Thursday, 16 April 2009

From Blair Peach to Ian Tomlinson

The issue of state violence, especially in relation to political protest, has been put forcibly on the agenda in the last couple of weeks. First the eyewitness reports of police brutality at G20 protests on 1 April, then the revelation that Ian Tomlinson certainly didn't die of 'natural causes' (as claimed by the Met initially), and now the video footage of a woman attacked by a uniformed thug at the protests.

There have been protests in response to the police brutality that have extended to being a defence of our right to protest and of civil liberties. In Newcastle 30 people joined a speedily-arranged protest on Saturday lunchtime which linked Tomlinson's death to a history of police violence and the suppression of free, democratic protest. I was pleased to learn that 200 people turned up to the 'Remember Blair Peach' fringe meeting at the conference of my own union, the NUT. He was a teacher and SWP activist killed by police on an Anti Nazi march in 1979.

The meeting marked the 30th anniversary of Peach's death but also connected with the current anger about the police - and also served as a launchpad for campaigning against the BNP this spring, in the run up to the Euro elections in less than two months. About a year ago the NUT took the excellent step of creating a political fund - not to support Labour, but to fund anti-fascist campaigns.

The role of the police has also been brought into sharp relief by the way the French state attacked demonstrations at the NATO summit in Strasbourg recently. I recommend reading these accounts: by Lindsey German, at Lenin's Tomb, and on the Globalise Resistance website. The violence of the anarchist Black Block is highly misguided, but these commentaries remind us the main problem is still the violence of the state - and the greater violence of capitalism and war it is designed to preserve.

No comments:

Post a Comment