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Preemptive Arrests Planned for Olympics Protesters?

By Tim Hardy

Police defend the big clock

(Img via @DSG_DSG.)

This evening’s invitation by Olympics minister Hugh Robertson to shop your neighbour if they are planning to demonstrate during the Olympics is not an isolated act of idiocy by an out of touch and arrogant Tory minister.

A month ago the police dropped very strong hints that they planned to repeat the preemptive arrests of peaceful protesters that they used during the Royal Wedding.

Chris Allison, the Metropolitan police assistant commissioner and national Olympic security co-ordinator […] admitted it would be “very challenging” if there were a repeat of the disorder that gripped London. But while a range of factors made it less likely that the scenes of widespread rioting would be repeated, the police were planning how they would respond if they faced similar challenges during the Games.

Twitter and other social media will be monitored for signs of social disorder and, in particular, for organised protest.

“It’s about flooding the streets. It’s about making sure we’ve got the assets quickly available across London … There is a lot of work that is being done anyway [on social media] and we will piggyback on that for the Games. It’s about sensible use of intelligence, making sure we analyse it properly,” he said.

Allison said: “We’re making sure we’ve got plans so we can respond if required to do so. What I hope is that everyone will say, ‘The Games are here, they’re fantastic and this will be the only time in our lives we can feel a part of it.

“We have always planned for making sure we had resources to deal with protest and potential disorder.”

The 30 miles of Games lanes for the exclusive use of Olympic traffic could, for example, be occupied by protest groups looking to raise the profile of their cause. The torch relay, beginning on 19 May in Cornwall, could also be targeted by protesters.

“There doesn’t appear to be anyone who wants to protest against the Games. But there may be those who want to use the Games as a way of getting their cause into the public domain. We are trying to get as much intelligence as we can about the broad range of threats.”

As before the royal wedding last year, Allison said that, if there was “intelligence and justification” for taking action before the Games against potential protesters, he would do so.

“If people want to protest within the law, come and speak to us. They have a right to peacefully protest but it doesn’t give them the right to stop 10.8 million people going to watch the best athletes in the world compete in their chosen sport.”

London 2012 Olympics: police ‘have learned lessons of riots’ 

Ed Miliband’s recent desperate attempts to reclaim the word “solidarity” are a sham. He showed no solidarity for those arrested on the day of the Royal Wedding just as he showed no solidarity for those involved in the mass arrests and show trails of UK Uncut protesters who occupied Fortnum & Mason a year ago.

As for Liberal Democrat claims to be concerned about civil liberties, their silence on these matters and on the detainment without trial of protesters at their own conference says everything we need to know.

David Cameron, safe in the knowledge that the Opposition or his enablers won’t criticise police tactics that are better suited to a dictatorship than to a country that prides itself on being the cradle of democracy, is happy for his party to become even more authoritarian than Blair’s government.

Don’t expect a squeak if police acting under the orders of the Prime Minister round-up people exercising their democratic right to peaceful protest during the Games this summer. And don’t expect the BBC to report on it either.

In a time of circuses but no bread, force may be necessary to keep the people clapping during official entertainments.

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