Protests? What protests?

If you have been anywhere near twitter today, you can’t have failed to notice that there have been a few little protests going on.

Actually, not so little. These protests were nationwide. There was chaos in Oxford Street, the busiest shopping street in London, on a busy weekend shortly before Christmas. Protesters blocked access to some very large shops, all owned by Philip Green, who carried out a review of government spending and procurement at the request of David Cameron. Green runs Arcadia group but the shares are actually in his wifes name, and since she lives in Monaco, all £1.2 billion in dividends has been tax free. Shouts of “Pay your tax!” are quite hard to argue with.

In Brighton some people got inside the window display at Top Shop and super glued themselves to the window. Police also held a large group of people outside the shop for several hours. Protesters were eventually allowed to leave on the condition that they gave all their details to the police, something that is completely illegal for the police to demand.

The most bizarre thing about the day was the astonishing lack of coverage on television news. After a couple of hours without mention a campaign started on twitter to phone the BBC to complain. The staff on the other end of the phone were friendly and sympathetic. They had quite a few calls about the subject and knew exactly what I was talking about. There was a short report on BBC News at 13:46. And that was it. No other mention at all. Sky news has not even mentioned it once. The revolution apparently won’t be televised. But it will be tweeted.

—Edit: The BBC played the same footage at 18:16. Apparently shutting down parts of the busiest shopping street on one of the busiest shopping days of the year is not news worthy. Thank you very much to channel 4 news, who opened with this story and spent several minutes on it. —-

The BBC News TV report – all 23 seconds of it

Here are some links to find out more about the protests.

Channel 4 news

BBC News website

The Daily Mail – a strangely un-critical report!

The Guardian

UK Uncut, the organisers

Some more footage

F.I.T. keeping track of protesters

#UKUncut on Twitter

Author: Latentexistence

The world is broken and I can't fix it because I am broken. I can, however, rant about it all and this is where I do that when I can get my thoughts together. Most of the time you'll find my words on Twitter rather than here though. I sometimes write for Where's The Benefit too.

14 thoughts on “Protests? What protests?”

  1. It’s not “completely illegal” for police to ask for personal details; they’re well within their rights to ask. A member of the public who has not committed-or, at least, is not suspected of having committed-an offence is well within their rights to withold that information.

    1. You are right, it is not illegal for the police to ask the information. It is illegal for them to demand it of someone that is not under arrest or in control of a vehicle, or to specify it as a condition of letting someone go. (Also questionable, and going back to court, is containing them in the first place.)

      I find it morally reprehensible that the police are trying to gather information on many people involved in the protest so that they can build up a database. That is not in their remit and borders on intimidating those that wish to exercise their right to peaceful protest.

      1. I’m sure it wasn’t specified as a condition for letting them go. Our police are highly trained officers who are fully aware of the consequences of behaving in an improper manner.

        1. I know it’s only Twitter, but I would like to refer you to this series of tweets from @QOFE.

          “Cannot leave unless we give names & addresses. Or will be arrested. Checkmate. #ukuncut #Brighton #topshop”

          Any advice legal peeps? Will we be arrested and spend a night in the cells. #topshop #Brighton #ukuncut

          Decided to leave as did not fancy a night in the cells. Processed under a stop order. Police were very polite. #ukuncut #topshop #Brighton

        2. I am QOFE, and I was required to give my details or be arrested. I was processed under a stop order, and they took video footage of my face. I have emailed my MP, Caroline Lucas, with a full account of events, and will be following up with the police as I believe this is a breach of the provisions of the data protection act. This looks an awful lot like profiling, and the legal support line that called me said it is becoming common practice, and is being used on various London protests. Not cool. I am a senior manager in the private sector, paying higher rate tax, and I have a right to protest as a law-abiding citizen of a parliamentary democracy. I behaved impeccably at the protest (as did we all). The police response was grossly disproportionate at best, and unlawful at worst. Which is a shame because many of the individual policemen and women I met/was kettled by were polite and professional. Tactics like this are only going to escalate the situation.

        3. Late to the party with this but just wanted to say – Simon you just need to look at the attitude of fear and paranoia the police have towards photographers to know that they don’t always know what the law actually is. They do seem to use intimidation and scaremongering to get what they want (i.e. bully people into obeying) either because they are unaware of what the law says, or – worse – they don’t care what the law says.

          If you search for police and photography on The Register you will find examples of this. No doubt about it, our civil liberties are being eroded in the name of terrorism.

          I know that’s not directly related to this particularly example but I just wanted to share that anyway 🙂

  2. If the offence of aggravated trespass has been committed, then the Police are fully justified in asking for details. In those circumstances, it can justifiably be a requirement for release.

    1. I would also refer you to this BBC report.

      A teenager who was arrested for failing to provide his name and address was released before he was taken into custody.

      I am certain that there are police out there that are abusing the law, and are intent on gathering data on legitimate protests. Please don’t be blinded to this just because you have not encountered it.

  3. I think you misjudge our police-especially the quality of their training and their professionalism under very difficult circumstances. I can see that we’re going to have to agree to disagree on that front, however, so will skulk away quietly and leave the discussion here to those of you who seem to genuinely believe that the UK is becoming a police state…

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