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.

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