gaza demo 7th january: police run riot after zionist counter-protest

8 01 2009

report by Taimour Lay

Demonstrations outside the Israeli embassy in Kensington on Wednesday night ended in baton charges on pro-Palestinian protesters and at least ten arrests. A counter-demonstration organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jewish Leadership Council and UK Zionist Federation attracted 300-400 people, but the arrests were ultimately sparked by police tactics at the end of the evening rather than the conduct of the opposing sides during the protest.

7th-jan1

The police chose not to force pro-Palestinian demonstrators – who had been gathering since 5pm for the daily demonstration – away from their pen as the Zionists arrived shortly after 7pm, instead setting up a second pen opposite the embassy nearer Gloucester Road, with three police vans and 40-50 officers to keep the two sides apart in contained areas.

But as the night wore on riot police were used to end the anti-war demonstration by force. One policeman said a strategic decision had been made to ”clear the area”, including Kensington High Street and surrounding roads, to prevent ”Israeli and Palestinians from kicking each other”. In reality, it meant that the peaceful pro-Palestinian demonstrators, who still numbered around 200 by 9pm, and who remained determined not to depart before the close of the opposition demonstration, were pushed, harried and chased out of the pen.

From 8.30pm police at the back of the pro-Palestinian demonstration blocked off access to the pen claiming that the protest was over. New arrivals were told to head back towards High Street Kensington station. Half-an-hour later, the first arrests were made in a side street at the western end of the pen in which protestors had been contained most of the evening, as police began to force people west down the high street and away from the embassy.

At 9pm we saw two young men arbitrarily plucked from the departing crowd and arrested. One was restrained on the ground by up to six policemen, despite not resisting arrest and having been complying with their demands to leave. Protesters seeking to help the men were slammed up against shop windows and threatened with batons. The police response sparked renewed actions by the crowd who blocked both sides of Kensington High Street, and around 50 people then attempted a sit-down occupation (see photo below).

7thjan2

The protest was eventually moved down the street at a slow pace. At around 9:30pm 50 police suddenly began baton charges down the middle of the road. The move led to chaos as protesters, including women and children, attempted to dodge the batons. The charge was also used as an opportunity to target a prominent AWL activist, Robin S., who as of 2:30am on Thursday was still being held by police after being arrested. He was walking away from the demonstration at the time of his detention by riot police. It was also confirmed that six other protesters were being booked at the police charge centre on Edgware Road by 10pm.

Numbers on the anti-war side had been slightly up on the previous daily protests, approaching several hundred by 7pm. The protest attracted considerably more than usual news media and television cameras in anticipation of potential clashes with the counter-demonstration, but the protest remained calm and controlled throughout, if louder and livelier than previous nights.

There were no arrests made until the police decision to end the demonstration. The front section, facing east towards the police and Zionists further up the road, was dominated by Islamist activists and young Muslims but the crowd was evenly mixed with other activists and most chants focused on the occupation and Israeli state terrorism. A distance of 50-100 ft was maintained between the two protests at all times but there were sporadically successful attempts made by anti-war activists to leave the police pen and protest further east down the embassy side of the road and directly opposite the Zionists.

Anti-war demonstrations outside the embassy continue evenings all week from 5pm.

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6 responses

9 01 2009
David Broder

Robin was released in the early afternoon on Thursday 8th

12 01 2009
Ian Sternberg

David – why do insist on calling the Pro-Israel Demonstators ” Zionists ” ? – You would be just as accurate if You said that it was a Demonstration called r by The Jewish Community .

As I reported in ” Harry’s Place ” , I was in The Pro-Palestinian pen collecting leaflets when the first Israel demonstrators turned up & I saw at first hand the aggression & hatred that is widespread amongst the Islamists .
( Police searches found Knives & other weapons on the Islamists )

I hardly think that it is surprising that The Police are so pissed-off with the type of Thugs that are active amongst the Islamist Reactionaries ( injuring Police Officers / smashing up Starbucks etc )

By contrast , all The Pro-Israel rallies have been completely non-violent and have had moderate & responsible messages .

Socialists Who believe in Democracy should be standing in Solidarity with The State Of Israel which is being attacked by the IslamoFascists of HAMAS & supporting The Jewish Community Who are facing a massive increase in the level of Anti-Semitic attacks .

