The protests on Saturday 26th March in central London, against the coalition government spending cuts, amassed approximately half a million people, and was a beautiful display of solidarity and community, as people from all walks of life joined together for a common cause. There were moments of true inspiration, particularly when on the march, there in front of me, was a man who could not have been any younger than 75, marching relentlessly whilst beating on his drum.
The protests were due to the severe cuts that Con-Dem government is currently making, that will heavily affect the most vulnerable in society, whilst claiming that there is no alternative, when companies large multinational companies, like Vodaphone and Barclays, have evaded paying the correct amount of tax, which could have made significant difference.
The protest was largely peaceful, apart from a minority of protesters, but what is interesting is the media portrayal of the affair as if it was absolute violence and mob co-ordination, it is not surprising that the media presents a limited point of view, however, the whole story must be told. There is no mention of the police's incompetence and inability to control the situation, and their actions, which was at large, a display of controlled mob tactics. Considering the majority of protesters were unarmed civilians, the police's heavy handedness left a lot of people injured and wounded from police batons and kettling, which only increased the hostility, as it is very dehumanising, confining people into an area as if they are battery chickens. After being on the receiving end of much the police brutality, we (msyelf and good friend of mine who is also called JJ! Shout out to you, we got it done) decided to spark an 'intellectual revolution' talk to much of the police officers, who are people, with emotions just like ourselves, and it was quite a touching moment. Some of the police officers found the whole situation emotional and was trying to hold back the flood of tears that streamed underneath their protective headgear. I think it's necessary to mention, that the police service is also facing significant pay cuts and freezes in this whole crisis.
The first police officer we spoke to was virtually non responsive, and when asked what his thoughts were about the governments cuts, his automated robotic response was 'I am not allowed to have an opinion on the matter'. Is this right? considering we live in a free world, in which we should be allowed to exercise our freedoms, with freedom of thought being on of them. I'll leave that for you to decide. Another officer that we spoke to, and this was the poignant story of them all, was quite a young man, we spoke briefly, I asked him if he had read George Orwell's 1984 or if he had seen Zeitgeist, and he said that he had read and seen them. Then I asked him if he thought this situation was fair? He replied 'I can't really say', however, at this point, you could see the tears almost begin to well up in his eyes, his throat began to croak from the overwhelming emotion, an image that mere words could not capture but could only really be felt by the heart. It was beautifully tragic.
Many other officers we spoke to, who will remain anonymous but I'll remember them, agreed with the protests and largely condemned the budget cuts, one of the officers saying 'this has to be done, it's the only way to get the government to listen', and 'do what you will', however, with the superimposing figures of their sergeants behind them, they couldn't say much without risking losing their jobs. This was a classic display that the police are just ordinary people like the rest of us, however, it is potrayed as if it is protesters vs. police, when clearly everybody is in this together. In the end, we all have to go home, wherever it may be, justify our existence to ourselves and find a way to sleep at night. Some will find that harder than others, actions will catch up with you in the end. This may just be the tip of the iceberg.