View Full Version : The Met up the ante in the war against the law abiding.

Magda Hassan
01-31-2011, 06:22 AM
Police defend tax dodgers.

Police use CS spray on tax protesters

UK Uncut activists hospitalised after targeting Boots in Oxford Street as part of latest day of action

Matthew Taylor (http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/matthewtaylor) and Jonathan Paige (http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/jonathan-paige)
guardian.co.uk (http://www.guardian.co.uk/), Sunday 30 January 2011 19.36 GMT http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2011/1/30/1296413567317/Protester-washing-eyes-007.jpg A man washes his eyes after police used CS gas on tax protesters in London. Photograph: Tim Mitchell/PA Tax avoidance (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/taxavoidance) protesters needed hospital treatment today after police (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/police) used CS spray to break up a demonstration on Oxford Street in central London (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/london).
Hundreds of people staged peaceful sit-ins at high street stores around the country as part of the latest UK Uncut (http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/) day of action, designed to highlight companies it says are avoiding millions of pounds in tax.
In London protesters had successfully closed down Boots in Oxford Street – one of the companies campaigners accuse of tax avoidance – when police tried to arrest a woman for pushing a leaflet through the store's doors. Other demonstrators tried to stop the arrest and at least one police officer used CS spray, which hospitalised three people.
Jed Weightman, one of those who went to hospital, said protesters had joined hands to try and prevent the arrest.
"One police officer sprayed towards us and because I was tall I got a lot of it in my face," he said. "My eyes were streaming and I couldn't see anything."
Earlier this week Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said police could adopt more extreme tactics (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jan/27/hugh-orde-police-protest-tactics) to counter the growing wave of protests, and hinted that UK Uncut (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/uk-uncut) demonstrators could face criminal and civil charges if they invaded shops during today's protests.
Activists reacted angrily to yesterday's events, claiming the police had been "heavy handed and disproportionate."
Anna Williams, who saw the incident, said: "This is yet another example of political policing that is about protecting corporate interests and not those of ordinary people ... We have a right to protest (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/protest) when the government are making unnecessary cuts that will hit the poorest in our society the hardest."
Protesters said staff at Boots had been shocked by the police tactics, and took those who were suffering from the effects of CS spray into the store and offered them free eye wash.
"The staff at Boots were fantastic and took us inside and gave us free treatment," said Gordon Maloney, 20, one of the other protesters who was hit by the CS spray. "My eyes were really streaming and my face hurt but I was most struck by the violence used by the police. I have been on a lot of demonstrations and have not seen anything like this before."
A spokesman for the Metropolitan police said officers had arrested a woman for damaging the door of Boots and confirmed CS spray had been used. He said he was unaware of anyone needing hospital treatment.
The London demonstration was one of around 30 taking place around (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jan/28/cuts-protests-uk-uncut) the UK today as part of a wider campaign against corporate tax avoidance and the government's cuts.
Using the Twitter hashtag #ukuncut, the fast-expanding group has become a rallying point for protesters and past campaigns have closed down scores of high street stores accused of avoiding tax.
At today's London demonstration protesters dressed in surgical masks and bloody bandages claimed Boots was avoiding huge sums of money by being registered in Switzerland, where taxes are far lower.
A Boots spokeswoman said it had registered in Switzerland because "in the longer term we believe it will better reflect the increasingly international nature of our wider group".
"If we had registered in Switzerland purely for tax reasons there are many other countries that we could have considered."
She added that the company had contributed to the UK's finances through increased business rates and national insurance contributions resulting from the expansion of the brand.

David Guyatt
01-31-2011, 11:23 AM
F**cking disgraceful!

Protestors are going to have to learn to prepare themselves in advance. For CS gas, wear googles. For smoke and other gas attacks wear face masks.

But water cannons are coming I believe.

Our new grovelment is preparing for a future of protests as citizens gradually come to fully appreciate the depth and scale of the impoverishment that is being thrust upon them in the name of cuts.

Keith Millea
01-31-2011, 04:05 PM
For CS gas, wear googles.

You'll need more than goggles if you get CS gassed.That stuff is the worst,and it's hard for me to imagine an officer actually spraying it in a close crowd like that,pretty sick............

David Guyatt
02-02-2011, 10:37 AM
Something for the Authorities to willfully ignore.


Call for an inquiry into use of CS spray

The Guardian, Wednesday 2 February 2011

At a time when public service cuts are starting to bite, campaigners from UK Uncut were on Sunday once again taking direct action on our high streets (Police use CS spray on tax protesters, 31 January). They were targeting Boots, which has moved to Switzerland, allowing the company to avoid paying millions in tax. Outside the Oxford Street branch of Boots, a police officer, without warning, used CS spray against demonstrators, three of whom were taken to hospital. When tax injustice enjoyed by the rich is combined so starkly with cuts in vital public services for the poor, and the government refuses to listen or act, people have the moral and legal right to protest.

The state is the collective democratic vehicle to serve the interests of all people of this country. And when acting through the police force, it has to be incredibly careful about not being perceived to be acting politically – to serve the interests of the rich against the poor.

We deplore the use of such aggressive policing techniques and call for a public inquiry to investigate and report on the use of CS spray against protesters on Sunday. They should also provide guidance on how they plan to police the many, widespread and popular protests that are bound to feature across society in the months and years to come.

Neal Lawson Compass

Mark Serwotka PCS

John Christensen Tax Justice Network

Deborah Doane World Development Movement

Ruth Tanner War on Want

Lisa Nandy MP Labour, Wigan

Caroline Lucas MP Green, Brighton Pavilion

Peter Tatchell campaigner

• In response to your article on the police use of CS on demonstrators, could I, on behalf of a group of concerned scientists, provide a few facts. The chemical name for CS is o-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile and it is a highly irritant substance. CS is not soluble in water so is diluted in a solvent. In the UK this is methyl iso-butyl ketone. In Vietnam CS was used extensively by US forces in a way most would regard as a chemical weapon; it was also used in Northern Ireland in the 1970s in various situations involving large numbers of civilians. The formulations used in those two other countries differ from what the UK police use.

The current formulation was the subject of an investigation in 2004 by the medical toxicology unit at Guy's hospital in London and it reported that "it [CS] is more harmful that [sic] has been previously assumed". Anyone who believes they were affected by this chemical (and these complaints may relate to the skin, eyes, upper respiratory tract or heart) should contact us as we are setting up a monitoring group. Hugh Orde, the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, has commented: "Police could adopt more extreme tactics to counter the growing wave of protests." Let's take note and act.

Elizabeth Sigmund

Callington, Cornwall