When the Camp for Climate Action rolled into Kingsnorth this year even veterans where suprised by the over the top policing. Being searched–often illigally-two or three times before getting onto site was quite common. This despite the history of the camp as a place of education, sustainable living which eschews physical violence…and our open meeting with our minutes online. It was quite clear that political policing to clamp down on the energy of a growing social movement was what we where seeing.
Despite this many in the media had no problem with reporting police claims of a weapons stash–it turns out that at the end of the operation no weapons where recorded in the list of confiscatred materials.
Now it turns out that the ’70 injuries’ being reported by the police do not exist, and those injuries that did occur where due to mosquito bites and toothache! You cant make this stuff up. The Lib Dems brought this to light using a freedom of information request.
The Home Office has now admitted that the protesters had not been responsible for any injuries. In a three-line written answer to a parliamentary question, the Home Office minister Vernon Coaker wrote to the Lib Dem justice spokesman, David Howarth, saying: “Kent police have informed the Home Office that there were no recorded injuries sustained as a result of direct contact with the protesters.”
Only four of the 12 reportable injuries involved any contact with protesters at all and all were at the lowest level of seriousness with no further action taken.
I am increasingly impressed by the Lib Dem line on climate change. It seems that if there is any climate change event the Lib Dems are likely to be representing and certainly seem to be making it a key priority for the party.
Norman Baker, the Lib Dem MP for Lewes, who had called previously for an investigation of police tactics, said: “I personally witnessed unnecessarily aggressive policing, unprovoked violence against peaceful protesters, an extraordinary number of police on site, and tactics such as confiscating toilet rolls, board games and clown costumes from what I saw to be peaceful demonstrators.”
Lib Dem justice spokesman made it clear why he thought the policing was so heavy:
Howarth said: “That the minister could defend as ‘proportionate’ a £5.9m policing operation in which there was not a single injury to police officers caused by the protesters beggars belief. The threat posed by environmental direct action is being systematically overblown by both the government and the police.
“I hope the government and the police will now stop trying to portray peaceful protesters as somehow equivalent to terrorists or violent extremists. In light of this new evidence, one has to ask, were climate campers so heavily policed because they posed any genuine threat of violence, or because they posed a challenge to government policy?”
Nick Thorpe, a spokesman for the climate camp, said: “Policing of peaceful protest has become increasingly heavy-handed. We saw thousands of officers swarming around a legal camp in a colossal waste of public money. The police and the government claimed there was a ‘violent minority’ of protesters but this Home Office admission reveals this as a complete fiction.”