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The mystery van
November 26, 2010 4:58 AM   Subscribe

The mystery police van During Wednesdays London protest against student tuition fees a police van was driven into a 'kettled' crowd of protestors. Many news reports focused on the subsequent vandalisation of the police van.

The ‘POLICE AWARE’ notice on the van is used in the UK for abandoned/accident damaged vehicles.
posted by Lanark (70 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, well, well.. which tabloid reported the vandalism first?
posted by Ahab at 5:01 AM on November 26, 2010


Hmm.

The conspiracy theory is that the van was planted there to serve as a focal point for violence, to justify more aggressive policing. The student-side opinion is that violence only occurred after kettling.

Maybe. I've read, for example, that the van was a plant because it had no number plate, when plainly it did have before it was targeted. The linked article in the FPP seems to suggest that a Police Aware sticker indicates this was some mothballed van. Why would the police sticker their own vehicle? It's possible, but extremely unlikely compared to the more likely scenario in which somebody puts the sticker on the van after it has been stopped.

But while I dislike kettling, it is disengenuous for apologists of the minority of "students" who came to a demo armed with spray paint, sticks and face masks to insinuate it was all the coppers wot done it when two weeks ago, with no kettling and no police van, the protests were considerably more violent.

It strikes me that, kettling or not, planted van or not, there still was an unpleasant minority of protesters who would have spray, vandalised etc whatever they saw as a symbol of The Man regardless of police tactics. To ignore that and take the line that any and all violence in protests must be the fault of the police is as asinine as knee jerk conclusions that all student protestors must be violent anarchists.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:13 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


I wouldn't be at all surprised if they'd left that van there deliberately, having been on the demo in London on the 10th November, the police are pretty careful to keep their vans behind lines of riot police. Ultimately though, I think some property damage is much less important than the horse charge that the Met Police used against the crowd. It's about a minute in.

Quoted from the Guardian:
the Metropolitan police have stood by the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson's assertion that he had "no record" of police officers on horseback charging at protesters.

A spokesman said: "Police horses were involved in the operation, but that did not involve charging the crowd."

He added: "I dare say they were doing the movements the horses do to help control the crowd for everyone's benefit, which has been a recognised tactic for many, many year, but no, police officers charging the crowd – we would say 'no they did not charging the crowd."

The spokesman did also add that charging is a "quite specific term".

posted by knapah at 5:21 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


But while I dislike kettling, it is disengenuous for apologists of the minority of "students" who came to a demo armed with spray paint, sticks and face masks to insinuate it was all the coppers wot done it when two weeks ago, with no kettling and no police van, the protests were considerably more violent.
Regardless of how you feel about those "minority of 'students'" is it appropriate to imprison thousands of innocent people for 7 hours? Or maybe we should just not have protests at all. I'm sure stern letters would be just as effective.
posted by delmoi at 5:23 AM on November 26, 2010 [11 favorites]


delmoi, you appear to be arguing with me, but we agree: kettling is bad. My point is that apologists who claim that kettling is the root of the violence/vandalisation are being disengenuous.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:26 AM on November 26, 2010


My point is that apologists who claim that kettling is the root of the violence/vandalisation are being disengenuous.

I see what you're saying, but surely kettling will lead to some extra violence? How can we tell what was caused by the kettling and what wasn't?
posted by ukdanae at 5:31 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Given that the UK police beat a protester to death on video and were found not guilty I doubt they need to engage in much of a conspiracy. They already have the ability to act with impunity.
posted by srboisvert at 5:42 AM on November 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


^ wut?
posted by monkeyJuice at 5:44 AM on November 26, 2010


I would assume srboisvert is talking about Ian Tomlinson. Though he was not in fact a protester.
posted by Ahab at 5:58 AM on November 26, 2010


We're going to look back on kettling with fond nostalgia once we've met the horrible future.
posted by Ritchie at 6:06 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


The "bait van" theory seems a bit unlikely. Seems more likely to be a cockup. Maybe a couple of police were left in it, then they dashed off to deal with something urgent meaning to come straight back, but found the van surrounded.

