Friday, 10 December 2010

Another shocking eyewitness account of police violence

What follows is clumsily written, but my head still hurts like murder and I can't bring myself to think about it too clearly. I hope that it can stand for now as a preliminary report of my experience at the protest.

I was on the edge of a group of protesters in Parliament Square, standing peacefully. We weren't even moving. Suddenly, police on foot in full body armour (and wearing balaclavas so we couldn't recognise them) charged us with batons raised. I was pushed backwards into the people behind me in the initial charge but the crushed and scared crowd pushed back to stop everyone falling over. I saw several around me hit by batons and fall, screaming. I was then hit over the head by a baton, hard enough to knock me sideways, then hit again, I think by the same officer. My ears rang, everything went quiet and I couldn't hold my balance. My knees gave way and I fell over. An officer stepped forward and deliberately stamped his foot into my chest, winding me. Another officer rested his boot on my head. A huge man, a protester, who had stood next to me picked me up and held my bleeding head in front of the police (this I have heard from him as I was semi- or un-conscious). They did not hit him but did not move aside. He repeatedly screamed for a medic but the police pretended not to hear him although it was clear to look at me that I needed one. He held me in both arms and pushed at the police line with his shoulder. They pushed back once, but then let him through - but hit a man who tried to follow. Next to him, a police officer spontaneously collapsed, apparently feigning unconsciousness. As the officer was not on the front line, had had nothing thrown at him and was wearing full body armour including helmet with visor down, he could not have been injured. The only nearby medic immediately tended to this officer, who had apparently faked an injury. Both medics and police ignored me and my friend who shouted repeatedly for assistance. Giving up, he half walked half carried me to hospital. Once there he attempted to get police to take a statement from me but was told there were none available.I spent three hours in hospital, dizzy, bleeding from the head and being repeatedly sick. My speech was apparently slurred and I have poor memory of what happened for the rest of the day. I had been told to stay overnight but feeling scared and victimised from being hit I left and returned home. The man who'd saved me was named Adam but I never learnt his surname. He left once I'd assured him I was fine as he had friends still at the demo and was worried about them.

I could justify being violent as using subjective violence against sytemic violence. I could justify being violent as I saw the innocent being beaten to the ground around me. More than anything, I could justify ripping the armour from these heavily armed cowards, as to hit people so heavily protected could never be called violence.

But I didn't. I didn't lift a finger. I didn't push. I didn't even shout "fuck the police" as I should have. I didn't have the chance to. I was beaten to the ground, and stamped on when unconscious by brutal men who couldn't have cared if they'd killed me.

I later learned I was one of the luckier ones. I am thinking of Alfie today, and of others who might not have made the news. Thanks to everybody who has sent me messages of support - it's meant a lot. I can't describe how confused, frightened and victimised I felt, bleeding and vomiting in a hospital bed. I'm not ashamed to say I cried a few times.

I hear Bob Brecher has suggested the police were ordered to scare protesters into not coming back. I'm coming back. They have no idea how strong they've entrenched hatred in me, hatred for their actions, their facelessness, their carelessness, their inhumanity.

We're all coming back. For Alfie, for everyone who was hurt, and most of all for the countless wrecked lives that will never make the headlines - the poor, the disabled, the homeless, the students, everyone in the gunsights of this government. We're all coming back.

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