The increasingly grumpy argument regarding who is allowed to photograph and keep files on whom in this sceptred isle - and who is then allowed to see such files - took a new twist today. It emerged that a person featured on a police headshot gallery of "extremist" arms protesters is actually believed by many activists to have …
Allegedly it was a running joke that there were more agents for MI5 in the British Communist Party towards the end of it's life than genuine members.
So this really isn't much of a surprise really.
Mine's the trenchcoat with the marked copy of yesterdays Times in the pocket...
You may recall that Indymedia photographed Swiss plain clothed officers, that were at a protest. That photograph resulted in a major international server seizure from Switzerland to the US to the UK.
I think that there needs to be a re-assertion of basic privacy rights. Just being in a public place does not mean you have left your right of privacy at home. It applies to officers as well as individuals.
And as for the police lists of peaceful protesters, labelling them as extremist threats is a form of libel and should be treated as such.
Harrassment does not stop at 'sarky remarks'
Whatever you may think of the motivations and methods of protesters, a video on the Guardian web site is truly shocking. It shows Emily Apple and her female colleague being brutally jumped on, bound hand and foot and thrown in police cells for four days simply for photographing policemen who were committing the offence of not wearing any identification and refusing to give their numbers when politely asked.
BTW: The Mets Sir Paul Stephenson says that officers who fail to identify themselves should be sacked.
RIGHT OF PEACEFUL PROTEST
Maybe America will come and save us from our tyrannical oppressors. After all one of the reasons sited for invading Iraq and currently being trundled out in connection with Iran is...
'They deny their citizens the right of peaceful protest'
Well at least we still have the right to a fair trail... oh wait hasn't (The Unelected) Lord Mandy taken that away from us with 'Three Strikes'
Could I have an icon for 'The UK a country run by corporations for corporations'
Watch out for Spiny Norman
Don't belittle the effects of "sarky remarks"....
2nd Interviewer: Why didn't you call the police?
Vercotti: Well I had noticed that the lad with the thermonuclear device was the chief constable for the area. So a week later they called again and told me the cheque had bounced and said... I had to see... Doug.
2nd Interviewer: Doug?
Vercotti: Doug (takes a drink) Well, I was terrified. Everyone was terrified of Doug. I've seen grown men pull their own heads off rather than see Doug. Even Dinsdale was frightened of Doug.
2nd Interviewer: What did he do?
Vercotti: He used... sarcasm. He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and... satire. He was vicious.
Perhaps you should remember...
... that when Emily Apple and her friends in Fitwatch photograph police officers, they do not then go on to enter the officers details into a central database, nor do they use ANPR cameras to continually pull officer's vehicles or harrass the officers after the event.
They also don't label the officers as domestic extremists, or try to suppress the officers from expressing their views in what some of use used to think was a democracy.
Hmm, that's actually a good idea... there's enough tech floating about nowadays that you could set up ANPR for police vehicles, track TETRA radios (even if you can't hear what they say you can try to know where they are), check police officers for badges when they leave home base (meaning that someone further up the chain really should have noticed- no badges at a protest could potentially be a result of them being pulled off by an aggressive protester, but no badges before they're in the van to get to the protest should be a dismissal offence), etc.
You could even have a database of police officer numbers and the various breaches they're accused of- with evidence, of course. Host it out of the country and they'd not be able to tell you to cease and desist.
Maybe the UK arms industry should concentrate on small arms.
Nobody would be able to afford them.
They would never be delivered on time.
And they would never work properly.
A lot of armed conflict around the world would be ended before it even got started.
I quite liked Mark Thomas' book on the arms trade. The bit where he legitimately visited the DSEI arms fair, escourted by (IIRC) a senior UK army type, while at the same time being on the 'ones to look out for' mugshot list, is quite ammusing. The rozzers had no choice but to let him through.
"perhaps giving a clue as to why even the most deeply caring anti-armsbiz protesters usually prefer to focus on the arms industry of the West."
That made me laugh!
