Monday, 23 April 2012
Lies, damn lies and Sussex Police press releases.......
In its report of yesterday's events in Brighton, where a rabble of fascists was run out of town by the people of Brighton, the Argus largely reprinted without question the version of events put across by Sussex Police.
(Editor's note - having seen the later Argus coverage, I now think this is unduly harsh. See comments!)
The narrative was largely that the anti-fascist protestors were the aggressors. There were claims of "hand to hand fighting" with police, that anti-fascists had thrown bottles, that police horses were attacked, that the police were forced to deploy horses, batons, shields and pepper spray because of the violence they faced, that bins were set on fire. The videos below suggest a very different sequence of events very early on in the march, which set the tone for the rest of it.
Both videos show the police attacking anti-fascists. I had a perfect view of this from the raised part of the western side of Queens Road. After much prevarication the police decided to bring the march down Queens Road. It was perfectly obvious that it would meet resistance. I make no bones about this. We were determined to use our numbers to prevent an unwanted, unwelcome parade of bigotry and hate. But the violence came from the police, and as one of the videos shows, from the fascists, who were the ones who first threw missiles.
The police have since admitted that the level of opposition forced them to reroute the march. At this point the sensible thing to do would have been to reroute it straight back up to the station and onto the next trains out! But even we had not reckoned on the degree of violence which the police were prepared to use to "accomplish their mission".
One can speculate on what motivated the police - my theory is that they were frustrated that they couldn't kettle the anti-fascists because we didn't fall into the trap of having a fixed demonstration. To that extent, kettling as a tactic has reaped what it sowed - demonstrators who keep scattered and mobile, and who are not about to share their intentions with the police. Congratulations boys!
As the march limped down Church Street, anti-fascists were able to erect barricades which delayed the march again. The "hand to hand" fighting here largely consisted of the the police shoving people with shields, hitting them with batons and blinding them with pepper spray. As for "torching litter bins" (as the Argus would have it), I saw one smouldering. Whether it had been deliberately set on fire or whether someone had just dropped a lit cigarette in it (not uncommon), who can say?
At the end of the march I did see one fascist get curry thrown at him. I don't defend that - I hate seeing good food go to waste!
No-one - and I mean no-one - who I have spoken to saw anyone harming any police horses. This despite the threatening and dangerous way they were being deployed. One has to wonder how much concern the police have for these animals given the situations in which they use them.
Given the propaganda to which we are already being subjected, we need a full independent enquiry into what happened on Sunday and particularly into how it was policed.