The British police have issued over 14,000 fines to people who have allegedly broken the government’s lockdown measures — and today in London I nearly got a £100 ticket myself.
My crime? Covering an anti-lockdown rally in London’s Hyde Park, interviewing some of the protestors and seeing for myself how extraordinarily high-handed and belligerent the police have become in accordance with the government’s draconian Covid-19 restrictions.
The rally was held at Speaker’s Corner, traditionally the spot in Britain where anyone can come along and celebrate their right to say whatever they like — because that’s what freedom of speech means in a free country.
Not any more though, apparently. I witnessed members of the crowd being threatened and given tickets for offences as minor as holding placards, distributing stickers (they said “Fuck Coronavirus”. Unfortunately mine fell off my jacket) and “staying here for longer than 45 minutes”.
People who didn’t comply were treated roughly. One man, lying on the ground, looked as if he might have had his leg injured by a policeman leaping wantonly, knee first, on top of his thigh as he lay on a tarmac path.
There were several arrests, including Piers Corbyn — brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
According to the Mail, whose reporter witnessed his arrest:
Piers Corbyn, 73, was seen surrounded by police officers as he made his way through the crowds, getting involved in the action and making his voice heard.
He was later seen being removed in handcuffs, after earlier holding a sign which read: ‘End lockdown now — Free NHS to save those it’s left behind.’
Corbyn was taken away after showing up with a megaphone and proclaiming 5G and the coronavirus pandemic were linked, calling it a “pack of lies to brainwash you and keep you in order”.
The policeman who gave me my warning was not at all unpleasant. But he did unwittingly expose some of the absurdities of the way that Boris Johnson’s lockdown policy is being policed.
For example, under the current restrictions, everyone is supposed to remain a minimum of 2 metres (6 feet) apart from one another for their own safety. Yet the police themselves clearly weren’t observing these restrictions, which does make you wonder: do they really believe in it? And how, in all conscience, can they impose on members of the public rules which they break so flagrantly themselves?
What shocked me most though was the absurd overkill of the police response. The crowd was small — in the low hundreds — because police had warned people not to turn up and perhaps quite a few were put off by the fear of being arrested.
Though there were some noisy chants — ranging from “we want freedom” to “arrest Bill Gates” — there were no displays of aggression. Yet the police turned up in such large numbers they almost outnumbered the protestors.
Compare and contrast with the noticeably more relaxed response of the police in 2019 when, for several days, activists from the eco-fascist group Extinction Rebellion rendered whole areas of London impassable to traffic –occupying Waterloo Bridge, for example — as well as disrupting business and damaging property. Or when, in 2018, they closed five London villages.
Those eco-protests cost the police — or rather the taxpayer — £37 million, yet during much of this flagrant act of economic terrorism, the police treated them with kid gloves and even tried to ingratiate themselves with the eco-loons, with one police officer trying to impress them with his skateboarding moves.
— Jack Tibbs (@JackTibbs7) April 16, 2019
So here’s what I don’t understand about the police’s priorities. If you protest against an imaginary problem like the “Climate Emergency” they’ll leave you more or less free to do what the hell you like, no matter how many ordinary people are inconvenienced and no matter how much economic damage you do.
But if you protest against something that really matters — the biggest restriction on civil liberties in Britain in modern history — then they’ll come down on you like a ton of bricks.
There’s something wrong here.
How do we fix it?
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