An excellent well-balanced article. Far too often I hear mostly-intelligent people moaning about the immorality of UK arms exports and the UK aerospace manufacturers, oblivious that a) the UK doesn't export the sort of weapons that despots use and b) the UK manufacturers can only supply who they're told to supply.
Military Industrial Complex
Read up on the 'Military Industrial Complex'.
War is a Racket, nothing less, nothing more.
RE: Perhaps you should remember...
"... that when Emily Apple and her friends in Fitwatch photograph police officers, they do not then go on to enter the officers details into a central database...." No, actually you have no idea where the info goes, or what is added to it, or even if it is shared with even less likeable groups like the animal liberation freakazoids. Of course, I'm not saying the lovely Ms Apple and co are anything other than noisy morons hyperventilating about rights when of course exercising the very rights they say they have been denied, and are not first-grade nutjobs like the ALF lot that think they have the right to petrolbomb scientists homes or dig up dead grannies just because ALF members chose to inflict the idiocy of vegetarianism on themselves. No, the fact that Ms Apple uses such phrases as "...."I am not an extremist.....I care deeply about an illegal and immoral [arms] trade....", which is excatly the quasi-religeous bleating we hear from the ALF nutters to justify their illegal actions.
Clue for Ms Apple and co - it's not an illegal arms trade, it is in fact strongly legislated and policed. And why is it immoral? Is it immoral to sell a weapon to someone to defend themselves, or do you simply advise the victims of the Third World to turn the other cheek whilst some machette-wielding thug is hacking their limbs off? And even if you want to debate either, how is your blatent attempt to intimidate and interfere with Police operations anything other than childish? Please just grow up and go do something useful.
Here we go again
What's up with the Bootnote argument? "Oh yeah, well it's way worse over in (insert territory with rampant corruption) and I don't see you going over there and making a fuss about that! Bet you'd like it less if over here we did to you what (insert draconian leadership) do to people like you over there!"
This argument doesn't wash. I can make a fuss about whatever I want, wherever I want, and ignore the slippery slope. Have you not thought that maybe these protesters are concerned with what is done by their own government in their own country, for perfectly valid reasons (such as that it's their own country and their own government). Must all dissenters be willing to protest in Russia and risk life and limb before they earn the right to protest here? Risible and dangerous. "It's worse elsewhere" is the pathetic final refuge of the ethically cornered. Epic fail, Reg, try again.
Closing comments seem a tad xenophobic! Having been to Russia several times recently I found the old bill there quite a lot nicer than our local lot.
Given that the UK government have prevented the police from investigating bribery by our arms industry I think we should put our own house in order first.
Finally, until the government stops using the police as a political tool and spying on us I can't see public confidence growing in them.
Painting with a very broad brush aren't we? A lot of people are vegetarian for all sorts of reasons. Please don't associate us all with the ALF loonies.
Other than that your dismissal of anti-arms-trade protestors as "noisy morons" just sounds like you're yet another wannabe-authoritarian: "sit down, shut up, obey the police, it's for your own good." You'd have been on the side of the cavalry at Peterloo.
"Please just grow up and go do something useful."
You mean like draw attention to how the Police in this country are infringing on people's civil liberties and human rights? You know, the ones that we fought a war to protect?
How *dare* they use the Police's own tactcs against them even though it's entirely legal for them to do so?
As for the rest of your Straw Man arguments, see the icon for details...
The arms trade isn't illegal. But coppers not wearing their numbers (purely and simply so that they can't be identified or reported for abuses of police power) is illegal. Taking pictures of that is a good thing because it means the police commit less crimes.
Was that too hard for you?
A good ending to that article
Drives home the point that protesting about the arms trade makes no difference whatsoever to the arming of conflicts abroad. These protestors conveniently forget that every single defence company in the EU is required to comply with the EU exports criteria plus whatever additional restrictions national govermments want to add. That is why you will find most conflict zones armed with Russian or Chinese weapons with a few Western weapons sneaked through by the really dubious arms dealers, probably based outside the EU.
