Saturday, 16 June 2012

Which side are you on boys?

I was reminded of these lyrics from the song "Which Side are you on Boys?" recorded in the 40s by New York radicals including Woody Guthrie today when I attended the demonstration in Glasgow to defend asylum seekers facing destitution. All was going well, extremely well in fact. The demo was attended by around 1000 people and the atmosphere was great - positive and supportive. The speeches were great too. Those that we could hear. Slight problem with police helicopters almost directly above the demo completely drowning out lots of what was being said.

Anyway it all got cut short when the police told the stewards to stop the demo and disperse everyone. They agreed because we were told it was for everyone's safety, that the SDL were somewhere around and aiming to cause trouble. So, like I say, it was a positive event, nobody wanted any trouble and although we were all extremely disappointed to have to cut it short and miss some of the speakers, we agreed because we believed the police.

Turns out, they wanted shot of us so they could allow the SDL to have their own demo in George Square, exactly where we'd been! 

Apart from the obvious differences - our demo being about love and compassion, theirs being about hatred - let me draw your attention to one fact:

We whad permission for our demo. They did not!

So why on earth did the police facilitate their demo and end ours prematurely? What an outrageous decision. Funnily enough one young police officer told me we were being moved "so the BNP can have a demo as well" but when I expressed shock he said he'd got it wrong and it was simply to ensure our safety because they were on their way over. As I was one of the stragglers and it was too late to get everyone back, I chose to believe him. I also found it difficult to believe the police would do that.

You have to wonder what they'd have done had it been the other way round. Had the SDL been demonstrating and a group of us told the police we wanted them cleared so we could have a counter demo, I'm pretty sure we'd have been arrested.

What should have happened is the police should have stood up to the SDL's threats and told them if they didn't disperse, they'd be arrested. Incredibly it was our stewards who were told if they didn't disperse everyone they'd be charged under public disorder laws. Indeed, when a handful worked out what was happening and went back to heckle the SDL, they DID get arrested. Freedom of speech only works one way it seems.

There are questions to be asked and I want answers because this is not what I want my police force to be doing. What on earth does this say about this country when those who are obeying the law are told to get lost in favour of hate filled fascists who haven't even bothered to get permission? I'll be asking questions, I'm sure the MSPs who were present will raise it and everyone who was there today should do so too.

The question the police have to ask themselves is which side they are really on. And by that I don't mean between the SDL and the anti racists because I know they're not supposed to be political. I mean which side are they on between those who have permission to demonstrate and those who think they can do what they want, whenever they want, whatever the law says (and they've been turned down for demos before) no matter who they offend. Today's actions suggest it's the latter.

1 comment:

  1. Oh My God!! Surely not? the wonderful Scottish police telling lies again, because that's what they do 24/7?.....Someone should send those cops in front of an MSP committee, and ask them lots of embarrassing questions, about why the never tell the truth..