The mystery van part 2

Following the completely unexpected popularity of my blog post about the van at the 24/11/2010 London protests, I need to clear up a few points.

I think these things are clear. I saw the sequence of events on live TV and it could be verified if anyone can get hold of a recording.

  • The police started blocking the route several minutes before the van arrived.
  • The van was driven in to the back of the crowd, (relatively thin at this point) pushing protesters out of the way. Some got angry at being driven in to or made to jump away, and pushed or hit, or sprayed graffiti on the van.
  • The police abandoned the van.
  • The bulk of the protesters arrived to find their route blocked and an already slightly graffitied van in the middle of the crowd.
  • Some (very few) people started smashing the van in spite of attempts to stop them.
  • The police justified their use of containment (kettling) by citing the attacks on the van, which happened after they started kettling.
  • The police claim that the van was following protesters to gather information on where they were going. They knew full well where they were going, since they had already blocked the route! There is a possibility that the van was in use by FIT (Forward Intelligence Team, explanation here)  to take photographs of protesters.
  • The police claim that the officers in the van abandoned it because they “felt vulnerable and decided the best course of action was to leave the van” (Source: The Guardian)

I have received information from a few people that have changed my mind on some of my original points.

  • It has no number plates
    • Actually the van did have number plates on arrival, although there are no clear photographs or videos of it. The best I have seen is this one from ITN.
  • It is painted in the OLD livery of the Metropolitan police.
    • I am told that the police routinely use vans of this age.
  • It has been out of service long enough to get rusty.
    • Several of their vans are rusty, and in fact you can see on this picture that it was rusty even in 2008. We should probably be concerned at the lack of preventative maintenance there.
  • It has a POLICE AWARE sticker on it, that has been there a while.
    • This one was true. Some people have suggested that the sticker was placed there as a joke by a police officer, or that it was placed there to mark the van for attention by a mechanic. I’m not sure I buy that.

I still believe that this van was planted as bait to incite vandalism and provide an excuse for kettling. The only alternative theory I can think of is that the police are really, really stupid. It could be that I suppose.

Via @a6ruled
Sky news video shows van accessible, police standing near it and crowd all calm. Busted!

Out of touch? Out of their heads!

Conservative politician and life peer Howard Flight thinks that the benefit cuts will cause those on benefits to ‘breed.’

“We’re going to have a system where the middle classes are discouraged from breeding because it’s jolly expensive, but for those on benefit there is every incentive,” he said. “Well that’s not very sensible.” From the London Evening Standard

Roger Helmer, conservative MEP, thinks that we should hang criminals and that children that took part in the protests should be deprived of all state education. (Note, he tweeted this on the day of the protests, so context is important.)

“Philip Lawrence’s killer Chindamo has been arrested over a violent robbery. Wouldn’t have happened if we’d hanged him first time round.”

“The punishment fits the crime: students convicted of violent behaviour should be expelled, and no longer eligible for any state funding.”

Michael Gove, Conservative education secretary, is willing to listen to argument and change his mind, but not when it is from 130,000 future voters.  Unfortunately I can’t find the footage from yesterdays interview on BBC news, but he is known to have commented

“I don’t think any government should change their policy because of street protests”

He stated that he would listen to argument and could be prepared to change his mind, but when asked if he would listen to the protesters, he laughed and said “No.”

Lord Young, former Conservative enterprise advisor, thinks that we have never had it so good and called the recession a “so called” recession. (Original source)

“For the vast majority of people in the country today, they have never had it so good ever since this recession – this so-called recession – started, because anybody, most people with a mortgage who were paying a lot of money each month, suddenly started paying very little each month.

“That could make three, four, five, six hundred pounds a month difference, free of tax. That is why the retail sales have kept very good all the way through.”

Comments from someone that has never had to worry about finding a job or a place to live. All this adds up to proving that politicians, particularly rich Conservative ones, are completely out of tune with reality, or with what it is like to actually have to work for a living.   The solution? Perhaps we should stop voting for millionaires to run the country; it’s like turkeys voting for Christmas.

The mystery van

Bait Van
Illustration by Maria Bovor

—UPDATE 26/11/2010—

Reposted here because hundreds of people are reading this but still not clicking through to my update post

I have received information from a few people that have changed my mind on some of my original points. I really don’t consider myself a conspiracy theorist, I just want to correct an injustice and set the record straight.

