – an anti-terror law passed in the wake of 9/11.
When police are using anti-terror laws to make arrests of peaceful protesters, something is going seriously wrong. I have spent the last two weeks compiling evidence of various forms – photographic, video, eyewitness reports, official documents – and will soon be releasing it as an interactive, online article. Hopefully it will shed some light on what really happened in Brighton on October 15th. My greatest wish is that by raising awareness of the event, it need not happen again the way it did.