In terms of violence, the big problem I see is that there are a few dozen permanent troublemakers who aren't students, but just turn up to every big demo and try to turn it into a general uprising to smash capitalism.

Richard Seymour made an interesting point:
Yesterday's protest had almost no significant institutional backing whatsoever... Most of the basic work of making people aware and getting them there happened through social media sites.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:07 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would assume srboisvert is talking about Ian Tomlinson. Though he was not in fact a protester.

Yes, he was just a passerby, which to some people makes it worse. I think it's horrendous regardless.

To get back towards the topic, before we get a 'MeFi doesn't do police well', wasn't there some question of a similar event (to the mystery van incident) happening with a police car in Toronto at the G20 summit?
posted by knapah at 6:09 AM on November 26, 2010


In terms of violence, the big problem I see is that there are a few dozen permanent troublemakers who aren't students, but just turn up to every big demo and try to turn it into a general uprising to smash capitalism.

The vast majority of the 'troublemakers' at Millbank on the 10th were students, I know this because I was there. The idiot who threw the fire extinguisher off the building, which disgusted most people at that protest, was an 18 year old sixth form student.

I imagine that most of the people hitting the van on Wednesday were students too. Nobody is listening to students (by which I mean secondary school students as well as those at university) and some of them are getting pretty angry.

The media and many commentators seem to forget that anarchist and student are not mutually exclusive positions. Nor, for that matter, are SWP agitator and student.
posted by knapah at 6:13 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


kettling is really scary and having experienced it a couple of times I know it makes me really wound up and panicky and want to hit something, and I'm not usually up for hitting things. On one demo I was on we were packing up to go home when we realized all the streets were blocked, so the event - and the "inconvenience" of blocked roads to the public, alienating them even more from the protesters, as trumpeted by the local paper the next day - was extended for hours. A heavily pregnant women near me asked the police if she could go in a pub 10 yards away to pee, was denied and ended up having to squat in plain view of everyone in a flowerbed. Yeah that was when she and her boyfriend lost their tempers a bit...
posted by runincircles at 6:13 AM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Man, those police vehicles are always asking for it. Don't you see how they dress?
posted by Menthol at 6:14 AM on November 26, 2010


In this article a commenter mentions that the van is a) lacking a license plate (although this could easily have been removed during the vandalism), b) very rusty, and c) painted in obsolete Metropolitan police livery. If those are true it certainly makes the whole thing more mysterious by implying this was an old, out-of-use vehicle.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:16 AM on November 26, 2010


It worked in Toronto, so why not the UK? Coincidence maybe, but I saw the same thing apparently happen in person in Toronto during the G20 protests. A crowd of angry kettled protesters isn't going to leave an abandoned police vehicle unscathed. The police can count on it and reap the later media benefits.
posted by The Wig at 6:19 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


This idea of "planted" van is such utter nonsense. Anyone who has had any dealings with the UK civilian police will realise that they are petrified of breaching their rules and procedures for operating - to the point of stultification. The last thing they do is innovate - for good or ill - and the more senior they are, they truer that is.

The senior police officer in charge knows already that his or her job would be potentially on the line in the event of either a protestor being badly hurt or the demonstration running out of control. At the very least, they would face IPCC investigation, quesions in parliament etc. So the idea that they would want to raise the temperature, increasing the risk of both occurances, is just unrealistic.

I know some people like to present the police as reactionary bully-boys keen to supress protest - but, in reality, particularly at senior levels, they are civil servants in blue suits, as keen to avoid rocking the boat as all civil servants.

That's not to say that there are no police officers too keen for a bit of a fight - but they don't usually manage to climb the greasy pole. People should remember that if something can be explained by cock-up or conspiracy, 9 times out of ten the explantion is the former. Don't forget, a good conspiracy is really hard to organise and keep quiet...
posted by prentiz at 6:19 AM on November 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


In this article, it is mentioned that the Police van belonged to Sutton Police, and how it got where it was.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:19 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would assume srboisvert is talking about Ian Tomlinson. Though he was not in fact a protester.
...and he was hardly "beaten to death". He was given a fairly mild-looking shove, which caused him to trip and -- in astonishingly bad bit of luck -- hit his head in a way that led to his death. It was an unjustified, aggressive action, but not one that any reasonable person would've expected to end in lasting injury, much less lethality. I'm sure that if the position had been reversed -- a police officer dying in the same way at the hands of a member of the public -- the passerby who shoved them would go down for at least manslaughter. However, what actually happened is still worlds away from the sustained, deliberate aggression that "beaten to death" implies.

