Police pepper spray #ukuncut protesters

Tagged as: bhs boots brutality cuts pepperspray police repression solidarity tax ukuncut vodaphone workers_struggles
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Published by group: GroupCuts Reporting

This afternoon after a series of fully peaceful actions in Oxford street the police have pepper sprayed ten people in the face - three have gone to hospital. UKuncut have issued a press release copied below.

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Pic: donnachadelong http://twitpic.com/3uvqie

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Pic: donnachadelong http://twitpic.com/3uvph0

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Pic: donnachadelong http://twitpic.com/3uvrjt

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Pic: aaronjohnpeters http://twitpic.com/3uvx0v

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Pic: aaronjohnpeters http://yfrog.com/h74b9hej

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Pic: aaronjohnpeters (officer CW2440) http://twitpic.com/3uvohi

Press Release: UK Uncut condemns political policing at peaceful protest


UK Uncut is issuing a statement condemning the use of pepper spray by police on a peaceful UK Uncut protest on Oxford Street this afternoon.

Before 15:00 outside Boots on Oxford Street a female activist tried to push a leaflet through the closed door of Boots explaining the details of Boots' tax avoidance to the staff.

A police officer then arrested the individual for "criminal damage". Around 20 people tried to help the female being arrested and 10 were subsequently pepper sprayed. Three people have been taken to hospital.

Anna Williams who saw the incident said "I condemn the violent behaviour of the police who have attacked a peaceful protest against tax avoidance, with three people being taken away in an ambulance."

she continued, "This is yet another example of political policing that is about protecting corporate interests and not those of ordinary people. We will not however be intimidated off the streets! We have a right to protest when the government are making unnecessary cuts that will hit the poorest in our society the hardest."

UKUNCUT 
Tel: 07591 992825 
www.ukuncut.org.uk 
Twitter: @ukuncut

ENDS

 

Additions

cop CW2440

Police officer CW2440 reported as one who used pepper spray

Photo of offender CW2440

Photo of offender CW2440 at the scene of his crime
http://twitpic.com/3uvohi

About that officer

I was there earlier before this incident, and this officer really stood out compared to the others. Most of the officers there were happy to engage in banter about the cuts and were pretty much putting on their smiley 'public relations' facilitation faces, in contrast this officer was looking pissed off from the start and was moving around with some sense of macho purpose, running across the street etc It was obvious if there was going to be any trouble it would come from him.

Great protest though, well done to all involved. I really admire the work you're doing to engage people on the streets in conversations about the cuts, and from what I saw earlier today it is working well.

CW2440 has previous

'One of the officers accused of spraying protesters, CW2440, has also been accused of trying to incite violence at UKUncut protests on 15 January 2011' - http://www.fitwatch.org.uk/

Why

Why wasn't this action schedueled to take place yesterday when there were hundreds of us roaming up and down oxford st?

re Why

er ukuncut is a pretty autonomous idea, and if i remember correctly lots of people protested at boots, topshop, vodaphone et al on oxford street throughout the day yesterday.

an idea for march 26th perhaps?

short vid clips + report

Arrest clip
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f580QNai6sU

Aftermath of cs spray
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ8Vq4jzBwE

UK Uncut – A Failure in Civil Policing.
by Dawn Foster
http://fforphilistine.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/uk-uncut-a-failure-in-civil-policing/

[I’ll skip detail on the beginning of the protest, assuming most readers will be conversant on UK Uncut and its aims, but can add more here if necessary]

UK Uncut protested today at Boots, who avoided a £87m tax bill last year by relocating their head offices to Switzerland. Protesters were today handing out leaflets, and occupying the store since the news of Boots’ tax-dodging comes at the same time as we hear of massive cuts (sorry, restructuring) to the NHS.

The protest was peaceful, and good-natured. Several shoppers joined the demonstration, and once we left the store to hand out leaflets on the street, passers-by were wishing us well and cheering us on. One woman marched up to the manager of Boots and asked “Is this true?” waving a leaflet in his face. He shrugged and told her, unfortunately, it was, but it wasn’t a decision he was involved in. I chatted to a Community Support Officer about his bike (it’s far superior to mine), and we spoke to the manager of Boots as well: there wasn’t any ill-will about.

