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Truthdiggers of the Week: 35,000 Striking British Police Officers

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Posted on May 11, 2012
AP/Sang Tan

The off-duty marchers wore black baseball caps that read “Cutting police by 20% is criminal.”

Every week, Truthdig recognizes an individual or group of people who spoke truth to power, blew the whistle or stood up in the face of injustice. See past winners here, and make a nomination for the next award here.

It must have been a strange sight in London on Thursday when uniformed police officers ushered upward of 35,000 of their off-duty colleagues from across the U.K. through the streets during a protest against cuts that could leave 16,000 police members across the country without jobs.

The cops are almost always on the other side of the protest line, keeping the peace in the name of business, political and public interests. The British don’t have to look far into their history for examples of major clashes between police and the striking public. Aside from the student protests of the past few years, many recall the miners’ strike of 1984-85, which was held in response to the government’s intention to close 20 mines, leaving 20,000 workers without income and many communities in the north of England, Scotland and Wales without their primary source of employment. Officers were brought in from all over the country to quell a strike at a plant in Orgreave. Reports tell of constant intimidation and unprovoked charges by police with riot shields and officers on horseback.

In the streets Thursday, thousands of other demonstrators, many of them public workers, marched against austerity cuts to their own divisions and assorted social services. Some recalled the “Battle of Orgreave” and did not receive the police well. “Remember what you lot did to the miners!” shouted one man.

With that history in mind, British police officers are now seeing their livelihoods threatened in the same manner as those whom they have the responsibility of policing. And in their own, orderly fashion, they are speaking up. Thousands of officers donned black baseball caps to represent each job that might be lost. According to one man’s tweet, it was “the quietest demo ever.” The column made its way past government buildings in central London, and officers respectfully removed their caps as they passed a war memorial.


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Some of the marchers spoke directly to the media:

“We’re here to show the public how strongly we feel about this,” said one young frontline officer from Surrey, who, like many of those marching, preferred not to give her name. “I don’t think the public realise what we’re going through.” She signed up three years ago to what she thought was a career for life, she said, but with 20% cuts to the policing budget, she was already seeing job losses among her team and fewer chances of promotion.

One has to wonder what members of the British government are thinking when they decide to solve budget shortfalls by damaging the livelihoods of those who protect officials and others against a public increasingly agitated by austerity measures. If 16,000 police officers lose their jobs and many more are made to feel professionally insecure, we can bet on members of the police force asking themselves in earnest on which side of the picket line they belong. For putting their boots on the street in defense of public workers, we honor those who marched Thursday as our Truthdiggers of the Week.

—Alexander Reed Kelly



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By jeffpc, May 16, 2012 at 9:31 pm Link to this comment

I hope the Occupy London and Uncut and the various other protest groups of similar ilk showed their solidarity with the police and marched with them.  If not they should take the opportunity to do so next time.  The police are the major arm of enforcing the status quo.  If Occupy and Uncut can have the police feeling solidarity with them, then enormous gains will be made.

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By Petunia, May 14, 2012 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment

Now they know how the 99% feels, and they thought they would be exempt!

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By leavesmecoldfrankly, May 14, 2012 at 8:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’d have a lot more sympathy for the police if I’d seen
any of them backing up occupy lsx or protesting
against any of the outrageous crimes of the bankers, or
possibly suggesting arresting some of them maybe?
Instead I’ve seen first hand how violent and irrational and repressive they
are towards all kinds of dissenter.  And now the cuts affect them
too so they’re marching? Bleah. Pass the hypocrisy bag.

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Carl Street's avatar

By Carl Street, May 14, 2012 at 7:35 am Link to this comment

Ah the dawn of “The Day of The Long Knives” comes at last…

Of course, most cops are too dumb to know history; else they would recognize that, just like under Hitler, once power is consolidated, most will be liquidated as potential foes…

but, I am SURE they are too stupid and ignorant to know the past and so are happily digging their own graves…

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RAE's avatar

By RAE, May 14, 2012 at 7:29 am Link to this comment

What are we heading for? A 1-1 ratio police-citizen?

35,000 police on strike in England. Just how many police are there in England?

How many armed enforcers are there in the US and Canada? If the ratio is anywhere near the same there must be MILLIONS! No wonder when a riot breaks out thousands of these cloned Borg appear from nowhere.

Does anyone stop to count the horrendous expense of maintaining such a police state? We fuss and worry about how we’re going to afford the increasing numbers of seniors. Seems to me that’s a small problem compared to this.

Has it occurred to anyone that an increase in the number of police results only in an increase in the number of those who require policing? Which is the chicken? Which is the egg?

