During the G20 protest a man collapsed and later died after being corned by police. Police say they were unable to assist him because bottles or possibly other projectiles were being thrown at them. The man was a member of a group caught up in a “kettle” established by the police. The process as well as the outcome is described in this quote:
They used familiar tactics to trap 4,000 people into streets outside the Bank of England in a practice known as “kettling”, tightening the cordon when violence flared in one part of Threadneedle Street and a group of protesters, whose faces were covered, broke into the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Commander Bob Broadhurst, in charge of the operation, said his aim was to facilitate peaceful protest. But those peaceful demonstrators caught inside the cordon with no toilet facilities, and little water, questioned the idea that they were being allowed to exercise their right to march.
It seems some were contained in this “kettle” for up to 7 hours. Someone who was detained by the police is also quoted in the article:
“I was kept for two hours. Lines of police lined up with their batons and they were completely pumped up and looking to have a go. My feeling was everyone in there was peaceful but they wanted to clear them out.” Responding to the police use of the kettling technique she said that although the courts had ruled that it was legal, there had to be a good reason. “I asked one officer could I go and he said no – I might to and cause trouble. I giggled and said that wasn’t very likely and he said, ‘you can never tell with these people’.”
It is unfortunate that the police use this violent tactic to limit an individual’s movement. While the water may be muddied by acts of violence taken by individual protesters, a communal punishment is certainly not the answer. It is also worth noting that riot police have an established history of wanting to “crack skulls” and teach protesters a lesson. The lesson being that you are not free to assemble and say whatever you want to say. I believe these tactics will lead to an increase in violence, much like beating a cornered dog who’s already pissed off at you and trying his hardest not to bite.
UPDATE: Here is a really good article with pictures and some personal accounts.
UPDATE 2: MRZine has picked up the story with an article of their own. It includes a reporters commentary in spanish.