Climate Camp legal team report

Climate Camp legal team report (large PDF).

If you read one thing about the policing, make it this.

Goes through legal aspects, timeline, and illustrative personal accounts by protestors.

Fantastic job by the legal team, under a lot of pressure.

‘repeatedly beaten on the head with a riot shield’

Statement re dispersal of Climate Camp from southern end of Bishopsgate between 11:30 and 1:00, approx, ½ April 2009.

By around 11:15 at night there was a row approximately 3 deep of Climate Campers sat across Bishopsgate at the southern end of the Camp, with a row maybe 2 deep of police just behind them. A row of police had also moved up the pavement on the east side of Bishopsgate, as far as the European Climate Exchange. The Campers at the southern end were quite isolated from those at the northern end of the Camp, as there was a lot of empty space in the middle and it looked likely that the police on the eastern pavement would move in and split the Camp into two. The Campers at the southern end were trying to move northwards up Bishopsgate in an orderly fashion. The police suddenly charged from the south, and so all the Campers sat down in front of them. My friend and I joinded the very western end of the southern line of Campers, sat on the pavement on the western side of Bishopsgate.

At around 11:45 some riot police ran in, pretty much over us, to attack the Bicycology soundsystem, which was approx 10 or 15 feet north of us and was being used to co-ordinate our movement north. As they ran over us they were treading on people and hitting people with their riot shields. My friend was trampled on and punched five times in the head as she sat on the floor by officer D349 and sustained concussion and bruising – she was seen on 2nd April at St Thomas’ and has a letter to this effect.  Also an officer (possibly the same one) fell and sat on her head.

I was trodden on and still have bruising on my little finger. A man near us was repeatedly beaten on the head with a riot shield, in spite of people telling the officer doing the beating that he was bleeding. The police at the time were claiming that the man was resisting arrest and therefore they were using reasonable force. The man being beaten looked like he was in his mid to late twenties, and had light brown long hair. He was bleeding from a cut on his forehead.

The soundsystem was pushed over and the police ripped the microphone off it, I don’t know how badly damaged it is.

Before this point the police had not given us any opportunity to leave. While we were sat on the ground they kept threatening to arrest us for obstruction (we were actually sat on the pavement so I don’t know if that is still technically obstruction). We called a legal observer over who filmed and took the numbers of the officers who had been punching my friend and hitting the man with the riot shield. I made a note of both numbers – D349, who had been punching my friend (darkskinned officer with heavy stubble) and CP282.

After this first surge some police had taken up position along the pavement on the western side of Bishopsgate; approximately ten officers were lined up two deep at right angles to me, in front of me, so that I, and my friend, and a couple of other people were in a policeman sandwich, forming a small offshoot to the main group of Climate Campers, with police both in front and behind us. One of the police in front of me was pushing the Climate Camper who was stood in front of him with her back to him, claiming that she was pushing into him with her rucksack. She said that she hadn’t moved and he was pushing her. At one point he said to his colleague “she must be left wing, with a face like that.” This officer’s number was U2094.
We managed to rejoin the main group of Climate Campers and all sat down again. At around 12:15 the police dragged the person next to me out through the southern police cordon. I saw him later and can get in touch with him if necessary. I was dragged out fairly shortly afterwards –I would estimate the time as being about 12:30. My friend had to sit through another three police charges before police allowed her to leave voluntarily at around 12:50; she said this was the first time she had been given the option to leave.

A lot of people got separated from their property, and as far as I know belongings that were left after the Camp was cleared were taken as rubbish by Corporation of London cleanup crews – I saw them arrive as we leave, and didn’t notice any police insignia on the vans or uniforms on the staff.

Punched five times in the head, trampled, sat on

I attended a Climate Camp event on Bishopsgate on the 31st March. I arrived at 12.30pm, and spent the day at workshops about climate change, talking to people and having a picnic. We moved freely in and out of Bishopsgate, and there was a great atmosphere. Lots of people working in the City and press were milling about.

