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December 08, 2010

Non Fiction Is Not My Forte

It is 10.20pm in London on the 24th of November 2010 and the first reports are spattered across the Internet. There are pictures: Student, face smothered in a black balaclava, kicks in a white police van. Teens snicker and disfigure the van with obscenities. Head shaven snarling boy accosts police shielding themselves behind plastic sheets. Headlines mourn in words like riot streets policeman injured mob policewoman injured Facebook duty youths damage protect riot riot. The street is clotted with broken glass, burnt ground and abandoned litter. Cigarette butts and water bottles.

It is 9.38pm in London and the protest at Whitehall is dying down. As more protesters are carefully filtered away, students spit insults at police officers. It is bitterly cold. One policeman has been knocked unconscious and one has had his arm broken. 32 protesters are being arrested for violent disorder and criminal damage. Others are set loose on the dark streets.

It is 7.05pm and police begin to set students free from the barricaded area. A number of fellow, unhindered protesters are gathered outside the blocked off areas. They are mostly university students, but among them are school children, mothers come to collect children trapped behind the cordons, and a pregnant woman. They begin to throw missiles at the police.

It is 7.10pm and mounted police charge the assembled crowd. They advance 100 metres, scattering protesters and panicking the crowd who are running away. Some fall over; one will fall to the ground and be trampled by frightened students as she curls in a foetal position on the tarmac. This is the second time the horses have charged on the crowd. Rumours of crushed protesters spread amongst the students, graduates, mothers and schoolchildren. 11 people will be sent to hospitals this night; only two of these are police officers.

It is 6.17pm and dark has fallen on the kettled streets. Away from the edges of the cordon, fires are lit against the invasive cold. Police provide portaloos and water. The protesters burn their banners to keep warm, and some are seen to read textbooks by firelight. A Guardian reporter watches as students gather and begin to sing. She will later compare them to the Children’s Crusade.

It is 3.00pm and “youths” notice the white police van in the midst of the kettled area. On the fringes of the cordon protesters are lying beneath the police officer’s feet in an attempt to preserve the space given to them. Elsewhere others are ramming the line of riot police with metal fences, poles, and they are throwing objects. London schoolchildren attempt to protect the white van from vandalism. They fail, and the police vehicle is daubed with insulting slogans. The boy in the black balaclava takes his place on the roof of the van, and brings back his foot.

It is 12.05 and protesters march through London. They sing songs, shout slogans, and wave banners. There are drummers, people in costume, and children with school ties knotted around their heads. There are anarchists clad in black and red, there are university tutors and girls in short skirts. Disorganised, they stream closer to Whitehall, and someone from the NUS tries to turn them back. It is too late. Those that turn find a line of riot police blocking their exit, and the kettling begins.

It is dawn in London and the cold air leeches feeling from exposed skin. There is only the low, sweet calling of pigeons of the roofs of Whitehall, the quiet hum of police vehicles parked, and the click of riot helmets descending over faces. Light seeps across the clouded London sky. Identity badges are carefully hidden by police officers. We do not know who they are. A lone white police van is abandoned in the street, waiting.


Too tired and snuffly to bother with fiddling with it now. It's a bit melodramatic, but I feel a bit like that whenever I think about law enforcement, the legal system, and anything to do with Tories or the Liberal Democrats, the dirty traitors. Originally had some bits drawing parallels with the Porteous Riots, but I had to cut them out as it became a bit long, blunt and clumsy. Plus with a lack of library book space on my account I had to get my information on Porteous from the internet (i.e. wikipedia) which is very bad for me. I should be on a wikipedia diet.



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