To get back towards the topic, before we get a 'MeFi doesn't do police well', wasn't there some question of a similar event (to the mystery van incident) happening with a police car in Toronto at the G20 summit?
There were certainly posters on Metafilter claiming that the police cars that had been left on the protest route -- and which were later trashed by the vandalising minority -- were all older models and had been stripped of their expensive electronics before the protesters touched them.
posted by metaBugs at 6:19 AM on November 26, 2010


IAMNA policeman, but I am taking a guess about why it was an old van in use.

A major police operation, such as crowd control at a big, spontaneously organised event like this, has to be additional to normal policing duties. They don't just abandon every other beat in London to look after one long road in Westminster. I have been at other major events where the police end up using rented vehicles to move officers around. It would make sense if they pulled out an old van for when their was a major call for extra resources.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 6:26 AM on November 26, 2010


I'm just going to leave this here.
posted by Ahab at 6:27 AM on November 26, 2010


He was given a fairly mild-looking shove

Off point to the topic of this post... but he was attacked from behind in a manner that was completely unjustified and unwarranted. If I had hit someone and they had died as a result, I would be up in front of a jury for murder, even if they had just been unlucky enough to hit their head on concrete. You acknowledge this later in your point, but I think "beaten to death" gets closer to the truth than "mild looking shove".

Back to the topic at hand: I think it is highly unlikely that the police are purposefully leaving their vans out to create stories. It is a completely unnecessary use of their resources. The pictures of protesters kicking in Tory HQ (at the previous protest) or vandalising phoneboxes and busstops (during this protest) does the business well enough.

And although entrapment isn't right, it is no excuse in this situation. No-one told them they had to destroy the van, no-one was coercing them into doing it. Everyone understands that the crime was committed by a minority of protesters, and no-one is saying that students should be charged more for fees because a minority of idiots like graffiti. Nothing changes as a result of this.

If anything, I would say this is an example of police incompetence. That is much more likely than some kind of high level conspiracy to embarrass a bunch of teenagers.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 6:39 AM on November 26, 2010


Muffin Man, you make some good points, however the "Police Aware" sticker is aged, and has been on the van a long time.
posted by molecicco at 6:39 AM on November 26, 2010


This idea of "planted" van is such utter nonsense.

Where's that *favourite this a hundred times* button when you need it...

Prentiz, everything you say is absolutely spot on. Of course, it won't stop the discussion... because people love 'emselves a good old conspiracy.

On with the insanity metafilter!
posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 6:51 AM on November 26, 2010


This idea of "planted" van is such utter nonsense. Anyone who has had any dealings with the UK civilian police will realise that they are petrified of breaching their rules and procedures for operating - to the point of stultification.

There was a time I might have believed that. That was before the Police were openly on camera covering up their badge numbers before riots. Openly breaking the law and turning their back on accountability - everyone on duty should have been suspended for that little stunt. But of course they weren't. Because the police know nothing will happen except paperwork if they breach their rules and procedures for operating.
posted by Francis at 7:05 AM on November 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


The senior police officer in charge knows already that his or her job would be potentially on the line in the event of either a protestor being badly hurt or the demonstration running out of control

Yeah, because so many heads rolled after Ian Tomlinson was killed.
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:07 AM on November 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


Billy Bragg was on about this on his various social media sites recently. Thanks for explaining what he was accusing the police of doing. I'd never heard of 'kettling' until now.
posted by immlass at 7:10 AM on November 26, 2010


I'd never heard of 'kettling' until now.

You may hear about it more and more. The BBC link off "kettled" in the FPP explains it fairly well but maintains the polite fiction that it is only protesters who get caught up in these things. As Toronto showed this summer, it is anyone who happens to be there: commuters, people on their way to the store, whatever.