Later at 7.05pm (I was reading a text I’d just received), I saw riot police move in from the South East of Bishopsgate. I was stood on the South west side of the road. I could see riot helmets moving in, and batons raised and raining down on people attending the climate camp. From this time on the Climate Camp was surrounded by police, and no-one could get in or out. This attack was to get a row of police on the pavement on the east side of Bishopsgate, about a third of the way along the length of the Camp.
At 10.20pm (another text received), I was sat at a meeting across Bishopsgate at the southern end of the Camp. We were trying to decide how to move to the middle of Bishopsgate, as the Campers at the southern end were isolated from those at the northern end of the Camp, as we thought the police on the eastern pavement would split the Camp into two. Riot police were flanking the group at the Southern side, and we were using the Bicycology sound system to provide amplification for the meeting.

At 11.18pm (another text), the Climate Camp southern end had moved approximately 25 metres forward. The Bicycology sound system was being used to co-ordinate another move forwards. I joined the line of about three deep of Campers sat across Bishopsgate at the southern end of the Camp, with a row of about two deep of police directly behind them. We were trying to move the southern Campers northwards in an orderly fashion. The police were pushing into us, and jostling the line as we tried to walk in a line.

The riot police were amassing at the South side just behind where we were moving, so when we got to where we wanted to stop, the Campers sat down. I witnessed a female officer, small and blonde, in the third row of the riot police geeing the police up and shouting “grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr fucking move” at us. I also witnessed a male officer punching and hitting a man in the head with his riot shield. I think this was the officer who later assaulted me, but cannot be sure.
The police suddenly charged from the south, and all the Campers sat down in front of them. Myself and three friends were at the very western end of the southern line of Campers. We were sat on the pavement, but the police kept threatening to arrest us for obstruction. Then the riot police charged, pretty much over us. I learnt afterwards that they did this to attack the Bicycology sound system, which was approx 15 feet north of us and was being used to co-ordinate our movement north.

As the police ran over us they were treading on people and hitting people with their riot shields. My head and body (knee and ribs) were trampled on, as I lay on the floor covering my head with my hands. I was very scared. A male (a police officer I think) lost his balance, and sat on my head. The full force of him on my head was considerable. My friends were also trampled on. I sat up when the police stopped running over us, and was punched approximately five times in the head as I sat on the floor covering my head with my hands. Witnesses around me pointed out the man who had punched me. His number was D349. He was dark skinned and dark eyed (possibly from an Arab country), stubble, big lips, stocky build (but then wearing riot gear – who can tell).

I have bruising on my head, and aches and pains over my body. I visited St Thomas’ A&E Dept. on 2nd April, and have a letter saying I had sustained concussion and bruising. I was still suffering headaches on Friday 10th April. I lost my hat in the attack, but think it saved me suffering further injury at the time. I think the officers riot gloves also prevented the punching causing me further injury.

Despite being injured and crying, I was not offered the opportunity to leave the kettle or see a medic. A male legal observer filmed the police officers who had assaulted us. One of them had turned his badge over, and would not give his number to the legal observer. I think his number was CP282. He was tall and broad, with dark hair, and acne scars on his face. He was filmed refusing to give his number, and eventually one of his colleagues read it out. The police taunted us saying things like: do you think you are Che Guevara, and do you think you are Gandhi. I saw a police officer saying a woman was pushing her rucksack into him, when she was standing still, and he was jostling into her. Jane heard him say “you must be a leftie, with a face like that.” I was stood up at this point. His number was U2094.
We had become separated from the main group by police, after the charging in for the sound system, so we were trying to move closer to the main group of Campers. The police were dragging people out one-by-one, so we sat down again. My friend was one of the first to be dragged out, and this looked to be a rough process.
We stood up again,and I saw the same legal observer, asking for a receipt for a rucksack which police had confiscated from a man. They would not give one, or give a reason for taking the rucksack. The man who had lost it was dark skinned, with a foreign accent, possible Arabic. Thin, with pronounced cheekbones. Eventually the police threw the rucksack at the legal observer.
We moved closer to the main group, and sat down in the front line of the main group. This was probably in the middle of the road now. The police were pulling people out one-by-one again. The police were using their riot shields on people’s arms and legs. I was becoming increasingly upset and scared.

