Contact details: Reclaim the Power Camp: 07447027112 or 07746339931
Following today’s heavy-handed and disproportionate policing at the No Dash for Gas protest at Balcombe, No Dash for Gas have lodged a formal complaint with West Sussex Police (text below). The complaint relates to an incident caught on film by the BBC ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-23755891 ), in which an officer who is not wearing his identifying number violently arrests a protester by kneeling on his head and pushing his face into the ground as other officers restrain him.
Since the death of Ian Tomlinson after being assaulted by a police officer at the G20 in 2010, the Metropolitan Police has stated that epaulettes with identifying numbers ‘must be worn and must be correct and visible at all times.’ ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/5251453/Nearly-half-of-police-officers-do-not-wear-shoulder-identification-on-front-line-duty.html )
Today the police arrested at least 23 peaceful protesters who were blockading Cuadrilla’s drilling site in Balcombe, including Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton and Hove. The police acted in a provocative way, charging, pushing and shoving protesters and pushing one protester’s head down with a bicycle wheel .
Amy Scott from No Dash for Gas said: ‘This was a peaceful, family-friendly protest, led by disabled people with an MP and a London Assembly member in attendance. There was singing and dancing – until the riot police arrived and began attacking the crowd. The tactics and force used was completely disproportionate to the calm and friendly situation. We are appalled at the violent arrest captured on film – particularly as the police seem to have returned to their pre-Ian Tomlinson tactics of remaining anonymous while perpetrating violence against the public. We have asked West Sussex Police to suspend the officer immediately and launch a full independent enquiry into the policing of today’s protest.’
Journalists at the protest were also shocked by the police heavy-handedness. Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) from the Guardian said, via a series of tweets:
“Still very nasty here. Snatch squads picking people at seeming random. Very tough tactics…Doesn’t seem necessary to me, as a bystander…All in all, it’s object lesson in how to turn peaceful, singing, good natured crowd into panicked group in seconds.”
Text of letter:
For the attention of the West Sussex Police,
We are writing to lodge a formal complaint against the aggressive treatment of a citizen outside the Cuadrilla drill-site on the afternoon of Monday 19th August.
The citizen in question was part of a peaceful protest to create dialogue around the issue of fracking in the UK. As a result of his attendance he was violently arrested, wrestled to the floor, his head pushed into the ground by an officer’s hands and knees, whilst the officer in question was not wearing epaulettes with an ID number.
The incident was recorded in detail by both the BBC (http://t.co/aUfsfgJgTW) and a legal observer, corroborating our account – both of whom can be contacted if required. There is no question that excessive force was used. Furthermore, following Ian Tomlinson’s death after assault by a police officer, the London Metropolitan Police explicitly stated that, ‘epaulettes displaying identifying letters and numerals or insignia or rank must be worn and must be correct and visible at all times.’
We request that the officer in question is immediately suspended pending a full public and independent enquiry into both his individual conduct and the tactics used on the entire operation, which saw many peaceful protestors violently arrested.
Hannah Martin (on behalf of No Dash for Gas)