There is probably some word when armed groups target random populace indiscriminately in order to cow others and effect changes in their behaviour, but I cannot think of it right now.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:35 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Slight tangent, but...

...and he was hardly "beaten to death". He was given a fairly mild-looking shove, which caused him to trip and -- in astonishingly bad bit of luck -- hit his head in a way that led to his death

CPS report on the decision not to prosecute over the death of Ian Tomlinson.

The official description of the mild-looking shove you saw is:

A police dog handler put his hand out to move Mr Tomlinson away and a police dog bit him on the side of his leg. Mr Tomlinson did not appear to react to this dog bite, but continued slowly moving at an angle across the police line.

PC 'A', who was behind the dog handler, moved forward and using his baton struck Mr Tomlinson on the left thigh. Almost immediately he pushed Mr Tomlinson very strongly in the back. This push caused Mr Tomlinson to fall heavily to the floor and, because he had his hands in his pockets, he was unable to break his fall.


On cause of death - obligingly, we have been given not one but two causes of death to choose from, coming from three post mortem examinations. None of these involved a bump to his head.

The CPS ruling is quite an interesting document, and not an overly long one. Worth taking a look at, definitely.
posted by DNye at 7:37 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, because so many heads rolled after Ian Tomlinson was killed.

This. I'd also point out that after the G20 in Toronto, where an investigation recently revealed there was excessive force used on multiple occasions, they're not laying any charges against police because they can't identify them in the videos. Because they're not wearing any ID. But you know, whatever, right? They're good guys, and face a constant threat of being touched by bubbles. I realize this example is in Canada and not the UK, but the police know damned well how to avoid accountability, and will do so when convenient.
posted by Hoopo at 8:27 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'd never heard of 'kettling' until now.

I'd never heard this term, but I have heard of the technique. It is described in detail in the book Total Resistance, a military manual produced by the Swiss military, under the assumption that knowledge of Soviet military doctrines and effective resistance techniques would be useful in case of a Soviet invasion.
The book describes Soviet military doctrine used to handle mass urban uprisings. The "kettling" technique is used to bottle up the protest. But they leave one exit open, and push inward from all sides so they have no choice but to exit through the only available street. And that street is heavily covered with machine guns and mechanized infantry.
Nobody survives.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:30 AM on November 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


My worry is that eventually one day protesting will be a completely ineffective technique to bring the governments attention to some wrongdoing they are perpetuating; people will stop protesting and start with the real property damage. I think the government would prefer rallies and protests, even if they cause minor property damage, rather than remove a legal avenue for people to air their grievances than the alternative when people think that the government is their faceless and all powerful enemy. I think the governments should encourage protesting and make it easy for people to participate in so that they can work out their anger and angst, especially with the world-financial econocalypse going on.

It's weird, the UK government, and the US government, and a number of other organization don't seem to realize that it's very counter productive to get people riled up and upset. If the pressure-release-valve that is protests is sealed, what are these really pissed off people going to do?

Also:

To: Police
CC: Anarchists
Re: Uniforms

They do not impress me.

Love and kisses,
fuq
posted by fuq at 8:58 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


My worry is that eventually one day protesting will be a completely ineffective technique to bring the governments attention to some wrongdoing they are perpetuating;

Except there are examples in the UK of peaceful protests in recent times. The Countryside March, for example. The Anti Iraq War March. Both of which passed with little or no violence and little or no kettling.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:09 AM on November 26, 2010


Except there are examples in the UK of peaceful protests in recent times.Both of which passed with little or no violence and little or no kettling.

That's good news. What caused the differences? Different groups doing the protesting? Different geographical areas? Different police techniques?
posted by fuq at 9:13 AM on November 26, 2010


In the first case, a distinct lack of ability for rentamob activists to hijack the agenda and trash things along the route of the march. And the size of it meant it was, inevitably a mix of ages and both sexes. In the second I suspect a similar pattern - angry young men would not have fitted in well and found it hard to hijack.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:17 AM on November 26, 2010


My worry is that eventually one day protesting will be a completely ineffective technique to bring the governments attention to some wrongdoing they are perpetuating; people will stop protesting and start with the real property damage.

