The hostile reaction to the Bristol protest shows how unprepared English people are for what’s coming. You don’t shut down a fascist uprising with a conga line. And no, the suffragettes didn’t win the vote with a tap dance. Every struggle against oppression requires a fight, because oppressors will injure, imprison and kill you to advance their interests. The UK government is attempting to make protest that causes disruption of any kind a criminal offence that could put you in jail for up to a decade. It’s time to wake up and resist. Or at the very least, support those who do.
It’s snitch culture that kills solidarity and suppresses dissent in England. When any group rises to defy authority, fellow subjects of the Crown rally to denounce them.
Before a true account of events in Bristol had been established, England’s snitch culture was up and running. Local media outlets launched their assault on protesters.
Labour MPs and Labour Mayor Marvin Rees were falling over themselves to attack the protesters.
This is absolutely unacceptable. The scenes of violence and direct attack on the police in Bristol city centre will distress most people including anyone who believes in defending the right to peaceful democratic protest. https://t.co/aVe3Q3Xqz8
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
— Thangam Debbonaire 💙 (@ThangamMP) March 21, 2021
‘Self-indulgent, self-centered, selfish.’
Bristol Mayor @MarvinJrees gives his thoughts on the people who caused violence in Bristol yesterday.
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) March 22, 2021
But footage and eyewitness accounts suggested a quite different reality. One in which the police were not heroic defenders of the peace.
— Alon Aviram (@AlAviram) March 21, 2021
I dunno Guys… maybe Police showing up to batter the sh*t out of peaceful protesters with placards turned things nasty.. https://t.co/zO9zGm4Z8f
— Mikey Walsh (@thatbloodyMikey) March 22, 2021
The liberal bastardisation of history
According to liberals, only peaceful protest brings change. And by ‘peaceful’, they mean causing zero annoyance or inconvenience to anyone at all. The historically ignorant, liberal rhetoric of the day could be summarised as:
The people marched with extremely witty puns on their placards, and the fascists laughed so hard they forgot about their plans for dominion. Everyone lived happily ever after.
Why do ‘voice of reason’ centrists always take this weird schoolmasterly tone when they tweet nonsense at times like this? 🤣 pic.twitter.com/lhORaphvnd
— Chas Newkey-Burden (@allthatchas) March 22, 2021
Reality says otherwise.
Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison threw herself in front of the King’s horse at Derby Day. Nelson Mandela wasn’t removed from US terror watch lists until 2008. And Martin Luther King Jr spent time in jail for civil disobedience.
In fact, it’s tough to find a successful movement that didn’t use force when necessary.
The ANC’s struggle against apartheid in South Africa was strictly non-violent until 1960. Why did things change? Because of the Sharpeville massacre on 21st March 1960. When 5,000 peaceful protesters chanted outside a police station against systems of oppression, the police response was to gun them down. By the end of the attack, police had killed 69 people.
As Mandela said, from his prison cell on Robin Island, of his own part in violent resistance:
“‘The armed struggle [with the authorities] was forced on us by the government.’”
In the real world
For many communities targeted by police violence, the white, middle class tendency to treat police as their mates is honestly galling. Those of us who have faced harassment and violence at the hands of police know it’s an institutional issue. We know we shouldn’t trust police accounts automatically. And honestly, given the revelations of past decades, neither should everyone else.
In the past year alone, we’ve seen police officer Oliver Banfield using his training to assault a woman as she walked home. Even with the attack caught on film, she had to fight for any semblance of justice.
In this C4 News exclusive footage, this is the moment police officer PC Oliver Banfield violently attacked a woman walking home at night in 2020.
She faced an uphill battle to get justice from the police forces involved. pic.twitter.com/sJxGtffsLv
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) March 19, 2021
We are years into the Black Lives Matter movement, which has exposed endemic mistreatment of Black people by police. And those of us who’ve actually taken part in real protests have also seen the reality of police brutality.
The first demo I went on that turned into a riot was in 1993 in Welling against the BNP. I was 17. I learnt then that the media doesn't accurately report what happened on the ground. And nothing I've seen since has from many other demos and riots has changed this opinion.
— Emily Apple (@emilyapple) March 22, 2021
You set the Police against the People & People against the Police. You're directly responsible for any physical hurt suffered by the police officers & protesters in #Bristol
Priti Patel's deflection is repugnant https://t.co/Tg9qIp3KOE
— Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu (@SholaMos1) March 21, 2021
The people in Bristol took those measures because if they had just peacefully marched then they’d have all been manhandled and arrested by police. Violence is inevitable when the state removes all of your civilian rights and peaceful options, this is not exactly a new phenomenon https://t.co/Ss8ne9Eq1W
— Pistachio (@HarleyShah) March 21, 2021
Your response to the Bristol protests largely hinges on your grasp of the danger we are in. For people still living in the fantasy that the UK is a liberal democracy, any resistance more forceful than a nice walk with some samba drums playing is ‘going too far’. But for those keenly aware of both history and the current reality, the complacency of others is horrifying.
- The government’s refusal to take timely action on coronavirus cost at least 50,000 lives
- Infant mortality is 35.9 per cent higher for England’s poorest 10% than the rest of the country
- There are half a million more UK children living in poverty today than in 2010
- A study by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), found 130,000 UK deaths linked to bogus austerity since 2010
- The Spycops inquiry into undercover police abusing women looks set to further victimise survivors
- The government can engage in open corruption and cronyism with impunity
And now we have sinister laws being passed that grant enormous powers to police, while criminalising protest.
What will it take for these fantasists to actually stand up and take action?
The answer, I suspect, is nothing. There is nothing short of an attack on them personally that would have them risk putting their head above the parapet.
That’s how holocausts happen, that’s how apartheid happens, and that’s how every horror show in human history happened. Because despite people promising “Never again”, the complacency of the privileged allows history to repeat itself.
If you think I sound angry, you’re right. I’m furious. I find it unconscionable that so many look upon this horror and abdicate responsibility for dealing with it. And worse, they turn on the ones who are trying to rescue us from it.
First they came for the socialists
German pastor and theologian Martin Niemöller penned a famous poem about his regret for acting too late against the Nazi threat.
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
The same complacency that allowed the rise of fascism in Germany is on display in England right now. Either we wake up to that and fight, or we go the same way. What’s happening is fascism. You don’t play nice with fascism, you kick the ever-living shit out of it. Or it kills you.
Featured image via Eliza Egret for The Canary
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?