Last Saturday’ anti-EDL demonstration in Tower Hamlets successfully kept the fascists out of the borough – but at a heavy cost. The police used powers under the Public Order Act to mass arrest anti-fascist protesters, journalists and even legal observers.
David Renton’s Lives; Running blog has published the following commentary from an anti-fascist activist currently on bail (who has to remain anonymous for obvious legal reasons):
It’s crucial to recognise that these policing tactics, especially the Public Order Act, play to those effects of alienation. They are designed to make us forget the human side of arrests, and think instead about numbers. They are designed to be ‘lenient’ enough to prevent the successful drumming up of sympathy. Yet at the same time, they are bureaucratic, drawn-out and sufficiently stress-inducing to exhaust or scare off a layer of people from being active.
What Saturday apparently signals, alongside the Palace Gardens arrests earlier this year, is a return to the style of policing we saw around the student demonstrations. That is, the police using mass arrests to criminalise huge numbers of activists and delegitimise the movement. If that includes arresting legal observers and passers by, then so be it.