Donnachadh McCarthy went to Parliament Square yesterday to address a peaceful rally about the failings of British democracy. The intimidatory, violent and inflammatory police reaction only confirmed everything he had to say – as did the dignified restraint of the Occupy Democracy protestors.
Yesterday I was invited to speak about ‘The Prostitute State – How Britain’s Democracy Has Been Bought’ – at the Occupy Democracy Rally in Parliament Square.
The plan was to give the talk (which went well – despite being nervous) and meet up with a friend later for dinner.
Instead I ended up being threatened with arrest not once, not twice but six times and ended up sleeping rough in the open all night in Parliament Square with the amazing people seeking to establish the weeklong democracy Occupy Democracy forum !
The first near arrest was for holding on to a placard stating that “Occupy Democracy is a drug and alcohol free zone”.
Three policemen nearly broke my fingers to take it off me, whilst refusing to tell me on what grounds a peaceful protester could not have such a placard.
The second near arrest was when about 60 of us were sitting around in a circle on the grass discussing democracy and occupy. About 40 riot police surrounded about 20 of us and kettled us in. They then threatened us with arrest for refusing as peaceful citizens to give our names.
The third near arrest happened when I helped rescue one of the peaceful democracy debaters from a snatch squad.
The fourth near arrest happened when I saw the private security guard boss who disgracefully now police Parliament Square (AOS) , indicate uglily three peaceful democracy debaters whom he wanted arrested and helped grab them out of the way.
The fifth near arrest was when I argued that the police were guilty of unnecessary harassment and making a farce of the Metropolitan Police, in seeking to wake up one of the democracy debaters who was asleep, as they claimed the plastic bag he was using to keep himself dry was “an object assisting him to sleep” and that this was illegal in Parliament Square!
The sixth and final near-arrest was this morning when the police sergeant and four policement dragged me away from Occupy Democracy for the heinous crime of holding a placard with their values:
No discrimination of any sort
No drugs or alcohol on-site”
They eventually tore it off me, after I exercised peacecful direct action in seeking to hold on to it, whilst asking on what grounds it was illegal to have such a sign and the sergent tore it to shreds.
Hundreds of police – but whatever for?
There were literally hundreds and hundreds of police surrounding the democracy debate.
Then another police cordon around the squares footpaths – within which the press were banned.
Then the entire boundary of the square was surrounded by police vans.
A police helicopter hovered over-head. Hundreds more police were in vans spread all around the vecinity.
This massive over-policing and attempts to shut the democratic forum down was truly shocking and outrageous.
However, despite repeated provocation the democrats remained peaceful, and with huge help from the legal team, Occupy faced down all of the attacks and is now proceeding peacefully with talks and workshops all week, including today.
Please go and support these brave protesters today or during the week if you can.
I am now going to crash … grateful for not being in jail and grateful for helping claim this space for open demoractic debate for nine days, outside the Whore of Parliaments.