I saw a police officer repeatedly beating a man in the head with his riot shield. I did not see the blood, but others were shouting “why are you beating that man, he is bleeding.” I was sickened and terrified by this beating. It was so violent, with a riot shield to a man’s head. I did have the foresight to write down the exact time and the officer’s number though. It was at 12.45pm, and his number was CP49. I could not say what the officer or the victim looked like.

I was becoming increasingly upset, and scared. I’d had to sit on the front line through approximately three more police charges following my assault, as people were dragged out individually. As my friend said, I was starting to freak out. At this point, I was given my first opportunity to leave voluntarily, and I took it. The riot police walked us out of the immediate kettle area, and two police officers (not in riot gear) walked us out of the area past the police vans. The female officer enquired if I was ok, as I was clearly confused and upset. A Climate Camp medic approached me when we got past the police vans, but I just wanted to find my friends and go home. I checked my phone and had received a message at 12.39am from my friend who had been pulled out saying she was ok, and had not been arrested. I rang her at this point, and her telephone shows it was 12.54pm.
As we co-ordinated meeting up, a team of approximately 12 police were leaving the area, and getting in a police van. One of them was deliberately swaggering past us, and shouting “I get paid at the end of the month.” .”

Punched in the face

I decided to visit the climate change protest at Bishopsgate. Friends had set up a ‘parking’ area – an area of turf replacing regular parking spaces – located towards the southern end of the tented area. I arrived at around 6pm, and was planning to stay for the evening, although not overnight. I was enjoying the lively music and discussion of climate change related topics, when suddenly at around 7pm there was a bit of commotion from just further south along Bishopsgate. We stood up, as did everyone else, to see what the noise was all about, and saw a line of police (dressed in black with shields, helmets, balaclavas etc) spread across the road and advancing towards the ‘occupied’ area of Bishopsgate. On the left there were several yellow police further advanced than the black police. There were calls for people to move forward to form a blockade against the advancing police, as towards the edge of the occupied area there was not such a density of protesters. Hestitantly, we moved forward. I soon lost contact with my friends and brothers, and as I got closer to the blockage of people (who were being moved backwards, due to the advancing police line), sensed the intense emotion, fear and sense of resistance from the protesters. The protesters closest to the police had raised their hands in the air, and this action was copied by people further back, who all tried to stand rooted to the spot, to hold our ground and maintain our protest in defiance of the advancing police. The crowd, made up of young and old, loud and quiet, people of all ethnicities, started chanting ‘This is not a riot, This is not a riot…’. I found myself with someone pushing me from behind, and a small woman pressed into my chest by the line of police shields and shoving. We both stood there with our hands raised, and I felt a real sense of danger, as could see the police pushing, shoving and hitting out with their shields and free arms. I called out to the 2 policewomen directly infront of us ‘This is not a riot’, ‘This is a peaceful protest’ and begging ‘Please Please Please..’. I made eye contact with both of these policewomen, and managed to communicate to them that we were not going to endanger them, that we were peacefully protesting, and only had intentions to stand our ground. They both responded very reasonably, and were a lot less violent than the other officers in the police line. We stood for several minutes being pushed foward and back, side to side by the forces of the crowd and the police attempts to advance further. Our area of relative calm and understanding with the 2 policewoman was lost when we got shunted along the line of police by a change of pressure from the crowd/police. We ended up somewhere more in the middle of the road (we’d previously been slightly more to the right of the police line). Still with my hands above my head, I turned my head to look towards the police (as in the crowd I’d been slightly rotated), when all I was a black police glove moving very quickly towards my face. There had been a slight break in the line of police shields, and another officer, standing slightly behind the front line of officers punched me square on the upper lip as I turned my head towards him, still with my hands above my head. The force span me around, knocked my hat off (which I lost) and I stumbled out of the mass of protesters. I was totally shocked by the unprovoced assult, as now the only time I’ve been hit square in the face has been by a police officer in my own country. I think they are trained to punch in a particular way, as over the next few days, although I had a swollen upper lip and nose, and sore teeth, there was very little visible damage. I reported the incident to a legal observer, who took my contact details, but hasn’t been in touch. Unfortunately all I saw of the officer who hit me was a glimpse of his head and his gloved fist – no numbers etc. We then waited in Bishopsgate for several hours until the kettling had finished.