I haven’t a clue how to stop this escalation which inevitably must lead to a country-wide lockdown. I just hope I’m long gone by that time.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, May 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment

The police have been replaced by surveillance cameras, speed camera’s and red light camera’s.  They have in affect been outsourced.

While I disagree that we need this Orwellian state I also disagree with the over manning of the police force and having to pay them a never ending public pension before the age of 60 with taxpayer money.

I remind the police fundraisers of this very thing when they call for money.  When they stoop to giving that seat belt ticket, there are too many of them.

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IMax's avatar

By IMax, May 13, 2012 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment

“Mutual agreement is usually reachable the earlier the better.’ - ‘Why don’t people look ahead and avoid trouble coming down the track?”


Assuming, erroneously, that both the world, along with people’s circumstances and minds, never changes and that London police and the British government did not negotiate (reach agreements) on pay and benefits years ago to begin with.

The better question, I think, is why more people fail to deal with the world as it is versus as they would wish it to be?

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By gerard, May 13, 2012 at 11:05 am Link to this comment

Finally I got back to this and realized that I presumed something I should have stated:  Mutual agreement is usually reachable the earlier the better. An ounce of prevention.  But we all know that. How come, then, that so little effort is put into prevention?  Why don’t people look ahead and avoid trouble coming down the track?
  The reason is very likely pride:  ” I am not going to humble myself to talk to him. Let them come to me.” etc. 
  Something like this seems a fairly obvious possiblity, yet when stated in so many words, it sounds downright stupid, simple-minded.
  It’s hard to admit to pride and stupidity, but if anybody has a better explanation for why such obvious planning-ahead simply doesn’t occur as routine, let’s hear it.  In personal affairs we know from our own experience that avoiding a fight is easier for everybody, so we use avoidance by anticipation to clear up personal difficulties before they explode, and never thing twice.  But when it comes to larger social, political affairs—well, we know damn well it would work, and we pretend we organized the United Nations for that very reason, but ... well ... fighting is a HABIT, and a childish, petty, selfish way of thinking. Also, lots of people make a living from fighting—a big part of the presentday war mania.
  Ordinary people tend to want to heal; governments and business interests tend to scratch open sores to make more money. There are now some actual signs that the world’s people are at last getting a grip.

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, May 12, 2012 at 5:52 pm Link to this comment

“Cutting police protection is incredibly stupid. It
leads to increased violation of the civil right to
protest. “

ReadingJones; based on your above statement, you would feel right at home in a “Police State”.

In case you did not notice the Cops are not bashing in the heads of the “Banksters”; they are protecting them from us.

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By ReadingJones, May 12, 2012 at 4:08 pm Link to this comment

Zing, your comment was spot on. It was well written
and accurate.

Now something else to consider. Many years ago I
worked as a cab driver in a pretty rough town. I
worked on the night shift. I averaged three serious
fights with strangers in the dark per week. I learned
a lot.

we drivers came to each others aid. Sometimes we came
to the aid of police officers. Frequently they came
to our aid.

Here is what I learned by experience. If a lot of
people show up to deal with a violent idiot the idiot
gives up or can be taken down without serious injury.
The same thing is true when police officers respond
to a call. There is always fear and fear leads to
excessive force or what seems like it.

When you cut a police force there are often not
enough officers on the street to prevent bad trouble
by arriving with overwhelming force. This leads to
gunfire, tasing and whacking with batons. Cries of
brutality go up and the police begin to feel
alienated from and unappreciated by the public they
are risking themselves to protect. The level of
violence goes up. So do various crime rates.

Cutting police protection is incredibly stupid. It
leads to increased violation of the civil right to

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Mairead's avatar

By Mairead, May 12, 2012 at 4:03 pm Link to this comment

If I’ve misunderstood your meaning, Gerard, I apologise, but it’s not possible to “come to mutual agreement” with individuals who believe they deserve everything and we deserve nothing. 

Trying to “come to mutual agreement” with such individuals is almost exactly comparable to trying to negotiate with reptiles:  there’s no basis even for real communication, never mind real agreement.

The late philosopher of ethics John Rawls proposed a commonsense test for fairness:  a situation is fair only if everyone involved would be willing to submit to a random re-distribution of benefits.

The reptiles would rather kill us than submit to such a re-distribution, because they know they would be very unlikely to maintain their grossly disparate advantages over us.

If we desire a fair division, we must impose it on them against their will, because any apparent agreement by them will never be more than a temporary ploy to gain time.

And if we cannot make a fair division stick (which is quite possible, for the same reason we cannot negotiate with them), then we will have to choose whether we let them enslave us again, or we push them off the ice.

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By Tobysgirl, May 12, 2012 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment

Sorry, gerard, I think this is an excellent question to ask the police. They usually did the job they are hired to do, that of protecting the ruling class and its interests. The police need to think about what side they’re on if they expect sympathy and support.

