G20 protests: police behaviour "disproportionate and provocative"

2 April 2009

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MEP has described the tactics used by the Metropolitan Police at yesterday's G20 protests as "disproportionate and provocative."

Throughout today, reports had been coming in from Greens who had been involved in the protest.

One party member involved said she had "returned shaken and appalled at the policing tactics employed at the G20 protests."

Like many others, she described the way lines of police officers had kept groups of peaceful demonstrators "penned-in" for hours without access to water or toilets. She said:

"It is only thanks to my NUJ press pass that I managed to (eventually) escape the terrifying crush imposed by aggressive police. By that point I had spent at least two hours rammed in with other peaceful rotesters, bursting for the loo and battling against a resurgence of a phobia of being trapped in tight crowds."

Another Green Party member involved in the demonstration said: "In thirty-one years of active participation in peaceful street demonstrations I have NEVER before been close to the threat of being trapped by police."

Darren Johnson AM commented today: "A number of activists have already fed-in similar experiences and I agree that this is completely inappropriate policing tactics. While they need to act swiftly to tackle any violence it is wrong and totally counter-productive to treat the vast majority of wholly peaceful protestors in this way."

This morning Jenny Jones AM, who had acted as an official observer with the police but who was denied the opportunity to go and observe where she wanted to, was promised a full opportunity to question the Metropolitan Police about their tactics.

Meanwhile Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MEP was receiving reports from people who had been at the Climate Camp, including the following allegations against the police:

At around 2 o'clock this afternoon (Thursday) an armed police unit reportedly raided a convergence centre on Earl's Street. The officers, who did not have a search warrant, claimed they were acting under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Caroline Lucas commented: "There seems to be a good deal of evidence that the police used tactics that were inappropriate.

"The law on preventing a breach of the peace should not be used as an excuse to deny people a right to demonstrate in a peaceful and law-abiding manner. And it definitely shouldn't be used as an excuse for mass detention of demonstrators who, in many cases, just wanted to go home."

She concluded: "I think the police should provide evidence of the basis on which they are apparently using anti-terrorism legislation to act against peaceful legitimate protesters."

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