Unfortunately, these protesters actually do harm to the whole regulation of defence exports because they are too incompetent (and unimaginative) to make the defence companies bankrupt which would meet their objectives. Instead they go after the government departments involved in regulating this industry thus giving the defence companies freedom to operate with less oversight. Not a clever tactic!
As for the police having their mugshots, it all comes down to what these people did. If all they did was turn up to protests and shout rather loudly then yes this is out of proportion and should be stopped. However, a few of these people like to do other things such as jump onto and block raillines, vandalise things and 'acquire' other things ("all in the name of redistributing wealth man!") and so the police should be keeping an eye out for them. I think their definition of 'domestic extremist' should be known and if necessary, challenged. Anyone on the mugshots not within that definition has a justified complaint...
RE: Perhaps you should remember...
"No, actually you have no idea where the info goes, or what is added to it, or even if it is shared with even less likeable groups like the animal liberation freakazoids."
Ah, I see: any protest is terrorism, any protester is a terrorist. Lining up for the job of Minister of the Interior, are you?
"Is it immoral to sell a weapon to someone to defend themselves, or do you simply advise the victims of the Third World to turn the other cheek whilst some machette-wielding thug is hacking their limbs off?"
Although various recent atrocities in the Third World (I doubt that you want to be reminded that it's politically correct to use the term "developing world" or even newer euphemisms) have been low-tech, the argument that permissive weapons proliferation is bad remains quite compelling. And whether an industry is "strongly legislated and policed" relies on what the legislation actually is: something which is not going to be some kind of perfect statement of morality. If the legislation says, for example, "sell land mines to any bloke in a military uniform and look the other way" just because it has for the last n years, it isn't inappropriate to bring that legislation to people's attention and to seek to improve it.
These people may be "childish" to you, but they're acting in a way that strengthens our democracy. How about heeding your own parting advice?
Its very interesting your article mentions this "domestic extremist" label, because until very recently I had never even hear of it. I won't go into all the details, but in short, it was about a good friend of a colleague who through a simple act of being in a group of people complaining in a normal way (the same way that most of us would complain), ended up being labeled as a "domestic extremist" simply because police were there at the protests and asked him his name. (He wasn't arrested, not even cautioned, the police just asked and wrote down everyones names).
Then some weeks later this guy was in his car with his family and they were pulled over by a police car and then all told to get out of the car and their car was basically strip searched. All because it turned out that on the police computer in the police car, their number plate had come up as a "domestic extremist" so the police stopped their car in response to this label.
The criteria for labeling someone a "domestic extremist" appears to be at the discretion of the police officer and as its not even an official legal punishment to be called a "domestic extremist" you can't get that label removed from the police computers once its on there. This label of "domestic extremist" is effectively an unofficial license to harass anyone deemed to be a protester, if the officer decides to be annoyed or bloody minded against anyone. This label effectively gives the police their own legal system to repeatedly punish and harass anyone labeled as wrong by any other police officer. All done through their computers. The law courts are not even involved. It effectively makes the police judge and jury and you are labeled on the spot by them!
Millions of innocent people in the UK can easily be classified as a "domestic extremist" by protesting *at all*. Its not even about peaceful protest, and it doesn't matter what you are protesting about. its about protesting at all and then an officer taking a dislike to you!. It doesn't matter that its a peaceful protest. If the police add your name to their computers, then other police weeks and months later will harass you once you are labeled for being a protester. I strongly suspect most of the comments on this forum today, if they were said by people standing in front of Parliament, then almost all of you could easily be labeled as a "domestic extremist". Also the bigger the group of people you are in, then the more likely you'll get that label.
From that moment on, you are marked out as a "domestic extremist" to be stopped and harassed at any time they choose. I bet that label would even stop you getting some jobs now, like for example in some parts of government. I wonder how long it'll be before you find it hard to get a bank loan if you are labeled as a "domestic extremist".
"Clue for Ms Apple and co - it's not an illegal arms trade, it is in fact strongly legislated and policed."
