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.


Brighton Love Music Hate Racism said...

The police have gone to great lengths to use an incident of bottle throwing as typifying the protest, to give justice to their actions.
Two bottles were thrown, but the person who did it was immediately stopped by the massed numbers of protesters. Protesters made a much better job of policing themselves than the police did.
The truth of the protest was that it was made up of many and diverse individuals and groups from Brighton, and the police turned against them.
Neither police, nor racist will in future be able to underestimate the unity of people in Brighton, and the strength that solidarity brings.

Ben Parsons - The Argus said...

Suggest instead of basing your criticism our breaking news coverage - which is bound to be limited by what is available at the time - you invest 45p in reading the published paper.
Our double-page spread yesterday featured a full account of the day and included everything you claimed had been ignored.
You'll find The Argus in the Jubilee Library if you didn't get a chance to pick one up.

Andrew Burnyeat said...

Ben makes a fair point here - the DPS contains a lot that wasn't in the online coverage. There's also a good follow-up (online) today in which an airing is given to the view that the police should have sent the Marchers back instead of routing them down an unsuspecting sidestreet.

Anonymous said...

nothing better to do than write this rubbish?

Andy Richards said...

Ben and Andrew, points taken. I think that taken in the round and after some time lapse, the Argus coverage has been more balanced than I gave credit for. I still think that the coverage still leans towards portraying the anti-fascists as aggressors, and some of the headlines are biased, but I accept that it is not fair to say you just reprinted Sussex Police's version without question. I will note this in the article.

Anonymous - you seem to have a bit too much time on your hands yhourself.....