  • It has no number plates
    • Actually the van did have number plates on arrival, although there are no clear photographs or videos of it. The best I have seen is this one from ITN.
  • It is painted in the OLD livery of the Metropolitan police.
    • I am told that the police routinely use vans of this age.
  • It has been out of service long enough to get rusty.
    • Several of their vans are rusty, and in fact you can see on this picture that it was rusty even in 2008. We should probably be concerned at the lack of preventative maintenance there.
  • It has a POLICE AWARE sticker on it, that has been there a while.
    • This one was true. Some people have suggested that the sticker was placed there as a joke by a police officer, or that it was placed there to mark the van for attention by a mechanic. I’m not sure I buy that.

I still believe that this van was planted as bait to incite vandalism and provide an excuse for kettling. The only alternative theory I can think of is that the police are really, really stupid. It could be that I suppose.


—Sky news video busts police claims—

Via @a6ruled
Sky news video shows van accessible, police standing near it and crowd all calm. Busted!


ORIGINAL POST

PLEASE NOTE
I am not a journalist. I have simply gathered some observations that looked odd to me, and some of them have been refuted. Please read all of the article and the comments and then weigh up the evidence before you decide.

During the protests in London today the police stated that they had started “containing” the crowds after they violently attacked a police van.  I contend that the van was deliberately planted in order to provide an excuse.

At around 12:30 I started watching BBC News which as showing live footage of the protests from a helicopter. The police were already blocking the route of the planned march with a huge amount of vehicles and offices. I watched that van be driven through the crowd from behind, angering all the people that had to jump out of the way. It was quickly surrounded by furious protesters and forced to stop. A little later, a few (unknown) people started to attack the van, trying to break the windows, roll the van over and paint graffiti on it. Some brave kids tried to stop the attacks, but were eventually pushed aside.

The moment it started:

And some more brave people:

Alternative photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blinkofaneye/5204774374/in/photostream/

But there is something really interesting about this van.

  • It has no number plates
  • It is painted in the OLD livery of the Metropolitan police.
  • It has been out of service long enough to get rusty.

Jump to 28 seconds in to this video to see what I mean. Look just under the windows.

The rust:

And thanks to @psweetman for spotting this. Does that say “police aware” ?

Front of police van showing Police Aware notice

Draw your own conclusions from that.

Despite all this, the protests were mostly peaceful.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/nov/24/student-protest-largely-peaceful

In response to Rob W, here is the ITN video. There is a number plate visible at 6 seconds in, although not clear enough to identify a number.

This picture shows “POLICE AWARE” sticker is aged and has been there a while. (Thanks to Harry Watko for these.)

I think these things are clear. I saw the sequence of events on live TV and it could be verified if anyone can get hold of a recording.

  • The police started kettling several minutes before the van arrived.
  • The van was driven in to the back of the crowd, (relatively thin at this point) pushing protesters out of the way. Some got angry at being driven in to or made to jump away, and pushed or hit, or sprayed graffiti on the van.
  • The police abandoned the van.
  • The bulk of the protesters arrived to find their route blocked and an already slightly gratified van in the middle of the crowd.
  • Some (very few) people started smashing the van in spite of attempts to stop them.
  • The police justified their use of kettling by citing the attacks on the van, which happened after they started kettling.

You’re all criminals

You’re all criminals. That’s not a sleight on your character, it’s just a simple fact. The law, as it stands, criminalises nearly everyone that writes stuff on the internet, or uses a telephone, which I am assuming is all of you.

The law in question is the Communications Act 2003, which you can read here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/21/section/127 It is the law under which Paul Chambers has just been prosecuted for using twitter to send a joke to his friends.

Here is the relevant text:

(1)A person is guilty of an offence if he—

(a)sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or

(b)causes any such message or matter to be so sent.

(2)A person is guilty of an offence if, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another, he—

(a)sends by means of a public electronic communications network, a message that he knows to be false,

(b)causes such a message to be sent; or

(c)persistently makes use of a public electronic communications network.

If I read that right (andI may be wrong) then telling an untruth in jest to wind a friend up is illegal. Telling an obscene joke is illegal. Putting something obscene as your status on facebook is illegal. Sarcasm and Hyperbole are both illegal.

See you all in prison.