29 Mar 2011

(The Guardian Claims) Police Brutality Towards UK Uncut

Most people find it hard to understand why I am cyanical over the latest footage from The Guardian about the protests on Saturday 26th March.

Further to my blog post being published on The New Current, a lot of people have critcised me for not automatically backing the protestors, and for, quite outrageously in their opinion, not criticising the police.

The Guardian has provided a really stunning video, with an article steeped in perjorative language about Police Actions towards UK Uncut.

My immediate response is that the video is very carefully edited. Clips cut and pasted together. I counted eleven separate pieces of footage.

Other people, predominately on Twitter, which is my main debating channel, have stated that Police Officers are saying that the people will not be arrested, and that they are told they will not be kettled, and then they are kettled.

However, word geek that I am, I studied the language used very carefully. It should be observed that the police officer states in the initial footage that she doesnt beleive that they will be contained, but it is not "an absolute definite".

Let's turn this on it's head, shall we?

If you take police officers, who have watched colleagues be set on fire outside, had amonia filled lightbulbs thrown at them and seen from the footage, the violent people outside break into Fortnum and Mason and apparently join the sit-in, they will feel the need to identify all persons to take the aggressive protestors into custody.

UK Uncut claim they had a peaceful demonstration (although how it could be peaceful with bagpipes is beyond me!). However, it is clear from the footage outside the store that members of nefarious balaclava clad gang entered the store and potentially joined in with the UK Uncut group.

When you then see the protestors marching and chanting, note the amount of people in all black, ominous outfits with their faces covered. The police would have noticed this too, and considered processing of all people to be of necessity of public safety.

Take into account also the haste and energy within the march, within the officers hard at work and the pressure from media, politics and other groups, the only practical way to identify the main perpetraitors of violence, criminal damage and offences against the person is to process everyone there.

The Actual Video Footage

There is, quite clearly, parts of the video that have been edited. The video is carefully edited to place the burden of responsibility of bad behaviour on members of the Police and present UK Uncut as the parragons of virtue they claim to be.

The subtle lawyer language used by the officer, nuanced deliberately, is enough to say that this officer is not incharge of what will happen outside and she states she cannot guarantee safe passage, per se.

The language is crafted as such, that you cannot deduce from her statements what the intended outcome of UK Uncut protestors leaving the store will be. Consdier that Police understand a Kettle to be a "safe place" contained with which to defuse violence, the colloquial and actual definitions blur significantly.

Now consider that every fade out to black is a change in footage. What cannot be determined, therefore, is the actions of protestors through out these "black outs" Arguably this could be because the video is long and tedious and full of students reciting some appauling march theme, which wouldnt really engage with the Guardian Audience.

However, by not providing full, solid, unedited footage, it is impossible to draw guilty and innocent verdicts on the scenes shown. It is impossible to test the validity or credibility of the footage given, even the boy accusing police of brutatlity when he is "a legal observer" and "was doing nothing".

We only see a "kettle" at the end of the video, in the last 12 seconds. The missing links may show unfair treatment, but they may as equally show criminal behaviour by protestors.

Prior to this, we see Protestors marching, shouting, clinging to each other and their face masks, while Police stand back and let them walk through. This is not, in any interprestation, a "Kettle".

Finally, we see evidence of kettling, with opportunistic protestors carrying thousands of pounds worth of camera equipment (sorry, more cuts did you say?!) to photograoh apparent brutality, as enthusiastic voices yell over the footage.

However, what we do not see is the footage between the little march and the kettle.
The ranting could have escalated to antagonistic proportions, but we will never know as the footage was edited.

I am not in the habit of jumping on The Guardian Bandwagons when presented with such flimsy evidence. But I question the presentation of a story where the facts are so conviniently arranged in black and white for all to leap on the defensive to protect those who protest (even when they break the law).

By doing so, of course, The Guardian is stirring up the potential for more money to be wasted on several years worth of inquries from which there will be no conclusion.

I would remind readers not to be so quick to judge, unless the full facts are presented. Without editing.


  1. While accusing the Guardian video of 'making it up', you jump to some very steep conclusions.

    Firstly, the video itself was filmed by an independent legal observer, and someone I know. The whole event would have been filmed, making the edited footage necessary to skip through the boring bits, like UK Uncut activists reading, knitting and tidying up the shop. Further to this, tweets from police and protesters at the time of the protests back up the officer's position that the activists were being held until the crowd outside calmed down, and then would be free to go.

    Secondly, I was outside F&M at the time of the sit-in, and I can confirm that the crowd outside were not setting anyone on fire, smashing windows or doing anything other than supporting those inside. Behind us was the main march route, and a heavy stream of people on the 'official' march cheered as they passed the occupation. Unions, Black Bloc, passers-by; everyone supported the action.

    Let's not forget that as Ben Goldacre mentions here:


    Only 11 people were arrested for events not connected to the F&M occupation. 11 people out of half a million. That image hardly matches up with the violent masses of Anarchists painted by the media. The thing is, if you follow those 11 people, all dressed the same, and film them break three windows each, it looks much worse - or better, if you work for ITN. The same ITN who, in footage released today (unedited and through the Guardian), filmed the fatal blow PC Harwood delivered to the back of Ian Tomlinson, commented "I hope they do that again when we go live".

    You can write a very strong, persuasive argument on your blog, but that all falls to pieces when you make assumptions based on things you infer from the news.

    Also, for a self-professed 'word geek', you're not much of a sub-editor. "This is not, in any interprestation, a "Kettle"." and " to photograoh apparent brutality", you could almost be a Guardian writer!

    -Reid Dudley-Peirson.

  2. Thank you for your comments Reid.
    Firstly, I state in my piece that the video may well be edited due to length and appeal to audience, but that in doing so, the validity of the evidence presented is circumpect.

    Nor do I consider "tweets" to be valid evidence of brutality, especially as the police officer states she cannot guarantee free passage.

    As for you sitting outside, I was watching the live footage on BBC News and can confirm that unedited footage of the balcony outside F&M showed protestors breaking windows, violence, lightbulbs and fireworks being thrown and one police officer catching fire from these actions. This was helicopter footage providing an overview of the store, which also identified significant amounts of people, police cordon lines and press. I would therefore think that you could not have seen everything that was occuring, nor seek to rely on your opinion alone over continuous feed from other sources.

    All Ben Goldacre identifies is that not all violent protestors were arrested and charged. Through watching the event live on BBC, there were clearly a separation from the main march of 100-150 protestors in black with Anarchy flags and face coverings, the majority of which are balaclavas. Without referring to the photos the papers present (which I agree senstaionalise the protests), watching it it was clear that this gang were carrying a range of objects used to commit violence and criminal damage.

    My affront in this piece is in response to people taking the Guardian article as written, I wanted to present a different perspective and apply an element of evidence and fact gathering to the exercise.

    Lastly, a Kettle is defined by cordon lines of police - in the video the Guardian has, it is clear when the protestors inside F&M exit, there is no cordon line, but simply police officers standing back from the chanting people.

    Rightly or wrongly, it is considered a place to contain protestors to prevent further violence and/or stop people breaking off and escaping.

    As I state, "police consider". This is not justifying the act nor the definition.

    I may come back and expand upon this later.

    Kettling is


Hi, thanks for commenting. I moderate all comments before publishing, hence your comment will not appear immediately! But I will get to it sooner or later!