Freedom to Protest?

Something about protests makes me want to drink. I went to a march and demonstration yesterday about the freedom to protest and erosion of civil liberties. This is something that left unchecked will eventually affect all of us, so why do so few people care? The encroaching authoritarianism of Britain goes largely unnoticed. Oppressive laws are so accepted that people often think things are illegal even when they’re not, like squatting and hitch-hiking. People talk about “criminals” as though they are this certain breed of people, not like “us”, who need locking up.

Two people at the protest got arrested, one for indecent exposure (mooning a cop), pretty silly maybe but does he deserve to go on the sex offenders register for it? I’m pretty well behaved at stuff like this. I tend to do mostly what the police say, but I do feel like a coward a lot of the time. Blindly obeying authority is what’s getting us into this mess.

At Climate Camp last year people were getting arrested for really trivial stuff, like walking on the road, carrying a bicycle repair kit which contained super-glue and for refusing to give police their details. You don’t have to give police your details unless there are very specific conditions, like if you’re arrested. He was released straight afterwards. Police were also taking people’s phones and writing down the numbers. Crossing the field behind the camp on mass we were confronted by a hoard of riot police, some on horse-back. Several people were injured. Many of the police had removed their identifying numbers, masked up with balaclavas and were just swinging their batons at the crowd. Mango is currently suing the police for sexual assault after one of them put his finger in his anus through his clothes during a stop and search. Why was he stopped and searched? He was changing his shoes.

It may be true that we’re not living in a completely authoritarian dictatorship, but this is not the free, democratic society that a lot of people think it is.

After the protest I wanted a drink. First time this month I’ve been tempted but I’m sorry to report that I caved in. I didn’t just fall off the wagon though, it was more like a swan-dive. My body is currently wreaking revenge.

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