I should mention that I and my husband are both from union families, my father having been an organizer for the radical electrical workers union.

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By berniem, May 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment

Gee, I bet these very same cops, or cops everywhere for that matter, would bust the heads of any and all who would be protesting if said cops were not also having their oxen gored!

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By diamond, May 12, 2012 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment

“I quit substitute teaching not because of the stubbornness of the kids; but of the stubbornness of the teaching staff!”

Amen to that. It was the teachers not the kids that drove me out of teaching too.

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D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, May 12, 2012 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment

Yes.  The weird thing about these austerity measures
is the Orwellian tendency not to mention the root

Banks were bundling up bad mortgages into crappy
investments, calling them good investments, and then
selling them to other banks. 

Banks were making up bullshit investments, known as
derivatives, where they would essentially approach an
investor and say, hey, I’ve got these shitty
investments over here that look pretty good on the
surface.  Would you like to insure them?  If you do
I’ll pay you money. 

Banks were going to small towns and state governments
all over the world and saying: Would you like to play
a game of craps?  Here, I’ll loan you some money on
the cheap with the bet that the stock market won’t
take a shit and the price of borrowing money won’t go
up. Deal?  Deal. 

The swindlers in all this nonsense were the bankers. 
They gamed the system. They lied to themselves.  They
screwed their customers.  They hoodwinked unwitting
borrowers, both individual and governments. 

Now they are trying to impose austerity measures
bankrupting governments.  Why? Because this is white
collar war.  They realize they dodged a bullet.

* Thousands of bankers should have went to jail. 

* “Too big to bail” banks should have been broken up.

* New regulations should have been put in place.   

* Glass-Steagall should have been reinstated.–Steagall_Act

Bankers now are now doing two things:

* Attempting to recoup their losses on the backs of

* Break the backs of governments who should have been
putting bankers in jail the last few years. 

Hats off to TruthDig for saluting these police

A nod of grudging acceptance to police officers who
now finalize realize they’re in the same leaky boat
with the rest of us.

The Titantic’s bottom is up the air and her face is
underwater.  Many people are freezing to death in
frigid waters.  Others have already drowned.  Molly
Brown is screaming to go back and rescue a few more. 
The rich are in the lifeboats cowering and shivering
and waiting for their rescue.  A priest among them is
saying they will all be the fine but the rest are
buggered.  One hundred years from now history will
look back at us over a cockroach dinner, feel a tick
burrowing for deeper cover, and offer a bitter toast
of good riddance: May they all burn in hell with
Rupert Murdoch. 

Dig peace. Don’t bury it. 


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By jimmmmmy, May 12, 2012 at 9:09 am Link to this comment

Cameron/Clegg are in negotiations to hire Blackwater or whatever Eric Prince is calling his company of mercenaries nowadays. He [Cameron] invisions on demand policing in the slums and hard security in the gated communities. The existing police would have been better served letting the rioters burn down his government during the recent riots . It’s hard to feel any sympathy for them. Reminds me of the air traffic controlers who backed Reagan in his election over Carter then were double crossed by him when he took office. A lot of them never worked again. Forgetting who’s signing your paycheck [taxpayers]is uaually fatal in politics. I believe the British gov. has already bypassed any debate and hired a hoard of empowered security guards to do police work, as is happening world wide as the 1%ers tighten up for the the coming upheavals. Who do think is paying the salaries of the paramilitaries we see every day on TV in Greece or Spain or Portugal etc.?

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By balkas, May 12, 2012 at 4:40 am Link to this comment

protests don’t work—politics do.  protests are bad politics—politics as
practiced by Democrats, Social Democrats, Communists, and
Republicans work always.
and i am not talking about whether always justly, wisely or not.
u want a war? then, do politics-get elected and ye shall have ur war or
anything else!

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THX 1133 is not in the movie...'s avatar

By THX 1133 is not in the movie..., May 12, 2012 at 4:36 am Link to this comment

@ gerard, May 11 at 7:09 pm
Yes; isn’t it though…

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By gerard, May 11, 2012 at 8:09 pm Link to this comment

The idea is to come to mutual agreement, not to pick a side to be “on” or “off”. The fault liels in thinking of everything as one side or the other—and usually only two sides.How many wars and battles do we have to bleed through and die before we catch on?  It’s in degrees and relative balance. Why else would the blind statue of Justice hold a scales in her right hand? The idea is to meet somewhere in the middle and not to bludgeon the “others” to death in order to take the whole pie.  It seems so elemental, so extraordinarily obvious.  No wonder it takes so much propaganda and so many lies just to get a war on—and then in the end to turn it off. What an extraordinary waste of everybody’s energies, once you come to think about it!

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