12 01 2009
davidbroder

Ian,

It was a political mobilisation in support of the Israeli army, it was not a mobilisation of Jews or of “the Jewish community”. There is no such thing, the Board of Deputies is not some sort of mouthpiece for all Jews. There were probably far more people from Jewish backgrounds on the anti-war demo on Saturday than the pro-IDF one the following day, and indeed plenty of Jewish people picketed the pro-IDF demo on Sunday. So no, it would not be accurate to describe the Zionist/pro-IDF demo as you do.

I also find it laughable that you pretend to be offended that the various Zionist demos are called “Zionist”: aren’t you a member of the Zionist Federation? I also remember that at an AWL meeting during the Lebanon war you kept referring to the IDF as “we” and “us”, saying “we’re bombing the roads, we’ll get the bridges”, etc.

As well as voicing your support for police stop-and-searches, condemning the smashing up of a Starbucks (will you, like Benjamin Gray on the other post, cheaply compare this to Kristallnacht?!) and taking the side of the British state against so-called “thugs”, you say all the pro-Israel[i Army] demos are non-violent and responsible… Except for the fact are a political mobilisation in support of a massive hail of violence and their “responsible” message is pro-war.

Indeed, not one word of your comments here and elsewhere expresses sympathy with the overwhelming victims of this conflict, Palestinian civilians. Given all this, in what sense are you a socialist?

13 01 2009
Ian Sternberg

Dear David ,

I am sorry that I addressed My first question to You – I followed Your link from the AWL Website & assumed it was Your article because it was on Your Website .

I should have read that it was written by Taimour – I apologise .

Best Wishes ,

Ian .

13 01 2009
Ian Sternberg

Dear David , ( My computer just redirected Me to Your last post so I’ll respond to that as well )

For some People it was purely a Demonstration to express a different viewpoint to the daily outpourings of Hatred against Israel & Jews outside The Embassy . Other People ( including Myself ) have a greater level of Support for The IDF in Their battle against the IslamoFascists Who are targeting Israeli Civilians & want to destroy Israel . Generally The Jewish Community just want Peace & an end to the Attacks on Their Family & Friends Who live in Israel .

I support the use of Stop-And-Searches against Islamist Reactionaries just as I would against The Far Right . David , if You were facing Anti-Semitic Violence or possible Terrorist Attacks , as The Jewish Community is , then You might not be so quick to criticise Security measures adopted to deter them .

There were at least 15,000 demonstrators in Trafalgar Square , so I hardly think that You have more Jewish Support than We do , but the word ” Zionist ” is generally used as a term of abuse to deligitimise the quite natural Support that The Jewish Community gives to Israel .

Yes – I am a member of The National Council Of The Zionist Federation – and of course as a Proud Jew I identify with the Courageous IDF Soldiers Who are risking Their lives everyday to defend Israel & The Jewish People . As I seem to remember that meeting I was talking about IDF attempts to prevent Hezbollah using the transport network to smuggle out the 2 kidnapped Israeli Soldiers .

I regret all the Civilian deaths & suffering in this War on both sides , I just maintain that there is no comparison between The Army of a Democratic Nation Who do everything that They can to minimise civilian casualties , and a group of Terrorist Illegal Combattants Who hide Their weapons amongst that Civilian population in order to deter Israeli Military response & to deliberately cause Civilian deaths to exploit Them for Propaganda .

Finally , I have been involved in Socialist Politics since The Miners Strike supporting every struggle of Working People since : Silent Night Dispute , Wapping , P&O Strike , Ambulance Workers , Timex , Liverpool Dockers, GCHQ Trade Unions , FireFighters , Posties etc – I hope that answers Your Cheeky question about My Socialism !

Fraternally ,

Ian .

15 01 2009
Trader Saq

Hi All,

On the night of the 7th Jan a man while returning from the pro-Palestinian protest was assaulted and arrested by the police outside David Clulow (opticians). The police have falsely accused him of assaulting a female officer and attacking another police officer. for reasons of arrest Unfortunately there are no CCTV cameras in the area to prove the police wrong. There is also a picture of the guy (who was wearing an olive jacket and black hat) being restrained in an article in the Daily Mail (link below).

If anyone has witnessed this incident or taken any videos/photos of the assault by the police, please email: tradersaq@gmail.com

Thanks,

T Saq

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1108971/Police-count-cost-keeping-apart-rival-demonstrations-violence-Gaza.html




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