BNP / UAF Demonstrations, London, June 1st.

A series of tweets depicting the shifting spatial dynamics of demonstration policing. Sections 12 and 14 of the Public Order Act allow ‘senior police officers’ to make judgements on containing protests. Both were exercised in Parliament Square last Saturday.
  1. Initially @MetPoliceEvents sent messages urging ‘all parties’ – British National Party and Unite Against Facism protesters – to return to their designated demonstration zones. Presumably, as agreed prior to the event.
  2. Police ask all parties at Whitehall demo’s to return immediately to their pre-arranged areas.
  3. Double kettle now in front of Parliament.BNP kettled by police, surrounded by anti fascists,kettled by police. #olsx
  4. Reports of this ‘double kettle’ then came in. The double kettle was in fact the two separate, isolated protest zones mentioned above by @MetPoliceEvents for both parties.
  5. Police have imposed conditions under Section 12 & 14 Public Order Act on #UAF to move from Old Palace Yard #BNP
  6. Section 12 was invoked to ‘impose conditions on public processions’ and Section 14 to ‘impose conditions on public assemblies’. Both allow senior police officers to intervene in protest demonstrations if they reasonably believe disturbances will arise without their intervention.
  7. TSG buildup on Westminster Abby side of demo line. #antifa
  8. Reminder: The conditions set by police allow demonstrations only until 4pm. Failure to comply could result in arrests #BNP #UAF
  9. With 20 minutes remaining before both parties’ protest curfew @MetPoliceEvents reminded demonstrators that remaining in the area could result in their arrest, this having previously restricted movement for a large duration of the allotted demonstration time.
  10. “Prisoner” buses filling up.
  11. The London Metropolitan Police consequently arrested members from both sides and packed them on to waiting TfL buses.
  12. Current image of Parliament Square – people are free to leave #UAF #BNP
  13. Come the 4pm deadline @MetPoliceEvents posted an aerial photograph presumably taken from the force’s helicopter allegedly showing an absence of police barriers. It was expressed in the same message that people were ‘free to leave’. But that wasn’t really the whole story because, as I mentioned on the day:
  14. Presumably they’re now ‘free to leave’ because s.14 says they’re arrestable if they stay. #UAF #BNP
  15. As the demonstration was only legally allowed to continue until 4pm, and after hours of containing both crowds, police officers tactically released all those still demonstrating. So the strategy shifted from arresting those who sought to escape the containments to arresting those who sought to remain in the same (but now ‘unkettled’) space.
  16. ‘free to leave’ = ‘not free to stay’. London Met playing a semantic game. #UAF #BNP
  17. ‘Free to leave’ then, was another way of the police force saying protesters were ‘not free to stay’. A designated shift in strategy from (legally) containing potentially mobile and thus, illegal protesters to legally releasing static, illegal protesters. Although at the time many simply believed the Met Police were telling lies and were still containing people, I’m more of the opinion that they took advantages of the slippy legal nature of their tactics and were in fact releasing both groups – only to arrest if individuals refused to leave the area.
  18. According to ITV and other sources 58 UAF protesters were arrested for a breach of Section 14.
  19. This 360 degree photo from the day is incredible. It purportedly shows a police ‘snatch-squad’ in action. This is a commonly used tactic (rather than a unit per se) by riot police to dive into large crowds and ‘snatch’ key protagonists. Note the London Met’s own FIT (Forward Intelligence Team) cameraman to the upper left of the incident and other media to the immediate right on the pavement.