Friday, 3 April 2009
Whose Street? Our Street!
PC Area in his brand new hi-viz. NOT asleep, despite what his colleagues may say.
So - stories from G20, in no particular order.
A couple of people obviously read internet blogs, or at least the books that follow. I heard two officers (not from my carrier luckily) discussing how they'd try and spot Inspector Gadget.
In my carrier we ran a competition on the second day for spotting the best bit of graffiti. The only rule was that the graffiti had to be on a Police vehicle. Lots of them had been damaged the day before, and so still had spray paint on.
Our favourite was one of the armoured warthogs with "PIGS" sprayed tastefully below the Police sign on the bonnet. Spot on.
Scary moment when I got hit by something, and looked at my arm to notice that I was bleeding, and bleeding heavily through my boiler suit.
Then a relieved moment as I realised that it was just tomato that the protestors had thrown.
Lots of interesting moments dealing with the less pleasant people, but you've all seen that on TV and probably are bored to death of seeing and hearing about public order contingents charging and being charged, so I'll leave that out.
The best moments by far for me were on the second day, at the Excel centre. More specifically, at the Operation Feeding and Deployment section.
A particular thank you to the level II serial headed by a female Sergeant that had most of my carrier lusting after her, and what appeared to be an all female crew in the carrier.
I of course kept it professional, but there was a lot of excitement from some of the more boisterous members of my team, and mutterings of transfers to the South London Borough where the carrier had come from.
Watching the TSG serials sleeping in the grass, after being on duty for 36 hours and still being kept on. One fella was talking in his sleep as the sun came out from the mist, and it was a genuinely bizarre sight seeing him muttering, surrounding by snoring public order officers lying next to a runway lined with coppers in beat duty helmets.
The view from the 'front line.' I wish I could also describe the smells.
Anyway - down to the important things (after the attractive level II skipper and her carrier obviously). Time to give thanks.
First - to the level three public order officers who helped us out. I'm very aware that you lot did the shitty posts without the praise, and we just got sent round to finish the fights you were in.
Second - To the catering crew at the op feeding centre. Lest anyone forgets, they were doing the same (if not more) hours as us, and getting paid a hell of a lot less than us.
They were also doing a bloody good job of cooking something resembling food, whilst at the same time giving a smile to each copper, albeit sometimes weary. At one point, I accepted a burger from a catering woman and made some joke about the hours, and she replied "fourteen hours and we're staying on till everyone is gone."
Third - to all the non-Met officers that turned up. Sorry for the stickers. And also for the incident with the food fight (that never happened).
Fourth - to the London Fire Brigade. Specifically the Silvertown LFB Station. If anyone knows the lads there, say thanks again for me. The station was pointed out by a couple of level three officers on foot patrol to our carrier, and we (like many that had gone before) made liberal use of their toilets, TV room, warmth and company. They went beyond their obligations and frankly showed us how it should be done.
All this amongst our struggles with the militants. It's not my place as a street monkey to say this, but I will anyway. I think that actually our tactics were sound, and most if not all of us did a bloody good job. I also think that the majority of genuine protestors were at the very most only an annoyance, and frequently friendly, intelligent and often entertaining.
Equally, the small minority that were determined to use force and attack everyone that stood in their way were shameful. They were the reason that the genuine protestors were held back and shepherded about, they were the reason that negative press was given, they were the reason for injuries on both sides, and they were yet another nail in the coffin for legitimate, lawful, peaceful protest.
As a very small example, I spent some time in the impromptu climate camp in the city of london. Despite my appearance in body armour, public order flame proof overalls and assorted kit, I had a good time. I chatted to lots of the people there, and agreed with many points of view. I didn't see criminality there to the extent that I had to take action, and was treated with respect. I was even told a few times that the protestors there were impressed with the Police action.
Some were surprised to learn that actually, coppers were also human and also that some of us weren't too impressed with the idea of our pensions, tax, savings and future earnings being pissed away by the people that were supposed to know how the economy worked.
When the decision was taken to close the climate camp - after over twelve hours - the vast majority left willingly and peacefully. It was (yet again) a small minority that prompted ugly scenes, and left a bad taste.
I was at the front line and saw officers injured, and despicable acts of violence.
But the violent lot were not the 'real' protestors, they were just rent-a-thug mobs. In my opinion, they did almost as much damage to the movements they professed to support as they did to the lines of Police that they attacked.