The trade Union Congress (TUC)’s ‘March for an Alternative’ protest march and rally event took place on Saturday (26 March 2011). The purpose of the event was to demonstrate opposition to public spending cuts imposed by the UK’s Con-Dem – Conservative and Liberal Democrat – coalition government. The event attracted a huge attendence with estimates of 500,000 marchers.
Many acts of political violence by marginal groups occured in the West End area of London while the march and rally were happening. Many of the politically violent attacks were directed at banks and tax-avoiding companies. Other targets such as the Ritz Hotel and Porsche dealerships were presumably attacked due to their in-your-face class symbolism and association with the ultra-rich elite.
The politically violent attacks were largely attributed to Anarchists and associated Anti-Capitalists. The media generally and correctly reported that the vast majority of participants were not involved, associated or supported the politically violent events.
However, it appears that the police have arrested the wrong people for the wrong reasons. I was surprised to see such acts of political violence without police intervention. 149 of the 201 arrests were of non-violent demonstrators associated with the UK Uncut organisation that had been occupying Fortnum & Mason’s store on Piccadilly.
The vast majority of the Fortnum & Mason’s arrestees have been charged with aggrevated trespass. Fortnum & Mason’s is a shop which means that there is an implied invitation to attend. For the aggrevated trespass charge to stand it will be necessary to show that the demonstrators were asked to leave and refused. The trouble is that they did leave when asked by the police only to be arrested.
That UK Uncut’s protestors were arrested and charged while so few violent protestors were arrested and charged poses some interesting issues. The point is that those obviously engaged in violent attacks – granted on property rather than people – with police present should expect to be arrested and charged but this hasn’t happened. Instead those that were not involved in obvious acts of violence have been arrested and charged. I wonder if we are able to speculate – and reach some conclusions – why that is?
UK Uncut have established themselves as an effective political campaigning organisation. They have organised many effective actions against tax-dodging companies. Alternatively, political violence against property is hugely counter-productive and achieves little other than the appearance of thuggery.
Do you think that UK Uncut’s success as a political campaign group might have contributed to them getting arrested and conflated with violent thuggery?
Cuts protesters claim police tricked them into mass arrest | UK news | The Guardian
Statement regarding UKUncut actions March 26th « Bankers Uncut
The Trafalgar Square kettle: these are the facts, I was there | Kevin Rawlinson | Independent Editor’s choice Blogs
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