Really interesting point - it feels to me, anecdotally, as if there has already been a change in the flavour of protest in the United Kingdom since the Stop the War march in 2003. That was an enormous march, it was pretty much entirely peaceful, and the government at the time almost completely ignored it, barring dragging some of their own MPs over the coals for attending or speaking.

Since then there has been a concerted programme to prevent protests in front of the Houses of Parliament, and a perception that police techniques - including kettling and sending out squads in riot gear - are being aimed at raising the temperature of protests, in order to justify shock tactics. Add to that perceptions of a supine or complaisant IPCC and CPS (the heads of which are Crown or state appointees), and one starts to undermine the attractiveness of any peaceful mass gathering.
posted by DNye at 9:17 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Since then there has been a concerted programme to prevent protests in front of the Houses of Parliament, and a perception that police techniques - including kettling and sending out squads in riot gear - are being aimed at raising the temperature of protests, in order to justify shock tactics.

Indeed. And the police are kettling eleven year olds. Which is annoying people.
posted by Francis at 9:56 AM on November 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Kettling is also the term used to describe the circling of birds in a thermal updraft. I once saw hundreds of birds of prey kettling on the Canadian shore of lake Erie. It was amazing.
posted by srboisvert at 9:57 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Despite the slightly overheated rhetoric, Laurie Penny's blog post Inside the Whitehall kettle gives a good impression of what it's like to be on the receiving end of the police operation:

This is the most important part of a kettle, when it's gone on for too long and you're cold and frightened and just want to go home. Trap people in the open with no water or toilets or space to sit down and it takes a shockingly short time to reduce ordinary kids to a state of primitive physical need. This is savage enough when it's done on a warm summer day to people who thought to bring blankets, food and first aid. It's unspeakably cruel when it's done on the coldest night of the year, in sub-zero temperatures, to minors, some of whom don't even have a jumper.

Some of them have fainted, and need medical attention, or the loo. They won't let us out. That's the point of a kettle. They want to make you uncomfortable, and then desperate, putting your route back to warmth and safety in the gift of the agents of the state. They decide when you can get back to civilisation. They decide when the old people can get warm, when the diabetics can get their insulin, when the kid having a panic attack can go home to her mum. It's a way of making you feel small and scared and helpless, a way for the state's agents to make you feel that you are nothing without them, making you forget that a state is supposed to survive by mandate of the people, and not the other way around.


Meanwhile, a video has emerged of a mounted police charge. According to a police spokesman: 'Police horses were involved in the operation, but that did not involve charging the crowd.' The video suggests otherwise.
posted by verstegan at 10:10 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


hey decide when you can get back to civilisation.

Until the day they say "ok, you may come back to civilization" and the people say "no, you will now join us in savagery." Modern democracy and the current doxa of governance does not seem capable of planning even the briefest moments into the future.
posted by fuq at 10:30 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


In Bill Bufords book, Among the Thugs, the Brit soccer thugs finally receive a major setback when they are kettled by the Italian police, and then attacked. Apparently this hadn't been tried on them at home, maybe notice was taken of this police victory.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:32 AM on November 26, 2010


Nevermind all that, there's much more important news for most UK media to lead on: the fact that it's been fucking snowing.
posted by anagrama at 10:38 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd never heard of 'kettling' until now.

In the States it's called a "free speech zone."
posted by entropone at 10:59 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


I was on some of the stop the war marches, including the big one, and was disappointed along with everyone else. A lot of people died in Iraq for no clear reason. Could the war have been stopped by large scale public disorder? The poll tax was...
posted by yaxu at 11:21 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


rentamob activists

This is a really common, and frustrating, phrase at the minute.

To reiterate, I was at Millbank, I saw the people rioting, they were young, angry people - mostly university and secondary school students.

Calling them a rentamob says more about those who say it than those who are breaking windows.
posted by knapah at 12:01 PM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


According to a police spokesman: 'Police horses were involved in the operation, but that did not involve charging the crowd.' The video suggests otherwise.

