Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Most Important Event On Policing Before The Olympics

This article appears today on the Red Pepper website

Kevin Blowe invites you to a conference on defending our fundamental liberties during the Olympics and beyond.

This weekend, with Olympics organisers testing preparations for the 2012 Games, LOCOG chair Sebastian Coe has been forced yet again to promise that London will not turn into a 'Siege City'. Plans to deploy surface-to-air missiles on residential buildings in east London are just one part of the gradually emergence of a huge security operation during the Olympics, with policing having the greatest impact on local residents and anyone planning to protest against sponsors like BP or Dow.

The media is starting to wake us to the potential consequences of the capital’s lockdown: over the last ten days, because I have been writing about Olympic security, I have had numerous requests for interviews and comment from journalists all over the world. However, describing what we can expect from the largest police deployment in London since the Second World War is all very well, but the real question is what can we do in practice to protect the fundamental liberties of both protesters and local working class communities living on the doorstep of the Games?

This is why an event on 20 May at the Bishopsgate Institute in London is one of the most important in the weeks preceding the start of the Olympics. The ‘Kettling Police Powers’ conference is organised by the Network for Police Monitoring – which brings together activist groups like Climate Camp’s legal team and Green &; Black Cross with community organisations such as Newham Monitoring Project. It will provide campaigners, lawyers and others working at the sharp end of challenging unlawful, violent, racist or excessive policing with a chance to discuss the impact of London’s new ‘Total Policing’ concept and what that will mean this summer.

Speakers include Alfie Meadows (who was struck on the head with a police baton during December’s student protests), Marc Vallee (a campaigning photo-journalist who was also one of the founders of the ‘I’m A Photographer Not a Terrorist’ campaign) and Rob Safar (one of the Fortnum & Mason 145 defendants), as well as the experienced lawyers Simon Natas and Kat Craig. Most importantly, the conference will enable activists to debate how to best respond to the most draconian, heavy-handed policing operation we have ever experienced.

I hope as many people as possible can attend. To register, visit the Network for Police Monitoring website.

1 Comment:

Martin Slavin said...

This May 20 2012 article below by Gary Younge from The Guardian's 'Comment is Free' section illuminates the contradictions of the global spectacle of 'Freedom and Democracy' reinforcing the oppressive policing of marginalised urban outcasts. It offers chilling parallels with 'Total Policing' around the London Olympics.

Martin Slavin

The paradox of Chicago hosting the Nato summit lays bare the brutal way in which inequality is globally maintained and locally replicated

"On Friday morning in Brighton Park, a neighbourhood in southwest Chicago, around half a dozen Latina volunteers in luminous bibs patrolled the streets around Davis Elementary school. The school sits in the crossfire of three gangs; the Kings, the 2/6s and the SDs (Satan's Disciples). The trees and walls nearby are peppered with "tags" denoting territory and mourning fallen gang members. There is a shooting in the area every couple of weeks, explains Mariela Estrada of the Brighton Park Neighbourhood Council, which facilitates the volunteers.

That same evening, just a couple of blocks away, a 14-year-old, Alejandro Jaime, was shot dead while out riding his bike with his 11-year-old friend. According to witnesses, a car knocked them both off their bikes. They picked themselves up and ran. A man got out of the car and shot Alejandro in the back. "Although it's the city's job to provide public safety, we had to respond since our children are in danger and continue to face threats of gang violence," said Nancy Barraza, a Parent Patrol volunteer.

The next morning world leaders started arriving in Chicago for the Nato summit where, just 20 minutes from Brighton Park, they would discuss how to maintain international security. The dissonance between the global pretensions of the summit this weekend and the local realities of Chicago could not be more striking. Nato claims its purpose is to secure peace through security; in much of Chicago neither exists.

When the city mayor Rahm Emanuel brought the summit to Chicago he boasted: "From a city perspective this will be an opportunity to showcase what is great about the greatest city in the greatest country." The alternative "99% tour" of the city, organised by the Grassroots Collective that came to Brighton Park, revealed how utterly those who claim to export peace and prosperity abroad have failed to provide it at home.

The murder rate in Chicago in the first three months of this year increased by more than 50% compared with the same period last year, giving it almost twice the murder rate of New York. And the manner in which the city is policed gives many as great a reason to fear those charged with protecting them as the criminals. By the end of July last year police were shooting people at the rate of six a month and killing one person a fortnight.

This violence, be it at the hands of the state or gangs, is both compounded and underpinned by racial and economic disadvantage. The poorer the neighbourhood the more violent, the wealthier the safer. This is no coincidence. Much like the Nato summit – and the G8 summit that preceded it – the system is set up not to spread wealth but to preserve and protect it, not to relieve chaos but to contain and punish it."

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