Then, as I was stood next to the locked automatic doors, I noticed that a police officer was asking a woman to remove a number of leaflets she’d placed in the gap between the door. The woman asked why she was being asked to do so. The policewoman initially said “Littering” then claimed it was criminal damage. At this point the woman objected to being touched on the arm by the policewoman. A number of people started taking photos of the exchange, then she was arrested by two officers who led her towards a thoroughfare next to Boots.

A number of protesters followed to keep an eye on the situation, chanting “Shame On You”. At this point, one of the officers, CW2440, used CS gas on a number of protesters nearby. I decided to film from a distance, rather than follow, as can be seen in the footage below:

I saw at least 7 people who had been sprayed in the eyes including a journalist, with three men particularly badly affected. One protesters had contact lenses in, which reacted with the spray. If you’ve never been tear-gassed before, it’s horrific. You can’t see, you’re in extreme amounts of pain, and massively panicked by the fact that you have no clue where you are, or who is around you. I called an ambulance, who confirmed they’d be there as soon as possible. At this point, three police officers with slightly different uniforms arrived at the scene: Legal Observers later told me they were Diplomatic Police, and definitely had tasers, though may also have been armed. Boots staff were shocked by the scenes, and an optician and first aid team inside offered to help those injured. The ambulance arrived soon afterwards, and took the three worst affected inside, initially thinking they could treat them in the ambulance. After 15 minutes, they confirmed they’d be taking them to hospital. A police officer then started speaking to us, informing us of how to make a complaint, asked us if we had the contact details of those injured then told us the number of the officer who’d used CS gas. Another officer later came over to a legal observer I was talking to and confirmed that Officer CW2440 had been the one to use gas on the protesters. I’ve never seen police officers offer up this type of information before, though am happy to be corrected.

It was a hugely jarring thing to witness, and I wasn’t affected. The policing was initially calm, and hands-off then suddenly became massively over zealous. That CS gas was used on one of the busiest streets in London in response to people simply chanting is terrifying. I’ve often thought criticism of the police can be a little unproductive, but today has made me think otherwise.

coverage and help from shop staff

Three mainstream media reports, which includes the facts that staff from Boots came out to help the protesters after a police officer attacked them with CS spray (the demo had been good natured prior to this, inc laughing and joking with the staff), and also help from the next door cookie store. #Solidarity!

Two boots twitter accounts carried condemnation of the police attack on protesters, but the comments were soon deleted and the accounts closed.

Here's a screenshot before the @BootsMealDeal account was shut down:
http://twitpic.com/3uwqba/full

Press:

Police use CS spray on tax protesters
UK Uncut activists hospitalised after targeting Boots in Oxford Street as part of latest day of action
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jan/30/police-cs-spray-tax-protesters?CMP=twt_gu

CS Spray used on UK uncut protest
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-12318896

Police use CS gas on tax protesters
Police used CS spray on protesters at an anti-tax avoidance demo today after an activist was arrested while pushing leaflets into an outlet of Boots.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8291528/Police-use-CS-gas-on-tax-protesters.html

RE: Why

The ukuncut protests were scheduled for Sunday because Monday is the last day for tax returns. Presumably also so that activists could go to both...

CS spray footage on guardian website

Revealed: how police used CS spray at tax protest

Incident occurred at UK Uncut demonstration following a police warning that tactics may have to 'become more extreme'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jan/31/video-police-cs-spray-protesters?CMP=twt_fd
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2011/jan/31/police-use-cs-spray-on-protestors

UKuncut Featured on Newsnight

UKUncut on Newsnight (Part 1)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lh7D6TsxClk

THE BRUTALITY OF OFFICER CW2440

More photos of CW2440 dragging out a woman from Boots at the start of the protest: http://hellotenzin.posterous.com/the-brutality-of-officer-cw2440