Only if you don't know the terms.

"The spokesman did also add that charging is a "quite specific term".

Which means that moving at or over persons with speed while riding a horse isn't 'charging'. Did you see any lances? No. But I'm sure a few 'bad apples' that were overwhelmed by all the danger will be given a day or two off to think about their actions.


My worry is that eventually one day protesting will be a completely ineffective technique

One day? Boy do I have some bad news. At this point only showing up armed will get a response. See the difference in reaction between millions of peaceful protesters and a handful of Tea Partiers with sidearms.
posted by anti social order at 12:01 PM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


angry stream of consciousness rant follows, contains no actual information

God, it's like there's no point in trying to have a peaceful protest anymore, if they're just going to use whatever excuse they want to turn it into a "VIOLENT CLASH BETWEEN RIOTERS AND POLICE" or whatever other demonizing bullshit headline will turn public opinion in their favour. It's all agents provocateurs and escalate first, justify later. Heaps and piles of authoritarian militant bullshit. They want violent confrontations so badly that they will manufacture them. What's the message the public is supposed to take from this? "Don't protest or we'll fuck you up?" It's like they're practically begging for violence, guerilla warfare, and terrorism, so they can keep growing forever and rooting their tendrils in the social fabric until they eat up what's left of us
posted by tehloki at 12:11 PM on November 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


Knapah: I know this because I was there.

Good on you.

Am disappointed though that the Millbank bit didn't end up with protestors actually getting into Conservative offices, ripping a few hard drives out and doing a runner. I'm sure there would be treasure trove there.

MetaBugs:...and he was hardly "beaten to death". He was given a fairly mild-looking shove

Judge for yourselves. 24 seconds in. Certainly not beaten to death, but I would say he was pushed hard to the ground, not given a mild-looking shove.

, which caused him to trip

I don't see a trip - I see a man pushed hard from behind when he's not expecting it.

and -- in astonishingly bad bit of luck -- hit his head in a way that led to his death.

No. "abdominal haemorrhage from blunt force trauma to the abdomen, in association with alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver. It was Dr Cary's view that when Mr Tomlinson fell, his elbow had impacted in the area of his liver causing an internal bleed which had led to his death a few minutes later." (CPS statement on his death).

I think much of the discussion around the van has been debunked - no number plates (TV shows it did), old livery, old van (there are examples of other vans of same age/livery around), but I do find the insistence that it couldn't have happened because the police wouldn't dare etc amusing. If as a force you can get away with putting eight bullets in an innocent man's head and then lying and lying and lying about it, or being responsible for the death of a man like Ian Tomlinson and then lying and lying and lying about it, you might just develop some sense of impunity.
posted by reynir at 12:15 PM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm guessing this Met medic thought the protestor was on fire.
posted by reynir at 12:31 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Calling them a rentamob says more about those who say it than those who are breaking windows.

Well, I believe that it's possible to be a peaceful activists at protests and that, notably, events like the G20 have been hijacked by rentamobs who don't much care for the cause and enjoy the confrontation.

If that does me down in your eyes, I think I'll cope.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:48 PM on November 26, 2010


Presumably by 2004 the Countryside Alliance had had a whip-round and scraped together enough cash to hire a rentamob for their protest outside Parliament.
posted by DNye at 1:33 PM on November 26, 2010


What is meant by "rentamob"? I haven't heard this before. That they're agents provocateurs? Paid by someone to smash things at otherwise peaceful protests? Although that applicable to MuffinMan's example unless I'm reading it wrong (just shit-disturbers out for kicks), so I'm confused.
posted by Hoopo at 2:38 PM on November 26, 2010


(that shoudl read "that's not applicable to MuffinMan's example")
posted by Hoopo at 2:39 PM on November 26, 2010


Fucking Copologists.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 2:56 PM on November 26, 2010


If that does me down in your eyes, I think I'll cope.

Wow, that is just such an annoying thing to say, implying that you're so much better than the OP, really not needed in a debate, especially when the OP is relating their experience of a situation and you're just adding what you believe.

