Thursday, 27 August 2009

Climate Camp - Police Blink in Test of Brinkmanship

The situation surrounding policing at Climate Camp has developing throughout the day. This morning, the Camp’s main Twitter feed was highlighting discussions about police access on site at neighbourhood meetings, because of the impending attendance of representatives from Greenwich and Lewisham Councils and by Superintendent Julia Pendry, whose presence the evening before had led to what might be described as a ‘frank exchange of views’.

The upshot of these discussions was inconclusive – as a FITwatch tweet put it, “consensus not reached whether to allow them entry so access will be refused”. This was summed up in a Climate Camp statement as follows:

We will meet with the police, and we will talk to the police, but we will do it outside the Camp. The reason for this is very simple: many people at the Camp have suffered violence, harassment and intimidation at the hands of the police, at events such as the Kingsnorth Camp and the G20 protests. Although the police have not used these tactics at this Camp so far, that doesn’t mean that we are suddenly going to start trusting them. We take decisions as a whole Camp, and discussion is still ongoing, but at the moment, there is no reason for the police to come on site.

A lot of people from the community, and the media, have already visited the Camp, and will be able to confirm that it is a completely safe, friendly and welcoming space. Meanwhile, the police have mounted surveillance cameras and microphones on cranes and can see everything we are doing in here anyway. We currently feel that there is no reason for them to enter the site.

We have been open, honest and perfectly reasonable in our dealings with the police. We are saddened, but not surprised, that they are now threatening to cut off contact with our police liaison team. We feel this is an unreasonable response to our perfectly sensible position.
The implications of this decision, from the point of view of the Met police in a press release, were immediate:
On arrival Superintendent Pendry was refused access to the site despite previous agreement with the Camp Police Liaison team. As the meeting was so important the local councils and police compromised and allowed the meeting to go ahead outside the camp fence on this occasion.
A meeting with Pendry did eventually take place at around 3.30pm outside the gates of the Camp, but it was followed soon after by a tweet that said:
“Police have threatened to cut off all communications even though this seems perfectly reasonable given the lack of trust amongst campers.”
But then, about 6pm, the police’s own Twitter feed said this:
“Met have not said we will cut contact with camp police liaison team”
The implication is clear – in a test of brinkmanship, the Met blinked first. All credit to Climate Campers in not backing down.

The previous evening’s confrontation could undoubtedly have been avoided if a sensible decision not to hold a meeting with Pendry on the site had been taken, but it seems that lessons have been learnt and that’s a positive sign. However, that doesn’t mean that this bullshit description of the way events unfolded, as told by the Whitechapel Anarchist Group (WAG) on its blog, can pass without comment. The WAGs wrote:
And so it began. Heckling. Shouting. And a few choruses of Harry Roberts. People flocked from all corners of the camp to get involved. But the mood was split. Conflict between those opposed to the police presence and those willing to protect and tolerate (And in some cases welcome) the old bill. Climate Camp soft cops warned us that "It's not best to act like this with media around" which just goes to show that some involved in the Camp have so much faith in the corporate media, police and state that their hopes for real radical environmental change are merely liberal posturing at best. At this point a spray can was used to much artistic effect as "ACAB" was decorated on the tent, though the artist was stopped before he could finish "KILL POLICE". The sound system was then pushed up against the tent so that the inside occupants could listen to the brilliant Dead Prez rap about the joy of politically motivated drive by shootings.
Sometimes I despair. Talking about ‘liberal posturing’ when the best you can offer instead is ‘revolutionary’ posturing, that amounts to little more than calling everyone else ‘soft cops’ and spray painting the side of someone’s marquee, is just… embarrassing. If the WAGs really had any bollocks to back up their bravado, they would have spray-painted ‘ACAB’ on Pendry, but that would have involved a greater level of stupid audacity than drunkenly calling other activists ‘Officer class prefects’.

Zip up your trousers and stop waving your tiny cocks around. You’re making other anarchists who value politics over Strongbow look bad.

Oh, and then maybe watch this:

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