[Guest post] The Kettle: Resistance and Responsibility

by Dr. Yojo Queequeg

In 2009, after the kettling tactics and violence used by police on the day of the G20 protests in Central London, Duncan Campbell asked if this signalled the future of demonstrating in the UK: “Does this mean that anyone wanting to go on a demonstration in the future needs to be prepared to be detained for eight hours, photographed and identified?”

The events of the last few weeks have shown that the answer to Campbell’s question is an unequivocal affirmative. The movement of thousands has been halted, squeezed, pushed back and paralyzed. Not only this, but this movement has been quantified and criticised through public discourse; it has been claimed that certain minorities have gone too far, have pushed things to the extreme, and have provided a legitimate grievance with an illegitimate platform. These certain few have been held up as the justification of acts of state vengeance, in which young people are beaten as a result of demanding the right to their freedom of movement. There has been an unhappy tension propagated between the ‘heartening’ sight of so many thousands taking up the flag for higher education and the state of the nation, and the ‘disheartening’ revelations of acts of violence at the centre of these protests. “There are a few violent troublemakers who are ruining it for the rest of you” has echoed through and insinuated itself firmly into the public discourse of middle-Britain. The violence of this view is clear: it attempts to measure an appropriate level of anger for the unapologetic decimation of public services in the UK, to gather the fraying rope in order to tighten the knot around our necks.

The view above is diversionary; media engines sniff salaciously around students regurgitating this very line, producing the facile narrative of the solitary unhappy protestor condemning the broken windows, graffitied vans and black-eyed police officers. However, such a narrative obscures …

You can read the entire article here: The Kettle (1)

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Comments

  • Mr Tear  On 22/12/2010 at 11:17 pm

    Tea and biscuits are useful things to have if you’re expecting to find a kettle.

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    • john hutnyk  On 22/12/2010 at 11:24 pm

      Marc, I thought you were gonna offer cake. It’s all a bit Polly isn’t it – pathetic and uncomprehending cop mismanagement in a face off with a student population fed up enough to actually think things should be different… Get a wriggle on if you can, there’s something happening here and it needs a soundtrack… Perhaps the new ADF, did you see that? J.

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  • Dr. Yojo Queegueg  On 23/12/2010 at 11:23 am

    There was a tea and biscuit stall as well as a makeshift loo on Parliament Square on the 9th Dec – perhaps ADF could do a set on top of the cenotaph in the new year? Bring your own thermos.

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  • Mr Tear  On 24/12/2010 at 7:47 pm

    Hi John (and all), there’s a number of things happening here I think. I doubt what the police did on the day of the parliamentary vote was uncomprehending. Quite the opposite. Same with the ‘underpolicing’ of the Millbank protest. I think the first was a police attempt at protesting the cuts they face, then I think the way the parliament protest was policed, then reported in the media, will all be used to justify a u-turn on cuts to police budgets, even to justify an increase in the face of growing civil unrest and to contain those ‘violent minorities’ that we keep hearing so much about. It was completely inevitable that the police’s blocking of the well-publicised path of the student protesters would lead to disquiet and give the bobbies an excuse to start waving their sticks around. I think that kettling will be used again and again over the coming (5!!) years of Tory (Lib Dem never did mean much of anything – ideologically they were always closer to the conservatives than to labour, so again it felt inevitable that they would form a coalition) rule, so it’ll be good for people to develop strategies, possibly large groups staying for the long haul and keeping the police tied up in one area, leaving smaller groups of protesters free to roam!
    I wish I’d been there but unfortunately I’m incredibly busy with work – I’ve now been full-time for about 20 months of eye-opening work in Brighton’s badlands. Bunny Monroe was pretty much spot on.
    I’ve not heard the new ADF stuff yet, but I’ll try to check it out soon.
    Exciting times John, I hope you and your family (including your current students) are all doing well.
    X

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    • john hutnyk  On 24/12/2010 at 8:27 pm

      Hi Marc

      Lots to think of in here and in Yojo’s discussion things move along a bit along the lines you suggest. We had already much consideration of how the Policing of the event lines up with a media-staged lobby against their own cuts, where: “the police have an interest in making themselves seem useful. They have colluded with the press to find ‘front page’ sensation images, such as relatively insignificant anarchist actions, or the sacrificial offering of the Prince’s ride (the Royal vehicle) which was allowed onto streets in full knowledge that that was where militants were rampant. It can be assumed this was not merely a communications error, but rather a gamble that a dint in the rolls Royce would make a better cover story than the pictures of Santa Clause trying to break into the treasury (during, it must be said, a recession)” – see here.

      What I find amazing is that the fakers or The Labour Party, just as much as the Clegg/Cable rump, seem to think they might be able to carry on, via some sort of settlement and spin that will have us, in five years, thinking an election is something that matters more than, oh, say the Queens Christmas message, the Olympics or the visit of a Pope. Penny membership! – I bet few take the coin of cretinization this time round. Such things are trotted out to entertain us, on heavy rotation in these festive days, but can only distract temporarily because its so damn cold. The Winter Palace option beckons, but so does a summer push. Looking forward to the year.

      ‘ I just want one minute of your time’

      ‘I’m ready’ says Bunny obscurely, to no-one in particular.

      be well John

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  • Mr Tear  On 24/12/2010 at 9:28 pm

    Yes! A sorry state of affairs, and full of wonderful opportunity. It becomes clearer every day that “every politician’s platform is a scaffold” (Bob Black). A collective and organised (and festive of course) refusal of the sham voting process might be useful in coming years – how low does the turnout have to be before a party is embarassed to claim victory?

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