Home > activism, politics, racism / white privilege > Arbitrary mass arrests at otherwise positive #london2NYC #blacklivesmatter demo at Westfield shopping centre London

Arbitrary mass arrests at otherwise positive #london2NYC #blacklivesmatter demo at Westfield shopping centre London

***If you or anyone you know was arrested last night please make sure you’re in contact with Green and Black Cross (GBC) and attend the defendants meeting this Saturday, 13th Dec, 2pm in LARC, 62 Fieldgate St, E1 1ES organised by the GBC / LDMG who organised the legal support on the demonstration last night***

Joint statement by the organisers of the demo last night on the arrests.

***

This is just me scribbling something down because of the arbitrary nature of the arrests that happened at the end of the demonstration last night. If you want more detail about the earlier part, I live tweeted most of the evening, as did others.

It felt like a positive and strong and good natured demonstration. I spoke to lots of bystanders who were curious about what was going on, and they were all supportive once I explained we were there because of Eric Garner. People did not seem to feel threatened, as they walked past and through the demonstration, both whilst we were outside and inside the shopping centre. Although a couple of shops closed doors or pulled security grills over themselves, the vast majority did not. Nor was there any need to as protesters filed past them, singing out
chants, with spontaneous die-ins. I did not witness any scuffles between protesters and security or police. We entered the Westfield through an open door in the second entrance way that we got to, opposite the Christmas fair thing. The security guards and police were intermingling with the crowd. At one point a lot more police came down an escalator towards us and we all moved away from them. Another line formed, however a tall white man walked up to the line and the police
let him through, so I decided to also try to walk through in the same place, and the police let me through as well. Once through I saw that a ginger haired man was being arrested. I did not see him before, and they were putting handcuffs on him at the time I first saw him. I walked over and spoke briefly, and offered to put a “bust card” into his pocket, which he agreed to. He told me his name and I gave this name to a marked legal observer who was nearby.

The crowd continued through the shopping centre and at about 9pm we left Westfield shopping centre. At that point a lot of people left the demo, I presume because it was late and cold and raining. A group continued up towards the roundabout and the main road, above the bus
station. We walked along the road and onto the West Cross Route. At this location there was a concrete wall and the “pavement” of the dual carriageway. There was another die-in. Suddenly lots more police arrived, with heavier looking uniforms on, and in a sort of formation
that looked like they were about to make physical barriers and “kettle” people. I moved across the road and onto the roundabout to not get trapped. Most people managed to stay outside of the kettle. It seemed to me that it was often the more inexperienced and young protesters who got caught. I spoke to one man who’s 17 year old cousin was one of those who were encircled, and that previously she’d been with some of her friends.

The nature of the arrests seemed very arbitrary. It did not seem in any way led by intelligence, as alleged incidents were so much earlier in the evening. It seemed that those caught in the kettle and subsequently arrested were just unlucky, as most of us managed to avoid this by crossing the road away from the larger group as the police approached. There were no altercations or violent events prior to the arrests. We were a substantial distance from the shopping centre, which was where the alleged altercations happened, according to the media.

This just seemed to be about gathering names and addresses of some of those that were there, and attempting to intimidate folks from attending future demonstrations. And that’s shit – there were so many there last night who hadn’t been on a demonstration before, but were so moved by the overt racism of what happened to Eric Garner and Michael Brown that they came out to protest. And that’s the only way we’re going to see the changes that are so necessary. We need to support those that were arrested, so that instead of their overwhelming memory of last night is a cold, lonely night in the cells, its that the kind of solidarity that they were offering to the victims of racist policing, is in turn offered to them when they need it.

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