Every generation was in evidence at the event in Trafalgar Square, individuals as well as groups including Anonymous; People's Unity; those fighting to survive on newly slashed disability benefits; mothers calling, imploring and pleading for the return of their children who are in the 'care' system; those hit by cruel cuts to benefits or additions to cost like the bedroom tax; lots of gorgeous faces I know from the tents at the steps of St Paul's during Occupythe London Stock Exchange; environmental activists, tax justice activists’ defenders of the NHS and those who, through social media like Facebook and Twitter... came to find their own way to share a desire for change to the way we are governed. We were not masses... but we were representative and numerous.
Everyone was there for a reason and each of us must have been questioning if we truly live in a democracy; as the female police officer stopped me and held me in place, it confirmed what I already surmised - THIS is NOT what democracy looks like. She had no cause and no right to stop me or anyone else on this perfectly peaceful walk from Trafalgar Square to Parliament and back; NO weapons, NO threats, NO militant groups- just people who can't get themselves heard in any other way.
Since 15 October 2011 I have been to quite a few events (demonstrations/protests etc don't really describe these gatherings)... and on EVERY one, it has been the same sense of 'them & us' with the London police. THEY come looking for trouble and end up ensuring it by their behaviour towards us.
Where is MY police protection? Why aren't THEY looking to facilitate my RIGHT to protest ...and ensuring aggressive behaviour is minimised by contributing to the atmosphere with co-operative, polite, respectful actions? I and those I had the honour to walk beside on 4th May 2013 in London... are NOT criminals and do NOT deserve to be treated as if we are.
Here is an insight into the lunacy of this common method of policing our democratic right to protest... I asked the police woman who was stopping my progress, why she was and she said: "you have to stay here" - I replied that I didn't want to and would like to carry on walking ...and then asked if there was a specific law or reason to stop me. She said she was stopping me under 'section 3' - I HAD to ask what this meant as she didn't say any more (must have assumed I was well-aquatinted with this sort of legal definition). She said it was because there was:
"...the possibility I might be going to commit a crime"
Let me just mention at this point that aside from being a five-foot grandma without a weapon... I was wearing a big pink sheet and a smile. There was no logic to her behaviour and her attitude was rude, dictatorial and aggressive - mine was polite, friendly and peaceable. Thankfully those of us there sort of propelled forward so that it wasn't just me breaking the police line that was attempting to kettle us ...more of a gentle yet sufficient surge.
The kettling attempts by the police kept happening over and over in the few hours from gathering and walking, to disbursing - YET there wasn't a single incident that called for kettling. My sister (also wearing a pink sheet and lovely smile) suggested to a young officer that it would make more sense to just let us get on as we would eventually finish walking, carrying signs, expressing our concerns and generally trying to make our demands of OUR democracy. He actually looked somewhat sympathetic for a moment. We understand that the police will be about at events ...but there was NO need at all, at ANY stage to kettle.