Gathering Together, Fighting for Justice:
From the Festivals at Stonehenge, through the ‘Rave’ and Free Party scene, Reclaim the Streets, Environmental Protest , Workers and Union Rights, Gay and Multi-Cultural issues ….. There remains a policeman frequently saying that….. ‘Well, you can’t do that here!!
I was asked for a piece of work to deal with communities ‘Fighting for Justice’. A large scale set of images that were to support a national touring exhibition when on show at the National Museum of Justice in Nottingham [formerly The Galleries of Justice].
This provided me with the seed of an idea to extend this more widely and include the obvious fact that there has always been considerable opposition to people doing just that.
I have amassed a considerable archive of work since the early 1980’s and editing from this, I’ve attempted to show that there is a common thread of concern on the way we treat each other, the ecology and the planet at large. I have always found that you don’t simply write to your MP and expect a political process to chug away and deal with your concerns and improve the situation. How, nice if it ever did. Generally, it seems a lot of people have to get quite cross about an issue and when there is enough direct action, trouble and strife to highlight what’s wrong, politics and the authorities are dragged screaming and shouting eventually into action.
The police uphold the law. However, it is frequently our experience that they have a considerable action in suppressing activity on behalf of vested interests, whether in government or corporations who use them at their convenience, not ours. They can often appear as an army of occupation not reflecting the values of the community they are supposed to be serving.
In more recent times, an obvious example has been the methods of surveillance employed by agencies such as the Forward Intelligence Units of the Metropolitan Police (who offer their service around the country). The National Public Order Intelligence Unit NPOIU, which exists to counter “domestic extremism”, is so secretive that police will not confirm the precise location of its base or the identity of its head.
According to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary,
“the NPOIU performs an intelligence function in relation to politically motivated disorder” by “co-ordinating the national collection, analysis, exploitation and dissemination of intelligence on the extremist threat to public order”.
Its database contains entries on protesters – not all of whom have criminal records – including descriptions, nicknames and aliases. Their activities have now become so out of control thar undercover police officers have been tasked to spy on citizens engaged in legitimate political actions of environment concern (the Mark Kennedy case, here in Nottingham). Spying in campaigns like the families of the Hillsborough Disaster, the family of Stephen Lawrence and their campaign and maintaining a ‘blacklist’ to assist some employers in not recruiting staff who might have ideas on worker rights and unions. Thus, I say their actions frequently exceed simply upholding the law.
I labour some of these points because since as far as I can remember …… that officer and his kind have been always ‘on my case’. My ‘Big Brother’, I say he’s a bully!
I am with Judge Hoffman here:
“Civil disobedience on grounds of conscience is an honourable tradition in this country and those who take part in it may in the end be vindicated by history.”
Lord Justice Hoffman
(commented during the Twyford Down appeal).