The time for tough action was during the riot. The last thing we need is a raft of new police powers
Look out for leitmotifs
The politicians’ speech competition can go hang. Don’t tell me we need new laws. Don’t tell me that there’s nothing on the Statute already, that allows the police to deal with arson and looting.
You see, the police were criticised for being heavy-handed at the G20 and other demonstrations, but now it’s clear they need to be … altogether now … more robust!
Do you notice how they are bracketing together, as if there is no distinction, political demonstrations and full-blown rioting? One is a legitimate democratic right, the other is an orgy of felonies, and there are certain bridges which must be crossed from one to the other. What we cannot allow, is for the riot to be used to legitimise heavy-handed treatment of political protests, or to over-react in such circumstances.
The wisdom, or otherwise, of the crowd
I have experienced, as I’m sure my readers have also, being a member of a large crowd at a large event; such as a football match, Glastonbury or the Notting Hill Carnival. When a large body of people come together, there can be a change in our perceptions. A current of connectivity flows through us. We are not used to being so surrounded by other people. If there is an identification between us, in other words we are all together for the same purpose, the inherent power of the crowd becomes focused.
Police brutality towards a demonstration immediately produces such a focus, and therefore provokes trouble. That is a fact which must be remembered. As I said above, a riot is not a political demonstration. When the riot was at its peak, yes the police had carte-blanche. If they had actually raised a stick to someone that night, we would have all looked away. But that’s past now, and the last thing we need is the police waddling about, trying to reclaim some street cred, picking on 13-year-olds and extending indefinitely the appearance of a state of emergency.
As libertarians, we should try to offer something different to the political debate. The right-wing are busy imagining all the things they’d like to do to the little bastards. The left-wing is singing their usual song. We don’t need to play along. Let us stress the differences in our interpretation.
For starters, let us remember the case of Mark Duggan. It seems quite likely that the police did mess up. If they shot him dead simply for carrying a gun, we should be brave enough to point out from a libertarian point of view that’s a victimless crime, which we would abolish.
Also, let us congratulate those citizens who stood up against the looters. A society where people will do this is far safer than one with ‘robust’ policing. The people standing up helped quell the riot. That is a fact. We must disrupt the official narrative before it succeeds in pasting on top a false conclusion; that being; ‘we’ need more police, more policing, new police powers. Not at all.
The riot’s over, folks, at least for now. Back to the old enemy: the state, and it’s about to try a number of predictable things on the back of recent events, which we will need to resist, and we will need allies.