...and obviously no-one turns a blind eye because there's hardly any money to be made selling arms.
" And why is it immoral? Is it immoral to sell a weapon to someone to defend themselves, or do you simply advise the victims of the Third World to turn the other cheek whilst some machette-wielding thug is hacking their limbs off?"
Well, if you think you'll have enough time to bulldoze a runway, unpack the fighter jet, take off and shoot him from the air before he hacks your arm off then by all means give it a try. We don't sell handguns, just weapons that can be used to keep entire populations under control (missiles, fighters, warships, chemical weapons etc).
The reason that they are third world countries in the first place is often because more "advanced" countries are taking a HUGE slice of their GDP in exchange for arms. Obviously they need these arms to fight the insurgents that are also buying arms from more "advanced" countries but that doesn't mean anything illegal is happening, just something utterly morally bankrupt.
Re: Here we go again
"What's up with the Bootnote argument?"
Indeed. If people criticise the Chinese government, for example, you get a load of Communist Party astroturfers posting things like "Have you been to China?" and other impertinent nonsense, intimating that foreigners shouldn't criticise "domestic affairs". If people criticise their own government, you get a load of uptight Britards (in this case) whining about how it's not "eyes forward, sit up straight" from the ungrateful minions and how lazy/cowardly they must be, as a string of clichés about hippies and would-be revolutionaries is pulled out of someone's arse.
Back for more trolling i see?
What MI5 says about domestic extremism
I googled "domestic extremism", and top of the list came MI5's page, which says "Some extremist groups also have a subversive agenda, seeking to undermine parliamentary democracy or the British economy."
I think us commentards can tell them just who have been undermining parlimentary democracy and the British economy. (See Peter Oborne's "The triumph of the political class" for the horrible details of how parlimentary democracy has been replaced by "manipulative populism".)
Yawning @ the repsonses
"Painting with a very broad brush aren't we?...." And referring to an event from the dreadful economic depression of just after the Napoleaonic Wars is not? Please tell me the last time you saw the Metropolitan Police deploy mounted cavalry complete with sabres.
RE: Rich Bryant 1
"....But coppers not wearing their numbers (purely and simply so that they can't be identified or reported for abuses of police power) is illegal....." Really? Never heard of undercover? I'm sure serious criminals such as druglords will love your childish attempts to make it difficult for the Police to operate incognito. And how do you know the coppers were not displaying numbers "simply so that they can't be identified or reported for abuses of police power" - you sure it wasn't so they stood a better chance of catching any illegal activities being practiced by so-called "protest organisers"? You may recall that organisers of such events also carry responsibilities for the behaviour of their protestors, especially if they use inflamatory speech to incite the rabble to do such delightful activities as what the G20 protestors did at the RBS and HSBC buildings in Threadneedle Street. Gathering evidence of such "organising" allows the Police to stop such groups getting permission for future protest marches as well as locking up the mugs that commit the actual crimes.
RE: Graham Marsden
"....You know, the ones that we fought a war to protect?...." I'm quite comfortable in guessing you've never fought any war anywhere. Oh, do you mean WW2, during which a pair of my relatives were decorated? Believe me, both of them were from working backgrounds and both would tell you exactly where you could shove your video cameras, in no uncertain terms.
"Ah, I see: any protest is terrorism, any protester is a terrorist...." Of course not, just like I shouldn't take your opening comment to reach the conclusion that you must be a complete tool. I had to read through to the end of your post to really cement that suspicion. But, should the pics of Police be distributed to those that subsequently use them to avoid arrest or to help them commit a crime, then the suppliers of the pics would have a legal case to answer to, even if it was just obstruction rather than the more serious interference in a Police investigation or aiding and abetting.
