Tuesday 14 April 2009

Policing climate catastrophe


Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green party, said that with no charges more than 12 hours after the arrests, "confidence in policing of protests like this has just about hit rock bottom. Peaceful protest is a civil liberty we need to be upheld, even more in the context of the lack of government action on climate change.


What we are witnessing today is
a massive increase in police surveillance of environmental campaigners.


However the raid came about, it should prompt questions. There is in this country, as in most democratic states, a right – express or implied – to free assembly. The mass arrest of more than 100 people gathered in the same place comes perilously close to infringing on that freedom.

There always must be, freedom to protest. The police made their arrests, citing conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass and criminal damage. But, if we have learned anything in recent months and years, it is that early accounts by police spokesmen to justify particular actions are not always to be relied upon.


Mounting a protest outside a power station or indeed anywhere else is not illegal. All the police have said so far is that the operation was “intelligence-led.” Which could mean that someone told them something he’d heard in a pub.

Given the boys in blue’s many recent depredations, most notably at the G20 demonstrations in London, it seems almost tedious to point out that they are routinely trampling over civil liberties at every available opportunity.