FWIW I see rentamob as an unhelpful term. I've certainly seen groups at demos who were intent on violence from the off (I was on the poll tax demo and there were plenty of people who were spoiling for a fight there), but they were also passionate about the subject of the demo. To me, rentamob suggests a group looking for violence with no care for what the demo is about, but that may just be my definition.
posted by ciderwoman at 3:07 PM on November 26, 2010


ah, OK I was taking it too literally, as in someone actually paying or "renting" a mob to do their bidding ...or something, I dunno.
posted by Hoopo at 3:31 PM on November 26, 2010


Video of the van prior to it being set upon by protesters is available here on the Sky News website.

Doesn't look like they abandoned it for their own safety to me...
posted by knapah at 5:38 PM on November 26, 2010


Both of which passed with little or no violence and little or no kettling.
and little to no effect.
posted by bonaldi at 5:53 PM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


What is meant by "rentamob"?

People easily mobilized for protests out of an interest in conflict rather than meaningful engagement with the issues.

It's a BS term to downplay the 'authenticity' of a protest.
posted by entropone at 7:39 AM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


This idea of "planted" van is such utter nonsense.

Where's that *favourite this a hundred times* button when you need it...


Anti-favourite short-sighted comments (X a number), having watched live Toronto G20 footage with the odd decoy school bus and streetcar shoved into the arena and abandoned, seemingly at random.
posted by ovvl at 9:13 AM on November 27, 2010


Wow, that is just such an annoying thing to say, implying that you're so much better than the OP

You mean, when someone says that using term x tells them so much about the user of the term isn't patronising. Really, if you're going to accuse people of being annoying, heal thyself.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:56 PM on November 27, 2010


You mean, when someone says that using term x tells them so much about the user of the term isn't patronising. Really, if you're going to accuse people of being annoying, heal thyself.

My comment was more of a kneejerk reaction to seeing that term in yet another place than an intended slight against you. I've been getting fed up with people telling me what happened where I was, so I'm afraid you just happened to use a word that triggered me off.

So rather than discussing rentamobs, I'd just like to say again that I think the Sky News link I posted above poses serious questions about the police account of the van being abandoned.
posted by knapah at 2:45 PM on November 27, 2010


Clearly it's up to the resistance/demonstration community to invent anti-kettling tactics. Clearly that's only possible in quite closed-in spaces.

Soviet tactic being used in the West? Considering the wave of fascism that overcame the US after WW2, not a surprise. Nor are the people who will apologize for the end of freedom once too much of it is lost.
posted by Twang at 5:28 PM on November 27, 2010


Soviet tactic being used in the West? Considering the wave of fascism that overcame the US after WW2, not a surprise. Nor are the people who will apologize for the end of freedom once too much of it is lost.

No, this has nothing to do with post-WWII. This is about the recent militarization of police forces. It started happening in the 1970s with SWAT teams and is now quite entrenched at all levels of poilce forces internationally. The excuse is anti-terrorism.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:05 PM on November 27, 2010


Clearly it's up to the resistance/demonstration community to invent anti-kettling tactics. Clearly that's only possible in quite closed-in spaces.

Oh, I forgot to address this. Yes, kettling works primarily in urban environments with streets lined by buildings, so they can be easily blocked. I don't have my copy of Total Resistance handy to check for military doctrine, but I vaguely recall the solution, it seems obvious. You have to break the containment and create new exits. The only way to do that is attack the forces along the perimeter from behind. As they close in to create the containment, let them pass by prepositioned ambushers hidden in buildings, then they come out and make the troopers fight from both directions.

The problem with militarizing the police is that it means the policed will become militarized too. There is no end to this escalation, except total war.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:15 PM on November 27, 2010




I see what you're saying, but surely kettling will lead to some extra violence?

I think there was far less violence with the kettling in one of the reports linked above.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:55 AM on November 28, 2010


this is what you get when you don't vote Labour.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:57 AM on November 28, 2010


Muffinman, if you can explain to me how your line wasn't patronising then I will be more than glad to retract my statement.
posted by ciderwoman at 1:20 PM on November 28, 2010


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