"....If the legislation says, for example, "sell land mines to any bloke in a military uniform and look the other way" just because it has for the last n years, it isn't inappropriate to bring that legislation to people's attention and to seek to improve it...." Which just highlights your own lack of knowledge. Against military advice, the UK signed up for the landmine ban. You need to keep more up-to-date with your trendy protest topics, or are you too busy quaffing frapachinos and discussing existentialism? You may have noticed that ban hasn't had an iota of effect on the Taleban or the "insurgents" in Iraq, whose illegal landmines and IEDs actually kill far more locals than they do US or UK troops, but does stop those same troops using mines to legally defend their bases. But I'm sure it bought Blair and Brown a few more votes from the naive, such as yourself.
"....These people may be "childish" to you, but they're acting in a way that strengthens our democracy....." Democracy is essentially a big fudge, where the majority gets the say, or the largest minorities strike a balance. Protests like these are from the tiniest of minorities, and because they cannot garner enough support to make the democratic system work for them. They won't get far becasue the majority simply don't believe them or support them. Just wait for your next local or national election and look for the numbers of these twits losing their deposits as protest candidates. The only thing they strengthen is the Police's argument for more funds, and other countries' arguments for hosting business offices elsewhere.
RE: Another AC (what, you think the Thought Police can't track your IPs?)
"....Well, if you think you'll have enough time to bulldoze a runway, unpack the fighter jet, take off and shoot him from the air before he hacks your arm off then by all means give it a try. We don't sell handguns, just weapons that can be used to keep entire populations under control (missiles, fighters, warships, chemical weapons etc)....." Actually, until Blair and co went all kneejerk and killed the UK firearms industry, we actually had a quite reasonable one. At one point, we even owned Heckler & Koch, which put us back in the premier league of firearms producers. Of course, our illustrious leaders sacrficed that profitable and legal business for a few votes and sold H&K back to the Germans, where it has carried on making a profit. But we still do sell arms to Third World countries, mainly old Army weapons such as SLRs, which get shipped to places like Sierra Leone. I'm told we also rather cheekily sold on a lot of what we captured from the Argies at the end of the Falklands War. After Britain started the mass cut backs triggered by the end of the Cold War it has become one of the largest shippers of second-hand kit (including handguns, rilfes, submachineguns, machineguns, mortars... need I go on?), which I hope really upsets you and your kind.
"....The reason that they are third world countries in the first place is often because more "advanced" countries are taking a HUGE slice of their GDP in exchange for arms....." Oh for Lawd's sake, haven't you guys moved on from the "it's all the nasty white man's fault" nonargument? Yes, don't tell me, we forced them to buy weapons from us, and we forced them into tribal wars and revolutions because we're just such bitter imperialists. Rubbish! The truth is companies that do business in places like Africa do so most profitably in times of peace. Just look at Sierra Leone - international companies paid for mercenaries to put an end to the fighting so they could get on with the business of making money, which they couldn't do with the RUF running wild. When international "do-gooders" protested to the UN and managed to get the payments to the mercenraies stopped, the RUF came back and the country was knee-deep in it again and the businesses packed up and left. Sierra Leone is a case where big "white" business wanted to end the fighting, not supply it, and it was the do-gooders that ended up perpetuating more war and suffering, to the delight of the largely African arms suppliers involved. Oh, didn't you know the vast majority of weapons supplied into Sierra Leone came from black arms dealers in neighbouring Liberia and Guinea, and near-bye Nigeria? Another big surprise - not!
But let's really upset you lot. All the London Police forces have done their sums and said they can't supply the manpower required for the security plans for the 2012 Olympics. To fill the gap, they will use private security companies, and they will supply - amongst other services - "intelligence gathering teams" that will do the similar work to that of the Police FIT units. Just to really upset you, companies bidding for the work include those that previously worked in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even an offshoot of the mercenary outfit that was involved in Sierra Leone. Is that the sound of libtard heads exploding? Don't forget to use that democratic process to air your dismay at your Government's plans to protect you. Enjoy!
Old Soviet saying: "When four men sit down to plot revolution, three are police spies and the fourth is a fool."
