Just inside three weeks ago, we saw some of the most volatile and wide spread civil unrest that Britain has ever seen. Even the riots of the 80s, under Thatchers’ conservative government, while effecting many cities and boroughs, took place over a spread out period of time.
Undoubtedly, while not the underlying cause, a significant trigger was the death of Mark Duggan when he was shot by the police in Tottenham [link] (Aug 4th). Original justifications for the action revolved around the claim that Duggan had shot at the police, though this was later proven to be false [link].
In the last eight days, there have been a further three deaths at the hands of the police.
Dale Burns in Cumbria [link] (Aug 17th) was arrested in which the police deployed a taser gun. He was being arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and subsequently, whilst in custody, became ill and was taken to hospital.
Jacob Michael in Cheshire [link] (Aug 24th) was reportedly pepper sprayed and then beaten by officers after he had been handcuffed.
Philip Hulmes in Bolton [link] (Aug 24th) had barricaded him inside his home and it’s reported he’d stabbed himself in the abdomen. Police called to the scene used a taser gun in restraining him.
IPCC has opened investigations into all three and postmortem are yet to show the exact causes of death. The first two seem fairly clearcut, though ambiguity in the case of Philip Hulmes is present concerning whether or not the self inflicted wounds are likely to have caused the death, or if it was the deployment of the taser that exacerbated the situation. It does, however, appear to indicate towards a concerning trend in the use of excessive force by varied police forces.
A little closer to home (geographically speaking, for me) is the police raid on the home of the editor of a local radical paper, The Autonomist [link] with a warrant that tries to make connections between the individual and the recent rioting that has taken place, referring to it as domestic extremism. Anybody remember the fuss floating around a week or two ago regarding the requests police had been making of businesses to report any knowledge of anarchists?
At the same time, a number of arrests are being made as “pre-emptive strikes” to prevent “criminality” during Notting Hill Carnival [link], with thirty-five arrested in this pre-crime initiative. This approach ties in closely with the heavy oppression that surrounded the royal wedding, with people dressed as zombies being detained to prevent peaceful anti-establishment events from taking place.
After the London riots there have been calls to bolster police powers. As I have said already and will say again, this is a dangerous notion. Any further police powers will simply make it easier for the police to abuse them, and with the perennially useless IPCC there will continue to be any substantial repercussions or accountability for the officers involved. This growing trend and perhaps perceived acceptability in arrests made for pre-crimes is also of great concern. These are all trends that lead towards a greater repression of political activity that does not fall within the establishment’s perceptions of acceptability.
Just a little sequence of events that I thought served well being brought to your attention.