That is all.

“I’m going to break your fucking neck”

The climate camp was really peaceful all day. It was so relaxed that I spent a fair bit of the afternoon encouraging people to come along, including two of my younger sisters. Feedback I’ve had about the camp was that Bishopsgate office workers were really impressed with the camp, and were very glad to have us on their street. The police lined up at either end of the street, but let people come & go as they pleased. There were a line of them outside the climate exchange, and a line of police vans against that pavement. Pairs of police were wondering unchallenged through the site, and suffered nothing worse than the odd narky comment and unwelcome looks.

Aside from a few people who squared up to the cops on one occasion when they came running in with batons – who were quickly calmed down and pulled away by other members of the camp – I didn’t see any violence from the campers at all, unless you count graffiti and flat tyres on the police vans. About 7pm they changed tactics, stormed in the south end to cut off an alleyway, and kettled the camp. I didn’t witness this directly, but you can watch it online. At one point you can see a protester, facing away from the police with nowhere to go, pushed to the floor in a manner strikingly similar to how Ian Tomlinson was assaulted.

At around 10, or 11pm I ended up at the south end of the camp, where the policing had been most fierce. The atmosphere was markedly different from the north side. They had several lines of riot cops, and vehicles with loads of armour plating – we called them tanks, I’ve certainly never seen anything like them deployed before. At the time there was a soundsystem going around & it was being used for consensus decision making amongst the campers. The result of this discussion was that about half of the people in the camp wanted to go home to bed, and the other half were going to try and stay the full 24 hours. At the time the police were insisting that they would search, take the names and address, and photograph everyone who left. This intimidatory tactic clearly held up things up. If they had been more sensible, they could have ended up with a more manageable crowd in a smaller area – no harm done. As they could hear everything that was going on the soundsystem, I find it hard to believe they were too stupid to realise this was the case, rather I suspect they saw that there was some indecision and decided that they wished to use that to their advantage and force the situation to a confrontation.

As it was, despite all the problems with effective decision-making, we orchestrated a controlled retreat. By this point I was right up against the police line on the south end of the camp, right next to the walls of the office building – at the most south-westerly edge of the site. We were walking with our arms linked, being pushed by a line of police using their riot shields. They kept pushing us, but when we got as far as we’d agreed we sat down. Shortly afterwards they tried pulling people out of the line – they didn’t have batons, but they were punching people, and hitting them with their shields. One guy who was more exposed got hit a lot and was bleeding from the head. We hung onto him, and the line didn’t break.

As we were only 3 or 4 people deep they then decided to rush the line. This was clearly an operational decision, as they all did it together. We were sitting down, so we basically got trampled underfoot by them. I don’t know what happened to the woman who had been next to me, but I guess they dragged her away. It was all very chaotic – arms and legs everywhere, and lots of shouting. As there were loads of people in the way, this tactic didn’t really work for them – I got a police boot in my face, my friend got her glasses smashed, and a thin line of police got to the far side of us – but not enough to tackle our line which still held. But they were now between us and the rest of the camp.

This situation was static for quite a while, and fortunately nobody near us was badly hurt. I have a black eye and a fat lip, but was otherwise ok. I’m pleased to report that my reaction was to give all the police a proper dressing down. Nothing rude, or aggressive, just telling them exactly what they had done. “You were hitting that guy with your fists, that is completely over the line…..Think about what you are doing, you are supposed to be public servants and you are beating up civilians in the street” – that kind of thing. I also called over a legal observer, and had him film the policeman I could definitely identify as having used his fists.

