Kettled medic, convergence centre raid

I am a twenty year old activist who served as a medic at the Climate Camp in the City. My group headed in with the swoop. We had been expecting a lot of hassle and were pleasantly surprised when we were able to set up camp with minimal fuss. Some police tried to stop us putting up one of the tents, which seemed rather futile given another ten had already gone up around them, but my experience of these kinds of protests is that one or two policemen tend to get carried away with trying to stop a tiny bit of the protest and in the middle of the conflict don’t realise they’ve already lost.

There was little aggro throughout the day, at least after the snatch squads were done. People seem to be forgetting that we had several scuffles with the police in the first hour after they attempted to carry away several of the protesters at the edges, though I don’t know whether they ultimately succeeded or not. After that it was fine until the riot police showed up after the mainstream media had got bored and gone to film the Molotovs being thrown at the Bank of England. They started to form up at about 6, there was some anxiety, most protesters continued at usual. They charged us at about 7:30pm, causing numerous head wounds and winding up the crowd. A group of maybe 50-60 cops broke through the protesters, causing a variety of injuries, then continued to move down the right hand side of the street from the south side and then disappeared down the side gate they had been guarding all day. Why?

The crowd had been getting a bit rowdy by the time the police charged, but it had stayed peaceful and mostly organised. Then we got kettled. I still can’t work out why they wanted to kettle us, because it resulted in five totalled police vans which had been parked outside the side gate. They were vandalised and had their tires let down. The walls of the street which were previously covered on chalk were covered in spray paint. A thousand people trapped in a single street for four hours with six buckets to serve as toilets? The pavement ran with urine.

Inside the kettle, I and my fellow medics had no idea what was going on. We stayed by the medic tent and went up to the north and south ends whenever it looked like the police were moving in. We were there ’til 1am. Around 11:30pm, the police started letting people out in groups of 20, searching them all, around 12 they were demanding photographs, and a massive column of normally dressed police came through the north end and walked the entire length of the street to the side gate (we presume these were the arresting officers). Around 12:30am, they opened the north end to anyone who wanted to leave while the riot police at the south end moved in on the remaining crowd of 100 or so who had been sitting there for over three hours, and started to mass arrest them all, picking them up one by one and pulling them through the police lines, then moving in so the square got smaller and smaller. I didn’t know the end had been opened because the riot police had formed a little gauntlet down the north-west side. It looked like they had shut up both ends and were just going to arrest everyone else inside. I called my mother to tell her it looked like I was about to be arrested. She was mildly concerned. My medic buddy slowly turned to jelly next to me.

At 1am, we came to the conclusion that no-one was going to need any first aid and decided to try our luck down the south end. But even the cops had had enough, and ultimately we just walked out of the cordon with riot police lining our route out, calling out things like “See you tomorrow!” There was a search team at the end of the road, but we crossed over and ignored them. We walked to the Convergence space and I fell asleep about 1:30am. At 2am, we were woken up by a friend to tell us that the police were breaking in. Several of my friends jumped up and went to man the doors. I went back to sleep, figuring that if they came in, they came in, and me being near the doors when they did wasn’t going to have much effect beyond fatiguing me. At 2:15am, they came back to say the police were just banging on the doors and making a nuisance of themselves. I went back to sleep. At 5:30am, another excitable protester came in and shouted at the entire room that the police were raiding. 100 people jumped up and started preparing to leave. Another person came in and told us that it was yet another small squad of policemen banging on the doors, trying to frighten people and keep them awake. I went back to sleep. At 7:30am, I left the Convergence space and went home. Approximately five hours later the police raided the building for real and arrested everyone inside.

I consider myself extremely lucky. I was at Climate Camp until the very end and was not searched, questioned, arrested, or hurt. Had I not been a medic, this may not have been the case, as I felt obliged to stay back from the thick of it in order to treat any injuries. Both places I stayed were raided and everyone arrested shortly after I left them. I didn’t even have to use the streets to pee as I had visited a nearby pub approximately ten minutes before the kettle started. I have indeed been incredibly lucky – others have not. I hope the police are brought to book for all the abuses they perpetrated that day, and that the kind of political policing that led to the death of Ian Tomlinson will soon be outlawed. And I will be doing my best to make that happen.

Advertisements

One response to “Kettled medic, convergence centre raid

  1. I strongly suggest everyone writes complaints to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) about what they saw as a matter of urgency and cc’s to Jenny Jones, Green Party Member of the London Assembly and the Metropolitan Police Authority so that the police cannot reasonably claim that there haven’t been that many complaints about what happened…

    Jenny has been questioning the Met Commissioner regarding what happened:

    http://www.greenparty.org.uk/region/london/news/2009-04-03formal-letter-to-metropolitan-police-commissioner-sir-paul-stephenson.html

    I personally hope that with concerted action the police can be made to change policy with regard to policing of protests. This may be wishful thinking but I remain an eternal optimist (of the will, pessimism of the intellect).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s