As many of you will be aware there are now many student protests which have happened or are planned to happen in Europe. In the UK at least, the police have started to use ‘forceful’ tactics to restrict free and legal protest.
‘Kettling’ has been very apparent in the latest protest in London, and there have been many reports of mounted police charging protesters and even letting off toxic fire extinguishers in protesters faces, if true, clearly more a crowd control use than a genuine attempt to put out fires.
So how can protesters exercise their rights without being falsely imprisoned and potentially abused by the police? Below are a few rough guidelines:
- Organize exact locations for protests privately. This is important, facebook events are not (usually) private, set them up and use them to motivate and encourage people to take part, but do not expose march routes or protest points publicly. At most state meeting locations, but try to have many and bring people together ‘on the ground’ or transmit the details of locations privately and only to people you *know* and get the message passed around away from prying eyes. If you can read it online, chances are so can the police.
- Many decentralized demonstrations. Have lots of demos at diverse locations, basically, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Perhaps organize for each of the separate demos to converge late on in the protest, but it is more difficult to kettle lots of protests when they do not know how big each one is.
- Meet in places difficult to kettle. Lots of public exits, open ground, major highways which the police would be loath to block. and make sure you do not publish where you plan to march from there, so that a good location for detaining you cannot be found.
- Breaking kettles. its not easy, but it can be done, though some people will most likely get hurt so it is advisable to use the above tips to avoid kettleing in the first place. So how do you break a kettle? the same way it is formed. Either get another group (you did split into smaller protests right?) to converge on your location *behind* the weakest police line – give the police free room to leave, but only in ones and twos 😉 Failing this, if you do not have a second group, or if they are not large enough to surround the police you must ‘break’ the kettle, form lines facing the police, link arms, in as many rows as you can and ‘surge’ forward – the front row here are likely to be hurt, they *will* batter you, try not to use your arms to defend yourself though, the linking arms gives you strength, makes you harder to break, plus the photos of police bludgeoning undefended people will never hurt your cause.
- Don’t smash up tethered goats like the police van! but you all know this already right?
- Throwing things at the police will not break their lines, you’ll just lose valuable firewood for if they keep you kettled on cold nights.
- Sit in’s make a good statement, but choose your targets wisely, you want to cause the most ‘fuss’ with the least amount of endangerment. Busy road junctions are good, tourist attractions are pretty high profile too. Political offices can be good, but breaking in will lose you credibility with some. Basically cause disruption, without physically hurting people.