Shortly after this, they began to pull us out one by one. Most of the police who had got inside the lines had left, and we’d also rearranged ourselves. This meant that I was basically on the corner, so I was the first to be grabbed, and I held on for as long as I could and then went completely limp. I was carried by two cops, and laid on the floor. They told me to get up & I said I’d rather lie there. They began to drag me, and another came and grabbed me by the hair, and yelled in my ear – “I’m going to break your fucking neck”. This hurt enough that I gave up on the limpness, and got up. I was then shoved against a wall by the hair grabber & his female colleague. Ironically, the whole time he was shouting “calm down, calm down” at me despite the fact that I was actually fully in control of myself and he clearly wasn’t.

He bent my arms behind my hands behind my back and put cuffs on, and pushed them so that they really hurt. The cuffs trap a nerve in your wrist or something, it is a bit like your funny bone being hit, only worse. My left hand still feels odd if I touch it, almost a week later. All through this time I was telling him that I was cooperating, coming quietly etc, and he didn’t need to be rough with me. When he put me against the wall he had been joined by a female colleague, and they walked me to the van – still doing the very painful thing to my arms. I was really being polite as well – “please stop doing that to my arms, it really hurts”, over and over. A protester outside the cordon was close with a camera and I called her over and asked her to photograph him because he’d pulled me by my hair and threatened me. His female colleague pushed the camera away quite violently. I asked him for his police number, and he refused to give it to me.

He was still really worked up. I had my rucksack on, and he was trying to get it off, fiddling with the straps. He kept saying he was going to cut it off, and I kept saying that was completely unnecessary. I told him to take the cuffs off, and I’d remove it. To reassure him, I said “I won’t hit you”, and he replied: “If you hit me I’ll kill you”. This impasse continued for a couple of minutes. It was stupid because I couldn’t even see the straps, he was manhandling me, and they don’t undo anyway. Eventually my calmness prevailed, he pulled everything out of my pockets and put me in the van, and shortly after they took the cuffs off and I got the rucksack off.

I assumed I was going to the station at this point. They told me I was arrested when I was cuffed, so I gave my name and address, but not my phone number. I asked to see the PACE code immediately, and the woman told me to shove off, or words to that effect. I politely pointed out that it was my right to request, that I wasn’t intending to annoy her, but I wanted to be able to read their codes. She said that I was a fool to think she carries them around with her – although I’ve seen other police keep them, or something similar, in a pocket.

Another protester was then loaded into the van, and they clearly wanted the space. After asking where I was going to go, and giving my blood curdling warnings about coming back (my instructions were basically to leave the van and keep walking), I was released.

From what what was said to me, the law they were using to justify this behaviour was ‘obstruction of they highway’. I imagine if we have any kind of response to how police were behaving on the day, it will attempt to portray this behaviour as excesses by some ‘bad apples’, or those under pressure. This is quite clearly not the case.

As I have already stated, the decision to try and literally run over a line of protesters who were sitting down and not harming anyone was an operational decision, as it was undertaken collectively by a line of trained police in unison. Furthermore, when I was remonstrating with the police, and identifying officers who had struck people their colleagues either did not respond, or stated that our continued presence after having been issued with a warning meant we had no grounds to complain. The universality of this attitude must reflect the way that they had been briefed on the day.

None of the officers I spoke to seem to have been aware that the climate camp had been peaceful, and good natured until we were kettled. I had an argument with a female officer who seemed to think that we deserved our rough treatment because we had prevented people from going to work, despite the fact that all the offices on Bishopsgate were inhabited during the day, albeit with security guards on the doors, and workers were wondering around the camp seemingly amused by the whole business.