Why is it that self-styled activists declare that whatever they are activisiing against is illegal? I guess it makes them feel rightious. However, accusing someone of acting illegally when the accusation is wrong must be close to defamatory - what is and is not legal is clearcut in many cases and definitely so in this one.
RE: Yawning @ the repsonses...
...and ignoring the substance in favour of nitpicking the rhetorical flourish.
Matt Bryant misses the point.
On the matter of Police Numbers, Matt Bryant misses the point by a mile.
The number is part of the uniform. It's not just to give us a chance of identifying a Police Officer, it can be, and has been, used by the Police to speed the processing of arrests at large demonstrations. Twenty years ago, it was a polaroid photo of the arrested person and the arresting officer, stapled to the form, and showing the arresting officer's number. There were a few other details, but that picture, showing the number, held the key data.
I don't know what the current procedures are. Maybe they'll start using RFID? And modern combinations of uniform and equipment seem to make the number less obvious in the visual clutter.
Anyway, when they're actually policing a protest, they're wearing uniform. They're wearing stab-resistant vests, and all the other kit. If you're undercover, your biggest risk is of being arrested. If you're not undercover, it's obvious you're a cop, and you should have a visible number.
Protesting in Britain?
I imagine they are protesting against British arms firms because they are, well, based in Britain. I expect they also vote for british MPs and read british newspapers, perhaps that warrants a bootnote too.
As for the UK selling only "good" arms (fascinating concept that), BAe's Hawk Trainer was used to bloody effect in East Timor by at least one despot. While I appreciate you're unlikely to quash a democratic uprising with a frigate, it would be a tad premature to exonerate british arms manufacturers just yet.
Re: Yawning @ the repsonses
The "repsonses", indeed.
"Never heard of undercover?"
There's a difference between "undercover" and being dressed in a police uniform, exercising force against members of the public, enjoying the implicit privilege that the uniform gives to do exactly that (typically where other members of the public don't get to weigh in and stop everything), and then resisting being called to account for doing so because you refuse to identify yourself.
"Of course not, just like I shouldn't take your opening comment to reach the conclusion that you must be a complete tool."
How quickly your feeble argumentation descends into name-calling! Bad people taking pictures of our boys in blue - how awful! Almost as awful as the boys in blue stalking people without any more justification than "they might be troublemakers", where "troublemaker" means someone with a dissenting opinion these days. Why not continue your idiotic little rant by claiming that those nasty tourists taking pictures of coppers and palace guards are all "bad people", too? "That's right, Johnny Foreigner, no more pictures of London buses and Welsh Guards for you - buy the postcard! In fact, stay at home - you'll enjoy it more!"
"You need to keep more up-to-date with your trendy protest topics, or are you too busy quaffing frapachinos and discussing existentialism?"
Ah, more of the same posturing with little substance. Note well that I merely provided an example of legislation that was once considered adequate and is still probably considered adequate in various places, despite your irrelevant rant about how futile a landmine ban must be while ignoring exactly those countries, including the US, who still resist such a ban.
That you go on to suggest that I voted for Brown and Blair just goes to show how indoctrinated you are: that anyone who isn't for a "strong Britain" is so easily impressed by "soft policy" that they just have to vote for the other team. (As a Britard, you only believe in two teams, evidenced by your little rant about people losing their deposits.) In fact, a cursory examination of Labour's political supporters would give anyone supporting the causes you deride a catalogue of reservations about voting for them.
But once again, Matt Bryant gets the broad brush out and starts painting: name-calling and red herrings being just two of the powertools in his rhetorical arsenal. From the man who puts Texas and California next to each other on his map of the US, we get some kind of corporatist apology:
"The only thing they strengthen is the Police's argument for more funds, and other countries' arguments for hosting business offices elsewhere."
That would be neighbouring countries, right? Like Britain's "neighbours" Switzerland and Mongolia? Justification of the status quo and the two-party (one choice) system, deference to corporate interests, a tendency to say what a hard world it is (no shit, Holmes!) with "brace yourself for the war on everything" as the only commentary: all the hallmarks of the template Britard, I'd say.
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