Officers were clearly prepared for the day in such a way that the more violent amongst them thought us fair game, and their colleagues took the view that we had asked for it by blocking a road, and fraternal solidarity demanded they ignore any excesses amongst their number. This is a management issue – the police should have been briefed to be scrupulous in their behaviour, ensuring at the first instance that they diffused rather than inflamed situations, and to reign in any colleagues who let the pressure get to them. From their behaviour it is quite clear that their instructions had taken a different tone. From the contempt in the mayor’s newspaper column about the protests, and the way that those in command saw fit to kettle a non-violent and good natured protest, it’s quite clear that this attitude goes all the way up, and those in charge are directly responsible for the myriad assaults and illegal behaviour of the police on the day. Far from being an aberration, the attack on Ian Tomlinson was symptomatic of police behaviour on the day.

Unconscious girl kicked

I was at the protests yesterday and I was hoping for a peaceful protest. I am not the anarchists of Daily Mail lore – I am a Labour member and I read the Times (not to forget my subscription to this splendid paper). There was undoubtedly a minority who were bent on violence and I do not blame the police for acting to prevent this.

The problem came about two hours after the RBS windows were smashed when the police started to force people into a smaller and smaller area. I was standing at the end of Queen Victoria street after the police let people go down there to spread people out and let them out. I was standing there talking with a policeman, (who incidentally commented “I didn’t join the police to protect the bankers”) when suddenly 200-300 people came running down the street in a panic. A few minutes later, when I was sitting on the pavement, the hardcore riot police with balaclavas covering their faces came down the street with shields and batons drawn. They started pushing and attacking people – people who were the peaceful protestors seeking to avoid the problems up at RBS.

The girl next to me was hit over the head by a baton and was knocked unconscious immediately. Blood was streaming from her head and the police kicked her to get up and continued to do so until people dragged her away, again being attacked by policemen. The blood dripped from her head as she was taken away.

This was repeated throughout the day.

I went to the protests as a peaceful demonstrator. I acted – consistently – in a peaceful manner. Most of the police were friendly decent people who were as unhappy as we were – their superiors hadn’t even arranged water and sandwiches for them and they’d been on duty for 10+ hours. The problem was the strategy used and the sheer brutality demonstrated by the small number of concealed riot police.

‘I saw one cop break his shield on the guy next to me’

I was in and out of the Climate Camp all day, after escaping from the Bank of England trap by saying I needed medication and being let out by a police medic. The Climate Camp was completely peaceful, there was no bother, no aggression, just lots of people milling around in a kind of festival atmosphere I guess. I met up with some people I knew, one of them had bought some beers, so I drank a couple. We all left to find a toilet and I went of to get some more beer. When I got back, it must have been about 7-730 there was no longer a way in or out of the Climate Camp. The police had parked vans tightly together all accross Bishopsgate. I was on the north? side, towards Liverpool Street, on the Bishopsgate, Camomile street junction. For the next few hours the police gradually escalated their numbers and the level of readiness to kick off, without many protesters really seeming to notice. By about 10 there were quite a lot of them in full riot gear, with dogs, earlier there had only been a few and they weren t fully tooled up. They kept on marching batches of them through the protesters to join up with the other one by the vans, so me and a couple of others decided to link arms and just try and make it a bit more difficult for them to reinforce themselves. The started pushing us back which was fair enough, then one of them tried and very nearly succeeded in kicking me in the knackers, he was quite deliberately trying to do this, which is ungentlemanly conduct and frowned upon by all right thinking people. Somewhat annoyed I remonstrated with him a bit and was hit in the face with a riot shield, as I turned to my fellow protesters in shock he hit me in the face again, causing my nose to bleed. This was around 22-2230. After that they then got ready to push us back and things became slightly more tense. They started pushing us back usingg their shields as clubs. Some of us tried a sit down protest but after tolerating it for a minute the police just started laying into to people all round me who were sitting down with their shields with quite a lot of force. I saw one cop break his shield on the guy next to me. Some people behind me just dragged me back and to my feet and the police chased us down Bishopsgate a bit, we were clearly no match for a paramilitary force and so I decided that enough was enough and that seemed to be the general consensus of most other people. All I can say is that I ve been on a few demos that have turned nasty, but I ve never seen unprovoked police aggression on this scale before. It was totally over the top and a disgrace.